Wednesday, 26 September 2012

You Slept.




And you slept with a tear drop at the corner of your eye. 

I couldn't cry at my misfortunes or my love for you anymore.

There wasn't a bigger truth or a more fervent cause as I stared even after all these years.

Love melts reason but it melts anger and bitterness too.

I can breathe again. Yes it was worth it for all those years.

As doubt vanishes, a clarity comes over my tortured mind. A tortured epiphany.

In this moment, I make you my temple, my worship, my pleasure and pain, while you sleep through it all my living goddess.

Tomorrow doesn't scare me because I've waited a few lifetimes for you.

Tonight as you sleep, I stand guard, a better me. Purged, clear and whole again.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh: Another Smelly UPA Thing


1. There seems to be a considered view that appeasement of separatists is becoming passe, and their actions justified to some fuzzy cause other than full punch motivated Islamic insurgency funded and equipped by our schizophrenic friends in Pakistan.
2. Abdication of governance and allowing the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits is being finessed.
3. The development vacuum in Jammu and Ladakh, created by funding choked by nothing other than a rabid Islamic partisan stance in the State HQ against disenfranchised Zanskari & Ladakhi Buddhism, and the Hindu Dogra, Jammu areas, is being slow pedalled. The condition of roads, infrastructure beyond Kargil and the ongoing 30-year making of the Zanskar Chilling road will bear witness.
4. The use of Kashmir is being substituted for the Dogra Empire that was anything but homogenous. This is great disservice to the loyalty and history of a diverse people.
5. This is selective amnesia fueled by a political narrative of Muslim appeasement, with a hub and spoke extending from media, analysts, lobbyists like Fai, and other malcontent peaceniks on the gravy train.
6. It is both brave and ironic to see the 2 year window proffered before the on-and-off Islamic insurgency is refueled by Pakistan as men and material become available in post NATO, Taliban ruled Afghanistan by retired spooks, 'experts' and rented analysts.
7. The prescription seems to be abdication and special status, lest the insurgency might return. This cycle has repeated itself ad nauseum since 1948, yet both analysts and their unscrupulous vote bank pandering political master learn nothing and perpetuate the cycle.
8. The only people who bear the brunt are the Indian Army, as bodies pile up in the technical holds of Airports, yes yet, despite the claims of return of normalcy, and despite no fortnight passing without a let up on incidents on the LoC. External aggression from Haji Pir, Siachen to Kargil, 26/11 and points further will not stop, nuclear overhang or not. The plainspeak by General VK Singh in this regard has come at the correct time, be it on AFSPA or Siachen.
9. The US affinity to Pakistan will return, before or after the NATO logistics are restored. It is shockingly dishonest and disingenuous to suggest, that concessions and special status to Islamists in Kashmir will stop there. Those ignoring India’s empirical timeline and its experience in the Islamic oil soaked Middle East, will be revisited by its bloody curse, again and again, till they learn Israel’s and Russia’s lessons.
10. The current bonhomie between an outgoing Indian Prime Minister fervently manipulating one sided Indian concessions (from Siachen to abandoning PoK claims, Sir Creek, FDI, Liberalised Terrorist Visa), and a Pakistan using its often demonstrated pivot and swing games, forced in this instance by a tactical hostile posture adopted the by Obama Administration, after Osama Bin Laden's televised assassination, and the Kunar-Salala border incident where 24 Pakistani troops were strafed to death by pissed off US troops after an artillery attack) won't last. The drone strikes are back as hard evidence. The window was a mirage, that never existed for India.
11. There is no silver bullet in the 5 or so scamp infested districts of the Kashmir Valley. They must get what the rest of India gets, and those who break the law, on any damn premise need to be handled in a manner they suitably understand.
12. This whole interlocutor business seems more for an imagined Ummah audience and the 2014 General Elections, and Salman Rushdie's injured chatter from the disgraceful Jaipur incident, will see the calculation fail pan India, as it did in Uttar Pradesh.  This is not the quintessential North East disaffection, this is religious polarization at its devious worst.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Motorcyle Safety Goes Together With Speed



Diesel Vehicle Sales Will Increase, India Budget Impact on Auto Analysis 2012



Motorcycle Safety Gear For Urban Riders & Touring in India

India is seeing a sudden influx of powerful motorcycles with higher engine capacity and capable of faster speeds. The condition of the roads and the education of our motorcycle riders have not kept pace.

The newer Motorcycles today are designed to have excessive performance capabilities, including especially rapid acceleration and high top speeds. They're less stable than cars in emergency braking and less visible.

