Monday, August 11, 2008

Time to kick out cricketing heroes!

Bored to death of seeing the same cricketing faces on the front pages of our papers, I am delighted that tomorrow will be refreshingly different - Abhinav Bindra has created history by winning India's first-ever individual event (10 metre air rifle shooting) gold at the Olympics in Beijing. What a delight! The last time India bagged a gold was 28 years ago when the men's hockey team won at the Moscow Olympics (marred by a Cold War era boycott).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Inflation's 12%, did you say?

Indian's are fretting about rising prices and the highest-ever inflation rates in a long, long time. But spare a thought for the Zimbabweans where inflation is so dramatic that by the time you finish reading this post, it would have probably gone up! It's a staggering nine million per cent a year! Yes, nine million! I, f***ing can't even imagine what's it must be like to live in such conditions with such a wacky rate of price increase. But I found my answer in this brilliant profile of Robert Mugabe by Peter Godwin in Vanity Fair. He describes it thus:

Everywhere in Zimbabwe there are long lines: lines for bread, lines for cooking oil, lines for maize meal (the staple food). Buying gasoline requires an array of byzantine procedures. Zimbabwe can now boast, if that is the word, the highest rate of inflation in history. As I write, it’s running at about nine million percent a year. How can I convey what it’s like to live with this kind of hyperinflation? Imagine that you’re out grocery shopping, and in the time it takes you to reach the checkout line, the prices of the items in your cart have all gone up. Golfers now pay for drinks before they tee off, because by the time they’ve completed 18 holes the bar prices will have risen. No one uses wallets for cash; mostly you carry around bags full of blocks of money secured by elastic bands. During my latest trip to the country, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued new, higher-denomination notes no fewer than three times in a period of two months, the last one being the 500-million-Zimbabwean-dollar note. At its introduction it was worth two U.S. dollars. Four weeks later, its value had fallen to five cents.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

We may begin seeing, pretty soon, big American cities with no daily newspaper...

We may live to see one such day in the US, argues this piece by Arun Venugopal on Salon. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 2,400 journalists left newspaper newsrooms in the US last year leaving the journalism industry with the smallest workforce since 1984. The way out for American journalists, he prescribes, is to move to fast growth centres like India where journalism continues to boom (unfortunately, in terms of business and not quality).

Sure, there are a lot more foreign-sounding bylines in our papers these days, Hindustan Times leading the pack. Two that I can recall immediately, Barney Henderson and Robbie Corey-Boulet. Surely, there must be many more even though there are none at the magazine I work. It should be interesting to find out from them and their Indian colleagues about what new perspectives do they bring to the newsroom. Do they fit in well, despite possibly travelling to India for the first time? Whatever may be the answer, they sure do bring in stories from corners we Indians may overlook. Like this one from Corey-Boulet about a Noida firm outsourcing sub-editors to American papers.

Away from the shrill of rhetoric about Indian jobs being taken away, I think a multicultural workforce in journalism has become a necessity given the globalised times we live in.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

What's the longest word...

... you can type without moving between the row of alphabets?Apparently it's typewriter! Interesting, isn't it?