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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Once you can make a screen ­ that hard, rigid thing on your phone, laptop or TV ­ bend to your will, you can change everything (and if that sounds too literal, that's because it is!)
I WALK INTO my recording studio and one of my colleagues says she has something to show me. She proclaims it to be the most unique, most exclusive and most amazing gadget I have ever seen.She fishes out a shocking pink cover and from within its leathery confines slides out... an iPad 2. As I brace myself for something boring and mundane, I notice that the iPad itself doesn't look right. It seems to curve and curve at a spectacular angle, flexing convexly about an inch and a half right in the middle. That's just the thin aluminum case. The shocking part is that the screen also appears to be curved and runs flexibly along the same line as the outer casing. Even more wonderment follows. The impossibly curved iPad 2 works! There are no cracks, no fault lines, the touchscreen works as do the rest of the insides. How did she manage this uniquely curved iPad 2, the first of its kind anywhere in the world?
It turned out that the `bend' iPad was a gift from her husband, who ran his car over her handbag that contained it. Once the wheels had run over the massive bag and all the screaming and shouting was over, they found that the weight of the car and the rubber on the wheels had left them with this strange, unique and frankly weird contraption. Why the screen hadn't splintered, why the iPad isn't in pieces and how in heaven's name does it work are questions left to the almighty and Steve Jobs sitting at his side. I advised her not to get it repaired, that she was in possession of what nobody else in the world had.She had the world's first working, flexi-curved gadget and I had just seen the future!


screens and displays have been the stuff of sci-fi legend for ages and numerous device prototypes have been in play for years now. Nokia showcased the Kinetic, a bendy, rubbery flexible little thing that is very futuristic.Semi-foldable e-readers have been shown and a display the size of a newspaper could be rolled up just like a newspaper. But nothing has made the journey into a real product.


has been predicted by many that the greatest invention and breakthrough of the future will be foldable bendable screens. It's the one thing that changes the whole technology paradigm.
Every single gadget anywhere in the world ­ its shape, size, materials used, look and feel, the operating system, how you interact with it, the button placement ­ is dictated by the screen placement. Because the screen is a flat, rigid thing that leaves no flexibility as far as its placement is concerned, you design around it. Once you get rid of this liability, everything changes! You can let your imagination run wild, you can cross any boundary, you can make your wildest fantasy come true. It is said that the greatest era of design will start once a screen can be folded, curved and bended.


One of the greatest problems for designing any device is inventing a way to minimise the size of the device while simultaneously maximising the size of the display. While shape and size and style will change, the greatest benefit will come from size amplification. If you can fold a screen down to a quarter of its size and then open it to its full size at the press of a button, you've just made every current product category look foolish. Why would you need a Tablet and a mobile phone? What would be the difference between a Netbook, Notebook and an Ultra-portable? Of what use is a desktop monitor? Why would you need a large-screen TV? It's all pretty much redundant. A thin cylindrical device can be opened up and used as per the size you need. It can be your mobile phone as is, your Tablet when you need to browse, a Notebook when you want to type out a document and when you press a button, transforms into giant-sized TV.
Why aren't we taking this leap yet? It all has to do with how these screens work. While bendable and curvable screens have been around for a while, the holy grail is true foldable screens. Till you can't fold 'em in half, you can't achieve the dream. Many other conditions must still be met: the screen must open thousands of times without creasing, it must be mechanically and optically robust, it must have a hard, protective surface as good as glass and must still be as clear as current screen technology. All this is happening as we speak. Many companies, including Samsung, are working on an active matrix OLED display that is actually mounted on silicone rubber, which is a hyper-elastic material.Prototypes are working brilliantly and even a quadruple fold has now been achieved (a 4.5-inch screen opens to a breathtaking 18-incher).
The Nokia Kinetic should be out in about two years; single-fold screen devices will be out in about about five. If you can't wait, maybe you can aim for a curved iPad too. Get in touch with me and I'll give you the number of my friend's husband ­ you can utilise his amazing driving skills.
(Rajiv Makhni HTBR6NOV11)


Let's say that you're in charge of various different projects at work — and each one has a different set of people working on it. Keeping track of completion levels, team involvement, challenges and obstacles can be quite a task. A collaboration tool called Trello ( might be the answer. The service is free but you need to create an account to get started (only name, email ID and password are required). Once you start, each project can be a 'board' — the board provides an overview of the project — it tells you which team members are working on it, which tasks need to get done, displays due dates and offers checklists. You can invite people to your Trello page by email. You can also attach files to a board, add images and embed videos for all the members to see. Everything (including communication) stays secure with SSL encryption. A notification system will keep you updated of new events in real-time. And as the makers Fog Creek software suggest, Trello is not just for keeping track of projects, but you can use it if you're a freelancer (to keep track of clients), to help plan an event, as a personal to-do list or just figure out a use depending on what you need to get done. HITESH RAJ BHAGAT in ET

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Plastic bottles, water and bleach light up lives in Kenyan slums.
In this maze of windowless tin shacks, school classes are often held outside because even in daytime it is too dark to see the blackboard. Now a youth group is hoping some two-litre plastic bottles filled with water and bleach can brighten Kenya's slums.
The soda bottle-as-lightbulb was first discovered in Brazil by mechanic Alfredo Moser in 2002. In the decade since, tens of thousands of people who can't afford electricity or other sources of light like candles have converted to the water bottle lightpoint.
When the bottle is hung through a hole in the roof and filled with water and bleach, the bottle refracts sunlight and can produce as much light as a 50- or 60-watt bulb.
Veronica Wanjiru (24), a mother of two, said even illegal electrical hookups, candles and paraffin were too expensive for many in the Korogocho slums. Her 11-year-old and five-year-old had to do their homework outside and in a rush before the sunset. Now that she has a water bulb, it can even produce light at night during a full moon.
The youth group called Koch Hope has been so successful in installing water bulbs for people like Wanjiru that it's now struggling to meet demand. The group installed the first 100 bulbs for free in April in hopes of attracting attention from donors and expanding the project.
During electricity shortages in Uberaba, Sao Paulo in 2002, Mr. Moser discovered that hanging a plastic bottle full of water from his roof brought in extra light. The idea behind Mr. Moser's simple invention known in different places as solar water bulb or water bulb has spread to slum dwellers in at least three continents.
In the Philippines, a non-governmental organisation is attempting to use the solar water bulb to brighten one million homes by next year. The project is known as “Isang Litrong Liwanag,” which translates to “A Litre of Light”.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Squeezing out ketchup just got easier
London: Here’s some good news for women who often find it a herculean task to get the sauce out of ketchup bottles — researchers claim to have created a super-slippery material based on a carnivorous plant.

And, the material has properties that allow it to repel both oil and water based liquids, meaning they slide off without leaving any residue, according to a team at Harvard University in US.

The researchers behind the substance were inspired by Nepenthes pitcher plants, which has a highly slippery surface at the top of its fluteshaped leaves so that insects tumble down into the digestive juices contained inside.

They found that the plant’s leaves have a sponge-like texture that are infused with water, which prevent the oils produced on insects’ feet from sticking.

The researchers copied the plant by immobilizing a “lubricating film” inside the pores of a sponge-like layer of Teflon to produce a smooth and highly slippery surface. They hope it could not result in self-cleaning coating that can be put on anything from car windscreens, inside oil pipes and on aircraft wings to prevent icing.

It could also be used to coat the inside of bottles and jars to allow every last drop of a condiment to be removed by hungry consumers. PTI
(TOI 15N1111)

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Managing Your Online Reputation in Days of Social Media
Every time I visit a business school campus I come back with new ideas about careers. I met Nisha, a first-year student, who wants to be an entrepreneur. Her big idea is about launching a service that helps individuals and organisations manage their online reputation. The social media monitoring service Reppler recently surveyed more than 300 hiring professionals to determine when and how job recruiters are screening job candidates on different social networks. The study found that more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers have visited a potential candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. And a whopping 69% of recruiters have rejected a candidate based on content found on his or her social networking profiles — an almost equal proportion of recruiters (68%), though, have hired a candidate based on his or her presence on those networks.

Nisha says that the real market for her lies in coaching individuals on building a positive online reputation for themselves and the mistakes to avoid.

Nisha has advised her classmates against putting up photos that show them in a less flattering light. Do not put them up in the first place is her rule number one.

Rule number two is about making sure that you know what people are saying about you online. In a digitally connected world, your online reputation spreads faster than you imagine.

Rule number three is to make sure you build a positive reputation about your skills. You could do that by sharing links, readings and resources on a subject. It is like becoming the Wikipedia on at least one subject in the world. So managing your reputation is not just about guarding against negative reputations – it can be actually used positively, says Nisha.

We have opinions about people we have not even met. We have opinions about products and services we have not used or will ever be able to afford. We have opinions about companies based on what their employees are saying. Every employee is a brand ambassador of the organisation’s reputation. What the consumer says is always more believable than what the manufacturer says about the product. Clearly, one’s opinion could be another’s reputation.

Organisations are rarely aware of their reputations being sullied or built by inaccurate information put online by well meaning employees and well wishers. Worse still are pranks that can damage the reputation your organization has built over the years. In 2009 two employees of Domino’s Pizza filmed a prank in the restaurant’s kitchen and posted it online. The video went viral with a million disgusted viewers and created a major public relations crisis. How can the firm track this stuff ? Have a specialist firm track your online reputation. If your company already has a clearly articulated policy about what employees can talk about or not in the social media then make sure you periodically reinforce it. What is once written on the Net is rarely erased forever. Wikileaks told the redfaced government officials that even diplomatic chatter was not immune to being put into public domain. What if there were to be a Wikileaks version for corporations or for individuals, how would that change our world, I asked Nisha. The social media even in its current avatar has taken on that role is her retort. Your reputation does not belong to you – it is actually owned by others. Think about it.


