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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Konkani writer to help consolidate Goa state

Mahabaleshwar Sail, a noted Konkani fiction writer and winner of the Kendra Sahitya Academy award, has said that he will actively participate in the movement launched by Goa Konkani Rajya Ekikarana Samiti at Sadashivgad near here for the merger of Karwar, Joida and Haliyal taluks in Goa State.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, he said that Konkani was the mother tongue of a majority of people in these taluks of Uttara Kanada district and also said that there were 2.5 lakh Konkani speaking people in these taluks.

He said that the Samiti members had been visiting every village in these taluks to mobilise opinion on the merger.

"We have been receiving a good response", he said and pointed out that Konkani as a language has its own independent identity. It had been included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Every year more than 160 books were published in Konkani. Goa University had published six volumes of an Encyclopedia in Konkani. The University had also introduced Post Graduate courses in Konkani. Phd degrees were also awarded in the language by the University. Further Konkani is regarded a state language in Goa.

He said that Devanagri script was considered most suitable for the Konkani language. This script was used in Goa. As far as Karnataka was concerned, opposition to Devnagari script came from Errick Ozario, president of the State Konkani Academy. But a majority of Konkani speaking people preferred only Devanagari script, he said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Konkani for class 6 students in coastal areas

BANGALORE: The state government is all set to teach Konkani to nearly 5,000 students in coastal areas from the academic year 2007-08.

The Directorate of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) in association with Konkani Sahithya Academy has designed a curriculum in Konkani for sixth standard students.

Konkani textbook committee member Stephen Quadors told this newspaper that the designed syllabus was similar to the third language now taught in sixth standard.

“The textbooks will be made available in two scripts - Kannada and Devanagari. Two separate committees have been constituted to write the text in these two scripts. This initiative is taken in order to promote Konkani and Kannada languages,” he said.

The contents in the textbook are: 11 prose, seven poetry and four pre-study exercises. About 5,000 students from 226 schools in coastal areas, including Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts, will study this language in Kannada script.

“There are less students who can read Konkani in Devanagari script,” he observed. A member of the committee alleged that Devanagari script was introduced due to political pressure.

“There are two MLAs who have been insisting on teaching Konkani in Devanagari script. There is doubt whether the two MLAs have any academic reason to propose this,” the member said.

The member pointed out that in coastal areas there were Konkani newspapers, books and sufficient literature in Kannada script, but no single newspaper or adequate books in Devanagari script.

Last year, the Academy had introduced teaching Konkani in Kannada script to 1,586 students from 56 schools on experimental basis. The programme proved successful and only then the Academy decided to introduce it in the syllabus.

The prepared text in Kannada script has already been accepted by the State Government and the process of publishing textbooks will commence shortly.

“There were some mistakes in the content. So we have sent back the materials to get the corrected version. By May 20, about 6,000 books will be published,” Sathyanarayana Reddy, Director, DSERT told this website's newspaper.

He added that next year it would be introduced to seventh standard students.

Konkani suffering due to wrong stand by Kendra Sahitya Academy

The Konkani language is suffering due to the wrong stand taken by the Kendra Sahithya Academy,” according to Karnataka Konkani Sahithya Academy President Eric Ozario. Apparently, the Devnagari lobby of Goa is the reason for such an “error.”

Speaking to Deccan Herald here on Monday, he said the Kendra Sahithya Academy has been presenting the awards only for the literature printed in Devnagari script though there are many other scripts including two prominent scripts - Roman (in Goa) and Kannanda (in Karnataka) for Konkani language.


Though it was the decision of the Standing Advisory Board of the Kendra Sahithya Academy, taken by a few people way back in 1981, the same yardstick has been continuing even after 26 years, Mr Ozario regretted.

The Konkani Sahithya Academy had taken up the issue with the Kendra Sahithya Academy several times.

But in vain, he said and added that he will approach the President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, to intervene and set right the issue.

“The Kendra Sahithya Academy should present the award for the language and not the script,” Mr Ozario said and added that he would pursue the matter even if it costs his job (of chairman of Konkani Academy).

“In fact, its worth fighting for,” he said.

Quite interestingly, the Advisory Board for Konkani comprises 10 members and a thumping majority of members (7) are from Goa (who are the staunch followers of Devnagari script) while the rest are from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala (1 each). It may be mentioned here that a number of Konkani litterateurs have brought out some of the best literary works in Kannada script, opine senior Konkani litterateurs.

HMT subsidiary plans turnaround by FY08

HMT Machine Tools, a subsidiary of the Bangalore-based HMT group, is expecting to make a turnaround in 2007-08. The firm recently secured a Rs 880-crore revival and restructuring package.

“With cash infusion and waivers totalling Rs 880 crore, the negative networth of HMT Machine Tools will become positive and interest outgo will become zero. In this way, we are expecting to clean up our balance sheet within a year and make a turnaround in 2007-08,” A V Kamat, chairman and managing director of HMT, said.

In 2005-06, the machine tools division achieved Rs 242.18 crore turnover and reported a loss of Rs 6.56 crore.

