Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sonu Nigam: Singers are like labourers!

Sonu Nigam reveals to Whistleblower his frustration with the attidtude of the Indians towards singers and the exploitation by music companies...
Among the current lot, which is the best music director?
I can’t point out any one music director and say he is the best. I like AR Rehman and Anu Malik. Among the upcoming ones, Sandeep Chowta and Vishal Sekhar are very good. In fact, they are equally good.

What are you working on now?
My latest album Chanda Ki Doli is out and is doing quite well. I am going to be in the Indian Idol as the judge once again, which will be confirmed very soon. I am also looking at some film scripts that have come my way. But this time I am not going to accept any of them without studying them properly.

Don’t your flops at the box-office deter you?
It’s not me who wants to be an actor. It’s the directors and producers who think I have the potential and approach me. I just can’t decline their offers. I am too polite.

Does one need a godfather to become a playback singer in Bollywood?
First of all, we should have good music companies who can groom new talents and promote them. But new aspirants should not worry. There is lot of talent hunt TV programmes of which I am a part and parcel of. If you have what it takes to become a playback singer, there is nothing that can stop you.

Don’t you get threatened by the singers you have promoted in these programmes?
If I felt threatened, I would have never been a part of these talent hunts. I also work hard as any other singer is. I am one of the best singers in this country.

How much does a singer earn?
Singers get a raw deal in Bollywood. Music companies pay us peanuts, and if it were not for the shows, I would be a wearing a pyjama now. Music companies rob us of our due revenue, and pocketed it for themselves leaving singers in the cold. We are like labourers. What’s worse, in this country singers are not given respect despite the fact that music is a part of our culture. The only people who get all the limelight are the actors and cricketors. This is so different from other countries who treat their singers as national icons. Even Pakistan gives more respect to their singers. And in England, ordinary band like Spice Girls are promoted by their music company aggressively. Here, my music is promoted as a Shah Rukh Khan or a Shahid Kapur number.

Why are you not protesting?
I am getting all the singers to form an association to voice our demands and protect our rights. We will take legal recourse, if need be, to claim our rights of copyrights and royalties. Due to my activism, I am getting a lot of opposition from the music companies and they are trying hard to nullify the association.

India lacks quality IT manpower

An interwview with Kiran Karnik, President,NASSCOM on problems for the IT and BPO sectors.

Whistleblower: How healthy is the Indian IT industry?
The Indian IT industry and ITES exports will see a growth rate of 30-32% in 2005-06. Last year,exports grew 34.5 % to $17.2 billion. A study by NASSCOM says this growth will be sustained till 2009,by which time exports would have rocketed to $50 billion.

Whistleblower: Does India, like the US,face a shortage of IT manpower?
In terms of numbers,we are self-sufficient. However,the quality of manpower will be a cause of concern in the future,if not now. We need to improve the quality of IT education in India and expand.

Whistleblower: Isn’t NASSCOM’s plan to create a national skills registry of IT employees a breach of privacy?
The registry will contain only such information of IT employees -- like educational background,date of birth --that is in the public domain. We are only trying to keep data in a common physical location to prevent falsification and misrepresentation. The registry will be administered by a credible third party body: the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL).

Whistleblower: Has the image of Indian BPOs taken a beating following the Bahree case?
Absolutely not. In fact,India’s record in maintaining clients and business confidentiality is better than most countries. The Bahree case is an aberration.

Whistleblower: How can the BPO industry contain its high attrition rate?
This is an area of concern. Yes there is lot of stress in the BPO sector,but that's true of other professions too. The working environment in BPOs is excellent.

