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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Female power vrooms in...

Women are driving into the ultimate male territory — motor rally sports. Most people consider motor sports as a male bastion. There are only a few women who have vroomed into this high testosterone-driven sports. But it will be a huge mistake to dismiss them as insignificant dilettantes. ‘‘Indian women drivers are not pushovers and often give the boys a run for their money,’’ says Sanjay Sharma, head of motor sports of a major tyre company. And among the women, Sarika Sherawat is the indisputable poster girl in India. ‘‘We don’t say that because she is the lone female participant in the Rally of the North, but she has shown her mettle in some of the toughest rallies earlier, like Raid-de-Himalayan Motor Rally and the Great Desert Rally, where she swept the trophies in every competition,’’ he adds. But, how difficult is it for women to sustain themselves in this field? ‘‘No, when I started four years ago, I was given a very warm welcome. I always get a special treatment and when aspiring girls say I am their icon, I feel touched,’’ Sarika says. But for many women, the journey ends abruptly before they reach their destination. Sarika says, ‘‘A woman cannot forever go on driving, thanks to her biological clock and lack of family support. This is a career that needs tremendous amount of family support. My rallying career may screech to a halt next year as I plan to get married by that time.’’ But all is not lost for women drivers. ‘‘Every sport expands gradually and women ultimately became one of its important fans and players. Women have also proved to be the equals of men in all other professions. It’s a matter of time before women become the main players when it comes to motor sports in India,’’ says Revathi, a navigator in Sarika’s team. What’s the future of women in motor sports? ‘‘The Indian women have not yet made their presence felt, but soon, we hope the sport will attract more women as it becomes more popular,’’ says Nazir Hoosein, president of Motor Sports Association of India.

Caught in the shopping net

More and more Internet users in India are turning to e-commerce websites for shopping purposes.

More and more Internet users in India are turning to e-commerce websites for shopping purposes, with the numbers increasing during the festive season.
If you thought that half the fun during festive season lies in the shopping trips that you undertake, then, you are in a minority. Internet users are opting to shop from the comfort of their home, avoiding the rush in markets.
According to a survey by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, increasing numbers are now turning to e-commerce sites for shopping purposes.
While 55 per cent of users purchased online, 45 per cent indulge in "online window shopping." E-commerce transactions in 04-05 were worth Rs 570 crores and this year, are likely to increase to Rs 1,180 crore.
Says Preeti Desai, president, IAMAI,"Right now, people are inhibited but as the medium becomes popular, it will pick up."
What is stopping the window shoppers from making purchases from the websites?"Security is a big concern, with 24 per cent of the respondents saying they do not buy anything online as they fear they might be leaking confidential information while 22 per cent stated that delivery costs (were) very high," says the report.
A profile of online shoppers and window shoppers reveals that a typical cyber window shopper is either a post-graduate or a degree holder and aged between 18 to 25.
"The new generation values convenience and does not hesitate to use technology. But lack of spending power has restricted it to being a window shopper," adds Preeti.
Though e-commerce sites do a steady business through the year, the season beginning from Diwali sees customer traffic sky-rocketing.
Of the 516 online gift shoppers surveyed, 52% purchased books, accessories (48%), railway tickets (47%), apparel (47%) and electronic gadgets (42%)

Will you marry me?

Male CEOs have frequently wedded their secretaries but would a female boss do the same? When it comes to the shaadi business, would a 'woman of today' marry a less successful man?
The fiery feminist and the only female New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is out with a new malebashing book called Are Men Necessary? In the book, the writer claims that men are essentially insecure creatures who prefer malleable women, to those who use their critical faculties. She writes, "The aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. Men seem to marry only their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants..." Now we reverse this hypothesis and pose this question to women who are successful in their career... Are they willing to date or marry a guy who earns less than them or is less successful?
The answer seems to be that they only marry their equals, if not social and economic betters. "Any wherewithal that will help them achieve the kind of lifestyle and aspirations they strive for is highly desirable. Given this generation's preoccupation with social climbing by any means, most women are alert and choosy in relationships. They want guys who are at least their equals," says Sita Raina, theatre personality.
But for Manpreet Brar, model, the economic background of a potential suitor is insignificant. "If a man is progressive and intelligent, he is better than a misogynistic corporate hotshot any day," she says. The underlying assumption is that intelligence a more valuable currency than money. "Any smart guy would do well in whatever he would undertake, so, a bright guy is a great investment," says Puja Nayyar, fashion designer. Adds Meera Ramachandran, principal, Gargi College, "Earlier women attached importance to monetary security and support of their spouse but now roles have reversed."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blogged down?

Despite tall claims, the city’s blogosphere is still inhabited by few, as the recently held Delhi Blogger Meet revealed...

Despite all the noise about the coming of age of the blogging phenomenon in India, the active blogging community in India is a shockingly tiny group, comprising mostly of journalists and IT professionals. Their preoccupation nevertheless continues to be slamming and analysing a very wide variety of things in an attempt to display their intellectual might.
If anything was in dispute, the 3rd annual Delhi bloggers meet just proved how big (or small) is the Indian blogosphere. Just four bloggers attended it, counting the host. ‘‘It’s a flop,’’ concluded Tarun Pall, the host. ‘‘I have booked the entire section of the restaurant,’’ he added, pointing at the empty sofas reserved for an army of bloggers that he had expected. Luckily for him, Saket, owner of a blog tracker, turned up and gave company to the lonely host.
Like Tarun, half of the Indian bloggers are IT professionals, while three-fourths of them live in the metros, according to a survey. As a result, the focus of the Indian bloggers is fairly limited. Their favourite pastime remains MSM (blog speak for mainstream media) bashing, often without caring to provide substantiations and taking cover behind free speech platitude. As Sajan Venniyoor wrote in a media watchdog site, ‘‘If blogs are to be taken seriously as an alternative medium, they should measure up to the standards of accountability and reliability of the mainstream media that the bloggers so deplore. When the IT Act 2000 comes into force, bloggers will face bigger challenges.’’
Indian bloggers are quickly realising that there are legal hurdles ahead, so they are beginning to tread cautiously. ‘‘We are in the process of forming an association in Mumbai for the protection of our rights,’’ revealed 24-year-old Saket, who works as a recruiter.
The Indian blogosphere has a long way to go before it even comes near to achieving the influence of the American bloggers, whom they emulate. We are yet to see the Instapundit of India or an Andrew Sullivan. And this is not lost on them. ‘‘We are the elite bloggers of India,’’ announced Tarun, as Aanchal and Neha, who showed up later, nodded in agreement. No one posed the question, at least not yet: When can we have our own Dan Rather moment, where bloggers forced a prominent US journalist to resign by proving that his stories were false?