In 2006-07, the division has posted Rs 263.32 crore turnover, which is about 40 per cent of the group’s turnover of Rs 611.09 crore. The final results are yet to be approved but sources said the losses have come down.

The revival and restructuring package includes conversion of debt into equity, waiver of interest and cash injection of Rs 723 crore. This consists of Rs 443 crore to repay old loans, Rs 180 crore in the form of equity share capital infusion from the Centre towards capital expenditure and modernisation and a soft loan of Rs 100 crore on 3.5 per cent interest for reduction of manpower.

HMT Machine Tools pays around Rs 60 crore towards interest every year. To support this, the company needs to have a turnover of at least Rs 500 crore.

Of the revival package, Rs 180 crore will fund investment in various units of HMT Machine Tools for refurbishing plants, modernising foundries and upgrading machines which are almost 50 years old.

Kamat said, “Even though we have the design capabilities, we are not able to manufacture world-class machines of desired accuracy today. We have identified certain critical areas and are working on refurbishing and modernising.”

The company is planning to talk to research institutes such as Fraunhofer Institute in Germany to acquire new technologies in areas such as high-speed machining centre, water-jet technology and laser technology. The company is readying assignments for such research-oriented institutes to identify the technology gaps and devise packages to fill them.

With the Rs 100 crore earmarked for the reduction of manpower, HMT Machines Tools intends to bring down its headcount from the present 4,300 to 3,000 and reduce its wage costs from Rs 120 crore to Rs 100 crore per year.

HMT Machine Tools owns five manufacturing plants in the country. The company has prepared a blue print to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package to network all its plants.

Of the six subsidiaries of HMT, HMT Bearings and HMT Praga have already received revival packages from the government. The company is expecting a package from the Centre for the revival of its tractor business.

Ulhas Buyão — a fighter right to the very end

And life goes on for us irrespective of many of our near and dear ones who leave us and go during our journey. But all that is left behind are those memories of them – both the good and the not so good ones sometimes. But when the person passes away, those not so good don’t really matter at all. What matters is the difference made by that individual while alive.

And when we talk of one of our state’s most recent and priceless loss, we could go down the history books only to look back at instances like the ‘Opinion Poll’ when he traveled from Pernem to Canacona singing songs about ‘two-leaves’, the symbol of the ‘Anti-Merger’ with Maharashtra.
His songs made great impact on Goans and the opinion poll was ultimately won by the ‘Anti-mergerists’ and Goa was retained forever for Goans; thanks partly also to Ulhas Buyão. These being the last periods of major change that influenced the whole of Goa, Ulhas Buyão has left a lasting mark not only in this recent history of ours but also in the hearts of all his family and friends that he left behind on April 16, 2007 when he breathed his last.
“He was a fighter right to the very end” is a line synonymous to every person who we came across who knew Ulhas Buyão. “His ill health did not dampen his spirit or kept him away from singing and composing music” was what Fr Pratap Naik, Director of TSKK and a closely working colleague of Mr Buyão had to say about him when he was chosen for his valuable contribution to Konkani lyrics, music and stage performance for the last forty years to receive the Antonio Pereira Konknni Puroskar last year.
Ulhas Buyão was born on June 21, 1944 at Zambaulim, Goa. ‘Channeache Rati’ was the famous song sung by him and penned by Uday Bhembre that is even still quite popular since its remake by Ulhas Buyão’s son Siddhnath Buyão. Ulhas Buyão was an artist with multiple talents.
He acted in Konkani and Marathi plays and tiatros. Besides writing several of his own Konkani plays and tiatros, he acted in M. Boyer’s “Ekuch Rosto”; Prem Kumar’s “Visvas” and Mike Mehta’s tiatr “Sunita” to name a few. He also published “Rat Ranni”, a Konkani periodical in Roman script besides his own Konkani books “Ram Gita”, “Hanga Khun zala” and “Yo Go Tum Manddar”. On August 25, 2006, during the Antonio Pereira Konkani Puraskar function at Margao his Konknni novel “Novi Fantodd” in Roman script was released by Dr Pratap Naik, SJ, Director of TSKK.
Clearly, a artist with immense amount of passion and pride for his identity. Goa Shahir was what he was popularly called due to his immense love for being a Goan that he proudly displayed. Like said earlier, life goes on but it is a must to take whatever learnings we can from our elders and there seem to be a lot of facts about this person that would inspire the ‘Goan’ in us.
For instance, his own son Siddnath Buyao is the current president of the ‘Save Goa Front’ that is actively involved in developments in Goa for the better. So now we also know who could have possibly also been a part of this initiative.
And on an interesting note, Sharon Mazarello mentioned that Ulhas Buyão was in the midst of writing a political play that she was helping him type which has now been left incomplete without any plans for it yet. “I can’t help but smile when I think of Ulhasbab for the pleasant person he was. He was always very polite with the ladies. ‘Hey Beautiful…’He would say whenever he used to meet me and then we’d both break into laughter”
Apparently, it would be very important to know more about the type of person he was and what better way than to hear memoirs and anecdotes of him from some of his colleagues he closely worked with before he left us.
Prince Jacob:
Absolutely he was a fighter. And, what a one at that. Nevertheless, he always fought for something only with a very good reason. He didn’t believe in violence at all, but he would come out very strong orally whenever he had a truth to propagate. He was so strong willed a person that he was an inspiration to most of us constantly busy tiatrists who sometimes thought of excusing ourselves from certain of our meetings due to our hectic schedules. And then we would think of Ulhasbab who would always be there and rearing to go anywhere at all times in spite of his acute illness and we’d automatically get inspired. I even remember when he once accompanied me for a holiday to Hyderabad. He went for his Dialyses treatment, then straight got on the train with me and when we came back a week later, went for his next Dialyses treatment. He was unstoppable.