Rhyme 'n' Reason

AR Rehman is shy. But don't confuse 'shy' with fear.
He's focussed and that's one reason why his music stands out in the Bollywood context.
Does he consciously work on being unique? "No, I just create music in the manner I know best," he says. "To me, good music is not just nice tunes but a collection of other good things like meaningful lyrics and production values."
That's easier said than done for Rehman lives in two cities: Chennai and London.
"I don't need to be in Mumbai to compose music, which is a universal language and can be created anywhere."Does his lifestyle leave room for family and friends? "I'm busy all the time; unlike other singers, I don't even have time for riyaaz."He pauses to hum Mangala Mangala. What next? "Akbar-Jodha, Chamki, Rang De Basanti. On the international front, I'm doing the score for Lord Of The Rings, the musical."
He's come a long way from Roja, the film that "changed" his life, working with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and sharing the stage with Michael Jackson. "Now, I want to give back to society. That's why I'm campaigning for the elimination of poverty."
He's penned an anthem for this campaign — Pray For Me, Brother. Rehman is shy, but he doesn’t fear anything.

Techie la Sunrise!

Gadgets are no longer the domain of geeks alone. Now, those sleek things are fashion accessories for the cool crowd. Whistleblower on the reinvention of Gizmoland...

Move over designer-wear. Think sexy, carry a gizmo, be it a cellphone, iPod, PDA. What then makes a gadget sexy? ‘‘The design, the curves and for youngsters, the image. But this doesn’t mean functionality is sacrificed,’’says Krishna Kumar of Living Digital.
Designer Puja Nayyar’s kinda gadget has a great body plus brains. ‘‘My iPod isn’t just a status symbol. It allows me to listen to music anytime, anywhere. Then, the plasma TV is the sexiest thing going.’’ But Jattinn Kochhar goes for features over design. ‘‘I’m not after a fancy cellphone as long as a simpler one solves my needs.’’
It’s functionality versus design. So, tech manufacturers aren’t taking chances.‘‘Our goal is to innovate and come up with attractive designs,’’ says Ravinder Zutshi, deputy MD, Samsung India. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, women influence 89% of all consumer electronics purchase decisions, and account for the majority of the $100 billionplus spent on electronics each year. Not surprisingly, manufactures are marketing products with a feminine touch. ‘‘For instance, our
MP3 players are worn by girls around their necks,’’ says Zutshi. The feminine touch doesn’t end there. ‘‘Companies have added gold and diamonds to gadgets as alternatives to jewellery,’’ says Kumar.
One problem for manufacturers is that even the most popular gadgets become passe within a few days. ‘‘I had a cameraphone of 1.00 megapixel, but I’m persuading my dad to buy me a more advanced phone.A third of my friends have the cellphone I have... I wan’t to be different,’’ says Akshay Kundu, a student of Hindu.
The kewlest gizmos going... Cellphone: With colour screen, camera, FM tuner, audio-video player.
MP3 player: iPods enjoy iconic status in today’s time. Digital camera: Credit card-size, some being just 0.4 inch thick.
Plasma TV: Who wouldn’t want a 60-inch ultra-thin, high-definition plasma display screen mounted on the bedroom wall?
Laptop: Some measure 0.75 inch (widest) and 0.3 inch (thinnest).
iMac: Computer of the elite that runs on its own operating system.
Handycam: So advanced, they bridge pro-consumer videography.
USB flash drive: External hard drive to wear around your neck.
Home theatre: With hi-fi sound and a wide screen, it rivals theatres.
Accessories: Cellphone case, iPod traveller speaker system, digital camera/laptop bag.

Meet Jimmy Shergill, actor and techno freak
‘‘I love tech for the way it simplifies life. In fact, I’ve lost count of the gadgets I’ve bought.The cellphone I use has been voted one of the sexiest of the year. I have satellite phones, an iPod, music systems, laptops. Even before a product is launched in the market, I conduct research on it and evaluate its advantages. I’m one of the first few people to get hold of a new gadget. I don’t have a dream gadget but as of now, I’m waiting for a hybrid phone called iPhone — it has all the features of a cellphone and MP3 player.’’