Motorcyclists are more prone to crash injuries than car drivers because motorcycles are unenclosed, leaving the rider vulnerable to contact hard road surfaces. This is why wearing a helmet, riding gloves, proper shoes, and riding gear like pants and jackets is so important.

According to a recent WHO Study: 105725 people were killed on India’s roads in 2006. Hundreds of thousands more sustained non-fatal injuries, many left with permanent disabilities. Trend data over the last 40 years show an exponential rise in the number of road traffic crashes and injuries related to rapid motorization. In 2008 there were nearly 90 million registered vehicles – the majority of which are motorized two- and three-wheelers.

 It is unsurprising therefore to note that almost one-third of the road traffic fatalities in India are among Two and Three-wheelers, many of whom incur serious or fatal head injuries. Two-wheeler crashes contribute a significant proportion of road traffic fatalities and injuries in India. Compared with cars, motorcycles are especially dangerous. For every kilometer travelled, the number of deaths on motorcycles is about 10-15 times the number in cars.

The enactment and enforcement of helmet laws is an effective countermeasure to head injuries. While at a national level a helmet law exists, this law needs to be enacted through an order issued at a State level a notification made to the public in order for police enforce the law. This has not occurred in all States and as a result both enforcement and helmet wearing are poor in many States.

The World Health Organization’s report on traffic injury prevention documents that compulsory helmet use by motorized two- wheeler riders can reduce deaths by 30%-50%.


In India, there are both local and well as top international brands on sale. According to Prasad Divadkar of Performance Racing that caters to the top superbike and cruiser segment, “The Indian motorcycle accessory and gear market has a turnover of a few crores and potential to double and triple every year.”

Vicky Jaisingh his Partner at Performance Racing said, “The market is in infancy and over the next few years it will grow at a very fast pace.”






Shailesh Redij, Director of Ultimate Auto Impex, another distributor and importer of top segment superbike and cruiser customers like Harley said, “the combination of import duties, VAT and Octroi is a big constraint and forces us to sell at high prices, and constrains growth in the segment”.

Shrenik Porwal of Kamla Yamaha, one of the top dealers for Yamaha in India, himself an experienced rider, stressed the importance of safety for both young novices and experienced riders, and said,” It is important to avoid injury as it is the nature of motorcycling to be on two wheels and the fault might not even be yours.” Yamaha India provides many custom accessories to India customers including apparel, performance exhausts, petal disc brakes, sprockets and chains, etc.

Although sometimes the quality of material and workmanship leaves much to be desired in locally manufactured brands, even though these products may have the mandatory ISI™ mark. An Indian manufacturer that is bucking this trend is Cramster™. It is a manufacturer of riding gear as well as luggage and panniers.

Helmets are available from a few thousand rupees to a top of the line helmet with air vents and changeable inners that can be washed, as well as custom attachments for Bluetooth and wired speakerphones. Some well-known Indian brands are Vega, Studds, while foreign brands include AGV, Joe Rocket, Arai, Nolan, Shoei, and Alpinestars, etc.

Similarly gloves with basic knuckle protection again are available from a couple of thousand to water proof Gore-Tex and insulated gloves up to 5-10 thousand Rupees for premium leather and textile variants, and more as bells and whistles increase.

Boots for motorcycling easily available include SiDi, Joe Rocket, Alpinestars, etc. These will range from 4-5 thousand to the 20-30 thousand rupee bracket, depending on things like ventilation, water proof Gore-Tex, metal slider inserts, and quality of ankle protection inserts etc.

Jackets and suits include brands such as DSG, Scorpion, Joe Rocket, PowerTrip, Alpinestars etc. These will set you back anywhere between 10 to 50 thousand Rupees, depending on quality of material, vents, armour protection for spine, shoulders, elbows, knees, knee sliders etc. These days some are even available with airbags!

 Jackets, Pants, Riding Suits are again protective gear will help you stay comfortable while riding in adverse conditions. In a crash, proper riding gear will help prevent or reduce injury. "The Hurt Report" states that covering the body with leather or an abrasion-resistant fabric (e.g., Cordura®, Kevlar® or ballistic nylon) also provides a high level of injury protection. Protective apparel designed specifically for motorcycling will afford the best combination of comfort and protection.


The Hurt Report was the first comprehensive study on motorcycle safety, and its findings that two-thirds of motorcycle-car crashes occurred when the car driver failed to see the approaching motorcycle and violated the rider's right-of-way are still valid. The report also provided data showing clearly that helmets significantly reduce the risk of brain injury and death but with no increased risk of crash involvement or neck injury.

