Friday, April 24, 2009

Aam Aadmi Ke Badhte Kadam

Aam Aadmi

New print-cum-tv-cum-outdoor advertisement released by Congress for the General Elections

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Monday, April 20, 2009

IPL security measures suspect after dog infiltration

black dogCape Town, South Africa. Preparations and arrangement for the second edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) were done within such a short span of time that it even filled its critics with awe. But now some chinks in the armor have started showing up. Floodlights malfunctioned, the official website crashed, and the most shocking part was the security breach by a black dog during the inaugural match of Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings match.

It should be recalled that IPL was shifted out of India due to security concerns but with this instance of a black dog invading the ground, the worst fears of people have again come alive. Although security officials seemed dogged to take on any security threats, the incident has caused a lot of discomfort to the cricketers and game followers.

“It was a strange dog. It refused to go away. I even tried to throw the ball towards it so that it fetches it and in the process gets caught, but it didn’t do that. Clearly the dog’s behavior was suspect and the incident must be probed. I don’t know if they are interrogating it for further clues.” Chennai Super Kings player Manpreet Gony shared his experiences.

No group has claimed responsibility for the infiltration by the dog beyond the boundary line. Even though match was held up for more than twelve minutes, security officials have ruled out any foul play. But experts believe that the dog could have been a potential bomb or even a terrorist.

“You never know. They can strap bombs on the dog and make it a suicide bomber. Terrorists have done all kinds of things in the past, there is no reason to disbelieve that such a thing can’t happen. This is a serious security lapse and Lalit Modi owes an explanation to the country and the cricketing world.” Bombphat Guha, an expert of terror activities in cricket, told Faking News.

So was it a fidaayeen dog? The scary idea has left deep scars on the psyche of many people who now feel that they are secure nowhere in the world and the world is going to dogs.

“Today it is a dog, tomorrow it could be anything, anyone, ummm.. a cat! Yes, tomorrow it could be a cat. How will security official catch a cat when they couldn’t catch a dog? And god forbid if it’s a rabbit or a deer? We are not safe at all and it all happened because we allowed Indian subcontinent shit to happen in our country.” Darke Marey, a local resident told.

The incident, being called ‘doggate’ by Indian media, has also opened up security concerns of various kinds. The cheerleaders have started feeling insecure about further infiltration of fundamentalist forces on the ground, while some non-cheerleading women have complained that Lalit Modi smiles just too often at them making them feel insecure. Men have also expressed insecurity over Mandira Bedi’s wardrobe and style.

Kings XI Punjab bowler S Sreesanth too has expressed security concerns ahead of his team’s match against Mumbai Indians on 29th April. He believes that outings against Mumbai Indians are always fraught with dangers for people on the field, especially for him. Last year he was slapped and left inconsolable in tears by Mumbai Indians’ bowler Harbhajan Singh, and this year he fears that the canine threat might return to the field again.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jarnail’s Joota revives Chappell memories

Underarm ActionNew Delhi. The whole world was stunned when a journalist called Jarnail Singh threw a shoe (also known as Joota in Hindi) at Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram. People couldn’t believe their eyes when Jarnail stood up and flung the shoe. It was shocking – it was clearly an underarm action – something the whole world thought was never to be repeated again after it shook the civil society 28 years ago.

It was February 1, 1981, and Australia was playing a One Day International cricket match against New Zealand in Melbourne. New Zealand needed to hit a six on the last ball to tie the match. To secure victory, Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother and bowler Trevor Chappell to deliver the last ball underarm. The ball was thrown underarm, almost along the ground, and Australia won the match.

Although underarm delivery was technically legal at that time, the incident caused major controversy and outcry on and off the cricketing field, resulting in underarm action being banned. Underarm action was not seen again until Jarnail Singh rose to throw the shoe, which has now raised the ghost of bad deeds of Chappell brothers. People are also calling it “the Joota-Chappell connection” between the two incidents.

“Congress might have forgiven Jarnail Singh even though he didn’t ask for apology, but New Zealand will never forgive Chappell brothers for what they did in 1981. These brothers brought shame not only to their own country but to the whole game of cricket. Australia must not give them any tickets, lest they fly out of the country and spread such unethical behavior outside.” New Zealand cricket captain Daniel Vettori told in a press conference.

