India Insight

India should widen focus to migrants in AIDS fight – U.N.

India has been “fairly successful” in fighting AIDS by targeting key affected populations such as intravenous drug users, transgendered people, sex workers and homosexuals, but its focus must broaden to high-risk mobile communities to keep the disease under control, the United Nations said.

Policies focused on prevention and a huge social mobilisation have allowed India to reduce new infections of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, by as much as 57 percent in 10 years; and more than 650,000 people living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy, the second-largest number in the world by country, according to UNAIDS.

There are about 2.1 million people living with HIV in India, with an estimated 130,000 new infections per year.

While focus on the “core” communities has helped keep the disease in check, authorities must “follow the epidemic” and target internal migrants and truckers to widen the scope of prevention efforts, two UNAIDS officials said in an interview with India Insight ahead of World AIDS Day, which is observed on Dec. 1.

“Internal migration is a concern in India. You see changes and patterns of the epidemic in association with migration/mobility,” said Oussama Tawil, country coordinator, UNAIDS.

India’s political parties pump up the radio volume

Anyone who keeps a radio turned on in India’s National Capital Region knows that election fever has settled on Delhi ahead of the Dec. 4 state polls. The ruling Congress party, main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are betting big on radio campaigning — a medium that reaches millions of people across economic classes and backgrounds.

Overall, about 250 million to 500 million rupees ($4 million to $8 million) have been spent on radio advertising in this year’s assembly election in Delhi – at least 200 percent more than during the 2008 state elections, Sunil Kumar of radio consulting firm Big River Radio estimated.

The AAP, or “common man party,” led by Arvind Kejriwal, has allocated 20 million to 30 million rupees ($320,000 to $480,000) for advertising, with 60 to 70 percent for radio and phone calls, said Dilip K. Pandey, an AAP secretary responsible for their communication strategy.

Magnus Carlsen dethrones Viswanathan Anand as world chess champion

World number one Magnus Carlsen toppled local favourite Viswanathan Anand in Chennai to add the world chess championship title to his already impressive resume on Friday.

A draw in the crucial 10th game after 65 moves of play gave the young Norwegian an unassailable lead in the 12-match contest and put an end to Anand’s hopes of retaining the FIDE title he’s held since 2007.

Carlsen, about a week shy of his 23rd birthday, led 6-3 before Friday’s game and needed just a draw to become the first champion from the West since American Bobby Fischer’s reign ended in 1975.

Sesa Sterlite, Bajaj Auto top Sensex losers this week

The BSE Sensex posted a third consecutive weekly fall, closing nearly 1 percent lower amid persisting worries over the slowdown in foreign investors’ buying into Indian shares.

Data shows FIIs sold shares worth $9.5 million on Thursday, snapping a 32-day buying streak as minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed a decision on tapering its bond-buying programme may be taken at one of its next few meetings.

In the coming week, investors will keep an eye on July-September GDP data and fiscal deficit numbers for the April-October period. Here are the top Sensex losers and gainers of the week:

Movie Review: Gori Tere Pyaar Mein

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Punit Malhotra’s “Gori Tere Pyaar Mein”, a woman with no medical training deems it fit to deliver a baby; an architect who hasn’t worked for years thinks he’s capable of building a bridge (who needs engineers?); and rich, privileged people feel better about themselves when they throw money at poor children.

Director Malhotra’s attempt at making a “feel-good” romance has characters that are as hollow and fake as the film’s screenplay. The heroine, an NGO worker, espouses causes from AIDS to land-grabbing to making documentaries about sex workers, but feels no remorse when she cheats her way out of a traffic jam to get to a wedding on time.

There are stereotypes aplenty. The people of Tamil Nadu state only eat idlis and vadas; the Gujaratis only eat dhokla for dinner; and they all speak with pronounced accents. Diya (Kareena Kapoor) is the do-gooder heroine, flitting from one cause to the other. Sriram (Imran Khan) is an aimless and self-centred young man, who lives off his parents, and does not understand Diya’s need to play the Good Samaritan.

Obsessed Rajnikanth fans get their own cinematic tribute

The scene is in a theatre in Chennai. The lights go off and the screen flickers. The first images appear on screen, and the crowd goes nuts — jumping in their seats, screaming incoherently. There is pandemonium, and the movie hasn’t even started.

The object of this frenzy is a 62-year-old, balding man, known to his legion of fans as Anbu Thalaivar (beloved leader) — Rajnikanth, aka Shivajirao Gaikwad, a former bus conductor who is arguably India’s biggest film star.

People who don’t know Indian cinema beyond the concept of Bollywood are unlikely to know who Rajnikanth is. He is by far the brightest star in a constellation of actors in the many centres of regional-language films in India. West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam and Punjab are among the Indian states that feature a rich historical and contemporary cinema, usually in their people’s local languages, especially for the benefit of the millions of Indians who speak little or no Hindi.

Stan Lee bets on India for latest superhero success

Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee has someone in mind that he would like to popularize as much as his 1960s co-creation “Spider-Man”: “Chakra, the invincible!” said the 90-year-old Lee, his voice booming with the excitement of a freshman working on his first project.

The American comics veteran, who collaborated on the creation of superheroes such as Thor and Iron Man, helped create an Indian superhero in partnership with Graphic India. Chakra will make his debut as an animated feature on Cartoon Network in India later this month.

The teenaged character Raju Rai, who lives in Mumbai, will tap into the ancient Hindu belief of chakras or centres of energy in a human body. He and a scientist develop a suit that activates these mystic wheels, giving superpowers to Raju, who fights crime in India’s financial capital.

Indian superhero should have been created long time ago – Stan Lee

Best known for his comic book superheroes that have been adapted into big Hollywood movies, veteran American writer Stan Lee is set to make his India debut.

In partnership with Graphic India, Lee has created a TV animation feature called “Chakra – the Invincible.” The teenaged superhero is based in Mumbai and taps into ancient Indian Hindu beliefs to gather his superpowers.

In an interview from California on phone, Stan Lee tells India Insight how his latest creation has him all excited, why he thinks the digital age is no threat to comic book characters and why his superheroes are not cardboard characters.

Sharad Devarajan has big plans for Stan Lee’s Indian debut ‘Chakra’

Sharad Devarajan is no stranger to the animation and comic book scene in India. He was responsible for bringing DC Comics, Marvel and the publishing activities of Cartoon Network to the country, and worked with Marvel on an Indian avatar of the Spider-Man in 2004, the first “trans-creation.” Devarajan is also launching a series on Bollywood superhero franchise Krrish.

He heads a U.S.-based digital entertainment company, Liquid Comics, which creates original graphic and animation content for various media. The company’s Indian arm, Graphic India, worked with Stan Lee‘s POW! Entertainment and developed the American cartoonist’s first Indian superhero, Chakra.

(Also read: Indian superhero should have been created long time ago – Stan Lee and Stan Lee bets on India for latest superhero success)

Mumbai police look to Bollywood for image makeover

Mumbai’s police department has deployed an unusual strategy to revamp its sagging reputation and to counter criticism that it hasn’t done a good job at solving crimes against women in the city – it called the biggest game in town and asked for help.

Top city police officers, including the police commissioner, have asked Bollywood producers, directors and writers to portray them in a more positive light than they usually do.

While films like “Ardh Satya” spoke of the pressures and frustrations of policemen, many mainstream films, which have the most reach, aren’t kind to the force. The police also have asked the studios to change how they portray the women in their films, hoping that this would cause men to behave better toward women.

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