Some of the top players Motorcycle gear reselling in India including online orders include:

Performance Racing
Ultimate Auto Impex
Planet DSG
Bachu Motors
Cramster:





We wish you happy motorcycling, please remember to ride safe and always remember ATGATT: All the gear, all the time. Shorthand for a philosophy that complete motorcycle safety gear should be worn at all times, and gear should not be reduced at times when the perceived risk is less.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Indian Armed Forces: Gallantry Awards 2012

President Confers Gallantry and Distinguished Service Awards
The President and Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil conferred one Kirti Chakra, and twelve Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty at a solemn ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here today.

            The President also conferred twelve Param Vishisht Seva Medals, one Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, three Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and twenty six Ati Vishisht Seva Medals to senior officers of the Armed Forces for distinguished service of an exceptional order. The following is the list of awardees in order of Presentation:-

PARAM VISHISHT SEVA MEDAL

1.                
VICE ADMIRAL RABINDER KUMAR DHOWAN, AVSM, YSM (01563-A)

2.                
AIR MARSHAL KUZHIKOMBIL JOSEPH MATHEWS, AVSM, YSM (13393) FLYING (PILOT)

3.                
IC-27215H LIEUTENANT GENERAL NAND KISHORE SINGH , UYSM, AVSM, VSM, INFANTRY HEADQUARTERS INTEGRATED DEFENCE STAFF

4.                
IC-27258X LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAJINDER SINGH, UYSM, SM, MECHANISED INFANTRY

5.                
IC-25544A LIEUTENANT GENERAL VINOD NAYANAR, AVSM REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY

6.                
IC-25815M LIEUTENANT GENERAL GURDEEP SINGH, AVSM, VSM, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY

7.                
MR-03301P LIEUTENANT GENERAL GOPALA KRISHNAN RAMDAS, SM, VSM
ARMY MEDICAL CORPS

8.                
IC-25812Y LIEUTENANT GENERAL SUBRAMANIAN RAVI SHANKAR, VSM, CORPS OF ENGINEERS

9.                
IC-25457M LIEUTENANT GENERAL VIJAY KUMAR AHLUWALIA, AVSM*, YSM, VSM, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY/ HEADQUARTERS CENTRAL COMMAND (RETIRED)

10.            
IC-25538M LIEUTENANT GENERAL RABINDRAN KRISHNA SWAMY, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, INFANTRY (RETIRED)

11.            
IC-25808W LIEUTENANT GENERAL DUSHYANT SINGH CHAUHAN, AVSM, ARMOURED CORPS (RETIRED)

12.            
IC-25833P LIEUTENANT GENERAL GOVINDA MOHAN NAIR, AVSM, SM, VSM, INFANTRY (RETIRED)

KIRTI CHAKRA

13.            
SS-43842Y LIEUTENANT SUSHIL KHAJURIA, ARMY SERVICE CORPS / 18TH BATTALION THE GRENADIERS (POSTHUMOUS)

UTTAM YUDDH SEVA MEDAL

14.            
IC-30353P LIEUTENANT GENERAL SYED ATA HASNAIN, AVSM, SM, VSM, INFANTRY/ HEADQUARTERS 15TH CORPS

BAR TO ATI VISHISHT SEVA MEDAL

15.            
IC-30503A LIEUTENANT GENERAL  JAI PRAKASH NEHRA, AVSM, INFANTRY

16.            
IC-30137F LIEUTENANT GENERAL SUKHRAJ PAL KOCHHAR, AVSM, SM, VSM, CORPS OF SIGNALS

17.            
IC- 27264L LIEUTENANT GENERAL AVINASH CHANDER SONEJA, AVSM, VSM*, INFANTRY (RETIRED)

ATI VISHISHT SEVA MEDAL

18.            
IC-27352F LIEUTENANT GENERAL MANJINDER SINGH BUTTAR, VSM, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY

19.            
IC-30392N LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAVIKIRAN PRABHAKAR DASTANE, VSM, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY / HEADQUARTERS 14TH CORPS

20.            
IC-30482P LIEUTENANT GENERAL VINOD BHATIA, SM, INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS 33RD CORPS

21.            
IC-30118W LIEUTENANT GENERAL ANJAN MUKHERJEE, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY

22.            
IC-30683N LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAMESHWAR YADAV,  VSM, INFANTRY

23.            
IC-30783Y LIEUTENANT GENERAL ANIL MALHOTRA, ARMY SERVICE CORPS

24.            
IC-31327A LIEUTENANT GENERAL RANBIR SINGH, SM, INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS STRATEGIC FORCES COMMAND