But Daneile Vettori seemed to have forgotten that Australia had already given tickets to Greg Chappell, who flew out of his country to coach India. But his sentiments were echoed by former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who also blamed Greg Chappell for having set a bad precedent and demanded that Chappell be arrested for his original sins.

“Jarnail would have been an innocent school going kid when the 1981 incident happened. Clearly that has left a deep mark on his psyche and he committed the mistake of throwing the shoe underarm. Instead of blaming Jarnail, we must identify the root of the problem and address that.” Ganguly demanded.

Meanwhile Jarnail’s Joota act has given rise to fears that the underarm action can become popular again as a tool to secure victories. Authorities have declared that no one would be allowed to get away easily after breaking the rules, even as they let Jarnail Singh go off without registering a case against him.

Unfortunately this purely cricketing incident is slowly getting mired in political controversies as well with a Congress leader called Jagdish Tytler claiming that the action of Jarnail Singh was politically motivated.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jeans with fingerprint reader buttons launched

Unbuttoned LoveMumbai. Levi’s has announced arrival of special jeans trousers with fingerprint sensor buttons for the Indian market, especially for the rich and the famous. These trousers will unbutton only by the fingers of the original wearer. The buttons will first scan the fingerprints of the hands trying to unbutton the jeans and will yield only when the fingerprints match with those of the original wearers, which will be recorded at the time of sale.

Levi’s will include this new line of fingerprint reading jeans under the brand ‘unbuttons’, but won’t use the global campaign “Live Unbuttoned” for promotions. The company has retained the now Padma Shree Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador, who recently came under fire for indulging in an alleged obscene act while promoting the ‘unbuttons’ brand in a fashion show.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Clearly there were many people who didn’t like pants that could be opened by someone else other than the wearer. To stop recurrence of such instances, we decided to launch jeans that would simply refuse to get unbuttoned by someone else other than the wearer. I hope this should settle the controversy now. We request the aggrieved parties to buy our new line of fingerprint sensor jeans.” Levi’s press release told.

But the step has refused to pacify people who thought Akshay Kumar and Levi’s broke the limits of decency by performing the unbuttoning act. These activists and social workers claim that the actor and the company are not only trying to shirk the responsibility, but also trying to leverage a rather shameful incident for their publicity and promotions. The activists have questioned the rationale behind the launch of fingerprint sensor jeans.

“By launching fingerprint sensor jeans, is Levi’s trying to prove that it was just a lack of a technological feature in the jeans that caused that shameful unbuttoning act in public? Instead of correcting their conduct, they are trying to correct the costume. I guess this is the new form of wardrobe malfunction that we are seeing to promote fashion shows and brands.” Sunil Nair, one of the social workers offended by Akshay and Twinkle’s act, told Faking News.

Faking News tried to contact Akshay and Twinkle both to get their reactions but they refused to comment on the issue, although Akshay told that he was happy to see a fingerprint reading jeans and was looking forward to promote it among the Indian youth.

Meanwhile fashion gurus had mixed reactions to the latest offering by Levi’s. Leading designer Saari Kumar ridiculed the idea and claimed that no one will buy such a brand unless it was supplemented with a password feature, but another designer Kameez Khurrana thought it to be a ‘cool’ stuff. Although Khurrana cautioned the wearers that they can get embarrassed and dirty in public toilets if the fingerprint sensors stopped working.

Social thinkers too had mixed reactions. While some of them agreed with protestors and claimed that this was just a stunt to shift the onus of behavioral error from humans on to clothes, others claimed that such products were retrogressive in nature and would be taking human beings to the medieval era of chastity belts.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

543 tricksters are on prowl in India: intelligence report

Agents of No ChangeNew Delhi. While the Indian media widely reported about the intelligence report suggesting possible presence of seven pilots and several women in India to carry out terror attacks on Indian citizens during the elections, they ignored the intelligence report confirming presence of several tricksters in India to swindle Indian citizens through the elections. The terror alert was issued by the state intelligence groups while the trick alert was issued by the Faking News Intelligence Group (FNIG).

FNIG report warns Indian citizens of various tricksters on prowl, who are looking to fleece them by beguiling them. The report estimates that currently thousands of such tricksters are moving on the sly, and warns that at least 543 of them could end up successfully tricking the Indian citizens by May end if the citizens didn’t become alert.