Spur of the movement
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just toning your body into shape, inadequate foot care can leave you nursing a painful bone at your heel. Here’s how to steer clear of it
Not to take away from the new found resolve to get back into shape and jog your way to your ideal body weight, taking a little care of not over-exerting your body can save you a world of pain.

Commonly ignored, an aching foot is often dismissed as the body's way of telling you that you've done your time on the tracks. But if the pain is chronic, specifically located at the base of your heel and is extra sensitive in the mornings, maybe it's time for a closer inspection. According to Dr Pradeep Bhonsle, HOD of Orthopedics and an arthritis and joint replacement surgeon at KEM hospital, the calcaneous spur is as common as a broken bone in the OPD department. Here are his tips on identifying the spur and easing your way out of it.


When you walk, one heel at a time supports the whole weight of your body. In motion, this weight can be equal to 20 times your own body weight at the point of support. This load is softened by a pillow of fat under the heel and a large sinew under the foot sole.

For those who take warm ups lightly, or weekend runners who exert the body not regularly but in extended spurts, they risk overloading the calf muscles or the Achilles tendon as it is known, which puts an extra strain on the sinew or ligament and foot muscles which over time can cause an inflammation or even small cracks in the sinew. As you sit or rest your body at any time, the muscles of the sole of the foot contract in attempt to protect the damaged ligament. This is when your pain will ease but as soon as the body stands up again, it'll return and the sinew might crack even more.

Over time, to compensate for the repeated damage to the sinew, the body tries to repair it, just as it repairs a broken bone, by wrapping it in bone. The result is a small bony projection on the heel bone called a calcaneal spur and pressure on it is what causes chronic pain. Bhonsle elaborates, "It grows in the direction of the inflammation, horizontally. It's the result of the inflammation, not the cause of it."


Often there are cases where the spur formation is restricted to one foot, not both. It's not necessary that you will injure both feet at the same time. Here are a few identifying symptoms.

* Sharp, stabbing pain under or on the inside of the heel.

* The pain is typically relieved during rest, but is worse after getting up again.

* As a rule of thumb, it is most excruciating, first thing in the morning.

* The pain is made worse by walking on a hard surface or carrying something heavy, such as a suitcase. Uneven surfaces are also difficult to walk on.

* The pain can become so severe that it becomes difficult to continue your daily work.


While anyone who exerts their body or doesn't warm up sufficiently, risks developing a spur, certain groups are more prone than the others. According to research, women are more susceptible to a calcaneal projection. Middle age and being overweight are also risk factors. Most often, as one ages, the shockabsorbing fat pillow starts shrinking and becomes less effective. Also, athletes or professionals who rigorously work out but only once or twice a week run the risk of damage.


* Bhonsle advocates the use of properly padded shoes, those with a U-shaped insole or proper arch support. The ball of the foot needs a soft cushion. Shoes with thin soles or plastic soles should be avoided if you plan to walk or jog a lot.

* Use a contrast bath. Icing helps decrease the inflammation. Start with an ice pack on the heel for five minutes and switch to a hot water bath.

* Roll a ball under your foot: Take a tennis ball, soft ball or even a rolling pin and roll your foot over it to help stretch out the plantar fascia. This should not cause pain. Discontinue if it causes you pain.
* Take time to warm up and stretch before exercising. Also remember to cool down afterwards.
* Don't overestimate your abilities. If you are in pain, give your foot ample time to heal before running again. If you need to exercise, switch to cycling or swimming instead.
* Try losing some weight using alternative methods. There is a good chance you have gained some weight since the onset of your heel pain due to a decrease in activity. Increased weight on the body transmits to the feet, adding to the stress on the ligament, making things all the more difficult
*In extreme cases, steroids or painkillers can be used with proper prescription.
Divashri.Sinha MM 24N1111

Friday, November 25, 2011


Light my fire
Myth : Barbecuing is messy, expensive, requires specialised skills, fancy ingredients and is too American to appeal to Indians, who love their tandoor, thank you very much.

Reality: More and more urban Indians are adopting it, especially in centres with high homecoming NRI populations such as Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon and parts of Mumbai. Delhi, of course, can't do without its tandoori. While meticulously managed, sit-down dinners are not exactly passê, many hosts are now looking for ways to throw a more casual and activity-oriented party, and barbecuing has stepped in to fill the gap between anything-goes college parties and formal lunches and dinners.

For Bangalore residents Rudreshwar Sen and his wife Alakananda, a party isn't complete without some grilling. The Sens, who started barbecuing when one of their friends returned from the US with a branded barbeque grill set, throw a barbeque in the garden of their villa in posh Bangalore suburb Whitefield at least once a month. They also have other barbeque enthusiasts as friends and neighbours, and often carry or wheel their grill set over to their houses for joint DIY parties. "We love the food, but more than that, the social aspect of barbecuing appeals to us. It is an activity around which conversation can flow, " says Rudreshwar, who works in a senior managerial position with Infosys. "It helps us get people outdoors instead of everyone just sitting around chatting, and it is the kind of cooking in which everyone can chip in. " Like most barbecuing families, the Sens have their own repertoire of signature dishes: their olive-infused chicken breast is almost always a hit and gets polished off along with others like rosemary chicken, beer-can chicken (in which a whole marinated chicken is plonked on top of a beer can half filled with beer and then cooked, with the beery vapours adding a special flavour to the meat), grilled pork chops, bhetki with black bean sauce, prawn on skewers, and spicy corn on cob. "We've also tried Bengali dishes like bhetki macher paturi, daab chingri, begun bhaja with mixed luck, " adds Rudreshwar.

When American firm Weber launched its premium grills in India three years ago, it was encouraged by the fact that many Indians in urban centres had been exposed to the barbecue concept through popular media, people were eating at restaurants that specialised in barbecued food and there was a growing awareness of healthier cooking options, says Aslam Gafoor, the Bangalore-based COO of Weber India. The brand has doubled sales since its launch in 2009, he adds. Enthusiastic cooks are now taking special classes to learn the basics of grilling and barbecue-tailored recipes. Weber conducts weekly barbeque workshops attended by 15-20 people and most sessions are sold out.

Young chef Sarabjit Singh, who runs a turnkey kitchen solutions company in Bangalore, has created a hospitality brand called The BBQ Story, which conducts specialised cooking classes every weekend. "We teach people the basics, right from how to light the charcoal to incorporating different international cuisines such as Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Italian and Spanish into the concept of barbecue. We even teach people how to make rotis and pizzas on the barbecue, " says Sarabjit. "There is a good mix in the profile of people who come. The last session saw a lot of youngsters. "

While the American barbecuing tradition is primarily associated with cooking a plethora of meats, with seafood being a late entrant and corn-on-the-cob a barely-there nod to the vegetarian side of things, in India not providing options for vegetarians can kill the aspirations of any hospitality business.

Keeping this in mind, most barbecue restaurants and classes provide plenty of choices and innovation in barbecuing vegetables in interesting ways - from onions and peppers wrapped in foils and thrown casually on the grill to cook in their own juices to elaborate dishes such as grilled arbi, grill crisp stuffed bhindi and plantain kababs.

These recipes are a godsend for the likes of Siddharth Mangharam, a foodie who loves to experiment with cooking techniques and doesn't want to feel hampered by the fact that he and his wife are vegetarians. Mangharam, who worked in the corporate world with companies such as Microsoft and McKinsey before starting a singles network called FLOH, lived in the US for around seven years before heading back to India and picked up his love for the barbecue lifestyle there. "In the US, almost every household has a grill and I guess we just got used to being with friends and going to parties where the grill was the centre of attraction.

Barbecuing is such a fun casual way for people to come together. You don't need fancy tableware, you don't need to have perfect food - you can hand out paper plates and slightly charred bits and people are still happy, " says Mangharam. Being a vegetarian has not killed his style, he says, because of the abundance of fresh ingredients that can be put to good use. "We do a lot of veg burgers as well as grill fresh vegetables like peppers and potatoes. We also grill branded frozen and ready-tofry stuff that is available in supermarkets and make desserts such as honey-glazed pineapples, " he adds. While Weber is getting aggressively into the market, several retailers have been doing brisk business in importing barbeque sets from countries like China and Australia. "Many people prefer gas barbecues to the conventional charcoal ones. Gas barbecues take two minutes to heat up and there is no mess and effort involved, as compared to working with a conventional one. Also, gas barbecues are ideal for people living in apartments, and can even be kept in a 3x6 balcony. Besides, the charcoal available is very damp and hence takes a lot of time to light up, " says Titus Benjamin, head marketing, BBQ King, a retailer of imported BBQ equipment brands such as Campingaz. BBQ King is now looking at setting up a retail store in the city. According to Benjamin, the bulk of sales is in products priced between Rs 18, 500 and Rs 32, 000. The company also retails BBQ equipment priced at Rs 80, 000. Weber's barbeque sets are priced between Rs 5, 000 (for a small table-top version) and Rs 1. 5 lakh for industrialsized ones (for hotels) though the maximum movement is in the Rs 10, 000 to Rs 30, 000 range. The company also manages to get round the problem of accessibility to good quality charcoal by selling eco-friendly, evensized 'briquettes' made of coconut shell. The adoption of barbecuing as a way of life has a realty component to it too. After all, barbecuing needs space and not everyone wants a smoking grill in their balcony. In keeping with this, developers are creating spaces in apartments and villas where a grill can be set up. What's more, many are advertising this way of life with wellplaced ads showing photogenic, happy-looking families evidently having a great time around the barbeque set. Recently, Habitat Ventures launched a high-end apartment project in Whitefield, in which each apartment boasts of its own private garden of 1, 250-1, 300 sq ft - a feature that's being projected as the development's USP. Interestingly, the garden area is been marketed to people as a place to host barbecue parties. "The marketing has been deliberate, keeping in mind our target audience that is typically made up of people who have either returned from US or have lived in the US and have become used to a certain lifestyle. In the US, weekends or major football games are associated with barbecue parties, " says Shivaram Kumar Malakala, executive director, Habitat Ventures. In other projects, common areas are being marked out as spaces for barbecue parties.

