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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The bazaars

"The joy of shopping in Delhi is that you can experience all kinds of 'selling' ranging from visiting individuals and their ateliers, private fashion showrooms, to haats, where craftspeople from across India bring their imaginative creations, to shopping malls that could be from any capital in the world, to old time established retailers of jewellery, silver, watches, sarees, wedding gear, furniture and more."
"Exploring markets is like opening many a Pandora's box. You can never be sure about what you can stumble upon from a valuable antiquity to a modern masterpiece of craftsmanship. The 'kinds' of markets and shops are many many and very different from one another, which makes shopping in Delhi, a cultural experience, equal in pleasure to visiting a great historical edifice."
(Malvika Singh in 'Delhi: India in one city,' p. 152 Academic)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Subcontinent's own Holocaust

"The Partition of British India is normally understood to have affected three regions of the subcontinent most severely: Kashmir, Punjab and, in a staggered fashion (1947, 1971) Bengal. These three regions straddle the borders between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, so that each of the new nations carries the wound of Partition within itself. As territories contiguous with these core areas of impact, and as home to hundreds of millions of Muslims, Sindh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are also counted as adversely affected. But the truth is that the Partition is responsible, in addition, for the predicament of the Northeast as well. It was the 'messy divorce' and the 'botched surgery' of Partition, to borrow Willem van Schendel's apt phrases, that resulted in many if not all of the problems of the states of the Indian Northeast, especially Assam, and of Bangladesh's northeast, the Chittagong Hill Tracts. I cannot elaborate here, but the point is that first, we must include the Northeast into the narrative of the Partition and its aftermath, and see the Northeast as falling squarely within the historical catchment, as it were, of the Partition; and second, given that the Partition was the subcontinent's own Holocaust, we must not shy away from making the appropriate comparisons, even as we take care to historicise each catastrophe to its proper time and place."
(Ananya Vajpeyi in 'Resenting the Indian State: For a new political practice in the Northeast,' included in 'Beyond Counter-insurgency: Breaking the impasse in Northeast India,' edited by Sanjib Baruah, p. 46 OUP)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mumbai mosquitoes

"Thanks to flight delays, we take longer than usual to get to Mumbai. We were supposed to leave at 9.30 am and reach Mumbai latest by noon to have an afternoon session. But we reach at 3 pm and by the time we make it to the hotel, it is no longer possible to have a net session. But I must mention our drive to the hotel and something about our stay as well."
"Picture this: there is a bus waiting to receive us at the airport. It is extremely hot and humid and the hotel is a good hour and a half's drive away. The bus isn't air-conditioned and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. We are hungry but the mosquitoes are hungrier and luckier than us: they feast on our bare arms."
"There are no porters to help us load our luggage, which is obviously very heavy, and we do it on our own. If this is an exercise in building team spirit, helping each other carry one's kitbags and 'coffin boxes' (a box some of us use instead of a kitbag), it is something we can do without. There are better ways to foster team spirit. One can easily pick up an injury by pulling a back or shoulder muscle while lifting heavy suitcases and coffins..."
"We're booked into the Sea Green Hotel on Marine Drive. You can't really ask for a better address in terms of where to stay in Mumbai and the Town area, but you have to visit the hotel to see how shabby it is. The hotel staff sport green uniforms, which make you feel like you've come to a weird kind of hospital..."
(Aakash Chopra in 'Beyond the Blues: A cricket season like no other,' p. 51 Harper)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Consumer choice

"There was a time when the notion of nationalism was synonymous with the idea of protection but not so any more. The consumer will rebel against it. Some time back in America, a campaign was started against Japanese goods and the slogan was 'Be American, Buy American.' This was similar to what was being said in India, that is, 'Be Indian, Buy Indian.' But, within a week the American people rebelled against that message. They rejected those slogans which implored Americans to buy only American goods. They argued that they were not prepared to pay for the inefficiency of General Motors or Ford Motor or a US television company. If the Japanese television is better than theirs, if it is less costly, if it is more efficient, they will go for it. Their logic was that they were working, and so were their spouses, sometimes day and night or double shifts, they were doing so not to pay for the inefficiency of American businessman but to lead a better life themselves. That is the thinking in almost all the countries today including India. One may be looking for the lights and bulbs for Diwali which are Indian but when one finds the Chinese bulbs better, brighter and cheaper, one will buy the Chinese products. Thus, in this era of competition, new walls cannot be raised against products produced abroad."