Wilmix Wilson Mazarello:
Ulhas Buyão was an instant composer of songs. Especially during the Opinion Poll, he made impromptu compositions and sang and the people simply loved his improvisations. He once narrated to me the story behind his famous song ‘Manglurachea Xarant’. Being ‘Goy Shahir’ he was asked by the people to sing a song at a Konkani Convention at Mangalore. It was morning and the singing programme was in the evening.
He started to think what he should sing. Just then he saw a beautiful Mangalorean girl there going around selling souvenirs. He was inspired. Then and there, he started composing song ‘Manglurachea Xarant Ek Cheddum Dekhilam” (I’ve seen a girl in the city of Mangalore…)
On enquiring about the girl, he found out that the girl was also an amateur singer having won few prizes in singing Konkani songs. That was the icing on the cake for Ulhasbab. He composed the song and requested the girl to sing it with him on stage. They both rehearsed it once with the band, and the actually sang it. It was an instant hit. They had five encores to sing the same song again and again. From then on, Ulhas Buyao is considered by Mangaloreans as one of their favourite Goan singers.
Margao reporters adds: Konkani Bhasha Mandal on Monday paid rich tributes to two great sons of Goa — Frank Fernando and Ulhas Buyao — at a condolence meeting at Konkani Bhavan here.
The duo were remembered for their rich contribution to Konkani music and language as singers Lulu and Ketan Bhat belted songs such as “Claudia” and “Goenchea Mojoea Goenkarano” associated with these two music greats.
Later, Former Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly, Tomazinho Cardozo said Goa has lost two great sons who used the medium of music and songs to protect Goa.
“The demise of Fernando and Buyao has left a big void and would be difficult to fill”, he said.
Cardozo, however, expressed his shock over the poor response from the people for the condolence meeting.
“There’s something wrong in Goa when people fail to remembers great people after their death”, he said.
He said both Fernando and Buyao made huge sacrifice for Goa, Konkani and Music and underlined the need for the younger generation to take a few lessons from such great people. A drummer Antonio Rodrigues also spoke,
when he said that Frank Fernando faced immense difficulties when he produced Konkani film Nirmon.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Caste domination on Konkani programmes cause for concern

“The very fact that people belonging to only two castes are dominating all the Konkani programmes is a cause for concern,” opined Karnataka Konkani Sahithya Academy President Eric Ozario.

Listing out the programmes the Konkani Academy has planned for this year at a programme organised to gather the opinion of the members of the public at the Academy premises here on Monday, he said though there are 18 to 20 castes among the Konkani speaking people, only Christians and GSBs are dominating.

“The Kudumbis, Kharvis, Siddis, Gabiths and Navayaths among others rarely get a chance,” he said.

Some of the programmes planned for this year include “Konkani Lokotsav,” “Burgyancho Utsav,” “Sangeethotsav,” “Stories and poems of the century” and implementing projects sanctioned under Suvarna Karnataka scheme. It includes bringing out a book on the life and history of Konkani people who lived in the 20th century.


Plans are also on the anvil to organise a documentary contest of 3 or 5 minute duration, Mr Ozario said and added that the documentary may be made in any language but it should be related to Konkani. For example: “Globalisation: Will Konkani survive?” etc...

However, Mr Vittla Mangesh Bhat, one of the Konkani lovers, opined that the Academy can plan a 90 minute documentary instead of a 3 or 5 minute documentary as not much can be covered in a short documentary.

Fr Santhosh, another member, opined that the Mangalorean Konkani is being imposed on the people of North Karnataka. “Since Konkani has not been standardised, who has given the power to certain people to say only a particular language is right?” he sought to know.


The Academy gives a honourarium of Rs 1,000 for every book published in Konkani but not many people are availing the facility, Mr Ozario said and added that only 34 persons (25 books and 9 cassettes/CDs) have availed the facilty, though more than 100 books have been published in Konkani.

The Academy has increased the sum of honourarium from the present Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 from this year, he said and appealed to the members of the public to avail the facility.

The Academy has received a sum of Rs 20 lakh for the year 2006-07 besides Rs 15 lakh under Suvarna Karnataka celebrations. Out of which, the Academy has spent Rs 33,69,000.

Works done

Listing out the works done by the Konkani Academy in the past two years, Mr Ozario said till date the Academy had organised 47 programmes and brought out three publications besides publishing three news clippings.

