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Is This Not Racism ? June 17, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in advertisement, Advertising, Blogging, Business, Celebrity Endorsement, Commerce, Culture, Economy, india, Ponds Skin White, Racism, Writing.
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Turn on the channels and what do you see. Advertisements. For that matter, look around and there they are – on hoardings, magazines, shops, windows. They catch your eye because of humorous reasons.

Some because they are funny. Like the Mirinda ‘Paagalpanti Bhi Zaroori Hai’. The recent one at the mandap, Indian father and daughter getting emotional at the bidai of the daughter and then viola the daughter scaring the father with an attack / gesture to his knees which makes him jump.

As kids we used to do that a lot to scare people. It instantly brings a smile to your face.

Welcome to Ad Novellas – commercials that tell a story – chapter by chapter.

Welcome to Ponds White Beauty Range.

This one is doing heavy rotation. One featuring 2 superstars of Indian cinema Saif Ali Khan and Priyanka Chopra also featuring Neha Dhupia.

Some time back a teaser started to air which looked like a teaser for an upcoming film Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Main without revealing the association with the product. Very interesting people would say and wait for the big reveal. Then the reveal happened.

Saif and Priyanka looking appropriately sad, romantic and heart-broken part ways. The diptych locket is halved and Priyanka comes face to face with a shop-window and its beautiful products – Ponds White Beauty Range

I don’t even want to go beyond. Most would have guessed.

Here is an international beauty pageant winner – apparently a woman who should set up an example for the woman of her generation – that’s what they profess in all the their interviews, being bought over by an MNC (Unilever India) to endorse a skin cream that will make you white – which is the accepted color of success in all spheres (personal, professional – remember Rakesh Roshan, in another such socially meaningful, discovering the commentator ad?).

Saif too has been paid millions for this ad I am sure and everybody loves millions.

Pullela Gopichnd too was offered millios after he won the All England Badminton championships. By both Pepsi and Coke. He refused. Saying both the drinks were health hazards. He had knee injuries and some would say his career ended prematurely. He runs an academy in Hyderabad without any huge sponsorships.

There are other creams for men now which assault you day and night. Is this not Racism? Is this insidious celebration of all things white not indoctrination, conditioning of young minds by MNC’s using successful people to sell their products? Is it less harmful than Shah Rukh smoking on screen? Is it any less regressive than the soaps that Ekta dishes out to the Indian audience daily and whom we criticize endlessly?


Petrol Facts June 5, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Economy, india, oil, oil marketing, Politics, World.
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Is this Spam or True

Petrol Price Breakup

Find the detail break-up of the Final price of petrol available in pumps.

This is a break up considering crude oil at 130 $ per barrel. Following details are for per liter petrol in Rs.

Basic Price = 21.93

Excise duty = 14.35

Education Tax = 0.43

Dealer commission = 1.05

VAT = 5.5

Crude Oil Custom duty = 1.1

Petrol Custom = 1.54

Transportation Charge = 6.00

Total price = Rs 51.90

So for a Rs 22 liter petrol at pumps we people pay Rs 28 tax extra.

Note: all the figures are approximate

Reliance I want my Refund – Part 2 April 1, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Anger, Blogging, Business, crime, Economy, Globalisation, Health, india, MNC, News, Personal, Writing.
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Everyday you feel like doing something bad to someone or something. It’s not just me for sure. I am quite convinced that everybody, each and every one of us, thinks of doing something drastic, earth-shatteringly anarchic. It could be the guy in a car or bike in front of you who thinks he is a rattle-snake. Or the noisy neighbour with no lift manner. Everyday various degrees of physical and mental harm are played out in our heads and then suppressed. For good. Otherwise the world would not suffer from a population problem.

For the past 2 months I want to take my revenge on 2 corporate entities. One that I have grown up with. The Tatas. I come from Jamshedpur. My father was born there so you can imagine the kind of loyalty I feel, no change it to felt. Buying Tata Sky and installing it was nothing like their now-famous commercial…Isko Laga Dala To Life Jhinaga Lala’ which when translated roughly means that ‘life is all a bed of roses once the bloody machine is plugged into our homes.

I almost broke the machine before it was installed. Various agencies that are disconnected to each other; welcome to off-shoring, outsourcing whatever, call you at odd hours and ask questions which you have already answered a hundred times to the various personnel. Sample this;

9 A.M – Caller – Madam/Sir, can we come at 11.

Receiver: you mean today.

Caller: yes

Receiver: I told your support staff that I leave at 9 and am back by 7 in the evening.

Caller: oh. Ok

Caller at 3 P.M (same day): can we come by 5?

Receiver: today?

Caller: of course!

Receiver: but I told

this story continued for some days. 1 saturday and sunday was spent waiting for these angels of professionalism to dismount and install but zilch.

Now the entire story is being repeated with Reliance who promise NETWORKS anywhere, even in Hell.

After failing to install a Broadnet connection because of greenery (YES – their technology doesn’t work if there are trees close to the connection; especially palm trees) and buildings (in Mumbai)!!I have gonefrom pillar to post but no refund has still seen the light of the day.

The extremely courteous emails acknowledging our problem have been followed up with inaction that would have made the late Prime Minister P.V.NArsimha Rao proud. I am at the edge. I would love to wring their necks and dry them on the many towers that they have built across the country to proliferate their networks.