(Abid Hussain in 'Knowledge, Science and Technology,' an essay in 'Knowledge Economy: The Indian challenge,' edited by Ashoka Chandra and M. K. Khanijo, p. 109 Sage)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gudiya

"An interesting issue that has attracted media hype at the time of writing this book is that of 'Gudiya'. the background of the case of Gudiya is as follows. Gudiya, a girl from north India was married to Arif who was a soldier in the Indian Army about 5 years ago. After 2 months of marriage he rejoined the services and was sent to serve in Kargil. Subsequently, Arif was found missing and there was no information about him at all for the next 4 years. Since there was no information about his whereabouts either from the Army or from any other source, it was thought that he might have been killed in the Kargil war. Hence the family members of Gudiya decided to marry her off to Taufeeq, one of her relatives. The marriage was solemnised after 4 years from the time Arif had gone missing. Gudiya was now carrying an 8-month unborn child of Taufeeq. All of a sudden, Arif came back to his house after his release as a Prisoner of War (PoW) in Pakistan. He was surprised to hear that Gudiya was married to Taufeeq. The question that arises is: Should Gudiya go back to her first husband Arif or remain with her second husband Taufeeq? A survey was conducted among respondents from different religions...
By looking at the frequency table in the problem, it can be said that majority of the Muslim respondents are in favour of Gudiya returning to Arif while majority of the Christian respondents are in favour of Gudiya being allowed to decide on her own as to who she wants to be with. Note that while chi-square analysis helps in inferring about the association between 2 categorical variables, it does not tell anything about which cell(s) in the contingency table contribut more to the significant association between 'religious affiliation' and 'responses favoured.' This can be found out by performing the Haberman's Post-Hoc analysis..."
(D. Israel in 'Data Analysis in Business Research: A step-by-step nonparametric approach,' p. 20, Sage)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Five biggest time-wasters

"Can you list your five biggest time-wasters? I can. Since 1992, as part of our study, 'The Search for a Simpler Way,' we've asked more than 5,000 people to rank-order their biggest time-wasters. So I can say with great confidence that the biggest black holes in your workday are probably:
1. Meetings
2. Dealing with communication from others
3. Communicating to others
4. Your boss micromanaging or undervaluing you
5. Worktools and processes designed for company success, but not necessarily yours
(Your own list may switch their order. The list for very senior executives is obviously different.)
These five are more than petty annoyances. Consistently, I have found that the top three time-wasters - all activities relating to communication - cost people at least two wasted hours per day! Non-replaceable hours, gone... Even more important than the list is what interviewees said would fix most of these problems. In hindsight, their two biggest responses were:
* 'I should have pushed back harder, or said 'no' more often.'
* 'I should have questioned more. Or had better conversations with my boss.'"
(Bill Jensen in 'The Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 ways to do less and accomplish more,' p. 103 Viva)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Casual workers, the weakest actors in the supply chain