25.            
AIR MARSHAL DHANANJAY PARASHURAM JOSHI (13905) MEDICAL

26.            
AIR MARSHAL PACKIRISWAMY KANAKARAJ, VSM (15066) AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING (MECHANICAL)

27.            
IC-34356A MAJOR GENERAL NAVKIRAN SINGH GHEI,  INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS 21ST MOUNTAIN DIVISION

28.            
IC-34392L MAJOR GENERAL GURMIT SINGH, VSM, INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS COUNTER INSURGENCY FORCE (DELTA)

29.            
IC-34424H MAJOR GENERAL SUNIL KUMAR GADEOCK, INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS 9TH INFANTRY DIVISION

30.            
IC-34600P MAJOR GENERAL SAMIR KUMAR CHAKRAVORTY, SC, SM*,  INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS 28TH INFANTRY DIVISION

31.            
IC- 34775X MAJOR GENERAL  RAVINDRA VASANTRAO THODGE, SM, VSM, INFANTRY / HEADQUARTERS COUNTER INSURGENCY FORCE (KILO)

32.            
IC-35789K MAJOR GENERAL RANJIT SINGH, VSM, ARMY EDUCATION CORPS/ AEC TRAINING COLLEGE AND CENTRE

33.            
REAR ADMIRAL GIRISH LUTHRA, VSM (02011-W)

34.            
REAR ADMIRAL HARISH CHANDRA SINGH BISHT (02035-Z)

35.            
REAR ADMIRAL KALPATHI NARASIMHAN VAIDYANATHAN, NM (40665-W)

36.            
REAR ADMIRAL KURUMANGHAT RAMACHANDRAN NAIR, VSM, (50575-T)

37.            
SURGEON REAR ADMIRAL YASH PAL MONGA, NM (75204-T),

38.            
AIR VICE MARSHAL ASHOK SINGHAL, VSM (14615) AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING (ELECTRONICS)

39.            
AIR VICE MARSHAL AMIT CHAKRABORTY (14716) ADMINISTRATION

40.            
AIR VICE MARSHAL VIRENDER MOHAN KHANNA, VSM (15071) AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING (MECHANICAL)

41.            
AIR VICE MARSHAL MATHEW GEORGE, VSM (14987) ACCOUNTS

42.            
AIR VICE MARSHAL RAVINDER KUMAR DHIR, VM (15678) FLYING (PILOT)

43.            
AIR COMMODORE UPKARJIT SINGH (16204) FLYING (PILOT)

SHAURYA CHAKRA

44.            
G/5004672 RIFLEMAN ANIRUDDH YADAV, 3 ASSAM RIFLES

45.            
13620144 naik (NOW HAVILDAR) rajesh kumar, 3RD BATTALION THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT (SPECIAL FORCES)

46.            
SS-41822 MAJOR DUSHYANT SINGH SHEKHAWAT, 8TH BATTALION THE DOGRA REGIMENT

47.            
NO. EX GS-184959F OPERATOR EXCAVATING MACHINERY SAMSHER SINGH, BORDER ROAD ORGANISATION (POSTHUMOUS)

48.            
IC-66865 MAJOR ABHISHEK CHAKRABARTY, ARMY AIR DEFENCE / 23 RASHTRIYA RIFLES

49.            
GS – 166845N OPERATOR EXCAVATING MACHINERY-2 KANHAYA PRASAD, BORDER ROAD ORGANISATION (POSTHUMOUS)

50.            
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ROHITH MOHANDAS NAMBIAR (05622-A)

51.            
JC-413091F SUBEDAR MANJEET SINGH, 4TH BATTALION THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT (SPECIAL FORCES)

52.            
14433512W NAIK SUMER SINGH, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY/ 18TH BATTALION THE RASHTRIYA RIFLES (POSTHUMOUS)

53.            
5048550P RIFLEMAN TEJ BAHADUR GURUNG, 1ST GORKHA RIFLES / 15TH BATTALION THE RASHTRIYA RIFLES

54.            
IC-60963W MAJOR RAVINDRA KUMAR GURANG, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY / 33RD FIELD REGIMENT

55.            
15143280N NAIK SANKAR TARAFDAR, REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY / 33RD FIELD REGIMENT

Impact of 2012 Budget on Indian Auto Market: What to Buy & Why?




The news for the Auto Industry is mostly good and arguably bad.

Good because the fears of the duty hike on Diesel vehicles have proven unfounded and the technology led intervention pricing towards fuel conservation and environment friendly small vehicles continues.

Arguably bad, because there is an across the board hike in excise duty from 10 to 12 per cent, the impact of which on price increase will be marginal.