What they are doing should be construed as harassment and crime.

Any and all help with regard to this would be highly appreciated.

Reliance You Owe Money March 3, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Business, Capitalism, Corporate, Culture, Economy, Finance, india, Money, Personal, Reliance, Writing.
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Relaince. PAY – UP. It’s been more than a month since they have failed to establish a Braoadband connection. The reasons are bizarre – their hi-tech instruments DO NOT WORK if there is any GREENERY or PALM TREES in front of the house. Their technology also is AVERSE to the presence of all BUILDINGS at least 200 feet from the premises. Talk of eco-friendly tehnology!!!

Well, the connection was not established. The agents who were undertakers (yes!) on behalf of Reliance – Vrushabh networks, promised a refund within 15 days (that’s already a month old). Repeated mails have gone unanswered. One member from Vrushabh (to give the devil his due) did send an email saying that the customer is waiting for a refund. That’s the end of the story. If the honest and conscientious Bosse/Managers at Reliance care to call, I have all the details, address, cheque Number etc for speedy redressal. Will they??

This is the era of out-sourcing. The head doesn’t know its arms; the arms its fingers; the fingers the knees; the knees the toes. The engineers don’t know the specifics of the house the agent had visited and seen the specifics. Why is nothing documented? It is whose word against whose? Where do 1 solitary individual go against an MNC that has enough money to run some poor countries. COMPLAIN. Where?

Consumer redressal is extant people say. Well, if Reliance and their agents think that a battle will not be fought, then they are mistaken.

Well, not so gentleman executives, this is how your company is earning its millions? By sitting on the hard – earned money of people who try to subscribe to your services and in the even of a failure on your part, you forget about the payments that you OWE to them.

Some good cheer now.

India won yesterday. As usual I missed most of the match. And following the age – old rules of superstition, the team won. The next time I decide to watch a cricket match and the team performs below par, I will condemn myself and indulge in various tricks, to convince myself that it’s my presence that is harming Team India’s prospects and the all-important victory depends on my continuing abstinence from front of the tv set.

A couple of friends who are working on bridging cultural gaps between India and Germany arrived are staying with us. The precision oriented Germans and the laidback Indians; couldn’t have been a greater contrast. Every day they hear stories of Germans in India, on work, who have many a horror story tell – about unpunctual Indians, casual attitudes to work, the growing arrogance of a developing country etc etc.

Our friends are in love with the country. They understand the nation and some of the reasons as to why India works the way it works. The reasons it evokes love, respect and frustration in equal measure. Therefore, probably, the desire to bridge the gap.

Our German friends were happy that Indians too suffer at the hands of Indians. The more powerful, the monied will always take the less powerful on a ride. Welcome to globalisation where it is not just the free movement of good and labour, but also of misery and tyranny.

Grin and Bear It September 14, 2007

Posted by astralwicks in Attitude, Economy, Grin and Bear It, Ideology, india, Life, Money, People, Personal, traffic, Tree, Urban.

Money grows on trees. Yes. You have pots and pans at home. In the market there are shops that sell plants, shrubs and trees. Buy the plants, bury them in proper nutritious earth, nurture it with water and light and bingo…open your eyes after a tiring night’s repast and what do you see…money, currency. So easy, so desirable and so…unreal.

This is the stuff of dreams. Everyman and everywoman since eternity have dreamt of this tree of money. Alas, all scientific evolution has fallen short of achieving this deep rooted fantasy. But that’s not the case with certain people. They believe that money grows on tree. Ask them if they have such a tree at home and you will get a vigorous shake of the head for an answer. Are you crazy, the headshake seems to indicate. That’s not possible, you fool it says silently.

But the same people are over-confident that ‘others’ have money trees at their place, be it apartment, mansion or a palace. Of course they have such trees. How else do they have the house, the bike, the car, the boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s all because of the money tree, you fool they assert this time round, with an accompanying shake of the head of course.

So the weights are rigged, the auto meters are rigged, the food is adulterated, the roads come undone, the attitude is unstuck, the curse at hand, service is second hand etc etc. The answer is simple – they deserve it because they can afford it. It’s asking your co-traveler on the BEST bus to remove his feet from TOP of your feet. He (could be she also) will say, ‘why don’t you take an auto if you want more space’? Take the auto and your 6th sense immediately proclaims the exact degree to which the meter has been rigged. 10% fast is what people have got used to. But that’s soon getting out of style. You ask, ‘sir, isn’t your meter a bit faster than normal’? The reply, ‘why don’t you buy a car’ and then comes the rejoinder, ‘I don’t think you can, you can’t even pay the auto fare’.

Can we be a bit gentle with each other?

The Kashiwazaki Effect July 20, 2007

Posted by astralwicks in Cost of disaster, Economy, Japan, Kashiwazaki, Nuclear, Radiation.
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!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>Kashiwazaki – the world’s biggest nuclear power plant is going to be shut; at least for the summer if not for the entire year. The plant is responsible for 10% of Japan’s energy needs. Honda has reduced its production. Many other industries have called for cuts in production anticipating power shortages in the future. TEPCO has been criticized for under reporting the entire accident. Another radioactive leak at the plant has been reported. Independent experts are still evaluating the accident not relying completely on Tepco analysts.

Energy Needs vs Security vs Will of People vs Government vs YOU