Mangalore University Chair in Christianity Head Rev Dr John Fernandes presided while Academy Members Victor, Charan Kumar and Deepa Kambadakone among others were present.

Konkani websites likely to become platform for language

Konkani websites became a platform for Konkani speaking people across the world to unite and develop the language globally, renowned orthopedician Dr Edward L Nazreth said on Sunday.

He was speaking at a seminar on 'Konkani in Internet' organised jointly by the Samanvaya and the Konkani Writers Forum in association with the Asha Kiran Trust, Mangalore and the Lotus of Nirala Trust, Moodbidri at the Samanvaya Auditorium in the city.

Speaking on the importance of various Konkani websites, he observed that it had increased love and affection of Konkani language among people who were working and staying abroad. "The Konkani language could reach every nook and corner of the world through internet," he added.

Another resource person Milagres College professor Dr Jerald Pinto, highlighting the future of Konkani in website, said that it was a powerful media which could be used to unite various dialects of the language on single platform.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Curchorem to host Konkani literary meet A forum for Konkani writers

MANGALORE: The All India Konkani Parishad and Konkani Kala Sahitya Kendra in Curchorem, Goa, have organised the 18th All India Konkani Sahitya Sammelan in Curchorem from May 4.

J.B. Sequeira, who hails from Mangalore and has settled down in Mumbai, will preside over the three-day literary and cultural event, according to Dinesh R. Manerkar, executive president of the reception committee. Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, Mr. Manerkar said the sammelan was being organised once in two years in different parts of the country. The parishad has organised 17 such sammelans so far. Referring to the selection of Mr. Sequeira to head the literary event, Mr. Manerkar said a decision to this effect was taken at the joint sessions held at Panaji under the presidentship of Paul Moras, president of the parishad, on April 1.

Mr. Sequeira won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1988, the Dr. T.M.A. Pai Foundation Award in 1989 and the Sandesha Konkani Best Literature Award in 2003.

Mr. Manerkar said that winners of this year's Sahitya Akademi awards and famous writers would be honoured on the inaugural day of the sammelan. A symposium on "Striking a balance between development and environment and role of litterateurs in it" will be held on May 5.

A symposium on "Role of translation in the development of Konkani" will be held in the afternoon session on May 5.

A "kavi sammelan" for budding poets too will be held on May 5.

A symposium on "The development of children's literature" and a "kavi sammelan" for children will be held on May 6, the concluding day. Tamil writer Shivashankari has agreed to be chief guest at the valedictory function.

Lata's first ghazal album in 17 years with Mayuresh Pai

For those who've been wondering why Lata Mangeshkar has been lying low, here's some news: the legendry singer was busy working on her first ghazal album in 17 years, scheduled for a May release.

The last time she ventured into the territory was with Jagjit Singh in "Sajda". Her new ghazal album will have numbers composed by Mayuresh Pai, a promising young Lata fan.

"Mayuresh earlier composed an album of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's poetry, which I sang. I was very impressed by his ability to put music into the toughest of Atalji's verses," Lata told .

The album took almost two years to complete. Her frail health and her determination to make the intricacies of the ghazal sound flawless forced a slow pace of recording. But now the album is almost ready and to be released under the T-Series label.

Lata returns to T-Series after many years.

"But there never was any fight. In fact I sang for Adnan Sami in 'Lucky' for T-Series. I also did a bhajan album for T-Series many years ago," said Lata.

As for the ghazal, it has always been a special challenge for the singer.

"Singing the ghazals of Madan Mohan in the films in the past was always very challenging and satisfying. My most challenging non-film album was the one on ghazals by Mirza Ghalib that my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar composed for me.

"These days you don't hear too many ghazals. The trend has moved to fast numbers and mainly re-mix albums."

Lata loved going back to the form, especially with a composer who is just starting out.

"I love working with new talent. In recent times I've sung the first compositions of Vishal Bharadwaj, Rahul Sharma and now Mayuresh," she said.

Interestingly, Javed Akhtar was invited to write one ghazal for the album. He offered to do a bunch of lyrics.

"There's no singer in this universe who can intonate words the way Lataji can. From the time she sang my first film lyric in 'Silsila' to this new ghazal album, it's always an honour to have her sing to my words. Even if you don't know the meaning of a word, you know through her expression what she means. That's what a lyricist craves for," said Akhtar.

Oracle eyes urban, district co-op banks - Pai

Having cornered a sizeable portion of the scheduled commercial banking space, Oracle India has set its sights on urban co-operative banks and district central co-operative banks.

In an attempt to capture a large chunk of the segment, Oracle India is looking at offering a ‘hosted model’ and is in talks with existing partners. Oracle’s partners in the banking space include Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies, Infosys and i-Flex. It has also roped in players like Zenith Infotech, EBZ Online and Sonata for smaller banks.

Incidentally, Oracle will also offer traditional models to large co-operative bank customers.
“We are looking at various models along with the hosted model route to offer our services. The hosted model will involve offering various banking as well as banking-related services for a definite period.