The share prices of Auto manufacturers Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Maruti Suzuki have all since registered an upward trend given the budget direction.

February car sales had seen a steep spike especially in Diesel vehicles before the budget.

This has however proven a mistake in posterity, as neither have the prices of Diesel been increased, nor has the Government imposed a Diesel cess or tax demanded by Oil Marketing companies and environmental groups, proposed to the tune of Rs. 81,000 on diesel cars.


This will on the one hand see a continuation of the trend of increased sales in the last few years towards Diesel cars, Mini SUVs, SUVs and the lately popular crossovers, and on the other hand be a positive trigger for the investment plans by auto manufacturers. The apprehension of a Diesel Tax had put an eclipse on the investment environment of new plants to meet the surging Diesel vehicle demand until the policy flip flops over diesel were resolved.


Now what this means for the car buying consumer in terms of price is that Excise duty on small cars under 4 meters in length with petrol engine capacity of below 1200CC or Diesel engine capacity of below 1500CC will fall attract an excise duty increase of 10 to 12 per cent. The Maruti small cars like Alto, Swift, the Hyundai i10, and Honda Brio will get very marginally pricier.

The Excise duty on large cars measuring above 4 meters in length and having petrol engine capacity of over 1200CC or diesel engine capacity of over 1500CC has been increased from 22 to 24 per cent. Sedans like the Ford Fiesta, Honda City, Volkswagen Vento and Hyundai Verna will see a small price increase.

The Excise duty on MUVs and SUVs has been changed from 22 per cent + Rs. 15,000 to a flat 27 per cent. This will impact the prices of Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari, as well as those of Mahindra Thar, Bolero, Tata Sumo, Force Motors Trax, which will see an increase.

The news is bad for those in the market for imported CBU SUVs costing over USD 40,000 that saw excise duty, go up from 60 to 75 per cent. This will impact Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Toyota, Renault and other foreign automakers very negatively. This will favour domestic luxury SUV makers like Tata Aria, and the Mahindra XUV500.

The exemptions towards R&D and eco friendly hybrid and electric vehicles also continue, which needs to be encouraged in an era of insane crude oil as energy security becomes more important every day.

Clearly the move towards Diesel based cars under 4 meters with an engine less than 1500CC will be the high growth segment, besides of course the ubiquitous small car. This will mean increased competition in the small car market; better functionality like ABS, climate control, automatic gear boxes in the same price category.

This budget also means a renewed demand surge for mini SUVs with monocoque bodies like Ford Ecosport, Renault Duster, Premier Rio, and Mahindra Mini Xylo, among many others. In keeping with this theme expect a similar mini or compact SUV from the Maruti Suzuki stable. This will as a corollary push domestic manufacturers to upgrade and invest in smaller engines with similar outputs, and better quality bodies and ergonomics, in keeping with global competition.

If you are the weekend warrior or someone that is required to drive on rough and broken roads across India’s rural landscape, mountains and jungles, the finance gods have been kind. This is the vehicle for you!

The Indian Auto Industry overall is unlikely to be affected, if anything Pranab Mukherjee’s otherwise insipid Budget of 2012, will increase investment, and promote fuel efficient, contemporary technology in the Indian auto market.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Journey from Jeep to SUV in Business Bhaskar