"People look forward to having a lounge area, which can be used to host BBQ dinners for 30-40 people. In some of our upcoming residential projects, we are setting aside certain areas that can be used for this purpose, " says Nitesh Shetty, CMD, Nitesh Estates, one of the city's premium real estate developers. Typically, in apartment complexes that let out the common area for parties, residents would have to book the place in advance for a fee, which could vary from Rs 10, 000 to Rs 25, 000. Of course, residents would be paying for an open area that would vary between 5, 000 sq ft and 25, 000 sq ft in size.
- Shrabonti Bagchi and Anshul Dhamija TOICREST 19NOV1111

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Goodness of Guavas


I had mixed feelings about recent reports which crowned the guava as the healthiest of fruits, with the highest concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. On the one hand it was good that such an accolade was going not to expensive or hard-to-get fruits like mangosteens or blueberries, or even relatively costly apples, but the humble Peru that in season is available piled high on carts at street corners, both green ones, to be eaten with salt and chilli, and riper yellow ones, to be eaten alone.

So common is the guava in India — Ranjit Singh and SK Saxena say it is the fourth-largest fruit crop, in terms of both acreage and quantity — that it can be surprising to learn that it is not native here. Its origin is in South America, but it was one of the first plants from the New World to reach India, presumably through the Portuguese, with the first clear reference to it in 1673.

Guavas grow very easily, to the extent that they are treated as weeds in Latin America, flourishing even on poor soils, so they must have spread rapidly across India. Many varieties have been developed here, but the most famous are those from Allahabad. Jawaharlal Nehru's family had large guava orchards there and he loved the fruit. "Yesterday we received a parcel of guavas which I suppose you had sent. They are excellent and maintain worthily the reputation of Allahabad," he wrote to one correspondent.

Nehru seems to have liked guavas for themselves, but many others ate them for health reasons (so the recent findings are hardly new). It was one thing Gandhi and Jinnah could agree on — "One can subsist quite well on peanuts taken with guavas," Gandhi wrote to a friend (though this is one diet he didn't follow for any extended time), while Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan noted how Jinnah believed that guavas purified the blood, and she made sure always to have some around when he visited.

Another point in favour of guavas is that all this healthfulness comes in a wonderfully scented package. All too often, natural products with really healthy reputations have really off-putting scents or flavours, like jamun, which I find both astringent and metallic, or bael, with its faint note of vomit. Guava, by contrast, has an intoxicatingly spicy smell, a reminder that its family, the Myrtaceae, also includes plants like clove, allspice and eucalyptus which specialise in producing strongly aromatic oils.

In his book The Fruit Hunters, Adam Leith Gollner has a rather risqué story of a friend who grew up with guavas, but then lived for years in a country where they were scarce. So when his girlfriend surprised him with one, he freaked out and "triumphantly carried it into bed and curled up with it. After deeply inhaling its fragrance, he started kissing it like a long-lost lover and rubbing it all over himself. "I made love to that guava," he groaned. I like the smell of guavas, if not to that extent, but I have to admit that the reason for my mixed feelings about them is that, despite knowing all its benefits and acknowledging its attractions, I really don't much like their taste. I have tried to convince myself otherwise, biting into innumerable guavas, telling myself I have to like something that so many people do. And nearly every time I get a particular note, a kind of prickly greenness, perhaps the sort of unpleasantly intrusive pungency that cloves can have, which I just never take to.

It is possible this has to do with white fleshed variety that is most commonly available. The pink fleshed kinds, which have more limited distribution, do have a more delicate taste. Nehru used these as an example of one of the varieties of Indian socialists, white on the outside, red within; then there were the beetroot kind, red inside and out: and finally the radish kind, red outside, white inside, in which category he placed most Congressmen!

The seeds are certainly part of the problem. Guavas have really annoying and inescapable seeds, too numerous and small to cut or spit out with ease, but too large and hard to ignore. Unlike the small seeds of many berries, which may lodge in an unsightly way between our teeth, but can be ignored until its time for flossing, guava seeds manage both to get between our teeth and then persistently announce their presence, requiring instant action to remove them.

But recently, on a visit to Trikaya Agro's farm at Talegaon, I tried a seedless variety they were growing and it was one of the best guavas I ever ate, with a crisp green apple note. But even here, I could only eat a few pieces before that prickly taste returned, and I have to conclude it's a personal problem I have with guavas. Recently though I had a revelation — my problem was only with fresh guavas, and if I made sure to eat them cooked, then I could enjoy them to the full.

This explained why, for all my distaste for guavas, I adore the guava syrup made by Naturellement in Auroville, a pink-brown liquid with a wonderfully full, fruity taste. Or there's the guava jelly made by Bhuira and sold by Fabindia, which is a luscious, wobbly-set preserve perfect on hot toast in the morning. And guava paste (or cheese, as it's sometimes called), which many aunties in my suburb of Bandra in Mumbai must be cooking up now, is my favourite of all the sweets they make for Christmas.

Perhaps even better than these though is using guava as a vegetable. Cooking gets rid of that prickly note, but retains the spiciness, which suits it for Indian cooking, along with a fruity sweetness that is not overbearing, but just enough to give it some surprise. Jane Grigson has a delicious sounding recipe for a salad of fruit and guava, and a cousin of mine makes a lovely guava raita, but I think the best example is the guava curry made by Jains in Gujarat.

The fruit is a useful addition to their vegetable basket that excludes tubers, so it serves something like carrots in giving a sweet-savoury taste, but with a more melting texture. Swati Snacks in Mumbai makes a version that it pairs with methi roti that is in its layers of flavours, sweet, salty, bitter, savoury, one of the most amazing restaurant dishes in the city.

Till recently this was my top guava dish, but then I came across a recipe for a stuffed guava dessert in one of Diana Kennedy's books on Mexican food. This seemed worth trying since Mexico may well be where guavas were first cultivated, and it makes a wide variety of dishes from them. These are mostly variations on guava paste, but this one involved gently poaching halved guavas in a light syrup, then scooping out the centres (thereby getting rid of most of the seeds). The guava cups that result (which can be bought ready canned in Mexico) can be stuffed with different fillings, with cream cheese being a popular one. But in this recipe, Guayabas Relenas de Cocada, a second, thicker syrup was made and then, just before it began to caramelise, freshly grated coconut was mixed in, cooked for five minutes, and then orange juice, orange zest (grated orange skin), lime juice and a couple of egg yolks were added, and the whole lot cooked till almost dry. When I made this what resulted was a delicious dark golden paste, where the richness of the coconut and yolks were balanced by the citrus juices.

But the real magic happened when spoons of this were stuffed into the guava shells and the whole lot cooked in the oven just till lightly browned. What resulted was a simply stunning dessert that was rich and sweet, yet also fresh and fruity, with a perfect contrast between filling and the guava container, that was as firm, yet yielding as any pastry, but much healthier, of course, and tastier too. It was a simple dessert, yet fancy enough to serve up for any occasion, and the way to make me grateful for the goodness of guavas.
- Vikram Doctor ETCD11N1111



One day, Brahma, father of all living creatures, found a grain of rice at his feet. “Who is responsible for you?” he asked. The farmer claimed responsibility, as he had sown the seed and harvested the grain. The seed claimed responsibility, as without a seed, no grain can be created. The soil claimed responsibility, as without soil a seed cannot germinate. The sun claimed responsibility, as without sunlight plants cannot grow. Finally the rain claimed responsibility as unless there is timely and adequate rain, nothing can grow.

“Everyone is essential for the creation of the grain,” said Brahma, “But only one is critical: the farmer. It is the farmer who makes a plant a valued crop. Without him, rice would have been just another weed in the wild forest.”

So it is with business. Who claims responsibility for success? At the time of investment, no one really knows if the business will be successful. Success is always realised in hindsight. Who takes the credit for the business: the entrepreneur, his employees, the banker? It is very difficult to pinpoint a single factor to success.

But ultimately, everything depends on the entrepreneur who took the initiative to transform an idea into reality. Had he not had the desire, had he not overcome his doubt, the enterprise would never take shape.

In the Rig Veda, the poet wonders what existed before everything else. And after much pondering he concludes, the first to exist, even before breath, is desire – kama. Without kama, there would no movement from formlessness (asat) to form (sat), from darkness (tamas) to light (jyoti), from hopelessness (mrityu) to hope (amrita).

The entrepreneur is the seat of kama, without whom culture would not exist.