The services offered by Oracle under this route will run on servers offered by Oracle’s partners and the co-operative banks will use them. To offer this system we will need to create a platform which may be used for a number of banks to join and avail its services,” said Oracle India senior director (service industries) Suraj Pai.

“Demand for IT solutions in the co-operative banking space is slated to grow manifold and we have entered into talks with large forward-looking co-operative banks to develop a model that can be showcased to other similar banks,” he said.

“According to the Vaidyanathan Committee report, the Central government has earmarked a Rs 15,000 crore special package for a co-operative banking system. According to a research conducted among 80 co-operative banks in India, a part of the financial incentives given to them by the Centre will be used in adopting technology to meet the challenges of increased competition as well as to comply with the latest banking and RBI regulations guidelines. There are about 2,000 co-operative banks,” said Mr Pai.

Co-operative banks in India are facing several challenges that can be addressed by robust information systems. Due to increased competition, and changes in banking regulations and RBI rules, co-operative banks now need to ensure capital adequacy, comply with exposure norms, control non-performing assets, adopt efficient risk management and introduce good corporate governance.

“Information technology can help these banks meet these challenges,” he said. “On the services side, these banks will have to start offering internet banking, mobile banking and other services like ATMs to retain their existing customers. For this they will have to put in place the required IT infrastructure,” Mr Pai said.

Legality of BCCI restrictions on endorsements a grey area

Restrictive covenants are not new in most contracts. Only the scope of restriction that the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) seeks to impose has stunned the ad industry.

“Thus far, the restrictive covenants imposed by the BCCI in the player-retainer agreements have focused on compliance with team sponsorship obligations (to wear team outfits, travel on the official airline while on tour, stay in the team hotel, etc) and on the restraints on ambush marketing around major tournaments (so that the official event sponsors’ interests are not devalued through individual players promoting competing brands),” explains Mr Nandan Kamath, Director, GoSports (

“To my mind, the legality of the proposed BCCI restrictions on cricketer endorsements remains in a grey area. I know of no other comparable initiative anywhere in the world and I can see compelling legal arguments on both sides. Regardless, I believe that a carte blanche restriction on the number or quantum of endorsements is misguided,” he says.

Mr Kamath is no stranger to cricket and law. He was an avid cricketer at the junior level, representing the India U-16’s and captaining the Karnataka state team. Also, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Oxford (on a Rhodes Scholarship) and the National Law School of India. His firm works with ‘the country’s most talented sportspersons on translating their potential into performance,’ as the site informs.

Here is his take on a few questions

On restrictive covenants

The most basic restrictive covenant imposed by the advertiser has been the non-compete: that the athlete will not endorse or use the products of a competing brand unless the law or special circumstances dictate (such as the competitor being an umbrella team sponsor). Another hotly negotiated clause is the right of first refusal: for a period of 3-6 months after expiry of the contract term, the brand has a right to match any offer from a competitor and the athlete would be obliged to accept.

On endorsements around the world, and on whether rates commanded by our cricketers compare well with global trends.

The best tennis players like Federer, Nadal and Sharapova, top-notch golfers such as Tiger Woods, and football stars like Beckham make a tremendous amount from their endorsements. But they each have global stages and more evolved markets and platforms on which to display their wares.

Internationally, whole products have been developed around current and retired sportspersons. I think one of the best examples is the George Foreman Grill, a highly intuitive brand association between a former heavyweight boxer and a meat-grilling implement.

Today, only a Tendulkar or a Dravid can command internationally competitive rates; the other cricketers earn a fraction of the amount and most athletes from non-cricket sports consider themselves fortunate if they receive free equipment and monies sufficient to sustain their careers without personal expenditure.

On how things are in other sports, in India

Most non-cricket athletes, even the best in the country, have it really tough on the commercial front. It is common knowledge that many of them live from week to week and tournament to tournament supporting themselves with earnings from prize money. Over their careers, most will spend more than they will earn on following their passion. Frankly, there aren’t yet enough well-developed platforms for these sportspersons and careers in these sports remain unstructured and high-risk. With opportunity costs being high, the commercial proposition unclear and the university sports system in shambles, teenage dropout presents one of the most significant challenges in Indian sport.

On lessons for business

My belief is that brands will soon see the obvious opportunity to build early associations with talented young athletes and to grow with them and their careers. With non-cricket sports just waiting to explode in India, a very strong case can be made for spending a tiny fraction of the cricketer endorsement costs on athletes such as a high-performing teenage swimmer, a pre-teenage chess grandmaster and other precociously talented youngsters. They signify India’s youthful exuberance in the truest sense. Speaking of return on investment, the fore-thinking brand in particular and Indian sports in general could end up the big winners.

Konkani cinema needs a boost

In 2005, ‘Aleesha’, a Konkani film won the national award for best film in the country. It gave a shot in the arm for the regional film industry in Goa, but while the film won accolades and a Rs 12 lakh in prize money, the industry still suffers from the usual ailments — lack of finance and audience.

“The Goan filmdom needs financial patronage and push,” says Keshav Nadkarni, actor and secretary, Goan Organisation of Filmmakers (GOF) that is dedicated to develop film culture and regional cinema in Goa.