India’s Freedom Icon: WW2 Jeep’s SUV Evolution


The beginnings of the Jeep were laid by the Willys Overlander Corporation’s during the Second World War. Characterized by its lightweight and high ground clearance, the Jeep could go anywhere, even mounted on train tracks as a makeshift locomotive. The origin of the word Jeep is in the abbreviation G.P. or General Purpose given to it by the US Army.
The status of the Jeep as an icon found it being used by leaders, statesmen, and even the Pope. In India, Indira Gandhi’s images on a Jeep are an enduring memory. The post independence Indian Cinema is also replete with the iconic status of the Jeep as a symbol of freedom.
After the War, the first variant of the Jeep to be sold as a civilian vehicle was the CJ 2A. In India, Mahindra was the first to import first assembled versions and then manufacture the Jeep, under license from Willys Overland.
Somewhere over the years Mahindra became complacent and there stopped the evolution of Jeep in India as compared to its global evolution. 
The years of socialism were years of market denial to international competition, and a lack of interest in innovation, in a more or less under supplied market.
In 1960 Nissan introduced a new 4x4 called Patrol 60 (P60). The vehicle was available in two wheelbases with three body types. The P60 entered service with the Indian Army in 1963-64, along with the Nissan Carrier, D4W73 1 Ton. Both vehicles were fitted with the same powered by a six-cylinder 3956cc in-line petrol engine developing 110bhp at 3200rpm. Maximum torque was 26.9kgm at 1200rpm. It had a three-speed gearbox with two-speed shift-on-the-fly 4wd transfer case and a power take-off. Some reconnaissance Jongas were equipped with PTO Winches.
The 1980s saw some competition to Mahindra in the form of the military condemned Jeeps, which were refurbished; with after market direct injection Japanese oil burners and some petrol motors.
In, 1985, Maruti Suzuki Gypsy launched a 970 cc 4WD off roader codenamed MG410, with a carburetted F10A engine that made 45 bhp  mated to a 4-speed gearbox. The 4WD transfer case had 2 speeds. It had a freewheeling mechanism on the front axles made by Aisin to unlock the front axles from the hub when 4WD is not used, later discontinued. 
In June 1996, Maruti added a new all aluminium 8-valve G13BA engine displacing 1.3L and made 65 bhp and was mated to a new 5-speed gearbox. It was codenamed MG413W and called the Gypsy King.. In March 2000, Maruti introduced the 16-Valve MPFI G13BB engine and power was increased to 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS). The MPFI Gypsy King received a brake booster as well. In January 2012, due to institutional sales to Police and Armed Forces, it remains the mainstay on 4WD in India.
Another manufacturer in the fray that gave some competition to Mahindra was the Trax and notably its very capable short wheelbase 4WD in the Judo, from Force Motors. 
Tata entered the fray with the Safari in the end 1990s, but despite the truck biased heavy utility vehicle it was, the Safari was received poorly. The Tata UVs in the 407, Sumo, and Safari did not make an entry till the mid-late 1990s. They had the same time honoured problems of poor engineering, rattle and hum.
The onset of the new emission norms in 2005, the price of fuel and the lack of comfort and safety features saw a grim time, when the cheap, go anywhere utility vehicle or sport utility vehicle (SUV) underwent a big change and nearly became extinct.  
While the Jeep Wrangler in America offered Anti Lock Brakes (ABS) as far back as 1993-4, the India market even in 2012 remains steeped in the socialist inertia, that means gaping panels and poor engineering, and a scandalous lack of safety norms like disc brakes front and rear, side door guard beams, air bags and tail gate, center stop light considered standard world over.
Cut to present day, such basics as the ones described above, have still not crossed the fabled Rubicon trail in the India of 2012. SUVs in India remain Spartan and as is won’t tend to sacrifice functionality for form. From underpinnings, suspension, inner ergonomics and interiors, all remain unloved. Far from heated seats and air conditioning, most UVs and SUVs remain cannibalized and not work of pride.
To be fair, the news isn’t all bad despite the crisis in Europe and the slowdown of growth linked to inflation. On offer today are SUVs that straddle a large range. For the purpose of keeping the comparison grounded and functional the list of possible desirables, depending on your need to go off road and actually use such things as differential locks, hill ascent and descent, and automatic gearbox.
On offer are a variety of SUVs some more capable, others more in the region of tarmac only city slickers.  The launch of the Mahindra Thar was once such event that brought offroading back to the Indian value buyer,
As the fuel prices goes through the roof, the new trend in India is that of the mini SUV. From the Premier Rio, to the Ford Ecosport, to the Renault Duster, to a new Maruti SUV, this market is on the cusp of a revolution. The latest SIAM numbers show the SUV sales grew at 32%.
From the archaic leaf springs, the time of multi-link suspensions, disc brakes at least on the front wheels, if not all 4 wheels are also here. ABS, ESP, air bags are no longer alien to our roads. Pre-tensioned seat belts, on the fly 4WD and even automatic gearboxes are not an unreasonable demand.
In the fray are the Mahindra XUV500, the cash cow Bolero and the mudplugger 4WD Mahindra Thar with Jeep genes of the CJ5, an equally accomplished mountain goat and desert fox. The Mahindra Scorpio remains a hypbrid between the Jeep and a car, a soft roader that again changed many paradigms in indigenous design and broke barrier in comfort and fuel economy. 
Tata has its Aria UV, and a set of new underpinnings and interiors for the aging but refurbished Safari Storme. Paint jobs, lighted and stiffer bodies, the move from tradional ladder on frame to monocoque suspension as seen lately in the Mahindra XUV500 are again the fruit of competition that the consumer will benefit from increasingly going forward.
Given the condition of the Indian roads and poor road safety, the SUV remains a viable choice, not just for saving your body but its also represents a freedom for the soul.
For that wind in the hair elation or for that comfort of heated seats in winter, from the lunar landscape of Ladakh to the mystery of the moonless Rajasthan desert night, India needs its rugged yet capable off roader. 
Jeep and SUV manufacturers though need to make the leap of faith that will bring contemporary technology and comfort to the Jeep in India.