Parakh asked his father: to what did the family owe its fortune? His father said, “To the consumers who buy the metal we produce, to the workers who work in our mines, to the government which regulates us fairly, to the market that has been favorable, to the earth which provides us the minerals that we mine, but most importantly to my grandfather who invested all his wealth in the mining business. They were traders then, but he wanted to be involved in a primary industry, something close to earth, that would support all other industries. His family did not support him. So he raised capital on his own. Your great grandfather’s desire and ability to cope with risk, is the critical factor without which we would not be where we are.”

- Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group.
ETCD 4N1111

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Have a great video? YouTube can help you earn lakhs
YouTube, the video sharing website, is paying its users whose funny family videos generate adequate interest
The deal is a type of partnership between the families and YouTube, which splits revenues from advertising that is shown alongside popular videos.From giggling toddlers to spoof home videos, funny family outings and bawling teenagers, the deal takes in a range of videos posted online by proud parents.
YouTube monitors all uploads to its website, and if there is enough interest or it believes the video will go viral, it contacts the user who uploaded it to offer them the chance to make money.The company is said to have developed an algorithm for working out which videos are going to become internet hits.Advertisements placed on the page or embedded within the video clip can generate a huge revenue stream that is then shared between the user and YouTube, it is reported.
One user, Howard Davies-Carr, whose home video of his son Charlie, then one, biting repeatedly biting the finger of his older brother Harry, aged three, has been watched nearly 400 million times, says he has made more than £100,000 (Rs 68.75 lakh) from the partnership."Ever since the boys were born, I've had the camera out," Davies-Carr, from the Thames Valley, told The Sunday Times IN THE uk."But 'Charlie bit my finger - again', that was pretty much the first video I've posted online. It was just a small captured moment I wanted to share with their godfather in Colorado."'Charlie bit my finger - again' is just one of a number of funny family videos that are generating thousands of pounds for users.David DeVore, who filmed his son coming round from an anaesthetic at the dentist in 2008, made almost £100,000 in the first year after uploading the video to YouTube.
Katie Clem, who filmed her daughter Lily's reaction to news of a family trip to Disneyland, has amassed more than £3,000 and five million views for her video, while Randy McEntee's film of his 17-month-old twin sons as been viewed 50 million times. As well as being contacted by YouTube, parents who think their home video is going to be a web hit can apply to the company to start a channel.While some users have donated the money to charity, others have said they are putting it towards their children's education.It is understood that hundreds of American users are making six-figure sums through online partnerships with the video sharing website, although figures for the UK are not unknown.Last year, the number of peopleearning £6,000 a year through viral family videos almost doubled, it is claimed.Kevin Allocca, the manager ofYouTube trends, told The Sunday Times: "A tiny percentage of the videos that are uploaded to the site get up to the four or five million views."What they all have in common is the speed with which they are shared."
-The Daily Telegraph DNA 17nov1111

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


IITs, IIMs Devise Ways to Take Stress Head-On


Technical and management institutes tweak study programmes, promote extra-curricular activities, invite parents to campus and even arrange counselling with psychologists to help students cope with the burden of high expectations
Life took an unpleasant turn the moment Abhinav D (name changed) joined IIT Kanpur. A topper throughout school, the 18-year-old suddenly found himself struggling to cope in a class full of students equally bright or even sharper. Before long, he found himself spiralling into depression. A long stint of counselling later, Abhinav is faring better in his studies and is an enthusiastic participant in campus activities. Many others aren’t as fortunate as Abhinav.

This year, seven students have taken their lives across the country’s premier technological institutes, an unsettling new high. While 5,857 student suicides were reported across India in 2006, the figure jumped to 7,379 in 2010, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau recently. Only the best and the brightest make it through the country's leading educational institutes.

But this is just the beginning of the battle. Fierce competition and the burden of expectation — a great job and salary are seen as natural corollaries — have been taking their toll on young students. The issues range from family pressure, adjustment and relationship problems, placements and fear of failure. The good news, however, is, institutes are stepping in to provide support. From counselling cells to student and faculty mentorship programmes, extracurricular activities, changes in curriculum, rescheduling of classes or even giving students the option of switching to slow-track programmes, every effort is being made to ease their burden.

Counselling sessions with qualified psychologists and psychiatrists with assured anonymity are par for the course at the IITs, ISB and other institutes of higher learning.

IIT Delhi has recently started an intensive Student Mentorship Programme, where third-year students are assigned five to eight students from their hostels in the same department to have personalised interactions on all issues, ranging from academic to co-curricular, participation in extra-curricular activities and general problems. This is especially useful during the initial stay of the freshers on campus, where interaction with seniors is limited, and prevents ragging. Members are selected after an interview. Nearly a 100 mentors are selected for 700-800 freshers. “It’s a big help for first-year students, including those from small towns, to make a transition into college life,” says IIT Delhi's general secretary, students affairs council, Rachit Gupta.

IIT Kanpur says has been offering extensive counselling services and has even been helping out other institutes, including building a template for IIT Gandhinagar. They have even taken the help of Dr Manas Mandal, director of the Defense Institute of Psychological Research, who has dealt extensively with issues of stress among soldiers. “For our 700-odd undergraduate students, we have assigned about 200-250 student guides from higher batches to help them with their orientation. Each student guide is again attached to a faculty guardian and all issues are dealt with in a very confidential manner,” says dean (student affairs) AK Ghosh.

This apart, students are given the option of dropping courses if they can’t cope, and making up for it over the summer.

Management schools are not far behind. At Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, director PT Joseph teaches ‘EQ and Leadership’ as a mandatory foundation course. “Students are helped to identify their emotional problems as part of the course. There is a group therapy session with 10-12 students per session, which helps them build rapport with their classmates so they can help each other,” says Joseph.

IIM Bangalore has also taken initiatives to deal with academic stress. “Students who are not doing too well are identified in the middle of the first year and put on a slow-track programme, so they can complete their course over three years instead of two. We are also looking at implementing changes in the grading system from next year,” says PGP chairperson Ishwar Murthy.

At IIM Lucknow, director Devi Singh says the moment any sign of problem crops up, the institute gets involved through the student community and faculty. “Parents are informed in a discreet way and we get them over to spend time with the child. If necessary, we even let them take the student away for a few days.

That apart, all IIMs have reduced pressure in the first year in terms of the number of courses,” says Singh. Students should be encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities, says VK Gupta, officiating director, MDI Gurgaon. “We have a lot of facilities including a gymnasium, golf, tennis, badminton and so on for students to destress so they can relax and enjoy,” says Gupta. But will all these initiatives ultimately help in curbing student suicides or stress? “Counselling and mentoring are very well, but you can’t take away from the fact that in today’s world, all of us are ambitious and institutes are constantly driving us to excel. It’s hard to maintain that balance sometimes,” says Vivek Nair (name changed), a second year student of the National Institute of Technology, Warangal.

It’s high time societal mindsets were transformed, says IIM Lucknow’s Singh. “We refuse to recognise that stress is a problem; neither do we recognise the role psychiatrists have to play... As we become more urbanised, these problems are bound to increase. Creating instututional and societal infrastructure is a must,” he says.


COUNSELLING is provided at most institutes to help students focus, understand and deal with the issues affecting them

THE counsellor offers support and understanding, and respects anonymity

IITS also offer guidance from seniors and faculty members assigned to them. They are also encouraged to take part in fun activities

IIM Bangalore and Lucknow have made changes in curriculum to allow students to switch to slowtrack programmes

AT XLRI Jamshedpur, behavioral science courses help dealing with stress.

A home-away-from-home culture is encouraged IIT Kanpur allows students to drop courses if they can't cope, and making up for it in summers

Monday, November 21, 2011


The pressure to gain acceptance to select schools makes parents turn to pricey consultants who can write college essays and script interviews

In the summer of 2006, Kabir S Bedi graduated from school in Delhi and scored high marks in his CBSE class XII examinations. Like many Indian students, he had set aside his extracurriculars in the years leading up to his board exam, making him a less attractive applicant for the top Ivy Schools in the United States. For help in creating a well-rounded application that would enable his admission into his dream school, the University of Pennsylvania, he approached Eduabroad consulting services. On their recommendation he took a gap year, retook his SAT, attended a private college in Delhi where he would get credits he could transfer to his undergraduate degree, and revived his extracurricular activities: played polo, learnt fencing, worked at an AIDS NGO and took Shiamak Davar’s dance lessons. In May 2011, Bedi graduated Magna Cum Laude at UPenn and has recently started working with Ernst & Young in Washington DC. Thousands of applicants across India aspiring to an international education approach college consulting services who promise to mould them into well-rounded, over-achieving, model students. Now ubiquitous, consultants perform a host of services — everything from writing the clients’ college essays from scratch to encouraging extracurricular activities and even coaching students for interviews. Increasingly, a well-heeled group of parents is willing to pay the sky to better their children’s chances at admission; ranging from Rs 10,000 to 15,000 for a single meeting to Rs 35,000 for a full package of services. Pratiba Jain of Eduabroad, a consulting service based in Mumbai, feels that the business of education consulting — in particular preparing children for foreign education — has grown multifold in the past few years. “My own firm, has grown more than 40 per cent each year in the last two to three years,” says Jain. However, numerous firms indulge in questionable practices and this has encouraged the alumni of reputed colleges in the UK and US to start consulting services upon returning to India. Having been through the admissions process themselves, these students claim inside knowledge of the admissions process. Two recent graduates from the University of Oxford, Amay Ruia and Gayeti Singh, started Varsity Consulting in Mumbai and Delhi, in a bid to provide an alternative to the run of the mill consulting services. “Since there are more students going abroad now, there are a higher number of education consultants. In the UK alone, the number of Indian students has doubled in the last decade,” says Ruia. “However, there is a dearth of quality education consultancies that offer a more focused and personalised approach.” R² Admissions Consulting is another consultancy based in Mumbai started by recent college alumni, Georgetown graduate Roisin Pelley and Russel Mason, an alumni of Harvard University. Being American nationals who graduated from top-tier universities and with experience in admissions offices, they saw an opportunity to offer their experience to others with the same aspirations. While there are viable alternatives being created, it is often difficult for the uninitiated to know whom they can trust to guide them through this crucial decision. While choosing a college is a critical decision in a student’s academic and professional life, a consulting service can sometimes actually be detrimental to the process. The aggressive practices of consultants have received an uneasy response both from American colleges and high school teachers. “In a truly international school that is preparing students for college, there must be a college counsellor within the school,” says Michael J Thomson, director at Mercedes-Benz International School in Pune. “The advice that students receive is then neutral; there is no vested interests. Up to 60 North American colleges come to Pune through places like the Council of International Schools — they advertise their schools and interview candidates.” This, he points out, allows students to have a direct relationship with the admissions officer with no middleman intervening.