"In sectors such as food, clothing, and electronics, global supply chains are driving the push for flexible labour practices. Retail giants have responded to cut-throat competition by pushing risks and costs down the supply chain..."
"At the sharp end of this frantic drive for cost-cutting are the weakest actors in the supply chain -- casual workers. Employees interviewed in Bangladesh's proliferating garment factories work a seven-day week, often putting in 15 hours a day or more. In a busy month, workers carry on through the night before snatching a couple of hours' sleep on the factory floor. If a worker puts in over 100 hours overtime a month on top of her normal 63-hour week, she gets a bonus, which brings her monthly earnings to barely $60."
"A similar situation applies on export farms. According to one South African apple farmer, 'We employ people as we need them, but you need to break their expectation of having a permanent position, so you hire for two to three weeks and then you let them off for a few weeks, and then you hire them again.'"...
"In the filthy casualty ward of a Bangladeshi hospital, two doctors are bent over a prone figure in the light of a single bulb. The woman on the bed is Minara, a sewing machine operator at one of Bangladesh's 2700 garment factories, whose workers have just joined a Bangladeshi garment workers' union. She was rushed to hospital an hour ago with deep cuts to her neck, face, and hands after a razor attack by two mastaans, thugs hired by the factory owner. Her sister is semi-hysterical, weeping that Minara will now be scarred, and will be thrown out by her husband."
"Once the standard recourse for workers in their struggle to claim their rights, trade unions have suffered serious setbacks since the 1980s. Approximately 90 per cent of the world labour force is unorganised, and union membership is declining in direct proportion to the growth of the informal economy..."
"Even in the formal economy, the task of trade unions has been made a good deal harder by changes to labour legislation in recent decades, including the ban on union organisation in many export processing zones. Worker organisations continue to face repression and violence; union leaders around the world confront harassment, rape, and death. Two countries in every five have serious or severe restrictions on the core right to freedom of association."
(Duncan Green in 'From Poverty to Power: How active citizens and effective states can change the world,' p. 157 Academic Foundation)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Du Pont case

"A very important case arose in Goa in the panchayat area of Querim when a multinational company Du Pont decided to set up a chemical plant in the area to manufacture nylon among other things. While the Goa Panchayati Raj Act 1993 conferred some planning and licensing powers on the panchayts such powers were not available previously and the panchayats were dealing only with limited activities. The Du Pont company started work in 1990 with the construction of a compound wall for which permission of the panchayat was not taken. Later on, the company also undertook some blasting operations at its site which caused some damage to several houses in the village. The panchayat accordingly issued a show cause notice to the Du Pont company as to why its operations should not be stopped and construction of the wall without authorisation be demolished. The company then preferred an appeal before the Director of panchayats. The Director upheld Du Pont's contention that powers relating to demolition of unauthorised constructions were conferred only on the panchayat as a corporate body and not on the Sarpanch. However, the Director rejected Du Pont's claim about deemed permission under the Village Panchayat Regulations of 1962, since these provisions were repealed when the 1993 Act came into effect. The company was directed to submit appropriate applications for permission. The Goa Foundation and some other environmental groups then moved the Bombay High Court with writ petitions. The High Court in its judgment of November 21, 1994 directed the company to submit necessary plans and required documents to the Querim panchayat and to seek its permission. In January 1995, the panchayat resolved not to allow the setting up of the factory as it apprehended damage to the surrounding areas and other environmental problems. The Du Pont company then petitioned the High Court seeking to quash the resolution of the panchayat. The company argued that the panchyat's resolution against the setting up of the factory was prompted by extraneous considerations such as opposition to nylon manufacture. The panchayat argued that its own responsibility for the development of the village included the right to grant or reject applications for any development. The High Court while accepting the panchayat's argument regarding deemed permission not being applicable, issued nevertheless a writ of mandamus to the panchayat to grant permission to the company for a compound wall. The High Court, however, recorded that the permission to construct a compound wall did not imply that the company was automatically authorised to use the land for any industrial project."
"Litigation in the court was accompanied by public protests from time to time. The partly raised compound wall was also demolished during one such protest. In January 1995, a bus load of visitors including foreigners were brought to the site by the company. A crowd of irate villagers blocked the road. Matters took a violent turn, police opened fire and one person was killed. The Du Pont company decided to withdraw from the area and did not pursue the project. Here was a case when a legal interpretation of a panchayat licensing powers was sought but the dispute was resolved by extra legal measures."
(K. C. Sivaramakrishnan in 'Courts, Panchayats and Nagarpalikas: Background and review of the case law,' p. 259 Academic Foundation)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain

"PL: How did you start learning from your father?"
"ZH: Basically, I did not start as a student of my father. What happens normally in India, especially in the music houses, is that you grow up as a child watching everybody practise, hearing everybody play, and somewhere along the line somebody shows you something and you play on it. Then another student says, 'Now try it like this'. So you're really just part of the group, and the group just gives you a tip or two here and there as a child, so that by the time you're six or seven you already have the basic knowledge before the main maestro even looks at you."
"My father didn't want to pressure me into learning in any way. He did not force himself on me. He just let me hang around his students and whoever was practising and playing, so that by the time I was seven years old, I had already started playing a little bit, in school functions and things like that. that's when he first heard me, and then he decided that now I looked like I was serious about it. He asked me, and I said that I was, and that's when he started teaching me. So my training actually began after I had already started playing and I was already seven years old. For the next five or six years I learned from him on a very regular basis, going from about three in the morning to about six or seven in the morning. My training began where he would actually teach me vocally. He would sing, and I would sing rhythms with him back and forth through the night, and after doing that for two or three hours with him, I would go to school, then come back and practise what I had learned with him through the night. That was really the time when I had very concentrated study with him."
"I would go to concerts with him constantly, sit right behind him on the stage, and watch him. I would make sure that I remembered whatever it was he was playing and try to duplicate it the next day and hope that he would hear it and try to correct it. So, that's how the teaching went on. I would do tours with him and play concerts with him, and during those travels he would talk about drumming with me, and the training went on. And even now that he is no longer in this world, I am still learning from his tapes."
(Peter Lavezzoli in 'Bhairavi: The global impact of Indian music,' p. 142 Harper)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The water and wine puzzle

"Take two glasses of equal capacity. Pour wine into the first glass until it is half full. Pour water into the second glass until it is half full. Take a spoon of wine from the first glass, and put it in the second glass. Then, without worrying about mixing the contents of the second glass well, take a spoonful of the mixture and put it in the first glass."
"Is there more wine in the water glass, or more water in the wine glass?"
(Ravi Vakil in 'A Mathematical Mosaic: Patterns & problem solving,' p. 53 Westland)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are standards possible in coaching and mentoring?

"This field is not an occupation with an overall model of theory or of practice. Comparison can be made with occupations like 'TA therapist', which have strong unifying theory behind them; or accountancy, which has national and international practices that dictate how it should be conducted. In contrast to this position, there are many ways of delivering coaching and mentoring."
"How much desire is there to standardise practice? Are those who purport to be interested in setting standards driven to further the profession and to improve the service to users or are they seeking personal advantage in an ambiguous market place? There is a parallel with the World Boxing Federation - are we seeking to create a unified belt, to win the inter-professional competition for influence, to regulate out deviants or to improve standards?" ...
"A paradoxical question is: do standards raise standards?"
"A related issue is whether the requirement in some standards' frameworks for 'flying hours' (or number of hours of practice) as a criterion is an example of 'misplaced concreteness'."
"If you decide to follow the standards route, then a pragmatic question is: do you accredit the programme or the individuals or both?"
(Robert Garvey, Paul Stokes and David Megginson in 'Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and practice,' p. 192 Sage)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Racial diversity

"The racial landscape in the US is rapidly changing. The Latino population has recently surpassed the African-American population in size, due to high levels of immigration from Latin America, and it is growing at a more rapid rate. The Asian population is smaller than the African-American or the Latino population, but it too is growing rapidly and is concentrated in some cities on the West and East coasts. The white population, by contrast, is growing slowly. By 2050, the US will be around 50 per cent white, or perhaps majority non-white."
"The terms 'black', 'Latino' and 'Asian' are inadequate for interpreting the complexity of racial identity in the US, and even worse is the false impression that race is a matter of the colour of one's skin: yellow, black or brown. Although native-born African-Americans are by far the largest 'black' ethnic group, there are increasing numbers of Caribbean, African and Latin American immigrants who also identify themselves as 'black'. 'Latino' likewise covers an extremely broad number of ethnic groups. Unlike the US, which has a majority population of European descent designated 'white', most Latin American and Caribbean countries have majority non-white populations (mestizos and mulattos), leading white elites in those countries to de-emphasise race in politics."
(Ed. Jonathan S. Davies and David L. Imbroscio in 'Theories of Urban Politics,' 2 e, p. 195 Sage)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The phallic girl