Recently, GOF requested the government to implement its financial scheme for Goan producers fully without any amendments till year 2010. “This will definitely give a chance to all Goan producers covered under the scheme to come out with their films which will compete with national regional cinema,” Rajendra Talak, President, GOF, told DNA. Under the scheme (notified by the state government in 2006), the department of information has selected four Konkani celluloid films, two Marathi films, one telefilm and four documentaries for financial support.

Talak was all praise for the government’s initiative in selecting 21 applications out of 41 for filmmaking under the scheme “since we are at the infantile stage of filmmaking”. While the 20-year period between 1950 to 1970 saw 20 films Konkani films being made, there was a virtual lull for the next 30 years till he made ‘Aleesha’.

That Goa is a permanent venue for IFFI (International Film Festival of India) is also a plus point, although it is debatable whether the film culture that has developed here has benefited Konkani cinema. But although there are 30 lakh Konkani-speaking people spread over Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, not only is the dialect different but so is the script and that encompasses a huge cultural chasm.

The GOF has already taken the initiative to get benefits such as entertainment tax exemption for Konkani films, providing public places for shooting by paying only Rs 1,000 per film and has made cinema theatres available for Goan films. These are areas where the government can give it a push, says Talak, adding “We are not beggars to go and ask. They should call and give us the money.”

But the ultimate solution lies in making Konkani cinema commercially viable, says Nadkarni. Make a Konkani potboiler and the cash registers will jingle, he feels.

18th Konkani Sammelan at Curchorem

MANGALORE — The eighteenth All India Konkani Sahitya Sammelan will be held at Curchorem from May 4 to 6.J B Sequeira, renowned Konkani litterateur, has been selected as the president of the Sahitya Sammelan, Dinesh R Manerkar, executive president of the Sammelan told reporters today.

There will be a symposium on ‘striking a balance between development and environment and the role of litterateurs in it’ and ‘the development of children literature’, he said.
Various troupes from different parts of the country will participate in cultural programmes, he added.
As many as five thousand delegates are scheduled to attend the conference, he said.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Our differentiator will be the ability to think out-of-the-box

Aircel is seen to be quickly transforming itself as a pan-India player with its fingers in many pies including WiMAX, 3G and NGN. Jagdish Kini, Group CEO, Aircel speaks on the way forward and what it needs to do to stay different.

Aircel has been aggressively expanding its pan India presence since last year. What can we expect to see this year?

To transition from a regional player to being a pan-India operator, last year Aircel rolled out the GSM cellular services in Assam, North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh. As of today we are present in 9 telecom circles including Tamil Nadu and Punjab. We intend to complete a pan-india operation in the next 24 months. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we intend to invest $ 400 mn to expand our presence in existing 9 circles as well as to roll out our GSM cellular services in the remaining 14 new circles. The competition in these circles is very stiff and hence the need of the hour is to think differently from the crowd.

While you are considered a new entrant in several telecom circles, what sets Aircel apart from the rest?

One of the biggest differentiator is the fact that Aircel was a pioneer in bringing down the rates early on in Tamil Jagdish Kini, Group CEO, Aircel Nadu. We have learnt in evolution how to manage the business in low rates. We also pride in implementing a unique business model with our trade partners where the customer ownership is equally divided between company and trade partners. This model has worked very well for us in Tamil Nadu and Chennai and we are replicating it in other circles. The ownership of the customer at the trade level helps build the loyalty with customer. Other than that we have processes that are fine tuned for customer satisfaction. In Chennai we are rated as number 1 and the learnings here can be applied in other circles of our GSM operations. Also as late entrant in the market we have the advantage of thinking out of the box, and of having innovative architecture and processes. Our approach is going to be futuristic all these can make us a player to watch out for.

You have shown considerable speed compared to other operators when it comes to be WiMAX and 3G ready. What are the objectives set here?

As we are aspiring to be a “Total Communications Solutions Provider” – rather than restricting ourselves to offering only mobile telephony services, we are tapping emerging technologies aggressively like WiMAX and 3G. We are the first ones to launch WiMAX services in 10 cities and now gearing up to launch it in 34 additional cities by end of this year. Today Aircel is ‘3G Ready’ having successfully tested a complete array of 3G services in Chennai. HSDPA-based (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) services such as downloading large volumes of business data and streaming movies online (@ 3.3 Mbps) have also been tested using both handsets and computers with HSDPA modem. Upon necessary clearances from the Government of India, we should also be able to roll out 3G-enabled services.

Why have you chosen to go with both WiMAX and 3G?

It made strategic sense to invest in WiMAX. Being a regional player we had no play in the corporate/enterprise segment so far. In order to enter this lucrative segment we needed to set ourselves apart from the rest and WiMAX provides us this differentiator. Not only this, WiMAX services provide thrust to our demographic penetration for our GSM cellular services. WiMAX is one of the products that Aircel Business Solutions (ABS) provides to enterprises. Though we don’t have any large corporate customers, we are honing our skills by serving SMEs. We will be looking for a strategic partner for ABS and this could become part of the large corporate strategy.