Solar powered pillow gives light at night

LuminAid is an inflatable plastic pillow that’s also a powerful lantern. It is meant for the poor who have no access to electricity and is currently being tested in India

Alot of people in India and the world live without electricity, Which is why graduate students from Columbia University have launched a campaign to deliver their solar-rechargeable lanterns the packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof source of light. Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta have designed the solar lantern called LuminAID, at first glace it looks like a small plastic bag with a white-dot pattern. But the LuminAID is actually an inflatable plastic pillow with a thin solar panel and two coin-sized batteries. The device inflates to produce light that is similar to the quality a lantern provides. The white-dot pattern on the bag diffuses the light. LuminAID can work for up to four hours with the lighting at 35Lumens, or up to six hours at 20 lumens. The four hour setting, which is ‘High’ on the device is designed for reading and working in the night. The Six hour setting ‘Low’ can be used as a night light. The device requires four to six hours of sunlight to fully charge and the batteries can be charged a maximum of 800 times. The inventors consider the lamp a good safe alternative to dangerous kerosene lamps, used in India and other parts of the world. The students plan to start a “Buy One, Gift One” concept where people can get their own LuminAID for $25. The money which LuminAID collects will go to sending the lights to needy families around the world. As a field test, LuminAID is working with organizations to distribute the light in Rajasthan, India, where they say one in two households lack electricity. The LuminAID lights will be used in rural schools, homes and by small-business owners. You can visit their Web site at

MM 19nov11

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Learning or Test Taking

There was a lot of hue and cry over the remarks that Mr Narayan Murthy made about the slump in the quality of education in IITs.
He talked about the need to overhaul the selection criteria for students seeking admission to these institutions. He said, “Thanks to the coaching classes today, the quality of students entering IITs has gone lower and lower.”
Let us look at the import of the three statements.
The first idea is about the slump in the quality of education.
How should we measure the quality of education provided by an institution of higher learning?
Is it based on the kind of jobs that the industry or academia offers to the students when they complete their educations or should we view the careers of the alumni over a period of time to answer that question?
Is the purpose of education limited to just employability or is it also about being a game changer?
Education has two possible outcomes. One lies in the employability or the tangible value of the knowledge and skills. This is more short term driven. The other is more intangible and can be measured by the impact made by alumni in society. This measure has to be long term.
On both the criteria the alumni of IITs stand tall. They boast of several well known entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and leaders of institutions not just in India but all over the world. We need to view the contribution of the current crop of students over time before we reach conclusions about their caliber.
The second issue about overhauling the selection system is to me the heart of the issue.
Any system of testing produces a set of coaching institutes. This is a natural process that happens all over the world. Hackers actually make our software better because they expose the vulnerabilities of the code.
In a connected world, there are hundreds of sites dedicated to coach people on how to write resumes and answer technical questions in an interview. The Wikipedia itself has all the ten cards of the Rorschach inkblot test that psychologists use to judge personality and thought disorders. The site also gives what are the most common responses. There are sites on the web that tell you how to fake the inkblot test. There are coaching classes to teach three year olds how to get into the elite schools of the neighborhood.
There are coaching classes for aspiring actors. Yet every actor who graduates from the acting school does not become a superstar. Every aspirational opportunity gives rise to a coaching class.
The test designers need to ensure that they are able to test what it takes to succeed in that profession.
If we want engineers to be analytically superior, then the test must check that.
If we want them to be great communicators, then the test must focus on sifting students on the basis of their written communication and presentation skills.
So, the onus of designing the right test is on the institutions.
The question to ask is whether the current entrance exam is testing the right behavior?
The ability to test well is not indicative of the ability to learn.
To design the right test we have to look at what behaviour helps a student succeed AFTER they have graduated from the institution.

The entrance exam must test not just the ability of the applicant to successfully meet the academic rigor of the institution, but also to be able to perform the demands of the profession.
The role of the teacher is not about dispensing information; it is about building a mindset that makes the student a lifelong learner.

The students are only as good as the professors they learn from.
Think about it.
- Abhijit Bhaduri , bestselling author, Chief Learning Officer of Wipro. ET 3NOV11

