Correspondent, Mumbai
Rina's Feed
Apr 14, 2010

Romance of books key in digital age, says Penguin CEO

MUMBAI (Reuters) – With the excitement around the launch of Apple’s iPad and the growing popularity of other digital devices, it is a challenge to retain the romance of the printed book, according to the head of publisher Penguin.

The iPad, a cross between a smartphone and a laptop, is helping foster a market for tablet computers that is expected to grow to some 50 million units by 2014, and with it, also expand the market for e-books, which has been hard to crack.

Apr 8, 2010
via India Insight

From across the border, books and bats

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This week, while one Pakistani was being questioned by the Indian police and hysterical reporters on an alleged marriage to an Indian, another Pakistani, composed and smiling, fielded questions from an admiring audience on dynasty and politics in the country that every Indian has an opinion on.

The contrast between Shoaib Malik, who is all set to marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, and Fatima Bhutto, writer and niece of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, could not be more glaring. And that is reason to celebrate.

Apr 1, 2010

India launches what it calls world’s biggest census

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India on Thursday kicked off what is says will be the world’s biggest census that it hopes will help plug wastage in government welfare schemes, boost tax revenue and define consumers more clearly.

More than two million census workers will cover an estimated 1.2 billion people, defining them in demographic, socio-cultural and economic terms, including such parameters as mobile phone and Internet usage and banking access.

Feb 23, 2010

India budget to push harder for financial inclusion

MUMBAI, Feb 23 (Reuters) – The Indian government’s push for
financial access for hundreds of millions of the unbanked is
helping secure its vote base and creating lucrative
opportunities for financial institutions, technology and mobile
services firms.

In his budget speech on Friday, Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee may announce funds for a common technology platform
to reach the goal of a banking outlet in every village of more
than 2,000 people by March, 2011, senior government officials
say.

Feb 16, 2010

Debate over GM eggplant consumes India

MUMBAI, Feb 16 (Reuters) – The purple eggplant that Indian
shopper Tanuja Krishnan picks out at a Mumbai market stall
every week is an unlikely protagonist in a raging debate about
whether genetically modified foods should be introduced into
India.

A genetically modified version of eggplant, a staple in
fiery curries, was slated to be the first GM food introduced
into India in a bid to stabilise food prices and mitigate some
of the effects of climate change on Indian food crop yields.

Feb 12, 2010

Bollywood film sparks militant Hindu rage in India

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Theatres in Mumbai turned fortresses on Friday for release of a Bollywood film whose star is locked in a duel with a radical Hindu group, sparking worries India’s financial hub is being undermined by parochial politics.

Most cinemas began showing ‘My Name is Khan’ by afternoon after initial reluctance for fear of attacks by the hard-line Shiv Sena party.

Feb 11, 2010
via India Insight

Why let a debate determine the fate of GM foods?

Photo

There’s nothing Indians like better than a good debate.

So when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced last month that he would hold public debates to decide the commercial fate of genetically modified brinjal (eggplant), there were hopes these would provide a chance for all stakeholders to be heard.

But the debates, in seven cities including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, were chaotic, nothing more than acrimonious shouting matches between environmental activists and scientists, who say they were not given a fair chance to voice their opinion.

Feb 9, 2010

Regional rivalry tests security in India’s Mumbai

MUMBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A verbal battle between one of Bollywood’s stars and a radical Hindu group in Mumbai has sparked worries the stature of India’s financial hub is being undermined by politics that are anti-migrant and polarising.

The Shiv Sena, which runs the Mumbai municipality, triggered a debate that has resonated across India over the last week after it criticised film star Shah Rukh Khan for calling for Pakistani players to be included in India’s IPL cricket league.

In Mumbai, Shiv Sena members have torn up posters and warned theatres against screening Khan’s new movie "My Name Is Khan", touted as a blockbuster and due for release on Feb. 12.

It was the latest in a series of incidents, as Shiv Sena promises to protect Mumbai’s indigenous Marathi community in industries from construction to taxis from thousands of poor migrants who flock to Mumbai each year.

The uproar came at a time when Mumbai could lead India as a beacon for global investment, as Asia’s third-largest economy pulls away from the financial crisis at a much quicker pace than its peers in Europe and the United States.

"Mumbai’s image may suffer from it," wrote the Economic Times newspaper.

"Sustained political disturbances in India’s financial hub may not go well in the minds of international investors who are betting high on India, thanks to its high growth projection vis-a-vis flat returns from most developed countries."

"Also, Mumbai is betting on creating an international financial centre, giving competition to Singapore and Dubai."

The skirmish comes as local politics have also overshadowed other major cities in India.

There has been unrest in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where supporters for the creation of a new state have repeatedly shut down the IT hub of Hyderabad, home to the Indian operations of multinationals including Microsoft and Amazon.

"Maharashtra (state) politics has become an ominous combination of crony capitalism and nativism," wrote Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research, in the Indian Express daily.

"Maharashtra is important not because the (Shiv Sena) can break India. They cannot. But it is important because its politics can be one possible future for India, an India where liberal values are in jeopardy," he wrote.

NO APOLOGIES

Khan, who is a co-producer of "My Name Is Khan", has said he will not apologise, and has quickly won support amongst the film fraternity in Mumbai, home to Bollywood.

Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray has also trained his guns on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Congress party poster boy Rahul Gandhi and industrialist Mukesh Ambani, one of the world’s richest men, who said Mumbai belonged to all Indians.

Thackeray wrote in the party newspaper: "I would like to tell all businessmen that only Marathi people have the first right over Mumbai."

The Shiv Sena has been partly prompted by efforts to outdo rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which also draws strength from nativist sentiment and is run by Thackeray’s estranged nephew.

Last year, thousands of north Indians fled the city and the state after MNS workers attacked migrants, triggering a backlash in northern states where trains headed for Mumbai were attacked. (Additional reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Jerry Norton)






Jan 27, 2010

Exile deepened Nobel author’s desire to “fix” Nigeria

JAIPUR, India (Reuters) – Living in exile often drives authors to cut all ties with their homeland, but for Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, being away from Nigeria just made him more eager to return to fix what he believes ails his country.

Soyinka, who in 1986 became the first African author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, has been dubbed the “conscience” of Nigeria, speaking out against dictatorship and corruption in his country and its African neighbors, despite the risk to his own life and safety.

Jan 25, 2010

English fiction in India? It’s the same old story

JAIPUR, India (Reuters) – Amid the color and celebration of the Jaipur Literary Festival, heralded as Asia’s largest, one question has furrowed many brows and sparked anxious debate: is fiction writing in English in India past its prime?

Given the growing number of publishers and the constant flood of titles in bookstores, the question seems preposterous.