India Insight

Arvind Gupta, BJP IT cell head, on party’s social media plans

By Aditya Kalra and David Lalmalsawma

Political parties in India are relying more on social media ahead of the 2014 election as a way of increasing voter support, even though politicians in general do not expect such efforts to significantly influence election results.

India Insight interviewed Arvind Gupta, head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT division, in July about social media and the party’s plans for the elections. Here are edited excerpts:

Why the recent social media push?
It’s not sudden for us. We have been engaged in social media for the last three to four years. It’s been a consistent effort. I think only in the early part of this year, people started realizing that this could be one of the accelerators. I don’t call it a game changer, but an accelerator in this election.

(Also read: Social media not a game changer in 2014 elections)

How big a contribution will it make in the elections?
It’s definitely setting a narrative. It is influencing a lot of people. Now people who use this are using it a lot more than they are watching TV or doing anything else.  So if we can communicate and have a good message delivered to them well, they consume that message. So it’s a method of communication. The game changer is the message actually, not the method of communication.

Can it help you win an election?
First of all, no good marketing can sell a bad product. This is a very effective medium for us to communicate all our good things. Everything has to fall in place, it is an additional medium. It can definitely help us win the election if it amplifies our message the way we are expecting it to.

Gujarati film ‘The Good Road’ is India’s Oscar entry

The Good Road”, a Gujarati-language film, has been chosen as India’s entry to the 2014 Oscars, stealing attention from a critically acclaimed love story that was screened at the Cannes film festival this year.

Gyan Correa’s debut film about two children lost in the Kutch desert won a national award for best Gujarati-language film this year, but was a dark horse among the 22 movies in the running to be India’s official entry to the Oscars in the best foreign film category.

Expectations had been high for Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox”, an Indian-French-German co-production that won the Grand Rail d’Or at Critics’ Week at Cannes in May.

Crowd-funded film ‘Lucia’ depended on the kindness of strangers

When filmmaker Pawan Kumar wrote an anguished blog post about not having enough money to make a movie, he didn’t expect hundreds of strangers to lend him their savings, no questions asked.

Eighteen months after that post — called “Making Enemies” — went viral, Kumar’s Kannada-language feature film “Lucia” opened in Indian cinemas.

The film, a thriller about an insomniac usher in an old theatre, earned 10.6 million rupees (about $170,000) in ticket sales in its first week in cinemas, outperforming its production budget of around 6 million rupees (about $95,000). The film’s television rights were sold for an additional 10 million rupees.

Movie Review: The Lunchbox

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

Even if Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox” had been a film with a weak script, wayward direction and too long to hold your attention, there would be still be a reason to watch the film — Irrfan Khan.

Here is an actor who will mesmerize and transfix you while playing the most unassuming of characters.

Movie Review: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero

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

Rajkumar Santoshi‘s “Phata Poster Nikhla Hero” unapologetically harks back to Bollywood of the 80s. The characters include the upright mother, the loyal son and the air-headed but charming leading lady. Don’t forget the goofy humour, and the good vs evil fight.

As the protagonist Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapur) tells a character at the end of the film: I have done everything by now – romanced the heroine, danced with the item girl, fought the villain, and helped the police. Santoshi certainly ticked all the boxes, and if he only knew where to stop, he might have ended up with a better-than-average film.

Shahid Kapur plays a small-town boy who harbours dreams of becoming a Bollywood hero. His mother Savitri (Padmini Kolhapure) has different plans. She wants him to become an honest police officer to atone for the sins of her husband, who was everything a police officer shouldn’t be. She sends him to Mumbai to fulfil her dream, but Vishwas is hell-bent on making a career as a Hindi film hero.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 2.7 percent, Maruti surges 11 percent

By Ankush Arora and Sankalp Phartiyal

The BSE Sensex rose 2.7 percent in the week ending September 20, as foreign inflows and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to continue with its bond-buying programme boosted market sentiment.

The benchmark index, which is now up 9 percent in September and has gained for four consecutive weeks, touched its highest level since November 2010 on Thursday after the Fed’s surprising move. Analysts said the U.S. central bank’s decision could lead to a resurgence of portfolio flows into emerging markets such as India.

On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India stunned markets by raising the repo rate by 25 basis points (bps), but some of the recent rupee support measures were trimmed. The Indian currency gained 2 percent in the last five sessions and ended the week at 62.23/24 per dollar.

Delhi shaped South Asia’s Muslim identity, Pakistani author says

Raza Rumi is based in Lahore, but the public policy specialist and Friday Times editor’s new book is based in another milieu entirely. “Delhi by heart” is a kind of travelogue about a city that is the source of a shared heritage that spans hundreds of years.

By his own admission, it is a “heartfelt account” of how a Pakistani comes to India, an “enemy country”, and discovers that its capital has, in fact, so many things common with Lahore.

“I wanted to write the biography of Darah Shikoh, the great Indian Mughal prince,” Rumi said. “While researching for that, and while visiting Delhi all the time, I felt really it merits a Pakistani version as well because for these five years we have been so much cut off and we have misunderstood each other so much that it is time to sort of build bridges. Hence the book.”

Banking stocks surge in September; analysts cautious

After falling for four consecutive months, India’s banking stocks have surged in September on value buying and recent measures announced by the new Reserve Bank of India chief, but analysts remain cautious.

On his first day in office, RBI chief Raghuram Rajan announced measures to prop up the rupee and liberalise the banking system, including higher overseas borrowing limits for lenders and simpler branch opening processes.

The BSE banking index has gained more than 14 percent this month after losing nearly 30 percent during the April-August period, with stocks such as ICICI jumping 20 percent and YES Bank climbing more than 27 percent. The benchmark Sensex has gained around 6.5 percent in September. However, analysts believe the rally could lose steam.

Interview: India has a lot to offer in terms of Twitter stories – Twittamentary director

Two Indian social media consultants, Avinash Kalla and Bhaskar Pant, plan to release “Twittamentary India”, a film made in collaboration with Singapore-based documentary filmmaker Tan Siok Siok. Like Siok’s 2012 original “Twittamentary”, the new film will take a look at the Twitter community with the help of people on the social media website. “Twittamentary India” will explore the interactions that politicians, journalists and ordinary people have on Twitter in the country.

(Also read: Twitter in India to come alive in new documentary)

Arnika Thakur spoke to Siok about social media, “Twittamentary” and how India became the first country chapter. Edited excerpts from the interview.

Q: How did “Twittamentary” happen?
A: The motivation for making the film came about from my own experience on Twitter. I was kind of an early adopter and I came on Twitter in 2007, before it became mainstream … When I first started using it I thought it was quite inane. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be doing this … But when I started using it, I was amazed by the connections I was able to make, and by the amount of relationships and friendships I was able to form. At the same time I found that those who are really into Twitter had a really hard time trying to convey their experience to people who don’t get it. So I thought that it would actually be a very good topic for a film as film or video can be more visceral and you can convey emotion and experience that will be in logical terms.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 2.4 percent; L&T, Tata Power surge

September is turning out to be a good month for Indian shares, as key stock indexes extended gains in the last four sessions. Monday was a market holiday.

The BSE Sensex gained 2.4 percent, while the broader Nifty rose nearly 3 percent as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) extended buying into Indian equities. A recovery in the rupee, which posted its best week in 15 months, also boosted sentiment.

Profit-taking dented markets mid-week as caution also prevailed ahead of a series of macroeconomic events scheduled next week, including August inflation data due on Monday and the likelihood of U.S. Fed’s decision to announce a reduction in its monetary policy stimulus. RBI will review its policy on September 20.

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