India to host 2010 Commonwealth Games

An interview with Michael Fennel, President, Commonwealth Games Federation

How prepared is Delhi to host the 2010 C’wealth Games?
We are on solid ground. And it’s not only India which has a stake in the successful hosting of the Games. I, being in change of overall planning, have responsibility too. I feel Delhi needs to put in place the required infrastructure without any more delay.
Infrastructure-wise, what are the major concerns?
My major concern is how fast Delhi can renovate its stadia and improve amenities. You have perfect plans and timetables, but when it comes to execution, you falter. There has been lot of delay already, like in the case of reappraisal of venues.
How will India be a different host?
India has a rich cultural heritage and this will make the Games a unique experience for participants. It will be quite different from the C’wealth Games held in Manchester in a cultural sense. The Games to be held in Delhi will more likely mirror the one in Malaysia. Only, it will happen on a mega scale.
How relevant is the C’wealth Games in these post-colonial times?
The C’wealth Games bears no resemblance to the imperial era. All participants are independent nations. Over the years,the event has celebrated equality, common values. It brings countries closer, leaving behind painful memories of the past, if any.

UAE @ BO: Total filmi!

Whistleblower brings you the Dubai film industry’s English debut at the box-office

When the The Boolean Mind, with two item numbers shot in India, is released this year,it will be the UAE’s first ever English film and second film overall, —after the Emirati movie Dream launched this month — to emerge from the country’s fledgling film industry.That’s probably why Yogesh Pratap Singh, Dubai-based Indian director of The Boolean Mind, sits up to watch the film’s trailer on his laptop each night.
‘‘It’s a fast-paced psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make viewers sit up too,’’ says Yogesh.The story of an Indian immigrant couple in Dubai, the film revolves around the female protagonist played by Mumbai-based model Bhoomika Puri, who is wooed by five men, two of whom are Dubai cops. The suspense comes from one of the five men being assaulted by a hitman whose identity is a mystery,and Bhoomika’s husband possibly being a cog in the wheel of machinations.
Newcomer Bhoomika thinks the role is just perfect for her. ‘‘Because, in the film, I get to be both a sensitive, fragile introverted woman and a calculative person. Though I appear serene to others, I’m agitated inside. The film is all about resolving the crisis in my mind through means whose ethics might be debatable,’’ she elaborates.
It is this ambiguity, says Yogesh, which prompted him to call the movie The Boolean Mind.‘‘Every action can be right or wrong at the same time —that’s the concept of George Boole, a 19th century mathematician,’’ he explains. The hitch is that boolean complexity could evade the logic of the common viewer. ‘‘This movie isn’t for the dim-witted,’’ says Yogesh. ‘‘My target audience is the thinking man who is interested in understanding complex concepts.’’
Bhoomika appears pleased that she doesn’t have any kissing scenes in this ‘‘clean yet bold’’English film. ‘‘I’ve never exposed and will never do so unless the script demands it and the film is being made by a classy banner. In any case, I don’t wear bikinis in real life.’’
Next up for Yogesh’s The Boolean Mind, primarily shot in the recently inaugurated Dubai Studio City, is a screening at the Dubai Film Festival. ‘‘And yes, I already have my next film in mind.’’ Dubai, it seems, has a bright future in cinema.

All work and know play!

Jack is never a dull boy when it comes to goofing off on the job. A survey reveals that the average employee wastes atleast two hours of productive time at the workplace.