The report further informs that modus operandi of such tricksters are only subtly different from the common cheats and frauds found in various villages and cities across the country, especially those who drug and loot poor passengers in trains.

“Just like those common cheats, these tricksters get friendly with their targets and even voice concern on the ongoing loot by condemning other cheats, thus appealing to the conscious of the common man. Finally they dupe the unsuspecting and the unconscious man. While the common cheats vanish after the act, these special tricksters don’t do the vanishing act and instead come back again and again to rip off the unsuspecting citizens.” the report informed.

FNIG report equates such acts of cheating by these special set of tricksters as being no less lethal than terrorism. The report further claims that just as terror attacks are a result of intelligence failure of the government agencies, getting cheated by such tricksters are a result of intelligence failure of a common Indian man.

“A common man demands the government agents to be penalized or replaced if an intelligence failure takes place, but he has failed to penalize or replace his own agents of intelligence even though failures have been happening regularly. He must change his agents of intelligence if he doesn’t want to get duped again.” FNIG report recommends.

Unfortunately the FNIG report did not create such a strong ripple as the terror warning by government intelligence agencies could. Some experts believe that currently a common man is more concerned about him “being” than his “well being” and that’s why he was more interested in the terror warning. But other experts have argued that the lack of interest in the trick warning was due to the fact that the common man has yet not realized the value and worth of the assets being looted by these tricksters.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

The myth of bad Taliban

Good Taliban and Bad WomanLahore, Pakistan. Faking News has come up with another scoop after finding out the reason behind the bitter love affair between Chand Mohammad and Fiza. Our experts have concluded that there is no bad Taliban, giving credence to the belief of many Af-Pakistanis who think Taliban as a pious organization of passionate Muslims. Our experts have discovered that all the recent ‘bad’ terror attacks in Pakistan, e.g. bomb blast in a Mosque or attack on Sri Lankan Cricket team, were false-flag operations carried out by the ISI to discredit Taliban crusaders.

Our investigations started when the US President Obama expressed his willingness to talk to the ‘good’ Taliban for peace in the region. This statement was not met with the usual gaiety and support for the US policy by the Pakistani establishment. Our experts analyzed and deduced that Pakistani government considered the ‘good’ Taliban as a threat.

After further analysis, our experts found out that the administration and power centers of Pakistan have always been in the hands of a few people, mostly coming from the Punjab region, and these people have always thwarted any attempt to wrest powers from their hands. When people from earlier East Pakistan tried to capture power, they were dealt with iron hand resulting in the Bangladesh war of independence.

These people, who are also the brains behind the ISI and run the intelligence agency, could sense a clear and present threat from the ‘good’ Taliban, which was making inroads in various parts of Pakistan. A common citizen of Pakistan seemed to welcome Taliban as the organization of largely Afghani men moved fast southwards and eastwards into Pakistan.

With tottering Pakistani economy and valueless political class, the administration and powerful people of Pakistan feared that the general public of Pakistan might rise in revolt under the leadership of Taliban on lines of the so-called Islamic revolution of Iran. These powerful people saw themselves being pushed out of power like Shah of Iran, and hence decided to paint Taliban as ‘bad’ people in the eyes of a common Pakistani.

With such a mandate, ISI carried out the ‘bad’ terror attacks in Pakistan and blamed it on Taliban instead of India, our experts conclude.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TRP Madness

TRP Madness(Many newspapers or news channels carry fake news articles on April 1st – All Fool’s Day – to celebrate the occasion. This left Faking News with a big dilemma as we fake the news round the clock, round the year. Hence we decided to carry a rather serious article on this day! Or maybe we just ran out of ideas, but why should we accept that? Anyway, the serious article follows:)

The current mess of television journalism is often blamed upon "the mad TRP race" i.e. the race to show sensational and senseless stuff in name of news just to attract eyeballs i.e. attention of common men and hence their viewership, which translates into high TRP numbers. So is this 'business' of achieving high TRPs against the 'business' of journalism?

Historically news organizations have been running the business of ‘printing and publishing’. The modern journalism is supposed to have started with the Gutenberg press in the fifteenth century, when Bible was printed and made available to the common masses, liberating it from the clutches of the clergy.