"Consumer culture, the tabloid press, the girl's and women's magazine sector, the lads' magazines and also downmarket, trashy television all encourage young women, as though in the name of sexual equality, to overturn the old double standard and emulate the assertive and hedonistic styles of sexuality associated with young men, particularly in holiday locations, or in the context of the UK city centre leisure culture which has developed around late night drinking and the relaxation of the laws in regard to the consumption of alcohol. This assumption of phallicism also provides new dimensions of moral panic, titillation, and voyeuristic excitement as news spectacle and entertainment. The phallic girl is epitomed in the so-called glamour model, who earns most of her money posing naked for the soft-porn pages of the press and magazines and who, if successful, will also launch herself as a brand, lending her name and image to various products, usually ranges of underwear, make up, perfume or other fashion items. But for her ordinary counterpart, the girl on the street, assuming phallicism more often simply means drinking to excess, getting into fights, throwing up in public places, swearing and being abusive, wearing very short skirts, high heels, and skimpy tops, having casual sex, often passing out on the street and having to be taken home by friends or by the police. Under this pretence of equality which is promoted by consumer culture, such female phallicism is in fact a provocation to feminism, a triumphant gesture on the part of resurgent patriarchy. There is also hostility to women underpinning this particular form of freedom. In coming forward and showing herself to be, in common parlance, 'up for it', the phallic girl also allows herself to be the target of old-fashioned sexist insults and hostility from the men she seeks both to please and to emulate."
(Angela McRobbie in 'The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, culture and social change,' p. 84 Sage)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Can freedom be measured?

"Freedom is difficult to define in any way that commands universal agreement: it is even harder to measure. There are many who may question whether it is desirable to measure freedom even if it were possible. The very act of measuring freedom in their view diminishes it."
"There are several responses to these arguments. First, the concept of freedom is much larger than its measure, howsoever sophisticated. This is also true of human development and of more narrow economic notions, such as income or liquidity or competition. It is, thus, important to remember that there is always a distance between the concept and the measure of freedom. Secondly, it should be remembered that freedom is a latent variable. There are no directly observable instances of freedom; from much qualitative and some quantitative data, we have to make inferences about freedom indirectly. Most typically, we observe the violations of human rights (as indicators of freedom) more often than positive exercise of freedom. Thus evidence of torture, of denial of free elections are more likely to be helpful in detecting the absence of freedom than any positive signs of its exercise. Thirdly, it has to be said that we accept readily today measures of phenomena previously thought unmeasurable; heat is one instance, which until the efforts of Celsius was thought to be unmeasurable. Sound, light, the genetic structure of DNA are other examples. To measure sound waves is not the same as to measure music, but sound waves and music are related."
(Ed. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and A. K. Shiva Kumar in 'Handbook of Human Development: Concepts, measures, and policies,' p. 190 OUP)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Agricultural investments in China

"The local governments are not so much in favour of promoting agriculture at the cost of urbanisation... The primary sector as a whole gets only about 15 per cent of the fixed assets investment. In several provinces, the share of the primary sector, and particularly of agriculture, in fixed assets investment (FAI) is even less. It is also the local governments that encourage the forceful conversion of agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes... While the central government in Beijing may be interested in augmenting the production and supply of grains, the local governments have little interest in doing so. Further, still larger issue concerns the willingness of the grain farmers. Will the people be keen to spend the extra money and labour inputs, more so when the return from grain production is low? Given that their priority is the maximisation of their income rather than feeding the nation, they cannot be expected to contribute to further modernisation and upgradation of grain production facilities, unless they are offered substantial market-based incentives."
(T. K. Bhaumik in 'Old China's New Economy: The conquest by a billion paupers,' p. 165 Sage)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Judiciary's woes

"Overloaded dockets, inadequate staff, and funding have compromised the capacity of the court to deliver prompt justice. The Supreme Court is one of the most overworked courts in the world. Its docket had 2,614 cases in 1951 (67 per cent disposal rate), registered a spike in 1977 with 30,168 cases (34 per cent disposal rate), 139,796 cases in 1985 (36 per cent disposal rate), 141,778 cases in 1991 (24 per cent disposal rate), and 80,691 cases in 2005 (57 per cent disposal rate). For instance, in 2005, a Supreme Court judge heard around 1,700 cases, while on an average during the course of a five-year stint at the court he heard around 8,500 cases. It is not surprising that the overwhelming workload induces conformity rather than dissent, as judges plough through the docket. On an average, a Supreme Court judge would put his name on 700 opinions in the course of 4-6 years."
"Dhavan (1980) rightly argues that the vast jurisdiction (including original, writ, final appellate, and advisory) of the Supreme Court is responsible for the overloaded docket. The jurisdiction increased over the years because the legislature transferred more functions to the court. For instance, the court has jurisdiction over civil service dismissals and promotions, tax issues, election disputes, industrial and labour disputes, among others... One report estimates that 24 million cases are pending in different courts, some (mainly property disputes) languishing since 1950, with high courts producing the biggest bottlenecks."
(Shylashri Shankar in 'Scaling Justice: India's Supreme Court, Anti-Terror Laws, and Social Rights,' p. 55 OUP)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Solitude vs loneliness