On 3G front, as we are a Greenfield player, we will gain a huge competitive edge if we were to enter mature markets like Delhi or Mumbai with 3G rather than 2G. Of course we are waiting for the 3G policy to be drawn out first, but nevertheless we are doing our homework before that.

How is Aircel gearing up for Next-Generation Network (NGN)?

As you might be aware, TRAI has constituted an NGN expert committee that will be looking into various issues related to NGN. Once some clarity emerges on the same, we’ll be able to finalize our NGN plans accordingly. We have begun evaluating and we have a plan to deploy it by end of this year.

What are your plans with regards to NLD and ILD?

We are in the process of chalking out a strategy to foray into the International Long Distance (ILD) and National Long Distance (NLD) telephony services domain having obtained the licenses for the same from Department of Telecommunications (DoT) during December 2006. So far we have nationally connected to 34 POPs and we will move onto 200 locations by this year. NLD will also help us in rolling out WiMAX on the the same backbone to distribute connectivity to 44 cities.

Moving from region specific player to pan-india operator, what will be your strategy in terms of branding?

Brand stands for customer experience and this could be related to the underlying architecture of the network and to the customer satisfaction points. What will set us apart will be the ability to think out of the box. In terms of architecture, being a late entrant in the market we have the advantage to evaluate many options and see which is the better way of doing it. We can implement a futuristic network easily as we don’t have to worry about large-scale legacy network. At the same time the image of a tech savvy network is not good enough. We will have to back it up with tech-savvy products. This is where WiMAX fits in as no one else is talking about wireless Internet. Also as we begin to associate ourselves with projects like Unwired Bangalore or Unwired Pune, this will give us the first mover advantage. In terms of customer satisfaction, we are investing heavily in improving both capacity and connectivity in existing circles.

With the recent high-pitched power play witnessed in the Indian telecom circle, what are your views on the movement of the market?

There always has been the ‘fear’ of a consolidation confronting the industry but it has never happened so far. But now I think that in the next 3-5 years there definitely will be consolidation and it will be a good thing. The industry needs consolidation to emerge as a strong entity; else the market will remain fragmented and face serious industry issues. I don’t know what those issues will be but we need to prepare ourselves for the consolidation. Aircel will be a participant in the market either as a Greenfield player or a participant in the consolidation process.

What in your opinion is the key to succeed in this cut throat competitive market?

I strongly believe that in order to succeed you need to think differently. What we need to do is to create a sense of loyalty with customers. It is important to provide the customers an experience that they will relish, which is different. There can be innovation at every level of operation—right across architecture, processes, services, products and delivery systems. We feel we have all these essential ingredients and knowledge and this can make us a tough player in the years to come.

PETA launches egg campaign

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a new campaign 'Don`t Eat Eggs' in Thiruvananthapuram.

The campaign focuses on downgrading the nutritional value of eggs so as to persuade people to adopt alternative choices, thereby bringing an end to inhuman living conditions of chicken in poultry farms.

The argument however, seems to have few takers among the non-vegetarian Malayalees.

PETA says eggs are over-hyped as powerhouses of energy and are often contaminated with bacteria, leading to food poisoning.

"An egg leads to life. A chick hatches out of an egg. We are trying to correlate the two. An egg has life," said Rohini Kamath, PETA.

The campaign also intends to highlight the shabby conditions at poultry farms - cruel and unhygienic.

"You have stacks and stacks of battery cages, probably the size of a newspaper where seven or nine hen are stuffed and they live like this for two years. A hen lays eggs every 34 hours and after two years their capacity goes down and they are sent to slaughter houses," said Kamath.

But poultry-farm owners don't buy the argument, saying that the animals are treated well as that makes good business sense.

"They are saying this because they do not know anything about poultry. It is our business. We take good care of our hen and feed them well. We take care of them as our own children. If we don't, they might contract some disease and die. That will be a loss for us," said Jaffer, owner, SJ Poultry farm.

The campaign is welcome insofar as it calls for a more humane treatment of poultry.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A little museum, holding big dreams

Off the Andheri highway is the most unexpected place to find a museum. But there it is nestled in a nook on the dusty road to the All India Trust of Local Self Government.

The Aai (mother) museum showcasing a collection of 100-year-old brass, wood and bone artifacts gathered from Maharashtra is dedicated to motherhood and all the objects that speak of the feminine mystique.

The museum gets its soft launch in April and Vithal Kamat, managing director of the Ecotel Hotel chain, is quite excited, but he would have loved a bigger space.

“I have begged the MSRDC for a space under the Vakola flyover, and they ignored me for three years. Now we have finally got a place off the highway. It may not be enough to showcase my vast collection but at least it's a start,” says Kamat seated at the Ecotel Orchid Hotel, near the domestic airport.

One wonders why he didn’t decide to open the museum at the hotel itself since there doesn’t seem to be a dearth of space there. “I could and that is a project that I might look at when we launch our heritage hotels. But the idea of this museum is to reach out to second and third generation of our Indian youth through antiquity. The museum needs to be made accessible which is why I wanted to involve the government,” says Kamat.