Asurvey reveals that the average worker admits to frittering away 2 hours a day, not counting lunch and other scheduled breaks: that’s twice the amount of time employers expect employees to waste during office hours. According to the survey, this extra unproductive time amounts to $759 billion (Rs 356730 crore approx) annually in salaries for which companies get no apparent benefit.
What makes employees squeeze out personal time from office hours? ‘‘It’s unrealistic to expect workers to be on the job for more than 8-12 hours non-stop since they have family problems and personal matters to attend to,’’ says Vivek Chandra Gupta, CEO, Balaji Consultants. Adds career counsellor and stress-management expert Priya Warrick: ‘‘Non-productive hours are not necessarily a waste of time as they de-stress and take you away from the pressure of work for some time.’’
Some workers link time-wasting to compensation. ‘‘Why should I work for longer hours if I’m not given a commensurate package? I shorten my working hours by using creative ways,’’ says Sudhir Gupta, an HDFC exec. Warrick describes this line of thinking as ‘quid pro quo’.‘‘An employee’s ability to increase his/her pay is limited, but the ability to decrease the number of hours he/she actually works isn’t as limited.’’
Besides, technology facilitates ‘creative wastage’ of time. ‘‘Working on a computer helps the employee conduct his own business — chatting, paying bills online, messaging, playing games — unobtrusively,’’ points out Jyotsana, HR manager with an IT company. According to Bill Coleman, spokesperson for the survey: ‘‘Workers goof off partly because they put in more hours on the job. What’s more, personal and professional time is blending.’’

Top time-wasting activities
Surfing the Net (personal use): 44.7% Socialising with co-workers: 23.4% Conducting personal business: 6.8% Spacing out: 3.9% Running errands off-premises: 3.1% Making personal phone calls: 2.3% Applying for other jobs: 1.3% Planning personal events: 1.0% Arriving late/leaving early: 1.0% Others: 12.5%
Top time-wasting excuses
Don’t have enough work to do: 33.2% Underpaid for amount of work: 23.4% Co-workers distract me: 14.7% Not enough after-work time: 12.0% Others: 16.7% (Based on a survey by salary.com)

The Big Fix...

The Big Fix...Even as the shadow of corruption looms large once again on India’s pet sport, we see success stories being scripted in other games. Rathore wins gold in Bangkok,Anju Bobby George wins silver in Monaco, Bhupati wins the mixed doubles at the US Open. Whistleblower on India’s sporting dichotomy

Win dose 2005 Have we found the winning credo at last? Whistleblower asks winners...
Is India finally on a winning spree?
Rathore: ‘‘Yes, I think Indians are finally on a winning spree — this proves that any obstacles that existed were in the mind. If you have determination, no barrier is strong enough for you. You’re as good as you think you are.’’
Anju: ‘‘It’s been a golden week for Indian sports, everybody seems to be winning. With Indians working harder and believing in themselves, the results are beginning to show. But it’s an illusion that we’re finally catching up with the world — a handful of winners can’t make India a giant in sports.’’
Bhupathi:‘‘We’re winning because we deserve to win. India is a treasure trove of sporting talent; it was a matter of time before we trumped the world. However, it’s a case of too little too late. We could have done a lot better.’’
Have we acquired the winner’s mindset?
Rathore:‘‘To an extent, we’ve shrugged off our inferiority complex and have got the confidence to stare into the opponents’ eyes. I have the killer instinct thanks to my military background. I admire Indian winners who’ve waded through difficulties and kept fighting, losing, fighting, winning. We should never give up.’’ Anju:‘‘Yes, we have acquired the killer instinct and credit for this must go to the hard work of sportspersons. The confidence you have is always proportionate to the hard work you’ve put in. The killer instinct is just a corollary.’’
Bhupathi: ‘‘Obviously, we’ve got past a defeatist mindset. We’re more confident and the world is our playground. Expect more winners in the future.’’
To produce more winners, India needs...
Rathore: ‘‘...a broad-based sports policy to look into problems faced by sportspersons; more learning opportunities and facilities for youngsters; a transparent selection process; material support. While importance should be given to big names, talented newcomers can’t be ignored.’’ Anju: ‘‘India lacks proper training facilities — that’s why I train abroad. Besides, we need good coaches, physios, world-class tracks, corporate and government support. Finally, equal importance should be given to all sports, not just to one or two showpiece games.’’
Bhupathi: ‘‘Kids need to start early. We should motivate them by providing them with the right ambience and facilities.’’