The Bible printing press evolved into of a press that printed books, periodicals and finally Daily Newspapers by the seventeenth century. Soon various newspapers were in business all over Europe and America. Journalism was a ‘mission’ as well as a ‘business’.

Many of these newspapers were ‘promoted’ or ‘owned’ by people on a mission – people committed to the ideals of democracy. Even in India, journalism students are taught that modern journalism started with some of the great freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, starting their own periodicals or newspapers.

So journalism started as a ‘business of selling ideals of democracy’.

These ideas sold. People, the common man as well as the rich and the famous, bought them and they didn’t mind paying a price. The business sustained.

By the end of nineteenth century, some businessmen in the USA could recognize that the massive reach of newspapers made them the most powerful tool of mass marketing and advertising. The term ‘yellow journalism’ came into being a few years after. Profits skyrocketed.

Journalism became a ‘business of selling advertising spots’.

And it gave birth to page-3 journalism, it gave birth to sold out editorial spaces (by cleverly calling it advertorials), and it made the 'mission' of journalism take the back seat and give the driver seat to the 'business' of journalism.

The problem with television news was even more complex. Unlike the printing and publishing business, television business didn’t start with any grand mission of propagating ideals of democracy, revolution or education.

Television had broadly two roles when it started – government controlled mass communication medium or an entertainment medium better known as the idiot box, which attracted eyeballs and sold advertising spots as part of business strategy.

When independent television news channels started, they had the challenge to not take on either of these roles – a government propaganda machinery or an idiot box. While they ‘seem’ to have saved themselves from becoming a propaganda machinery of the government, they are definitely struggling to save themselves from adoption the idiot box business strategy of selling TRP slots.

We have assumed that TRPs almost solely determine the advertisement rates of the television news channels. Higher the TRP values, higher the advertising rates, and hence higher the revenues, causing the business strategy of the news channels to be TRP driven.

We have also assumed that it’s mostly non-serious and non-journalistic television content that attracts higher eyeballs and hence higher TRPs.

Both these assumptions are not completely unfounded. Television advertising rates depend heavily on TRPs (although not solely) and people tend to watch more of entertainment and non-serious content on television, because television remains a very important medium of entertainment.

Could these two factors be changed?

The first one (making television advertising rates a lot less dependent upon TRPs) would require a change in the market dynamics of the television advertising industry, while the second one (people start preferring serious television content) warrants a radical social behavior change or mass arrival of a completely new and personal medium of entertainment making television an ‘intelligent box’.

Obviously the change in market dynamics of the television advertising industry seems more feasible than hoping to radically change the society or entertainment mediums.

Television advertising industry has three major players – the rating agencies (who calculate and release TRPs), the media planners (who interpret these TRPs to price advertising spots), and the advertisers (who spend money to buy these advertising spots).

All these will have to mutually agree to come up with a formula where some other factor is given equal importance alongside TRPs while pricing the television advertising spots. For example, the rating agencies could ask common television viewers to rate television news channels on some ‘credibility’, ‘neutrality’ and ‘objectivity’ index and media planners factor these ratings while pricing advertising spots.

Yes, I am proposing that television adverting spots should have ‘quality’ (public perception) too apart from ‘quantity’ (eyeballs and reach) to offer.

And it’s not an outlandish or too idealistic a proposition. In outdoor advertising, subconsciously or otherwise, advertising spots have surely a ‘quality’ attached to them. If you are driving on a highway, you won’t find a billboard at a spot that could be considered an eyesore by the passing people, even though the ‘eyeballs’ (traffic on the highway) remain constant all across.

Therefore the major players of the television advertising industry will need to be convinced that advertising on a news channel, which is considered to be frivolous or irresponsible by common people, is like putting up a billboard near a stinking heap of waste on a highway. So an advertiser is advised to look for a ‘better’ spot. It seems a bit difficult, but not impossible.

The first step towards the above solution warrants that there should be a public rating to calculate and evaluate parameters like sincerity, seriousness, credibility, neutrality and objectivity of different television news channels, just like there is currently the TRP scale to calculate and evaluate the channel reach. Will it happen? Let’s see.

(The full (and even more boring) article is originally published here)

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