Friday, November 18, 2011


The return of the Lab
Subba Rao Gangi Setty spends much of his time in a small cabin with an old fan whirring above. After arriving in Bangalore in July last year, the cell biologist has set up a lab at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology in the Indian Institute of Science to study a disease called the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS), a type of albinism. One of a handful of senior fellows supported by a joint funding programme of the Wellcome Trust, UK, and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Setty, a Green Card holder, returned to a much lower salary and an un-airconditioned office so he could pursue science in India. “I went to government schools and studied on government scholarships. I felt I owed it to my country to come back and do quality science here,” says the 37-year-old from Porumamilla village, Kadappa district, Andhra Pradesh, who spent over a decade in the US—long enough that he now rolls his r’s.
Raring for a change after nine years at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, US, Setty began looking out for opportunities in the biotech industry in 2009. The recession was setting in at the time, but with two Nature papers and several other high-quality publications to his name, he found work at Proteostasis Therapeutics, a small molecule drug company in Boston. For a year, he worked on modulation of cell biological pathways to cure protein folding defects implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. “It was then that I learned about the Wellcome Trust-DBT fellowship. I had been eager to come back to India since 2006, but now, an opportunity presented itself,” he says.
A silver Macbook sits on Setty’s desk. All around, there are piles of boxes. “The department is moving to a new building soon. Hopefully I’ll get more space,” he says. The money here may not compare with what he was making in the US, but a five-year research grant of Rs 4.58 crore fully supports his research programme. (Tissue culture, cell biological reagents and microscopy are pricey). With a newly-put-together team of eight researchers, Setty is now studying protein transport pathways in cells to understand the biology behind HPS and to develop cell biological screens for albinism with lung fibrosis. He has also set up an informal network and support group for people with HPS in India.
“It’s a good time to return to India,” says Vatsala Thirumalai, who leads a group on neural circuits and development at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), a Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) centre in Bangalore. A research scientist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, till about a year ago, Thirumalai has set up a zebrafish incubator facility at NCBS to study the development of the brain in embryos. Hundreds of these nearly-transparent fresh water fish swim frantically in special tanks in her lab. Zebrafish are widely used in the biotech industry for drug screening, and Thirumalai, during her post-doctoral research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, showed that neural networks for swimming develop very early in zebrafish, but are kept dormant until later.
“Earlier, working in India meant you were cut off. Now, I regularly Skype with my collaborator at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego,” says the 36-year-old, also a Wellcome Trust-DBT India fellow. “Government initiatives like the Ramanujan Fellowship, the Ramalingaswami Fellowship and the DBT-Wellcome Trust Fellowship have helped immensely in attracting talent back to India. Also, India is now a full member of the international Human Frontier Science Program that funds research in life sciences,” she says.
There is a sense among academics that it is easier than ever to obtain funding and forge collaborations in India. A number of factors have contributed to this: cuts in research spend in the US, the Indian Government’s pro-active support to science, a maturing biotech industry, better research output, a new crop of research institutes, and last but not the least, the image of India as an emerging scientific superpower.
Dozens of Indian researchers working in biological sciences are leaving foreign shores for home. This “trickle” of scientists, many of whom own valuable intellectual property, is set to grow considerably in the coming years, says Vijay Chandru, chairman and CEO of Strand Life Sciences—a genomics solutions and bioinformatics company based in Bangalore—and president of the Association of Biotech-led Enterprises (ABLE), a trade body that represents the Indian biotech industry. Chandru, a former computer science professor at IISc, believes that with joint efforts by industry and government, biotech could be the next major ‘reverse brain drain’ sector after IT.
From a small industry in the early 1990s, biotechnology in India has grown to a $4 billion sector of possibility. There are about 350 companies, most of them located in seven clusters across India—Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. “Since 2003, the industry has been growing steadily at over 20 per cent per annum. If we maintain this, we will be a $100 billion industry by 2025,” says Chandru. This growth could be spurred by demand for biosimilars—a new generation of protein-based drugs that could replace important biopharmaceuticals when they go off patent—and an expanding healthcare industry.
Strand Life Sciences, which has about 130 employees working out of an open-plan fifth-floor office in a business park on Bellary Road, Bangalore, has brought back 25 PhDs from the US in the last few years. “We were looking for people who could work with microarrays and high-tech equipment. So we hired researchers from NIH and other known institutes, mostly through referrals,” Chandru says.
Veena Hedatale is one such hire. A plant geneticist by training and a senior scientist at Strand, Hedatale gave three years to the US pharma industry before she decided to move back to Bangalore, where her family lives. An opportunity in the private sector that kept her in sync with happenings in biopharmaceuticals was just what she needed. “There is a huge difference in salaries between India and the US, but I was prepared for that,” says Hedatale, who just completed two years at Strand and hopes to start a product development company of her own one day.
Sushmita Gowri Sreekumar, another aspiring entrepreneur who joined the company about a year ago after completing a PhD programme in Zurich, says she sees a lot of promise in the Indian biotech sector. “When I decided to come back in June 2009, I knew I’d get a job or start my own diagnostics company. The number of institutes and biotech companies coming up in India is reassuring,” says Sreekumar, who has a PhD in cancer genetics.
FMCG majors like Unilever and ITC, too, are lapping up their share of the diaspora pie, says Amitabha Majumdar, a former post-doc at Cornell University, New York, who took up a position as a cell biologist at Unilever’s Whitefield office in January. “This opportunity was an excellent one. And it came at a time when many of my friends were planning to move back to India,” he says. According to Majumdar, Unilever Bangalore has hired at least four Indians from Yale, Oxford and Johns Hopkins Universities in just the last year. “A few years ago, there weren’t many cell biologists in India. Now I know many in Bangalore who are working in the same areas as I am,” says the 38-year-old who is researching immunity in cells. His wife, who just finished her PhD at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is all set to join Indian biotechnology major Biocon.
Even as pharma and biotech companies in the West are laying off employees, India is looking for quality researchers to fill positions at new biosciences institutes such as the five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Faridabad, and the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) at NCBS, Bangalore. NCBS alone is responsible for bringing back half-a-dozen researchers in the last couple of years.
John Mercer, a professor at McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana, US, moved to Bangalore two months ago to run a high-throughput mice facility at inStem to help understand the molecular bases of inherited cardiomyopathy—a chronic disease of the heart muscle and one of the leading causes of cardiac death. “I see potential in the willingness of the Indian Government to invest in research. From my perspective, the US and Europe are turning away from their commitment to research and education while India's commitment is increasing,” he says. The project, a collaboration between inStem, NCBS, Mercer’s home institute and Stanford University, among others, is funded entirely by the Indian Government. Mercer, who plans to stay on for two to five years, says he and his wife Colleen Silan are here for “the opportunity and the adventure”.
“A lot of money is being pumped into scientific infrastructure. It’s a positive sign for those looking to come back,” says Thirumalai.
Kundan Sengupta agrees. After a six-year-long association with the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Sengupta moved base to Pune in July 2010. Now an assistant professor at IISER, Pune, the intermediate fellow of the Wellcome Trust-DBT India alliance is investigating how a basic biologic question: how do chromosomes find their correct location within a cell? “The growth of the biotech industry as well as the government’s research-oriented policies have encouraged many abroad to return to both academia and industry in India,” he says.
“It’s not just biotech, all of Indian bioscience is attracting diaspora back to India,” says Archana Purushotham, who moved to Bangalore four months ago to join inStem as a visiting scientist. A stroke specialist with experience in neuroimaging and research at Stanford University, Purushotham says inStem provided her with a unique opportunity. “It has truly been an exploratory expedition. As a practising physician who wants to spend a significant portion of time on research, some of it non-clinical, there is not much precedent in India. So it has been a challenge to blend both my worlds, and I am still in the process of trying to get it to work,” she says.
There are other, less obvious, draws. When Kaustuv Datta completed his Masters course from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai in 1997, there were few good places in India where he could have pursued a PhD, prompting him to join the University of Michigan in the US. After nine years that he spent acquiring a PhD in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and then doing post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan and the Scripps Research Institute, Datta returned to India in 2010 to join the University of Delhi as an assistant professor. While there is more money and infrastructure for research in the field now, Datta says it is the freedom to pursue “risky projects” at Indian universities that prompted his return.
“Tenure system is very strict in US universities. At the end of five to seven years as a post-doctoral fellow, you are evaluated on the number of papers published in that time and so on and granted tenure. It is a make or break system and prevents people from taking up risky projects. Universities here provide more secure positions, and independence to take up projects as you wish. This is a place where you can find your own identity as a researcher instead of being a post-doctoral fellow abroad working on someone else's ideas,” he says.
There are, however, serious challenges to tapping the biotech diaspora. Biotech research entails considerable capital outlay and doesn’t lend itself to entrepreneurship the way IT does. And unlike IT professionals, biotech researchers often do long post-doctoral stints, so by the time they have established themselves and are ready to move back, they are already pushing 40. “Displacement becomes much harder then. The kids are already grown up and they don’t want to move. To come back to India at such a point in one’s life, the terms have to be very attractive,” says Vijay Chandru, speaking from experience.
Sitting in her office surrounded by the smells of the lab, Vatsala Thirumalai is hopeful India will get its due. “As Thomas Friedman would say, the world of biosciences is now truly flat,” she says.
Sunrise Sector
* The Indian biotech industry, currently worth about $4 billion, has witnessed double-digit growth every year since the mid-2000s. Estimates project that with a growth rate of 20 per cent per annum, the industry will cross $10 billion in the next five years and hit $100 billion by 2025
* Biopharmaceuticals constitute about 60 per cent of the industry, with the remaining 40 per cent coming from bioservices and bioagri technology
* Biosimilars are a potential gold mine of opportunity.
Developing a biosimilar molecule in India requires an investment of $10-20 million, compared to $50-100 million in developed countries, according to industry estimates
(Inputs by Garima Mishra and Nandini Thilak 30O1011


Be patient in the kitchen, don't come on too strong

Whether you're cooking an elaborate dessert or a simple fried egg, use the smallest flame for best results
Last week, just a few days before my 12th wedding anniversary, I made what I believe were almostperfect mushrooms -aromatperfect mushrooms -aromatic, fried slowly to golden crispness in small pools of butter.
We ate them with some wonderful rosemary bread baked by the husband, and a colourful confetti salad of sweet corn, finely diced peppers, cabbage, carrot, pomegranate and toasted sesame.
Everything turned out so well that we felt fine china and a bottle of wine were in order! As we put out the special plates and good cutlery and poured the wine, we couldn't stop `tasting' our creations and congratulating ourselves.
Through the meal and after, I couldn't help wondering what had made that food so perfect. Where do we go wrong at other times? What is it that our other meals are missing? And then it struck me... patience! Not only is patience a virtue, when it comes to the kitchen, it is an incredibly important ingredient.
I first began thinking about patience as an ingredient when I was conducting my beginners' cooking class for men last month. All the guys wanted everything done fast. They loved working with the chorizo, cheese and meat.Most of all, they loved the induction plate, because it sped things up.
Even here at home, when my husband first began to bake, he was always in a hurry, never looking at recipes, unwilling to take the time to beat sugar into cakes or wait for yeast to work.
And Billy Law, the so-called dessert expert recently eliminated from MasterChef Australia, always forgot to factor in patience and ended up ruining some of his creations as a result.
This impatience is not unique to men. Even in dishes made by my mother, one of the finest cooks I know, you could always sense impatience because it had caused her to forget something.And my cook Kavita is always getting into trouble with me because she never browns the onions properly for dals and curries.
Mushrooms, curries, meats, cakes, elaborate desserts, even instant noodles require ladlefuls of patience. Add noodles too quickly to water not boiling properly, for instance, and you'll be left with soggy, flavourless mush.
Whatever you cook, and whatever utensils you use, every dish and every ingredient needs time to do its job.Think about it, even something as simple as salted cucumber takes a few seconds. Sprinkle salt and eat immediately and you will taste grains of salt distinct from the cucumber.Wait a little, and the salt will draw out the juices and melt into them for a perfect marriage.
Some of the cooks I admire most share this quality of patience, and it makes them shine. Take my housekeeper Shobha. She is not terribly fond of cooking and, given a choice, I suspect she would not do it at all. But once she has taken it up, she always turns out impeccable dishes, beautifully presented and perfectly cooked.
It has taken my husband and me a while to learn to be patient in the kitchen, but everything we cook today is better for it. And we've discovered that, with a little patience, it's not that difficult to cook food that people will love, even if it's just a simple fried egg.
This week, for instance, I made a fried egg that the husband complimented me on because it was so smooth, sans bubbles and craters. Always use the lowest flame possible and you will always get a perfect fried egg, I explained to him. An omelette cooked on a low flame too will always come off the pan beautifully golden, rather than with that detestable brown underside.
A gentle flame always yields better results.
I guess, in that sense, you should treat every dish like a relationship.However short your tryst with it, you must give it time for best results.A flame higher than medium-low is the culinary equivalent of coming on too strong or overreacting to the little things.
Too much heat and you are in danger of ruining everything; the ingredients will shrivel, oil will splatter, stuff will burn.
Instead, just wait it out, and you will strike gold.
- Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal HT6N1111