"Editors: You are in your mid-fifties. Are you afraid of leading a lonely life in your old age?"
"Ankleshwaria: Maybe I am afraid of old age and the loneliness that it brings in its wake. But what choice do I have? Loneliness is a more affordable price to pay than adjusting with someone whom you've invited to your house to permanently live with you. Ideally, everyone would like to have a lover of his choice with whom he sets up home and lives happily ever after, till death does him or her apart, so to speak. But in reality it doesn't happen that way, does it? There is also the other side, which is that we in India tend to make too much about loneliness. In the West, many people live by themselves and do not complain. I dislike wallowing in self-pity just because I live alone. Solitude, which is positive, as opposed to loneliness, which is negative, has its uses, especially for an artist. One can think and work better. One's vocal cords are not overly taxed because there's no one in the house to talk to. This is of tremendous importance to a singer. The thing about relationships especially in India is that they deprive the partners concerned of personal space, which is so important for peace of mind. In that sense, I think I'm much better off, because I can live and do as I please. That is why, over the years, I have come to see myself, not as lonely, but as solitary. And I love my solitude. And again, what gives you the impression that I do not have good friends who are willing to stand by me, come what may. They may not live with me under the same roof, but they're always there for me, and they ensure that I never think of myself as lonely."
(Ed. R. Raj Rao and Dibyajyoti Sarma in 'Whistling in the Dark: Twenty-one queer interviews,' p. 201 Sage)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Inclusion and exclusion in Manipur

"The ideal socio-economic state according to the Meiteis is watta padaba. The literal meaning of this expression is, to neither have a shortage nor an excess of the requirement of life. Most of the people, even till today, are engaged in agriculture. A loom is found in the outside corner of every household. Women, in their spare time, weave their own and family's garments. They also weave to sell in the exclusive women's market called Ima Keithel. Besides clothes, they sell goods ranging from fish, rice, vegetables and fruits grown in their own kitchen gardens, jute products, flowers, etc."
"Though the economy, even today, is based on self-sufficiency, due to the logic of the developmental process, population growth and the rise of consumerism, the trade and commerce has slowly come under the control of non-Manipuris, (the Mayangs). The present day educated youths do not want to continue with the occupation of their forefathers. There are very few jobs available with the security of a 'government job'. Corruption is rampant, with each public post available at a price tag. It is in this context that Manipur is witnessing an increase in insurgency movements. The problems of unemployment, corruption, lack of infrastructure facilities, bankruptcy of political leadership and heavy reliance on the central funds have broken the confidence of the people of this state."
(Ed B. S. Baviskar and George Mathew in 'Inclusion and Exclusion in Local governance: Field studies from rural India,' p. 292 Sage)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alternative journalism

"OhmyNews was founded in 2000 by South Korean 'journalist-turned-activist' Yeon-Ho Oh and has since become one of the most prominent and highly regarded alternative journalism projects in the world (Kim and Hamilton, 2006). In addition to its Korean-language publication, its site includes an international, English-language edition, a web-streamed television station (OhmyTV) and a weekly, Korean print edition. Its international fame has come from its thousands of non-professional, citizen reporters (around 35,000 in 2004) who are responsible for up to 200 articles every day..."
"The organization of OhmyNews is centred on an editorial office that is professionally staffed. Its 35 staff reporters are responsible for researching and writing stories on 'current, serious issues that need in-depth investigation. By contrast, citizen reporters... write various stories about their surroundings' (Kim and Hamilton). There is no necessity to train these citizen reporters, since they write from personal experience and need no special, professional skills. All contributions are edited and evaluated by the central editorial office before they are posted. Once they have been uploaded to the site, they are available for anyone to add to or comment on..."
"OhmyNews is very attractive to advertisers because a majority of its reporters and its audience come from the '386 generation', a term which not only signifies a technologically cultured generation (386 referring to a microprocessor), but in Korea also has deeper significance... The 386 generation is a generation in its thirties (the '3'), who attended college or university in the 1980s (the '8') and who were born in the 1960s (the '6'). These numbers are significant."
(Chris Atton and James F. Hamilton in 'Alternative Journalism,' p. 101 Sage)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The law of empowerment