This Article Originally Appeared in the Zindagi Ki Raftaar supplement, in Business Bhaskar, as a Hindi Translation.

Monday, 27 February 2012

When It Gets Crowded Up There

Sway in gentle streams when it gets crowded up there
move gently in the darkness
slower than you'd move a baby
slower than the sun moves

when twilight enters the chaos realm
and ghosts dance across walls
when noise becomes a din and wails sing out
cover your eyes and hide

It moves up and down
the yin will have a yang
as sure as misery
joy and light will come

Look carefully in the shadows
for cues will come now or later
the fatigue of the climber
will change to exhilaration in the cold sun

The Idiot Orangutan

There you are again
a constant pain in the arse
gone for a while
and then back in full effect

As I reel from these mealy-mouthed platitudes
and these inane questions to nobody
the fruit of so many wrong years
and of decades gone wrong

The vigilante in us
that idiot orangutan
is it a smile of knowledge or the grimace of hate
everyone decide for themselves

This litany of half truths and lies
illusions of glory
and yet we let our brothers and sisters
be slayed in infamy

As your brains fall out of your mouth
and I cringe in repulsion
yet somehow still suffer you
oh! democracy indeed

You are lost without a cause
the need for anger another opiate
as then all is justified
but you will burn too

Thursday, 9 February 2012

How the Fear of Trolls, Hecklers & Satirists in Social Media in India, Keeps Traditional Media Honest

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Social Media in India has an Astonishing Quality of Analysis; a Lightning Speed of Feedback, and a Seamless Reach Across Borders and Socioeconomic Strata.
The first signs of the recognition of Social Media emerging as an alternative source to traditional news media came during the Bombay Terror Attacks starting 26 November of 2008. 

Wikileaks and the Internet fuelled unrest in the Middle East later, the world of news, and messages had changed forever. Even the Chinese, could not escape its human wrath.
Largely fed from online networks and communities that uploaded, discussed the attack live across its duration with pictures, Tweets, text messages, Facebook status updates, and anguished Blogs. Some exaggerated, some spread rumour and speculation but largely remained credible, germaine and astonishingly lucid.
The News timeline has gone on largely as it had before, as India moved through, victories and defeats, terror attacks and joy, its scams, scandals, smear campaigns, the chest beating, the legislation, the Baba Ramdev’s and the Anna Hazare’s. Social Media in India has been first of the ground on train tragedies, bombings, natural disasters, controversial books, writers, dissidents, separatists, the right, the left and its centrist.
As traditional media ownership, gets increasingly polymerized, and management control overtakes editorial mores; the transformation of the news business to product has gained currency. The line between editorial, advertorial and advertising has become increasingly blurred. 

There are beacons of truth, now and again; those who tried to stay true to the original journalistic ethos, but most succumbed to vagaries of economic strife and advertising revenue. Somewhere along the way Indian journalism increasingly forgot the principles of transparency, of public morality, of being the voice of those who did not have one.
The mainline or traditional media, print, broadcast and radio, are today easily controllable sources of the news business, of truth and propaganda, often toeing the company line as organs of the state’s direction setting and its thrust, as they faithfully did during a command and control, Nehruvian socialism. 

The liberalisation and the heady days of the 1990s made no change to this herd proclivity. As India moved to a liberalized rhythm, and successive governments underwent transition, no one saw this inflection point coming. The explosion of technology led content generation as the harbinger of change was never expected or planned for by the thinkers and communicators of the state.
Most today are still remain in active denial of facts such as, “Almost half of all ‘home based’ Internet users are ‘heavy users’ of Internet, spending more than 2 hours a day on weekdays. Less than 1 in 3 of them spend that kind time on other media.” Or that, “Net surfing is among top 3 favorite ‘indoor entertainment’ for 3 out of 4 of them. 9 out of 10 of them (86%) use some ‘social media’ (Networking, Communities, Blogs, Tweets, and Reviews).”
Let us examine traditional journalism and its practitioners, long broken into a system of boundaries and delineation suddenly they were set upon by a world of known’ unknowns. Public trust in government, traditional media has plumbed newer lows as a multitude of scams has hit recent India again and again. 

In the turbulent environment of popular public discourse, as intelligence agency recorded private conversations are leaked, doctored, stings are used in smear campaigns; misinformation and feints have started to define traditional media management, as its dark but acceptable arts. As multiple outrages later, terror is politicized, and double standard of abdicated law and public order is practiced to a politically sectarian end, by vote bank necessitated malcontents, it further play havoc with this trust. 