Thursday, November 17, 2011



Restaurants that fill you up without emptying your pockets

Guru da Dhaba
Chances are you will never spend more than a few seconds mulling over the menu at Guru da Dhaba in busy Lokhandwala market. That’s because you’ve probably been thinking about what you want to eat for hours, if not days.
On some days, you might be in the mood for their rajma-chaval and arbi masaledaar.
On other days, you might fancy a gobi paratha with gatta and mooli raita (like we had on our last visit).
Sometimes, you might wake up dreaming of Guru da Dhaba’s tomato rice and kadhi pakoda or the karele ki sabzi and maramari daal (a flavourful five-lentil daal).
It also serves a thali, allowing you to choose your favourite vegatables. But whatever your food fantasy, if it’s vegetarian, and if it’s Punjabi, it’s here.
All the recipes are from Ranjit Kaur, the wife of the proprietor Inderjit Singh Anand.
The eatery was born by happenstance. Around 20 years ago, Inderjit Singh was driving a rickshaw and doing various odd jobs to make ends meet, like cleaning telephones in offices and running a tea-stall. His wife suggested he take her home-cooked food and try selling it at the stall. He laughed it off. She urged him to try it, and he did. Armed with one container of rajma and another of kadhi, he set out that day. All of it was sold out. And Guru da Dhaba was born. Once the haven of Lokhandwala strugglers, today its regulars include Bollywood celebrities like Madhavan and Nagesh Kukunoor. “They come, they eat and go,” says the owner’s daughter, Mandeep Kaur Anand. “Once, Vivek Oberoi stopped by, but dad didn’t recognise him.” The ambience is simple and it uses no fancy ingredients. Guru da Dhaba is all about the food — wholesome, real, soulful.
“My father makes his own garam masala; even I don’t have the recipe,” says Mandeep Kaur. And the pricing is as inviting as the food. All parathas cost approximately Rs 25, all vegetable dishes, gravies and rice dishes are Rs 50, and Mumbai’s best chhaas is just Rs 15.
Guru da Dhaba, Shop1, Kamdhenu Shopping Centre, 1st Cross Road, Lokhandwala, Andheri (W) (022 2632-0440). Daily 11 am-3 pm & 7 pm-10.30 pm. Meal for two approx Rs 200.

Hot Box
Italian cuisine has been hugely successful in Delhi. So it’s only natural for restaurateurs and patrons to explore the food of countries surrounding the land of fusilli and Ferraris.
It is unfortunate then that most of the budget restaurants serving Mediterranean fare cannot get spellings right, never mind the cuisine. So it gave us no small thrill to find, in the quiet lanes of Malviya Nagar, a tiny gem called Hot Box.
The restaurant is small and intimate, as all pleasures in life are rumoured to be. Located right opposite the Panchsheel Rendezvous, Hot Box serves an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and Levantine cuisine at a very reasonable price.
The walls are adorned with retro posters and graffiti, giving the eatery a bohemian ambience. As it was a humid night, we decided to start with some green apple soda to help us work through our food.
The paprika fries that came next were a revelation. The spice in the hot potatoes was perfectly complemented by the chilled jalapeno mayonnaise accompanying it.
After emptying our plates of the minutest crumb we waited all agog for our next course, which was hummus with pita bread. Hot Box serves up an admirable rendition in which chickpeas, tahini (roasted sesame seed paste), lime and garlic were perfectly balanced.
We have to admit we weren’t leaving much work for the dishwashers as we polished off one platter after the other.
Our mains were lamb Bolognese and the aptly named Hero Burger. The lamb Bolognese was excellent; the tomatoes were perfectly stewed and the lamb was of good quality (both rarities in Indian kitchens of the budget type). The Hero Burger lived up to its name — it consists of double chicken breast, cheddar cheese, jalapeno salsa, caramelised onions and bacon. Considering we had over-ordered (we were only two people), and Hot Box gives rather generous helpings, we may have been forgiven for skipping dessert. But two-thirds journalistic fervor and one-third sheer gluttony made us take the plunge and share a fudge brownie with ice cream. It’s a good thing we did, as the brownie turned out to be a big, warm, gooey slice of chocolate-y heaven. The last and most unexpected treat was the bill. A meal that would have satiated a couple of over-weight Roman senators cost us no more than a couple of PVR tickets on a weekend night.
Hot Box, 498/55/II, Malviya Nagar (088265-88949). Wed-Mon Noon to 11pm. Tue shut. Meal for two approx Rs 400.


They obey hand gestures
Ever thought you could flip channels on the TV with a hand clap or move documents on a computer monitor with hand gestures? All this is possible now.

HAVE you ever imagined how life would be without your good ol’ keyboard? Well, the familiar keyboard and mouse method of interacting with your PC could soon be a thing of the past.

Researchers have now developed a novel way of using a computer that uses hand gestures. In gesture recognition technology, a camera reads the movements of the human body and communicates the data to a PC that uses the gestures as input to control devices or applications.

Jaspreet Bindra of Microsoft India says, “It is but natural that our interaction with computers will move more and more towards voice recognition and gestures, they will be able to read facial expressions and become more intuitive. Essentially, the way we interact with computers stands to change dramatically, and the day we communicate with them just as we do with other human beings is no longer the substance of science fiction.”

Prashanth Adiraju of Intel concurs. “Over the next few years, tremendous changes will be unleashed and this will drive a whole new way in which we interact with computers. Physical keyboards could disappear, as gesture recognition technology allows messages to be typed in thin air — virtual keys get projected in front of you.” No remote control TV viewers would no longer need a remote control to flick through the channels.

A TV system from JVC can change channels or turn off and on by listening for particular sounds, such as a handclap.

Hitachi TVs in Japan let people turn on their screens, scan through channels and change the volume on their sets with hand motions.

Gesture technology could also be used as a next generation control system for video gaming. Nintendo’s Wii console’s motion-sensitive controller allows players to act on the screen by waving the pad around.

Kinect has brought a magic to gaming as it is the incarnation of a new generation of natural user interfaces. T

he Razer Hydra lets you extend your natural body motion directly into the game. Taiwanese researchers have come up with a lock that can be opened with gestures.

After hour sales Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute has developed a large monitor wired to motion-tracking technology. When window shoppers point to the item of their interest, accompanying information will be displayed on the monitor.

Gesture technology could also help the physically disabled, enabling them to interact with a computer without a mouse and keyboard. It could also help people suffering from repetitive strain injury. Drive safely Using this technology, drivers could operate their car radios and navigators easily. It can also offer safety benefits, since commands can be made without taking the driver’s eyes off the road.

Researchers are investigating multimodal interfaces for scenarios involving multiple co-present users interacting with large vertical 2D or 3D displays from a distance.

Sriganesh Madhvanath of HP Labs India says, “A simple example of this in the home environment is photo sharing on a TV, where one or more users may walk through a collection of their vacation pictures with friends or family members. ”
(Norbert Rego TL30OCT11)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011



Goji berries, Californian grapes, Norwegian salmon, American blueberries, South American quinoa seeds. Shelves in supermarkets and even the neighbourhood kirana store are stocked with these and many other exotic foreign foods with glossy labels advertising their health benefits. Walk into any restaurant and you’ll find imported John Dory instead of bhetki and salads topped with pine nuts when roasted melon seeds would serve as well. While the growing tribe of locavores in the West rediscovers food grown locally, Indians are increasingly eating global. So the guava loses out to the Granny Smith, mackerel to Chilean sea bass and fresh coconut water to bottled cranberry juice. New-age nutritionists are now trying to turn the tide. Instead of obscure, expensive imported products, they recommend a trip to the subziwallah for cheap and healthy local produce. The coriander that your vendor throws in for free can boost immunity and a tablespoon of steamed spinach (or better still, bathua) contains more vitamin C and folic acid than a shot of wheatgrass, the fabled (and disgustingly bitter) health-food juice. TOI-Crest spoke to nutritionists and doctors to draw up a list of local superfoods that won’t break the bank while giving you a headstart on health.


Coconut was long vilified for its high saturated fat content, but experts say it has many benefits. Every part and product of the coconut, be it the water, the white flesh or oil, is loaded with nutrients. The same obviously can’t be said about toddy, the very potent drink made from the coconut palm’s sac. Coconut oil, in particular, is considered heart-healthy and good for weight loss because it speeds up metabolism. It was included in the diet of the England rugby squad in 2007. A year later, Jennifer Aniston was spotted with a shopping trolley full of coconut oil bottles and the fruit soon became the darling of the superfood set. “Coconut has a thermogenic effect. It increases body temperature and therefore increases metabolism. It actually aids in weight loss rather than impedes it as is popularly believed,” explains macrobiotic counsellor Shonali Sabharwal. Coconut water, unlike the oil, is low in carbohydrates and sugars and high in electrolyte potassium. This makes it a great substitute for sugary ‘sports’ drinks. The sweet drink also has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-macrobial properties. It, therefore, keeps urinary tract infection, kidney stones and various other recurring health problems at bay.


The guava has emerged as the king of fruits, elbowing apples and grapes off the ideal diet chart. A recent study reported in TOI found that guavas have the highest concentration of anti-oxidants among Indian fruits. A 100-gram portion of guava contained around 500 milligrams of anti-oxidants. Juicy red plums were the next best fruit to eat with 330 mg. And, apples, which are generally prescribed as the best tool to keep the doctor away, were found to have only a quarter of the anti-oxidants that guavas have.


If you need a booster dose of Vitamin C, look no further than this green berry-like fruit. Amla contains 445 mg/100 g vitamin C, 20 times more than in orange. Its free radical absorbing capacity is believed to be higher than that of the reigning superfruits — blueberries and strawberries. Tannins — chemical compounds that exhibit anti-viral, anti-bacterial and antiparasitic properties — are present in amla in significant amounts. Ayurveda recommends it for its rejuvenation powers and says it inhibits the ageing process. It’s excellent for hair health and good eyesight. It is said to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol and improve digestion of food.