The museum will charge only Rs 10 to 20 as entry with a discount for students, and is indeed stuffed to its full capacity with showcases that house various objects de art from our hoary past. From every day objects like brass utensils, quaint vermicelli and chakli makers, coconut graters, antique locks and old lanterns to delicately carved objects like jewellery boxes, beetle nut cutters decorated with Mithuna couples and exquisitely carve surmai and sindoor boxes.

To use Kamats words, “Every human being should pay back to mother hood and their motherland and these objects are a testimony to yesterday’s lifestyle.”

Konkani Pustak awards presented in Karkala

The recently declared annual Konkani Pustak awards instituted by the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 were presented in a glittering ceremony here on Sunday. Noted Kannada and Konkani writer Na D’Souza who was the chief guest on the occasion, presented the awards to the awardees and honoured them.

Ancy Paladka (short story) bagged the award for his book ‘Puttu Sheticheo Kanneo’ while Stephen Quadros Permude bagged the award (article) for ‘Sahity ani Vimarso’ for the year 2003.

The award for the best short story of 2004 went to J F D’Souza for ‘Bhangarachi Maslli,’ a collection of short stories for children while Fr Alwyn Sequeira’s anthology ‘Pinturam’ was awarded best in the poetry for the year.

In 2005, ‘Tapasvini’, a Kannada-Konkani translation work by Sandhya Shevagoor, ‘Aaj’, collection of poems by Suvarna Gadh and ‘Chandra-Rekha,’ a novel by Manu Bahrain were awarded best in their categories. A special award was given to Valley Quadros Ajekar for his ‘Kavitapath Part - I’. Stephen Quadros spoke on behalf of all the awardees.

Two Konkani books, ‘Siddi Lokgeet Sangrah’ by Francis J Harnodkar Siddi and ‘Dinakarale Kavana,’ a trans-literature work from Devnagari to Kannada by Anant Shanbhog Sirsi, too were released on the occasion by guest of honour Umesh Gautam and George Castelino respectively. Academy President Eric Ozario presided.

Karkala Konkani Samanvay Samiti President Nityanand Pai, Poet Titus Noronha, Academy Registrar H S Shivarudrappa, members Vincent Alva and Vitori Karkal were among the present.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

MIT to host Print Congress-’07

The Department of Printing and Media Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology will host ‘Print Congress-2007’, an International Conference on Printing and Media Technology, from March 29 to 31.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Monday, Head of the Department of Printing, MIT, Dr Girish Kumar Sharma said that experts in the print, publishing and media industry would participate in the conference.

The conference would discuss the issues like trends in media production technologies, digital and hybrid printing technologies and their impact on the digital market, total quality management and its impact on distributed production in the global scenario, teaching contents and method of teaching, environmental implications in packaging technology, paper and ink recycling technologies, new era in newspaper technology, environmental compatible printing, trends in pre-press technology and the package designing technology.

As many as 200 delegates-125 experts from printing, 40 students and a few academicians would participate in the conference, he added.

General Manager of Heidelberg India Ltd, Chennai, Guenther Keppler would inaugurate the conference at the MIT Quadrangle on Thursday at 6 pm. Prior to the inauguration, Managing Director of Manipal Press, T Sathish Pai and its CEO Gautham Pai would hoist the flag at 5 pm.

Chancellor of Manipal University, Dr Ramdas M Pai, pro-chancellor of Manipal University, Dr H S Ballal, Registrar Dr H Vinod Bhat, Director of MIT, Dr S S Pabla, Head of Print Media Academy of Heidelberg, Prof Rajendra Kumar Anayath would be present. At the press conference co-ordinator of the conference Prof Amrutharaj H, lecturers Soujanya Shenoy and Nagaraj Kamath were present.

BOP portal launched

A new Philips-Manipal Base of the Pyramid (BOP) portal was launched here on Friday with the main objective to build fundamental knowledge in BOP domain while supporting projects with specific goals.

Launching the BOP, Alexius Collette, the CEO, Philips Innovation Campus (PIC), Bangalore, said partnering with Manipal University for the BOP programs had its unique significance with respect to accessibility to BOP market to bring about an ideal integration of research, medicine, management and technology under one umbrella.

He said the programme focuses on broad aspects of the subject, covering understanding the needs and aspirations of the target group of consumers in emerging market, products and services needed to satisfy those and business models and organisational constructs and networks to make the business successful.

He said the Philips and Manipal University were working together in the BOP program for the last two-and-a-half years in various areas such as idea generation, concept development, rural linkages and student exchange program.

Dr M V Kamat, renowned journalist and Chairman of Prasar Bharthi, who presided, released a book on base of pyramid, an integrated approach which summarized some of the new business ideas, commonly known as base of pyramid.

Kamat stressed there was an urgent need of dedicated educated, professionals and the pharmaceutical companies to serve the rural sections of the society who were still deprived of healthcare and education.

Our educators and the politicians have still not paid enough attention on those 27 per cent of the population who were the Below Poverty Line (BPL) deprived of any healthcare and other facility, he said.