The suspicion of the common man and the flicker of his moral compass have all become pronounced, these have found outlet in user generated content of social media, the slickest of the players have being found out, shamed and outed by Social Media. It is a medium that has remained largely self-balancing, such is the medium that loose tweets cannot be denied or defended. Sophistry has ended political careers or at least resulted in the political doghouse.
As the heckling and the satire hit vanities of media barons and media divas close to their personal eco-systems, as media changed to two-way conversation from the earlier one way, fire and forget missive. Suddenly, the chance of the shameless plug being found out were real, paid news was being exposed, equity for news coverage, all were fair targets by the confounding Facebookers and the infuriating Twitterati.
The praise and the brickbats are instantaneous, as are the recrimination, the analysis, its quality and veracity are way above average. Professionals, doctors, spooks, soldiers, bankers, policemen, everyone is out there. These are people with jobs: “Almost 2/3rd of all Internet users are ‘employed’, and 71% of the employed ones ‘head’ of their households.” They have money: “2/3rd of online Indians belong to SEC A, B and C, with claimed ‘average’ monthly family income of `18,720; 1 in 4 have a credit card.” And they have an opinion, on everything!
Some screamed ‘troll’, others wished it away as a fad, and while no one in traditional media wanted to acknowledge this as a delightful source of information, an early warning system. Social Media was the open secret of crowd sourcing, this harvesting of a terrible knowledge, from user generated content, across social networking platforms, to find inspiration, search for ideas or to just renew a jaded, habit struck intellect.
As Social Media aided by Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube broke cover, they increasngly started to threaten both traditional print and broadcast media’s grip on breaking news. Online news and streaming media turned rivals to traditional media used to a comfortable monopoly thus far; all this became a frightening reality.
As losses to online advertising revenues start becoming sizeable and started cutting the lunch of conventional media spends, the suits and the editors, realized that the Internet and Social Media phenomena are here to stay. The active Internet base in India as per findings from the India Online 2011 Report from JuxtConsult stands in excess of 65 Million users, up 28 per cent since last year. Mobile users surfing Internet on their mobile phones grew slowly (25%) to reach only 14.4 million (3.5% of all Indian mobile users). However, 86 million mobile users (21%) use some kind of ‘data’ service. That is a target audience that cannot be wished away, certainly not by advertisers, and they pay the bills at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Twitter feeds are already being faked; proxies for political parties who tried to turn the same tricks as they did on conventional media, on the Internet were quickly exposed, identifiable by their ubiquitous IP Address, anonymity no guarantee for misbehaviour or slander. Yes, there are the abusive and the prurient, the vain and the profane, religious nuts and communist retrogrades. It is open house for Internet is a mirror to society and one can argue on why Indian society should be allowed the comfort of selective showcase viewing, now that the socialist façade is crumbling into a modern India that can laugh at its blemishes, for there is a lot to admire too.
The days of the Siberian gulag sounding PIB (Press Information Bureau) that produces press releases that are largely ignored by most media for they are crusty, staid, badly written, poorly researched and tardily disseminated are not over by far but their irrelevance is increasing by the day. These text only monoliths find no favour with the media rich, pictorial, video or an infographic competitive social media, that can be shared seamlessly across caste, creed and socio economic strata.
Today as the PMO and the MHA start Twitter handles, the secrecy paranoid official India is being dragged kicking and screaming into Social Media. The Armed Forces need a social media policy, as does the Police and all government offices, NGOs, Banks, Utilities, Ports, everybody who deals with the public, if they are going to have a chance of having any say at all.
The future of journalism has changed. The forced exodus to hybrid media has already begun, based on technology but still relying on the robustness of authenticated, feet of the street, news. Content was and still remains king, storytelling still the spine of the new business. Journalist, communicator alike, government or enterprise or non-profit, all realize the lay of the land.
Many old journalists used to a primal rhythm don’t like it. They moan about the lack of analysis, and it’s a longer but factual periodicity as divergent to breaking news and topical news. The argument is exaggerated and has more in the nature of inertia than fact. Looking back at cackle of typewriters and teleprinters, who could’ve said, what the world would become.
The standards of probity, of integrity and transparency of an independent media have not changed but translated across an interactive two way medium that listens and talks back. Social Media has kept conventional media honest and if anything returned the emphasis to these values. It marks the return of true investigative journalism, one that keeps governments honest. 

It is nobody's case that print will die or TV will become extinct or radio for that matter, those in tradional media will all have to adapt to the digital medium, some sooner, others, losses later or an extinct never.


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