Kaddu ki sabji, just like lauki, usually makes people cringe and reach for the dependable aloo gobhi dish. In the West, too, it is used more to carve jacko-lanterns every Thanksgiving rather than in the kitchen. But had there been a test for superfoods, the plump pumpkin would surely emerge tops. Pumpkin’s bland-with-a-hintof-sweet flesh contains one of the richest supplies of carotenoids (anticancer agents) known to man. It has beta carotene which reduces one’s risk for cancers of the colon, bladder and oesophagus as well as betacryptoxanthin which decreased the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In the landmark Nurses’ Health Study conducted in the US, it was found that women with the highest concentrations of carotenes in their diets had the lowest risk of breast cancer. Pumpkins are also the only vegetarian source of vitamin B12. That’s why Mumbai-resident Kiran Jalan drinks a glass of pumpkin juice every morning. “I know a lot of people who have been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency recently. It leads to memory loss, depression and dementia. I don’t want to become forgetful,” says the 48-year-old homemaker.


There is another kind of apple that can keep the doctor away. The custard apple has anti-oxidant levels of 202 mg, almost twice the amount that apple (123 mg) has, according to a NIN study. It also has vitamins B and C, potassium, iron, calcium and manganese. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that mops up free radicals. The tropical fruit also contains vitamin A, which is good for the health of hair, eyes and skin. It serves as an expectorant, amps up immunity, acts as a coolant and boosts haemoglobin.


It is the era of seedless fruits — vendors sell seedless black grapes at double the price of regular grapes and scientists in Bangalore have produced seedless watermelons so that people don’t have to bother spitting the seeds out. But the crunchy seeds immersed in the luscious red flesh of watermelons can be dried, roasted and used as a crunchy topping for desserts and salads. “Many women suffer from water retention for which doctors prescribe them diuretics like diatide or lasitactone. Watermelon seeds have the same effect,” says Dr Pradeep Mathur, chief medical officer of Sanjeevani, a naturopathy institute in Haryana. Watermelon seeds are not the only seeds that are a key to good health.
The tear-drop shaped grey sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that prevents cancer. Flax seed, or alsi as it is called locally, is considered a wonder food because it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc and magnesium and can prevent various conditions, be it depression or kidney stones.
Black sesame seeds, on the other hand, contain saponin enzyme which offers protection against cervical and breast cancer. Mathur suggests roasting 100 gm of each of the five types of seeds and eating a spoonful with breakfast each morning. “A mix of these five seeds is as good as having chia seeds, which are imported,” he says.

Neha Bhayana and Shobita Dhar TOI CREST October 29, 2011


It's a known fact that the entrepreneurship culture in India is gaining momentum at a rapid pace. In the light of the same, is the Indian market is conducive for budding entrepreneurs ?

Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice. - Peter Drucker

A Mckinsey & Company-Nasscom report estimated that India needed at least 8,000 new businesses to achieve its target of building a USD 87 billion IT sector by 2008. Similarly, in the next 10 years, 110-130 million Indian citizens will be searching for jobs, including 80-100 million looking for their first jobs. This does not include disguised unemployment of over 50 per cent among the 230 million employed in rural India.

Since traditional large employers including the government and old economy players may find it difficult to sustain this level of employment in the future, it is entrepreneurship that will create these new jobs and opportunities.

INSEAD's 'Building Businesses in India' course is designed for those who want to understand the kind of companies that will come out of India's entrepreneurial explosion and how the Indian context will shape the enterprises founded in India over the next 10 to 20 years. Says Patrick Turner, affiliate professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD, "This course is primarily designed to help acclimatise a diverse group of participants to the realities of doing business in India. The key message is that India is an important global business destination and that an MBA student today must learn about the opportunities here and understand the ground realities. There are essentially two kinds of individuals who take this course - the first are Indian expats who have earned a significant part of their educational or professional experience outside India and the second are individuals from varied nationalities who recognise that learning about India and what it really takes to do business here will be critical for their careers."

Speaking of whether the Indian market is conducive for budding entrepreneurs, K Vaitheeswaran, founder and chief operating officer, India Plaza, an online shopping site says, "The Indian economy is one amongst the very few in the world, which is still quite optimistic. With the pessimism globally, investors are willing to invest money in entrepreneurs who have ideas and passion to build new businesses. But the best thing that has happened in India in the past few years is that the stigma associated with the word 'failure' has lessened considerably. Freed from this stigma, entrepreneurs are now willing to start on their own."

According to Rajagopalan Babu, founder and CEO of Enteg, a SAP services company, "In developed countries, entrepreneurs find it difficult to attract manpower to join them to actualise an innovative idea. Indian customers are always looking for new ways to reduce costs and are willing to try new ideas proposed by young companies. The western way of structured business seems to be not working. India has its own way of running the business and creating value. Our conservative policies provide a relatively stable economic environment for budding entrepreneurs." So how does the future landscape of entrepreneurship in India look like? "Several young professionals are venturing into businesses now. Thanks to the stable job market, if something goes wrong, they can go back to their jobs again. As the developed world is becoming cost-conscious, it is a great opportunity to start a new business in India," adds Babu. "I expect more business to get started in India in the next five years. Passionate people armed with capital and ideas will surely create many new business models. I also expect some of them to become globally successful brands. In my opinion, the best way to create more jobs and reduce unemployment would be to encourage entrepreneurship," notes Vaitheeswaran. The entrepreneurship culture in India - from family owned businesses to modernday ventures - has evolved and how! An increasingly large number of young people today are willing to abstain from the "safe" path in favour of the road less travelled, but one that provides greater learning.
(Sheetal Srivastava ET1NOV11)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Reverse migration of 3 LAKH Indians on cards?

India’s rapidly growing economy is expected to start a reverse migration of its working diaspora currently settled abroad.

About three lakh Indian professionals employed overseas may return to the country by 2015, said a recent report by USbased Kelly Services, a global major in providing workforce solutions.

However, practicing HR professionals back home, argue the three lakh number is too high even as there is a growing possibility of reverse migration.

The top three reasons for reverse migration between 2008 and 2011—in the aftermath of the global economic crisis—were job insecurity, personal growth opportunities in India and the call of the native land, said the Kelly survey. India’s strong showing in IT and robust domestic economy has allowed the country to provide better opportunities. A highly evolved higher education system and a huge pool of qualified scientist and engineers are some of the other positives highlighted in the survey findings. “Talent migration has ceased to be just a phenomenon relevant to movement from emerging to developed economies. The sustained growth of India and the resilience it showed during the slowdown also has added dynamic transition and movement back to India,” said Kamal Karanth, MD, Kelly Services India.

Accord India CEO Sonal Agrawal agreed there was increasing trend of overseas Indian professionals wanting to come back. “People are looking for opportunities in a fast-growing economy like India, especially since other developed markets have slowed down,” Agrawal said. “Further, with compensation levels going up over the last few years, the wage differential between India and other developed nations is no longer glaring,” she said.

ICICI Bank’s K Ramkumar, an executive director who heads the HR in the country’s largest private sector bank, would not agree with the three lakh figure. “I don’t believe these numbers. Yes, there are Indians who want to come back to India, but it is difficult for them to adjust,” Ramkumar said.

It was easier for a person who has been out of India for 2-3 years to come back, but not for someone who left the country 10 years ago, Ramkumar added. “What is more believable is 50,000-70,000 or even a lakh who could be interested in coming back. Of these, at best, 10,000-15,000 could probably take that call and come back to India,” he said.

Ramkumar opined that most Indians settled abroad look for the same kind of quality of life in India, which they will not get.

“Some even eye sweet deals which expats get at some companies. Again, a company will not offer sweet deals to select few,'' he said.
(Partha Sinha & Namrata Singh TOI2NOV11)

Monday, November 14, 2011


Young couples are writing their own wedding vows as they seek to personalise weddings, lay down some ground rules
For some, it's the dream of recreating that perfect, tearjerker Hollywood wedding. For others, it's an attempt to bring ancient ceremonies into the 21st century. Still others just want to ensure everyone's on the same page right from the start.
For various reasons, Indian couples are increasingly writing their own vows reciting them during the wedding pooja mouthing them to each other silently during their pheras, or calling them out amid giggles at the reception.
“The trend has been brought here by NRIs,“ says wedding planner Candice Pereira, co-founder of Marry Me Weddings. “Personalised wedding vows are, of course, a phenomenon in the West.“
Ironically, the practice is catching on not among Christians but mainly within the Hindu community, since the Church in India is fairly strict about retaining the official vows.
In the Hindu ceremonies too, the original vows remain, the priest chanting them in Sanskrit as is the norm and couples adding their own promises later.
“Most couples don't understand the Arabic and Sanskrit vows, so it's about time people began exchanging their own promises,“ says sociologist Kamala Ganesh. “Some of the vows also date back to a more patriarchal time, and are therefore more one-sided. With changing times, there is a need to include new vows for the new Indian woman.“
Marriage counsellor Deepti Makhija says the personalised vows also help young couples, especially those in arranged marriages, verbalise exa ly what they expect from their new arrangement -such as personal space or mutual respect for each other's families. “When you create your own vows, you also tend to take more responsibility for fulfilling them,“ says Makhija.
(Riddhi Doshi HT 30O1011)