"Iacocca says that Henry Ford II once described his leadership philosophy to him, years before Iacocca himself became its target. Ford said, 'If a guy works for you, don't let him get too comfortable. Don't let him get cozy or set in his ways. Always do the opposite of what he expects. Keep your people anxious and off-balance.'..."
"Both Henry Fords failed to abide by the Law of Empowerment. Rather than identifying leaders; building them up; giving them resources, authority, and responsibility; and then turning them loose to achieve, they alternately encouraged and undermined their best people. Their insecurity made it impossible for them to give power to others. Ultimately, it undermined their personal leadership potential, created havoc in the lives of the people around them, and damaged their organisation. If leaders want to be successful, they have to be willing to empower others. I like the way President Theodore Roosevelt stated it: 'The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.'"
"To lead others well, we must help them to reach their potential. That means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power, and helping them to succeed. That's not traditionally what we're taught about leadership."
(John C. Maxwell in 'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,' p. 145 Pearson)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Satisfaction is based on expectations

"Buyers form an expectation of how a product will perform before they purchase it. If the product underperforms on their expectations, dissatisfaction results. If the product simply performs as expected, customers report a neutral response. Only if expectations are exceeded do we see clear levels of customer satisfaction."
"We can see this process in action by comparing eating at McDonald's to eating at an expensive French restaurant. If we don't have our food three minutes after walking into McDonald's, we get impatient. However, we expect to wait at a French restaurant for 10 or 15 minutes just to be seated, even if we booked a reservation six months in advance. Expectations are often unintentionally created. When McDonald's opened drive-through windows, customers expected the service to be quicker than service inside. What McDonald's developed as a convenience for the customer created an expectation that resulted in customer frustration."
(Neale Martin in 'Habit,' p. 75 Pearson)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reading and comprehension

"Understanding what was said and what was read are two different mental processes. If some children experience difficulties in reading, is it any wonder that they will have a hard time understanding written text? The same children may have little difficulty understanding what is read or said to them. These children, who have significant problems in reading comprehension but little or no difficulty in listening comprehension, may truly be dyslexic when compared to other children of their class. In fact, the difference between these two abilities is a good measure of reading disability and a more reliable indicator of dyslexia."
(J. P. Das in 'Reading Difficulties and Dyslexia: An interpretation for teachers,' p. 53 Sage)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Krispy fried chicken

"Okay, so what does a girl from South India know about southern fried chicken? Well, in my defense, for years I've been dutifully following every path I know to find the best recipe for this beloved favorite dish. Even when I was a vegetarian, I would break off the coated chicken skin and eat the fatty bits. The key to moist, plump, juicy fried chicken is the marinating, either in salted water (brining) or in milk. I've combined the two methods. The combination of salt and milk results in sheer, succulent pleasure because the milk makes the meat even sweeter. The second secret is the addition of Rice Krispies (you can also use corn flakes) and saltines, which creates an indispensable layered crunch."
(Padma Lakshmi in 'Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet,' p. 134 Harper)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sanskrit for the Nation

"The advocates of Sanskrit in the Constituent Assembly and in the Sanskrit Commission, as indeed most Indian nationalists, functioned with the Herderian assumption, inherited from their colonial masters and predecessors, that to be a nation meant the possession of a 'national' language that would serve one and all, and that would be the repository of the national essence even as it knitted the community into a unified whole. In forging language policies around such an assumption, nations like India with linguistic pasts that did not approximate those of the West, nevertheless committed themselves to a linguistic trajectory that would bring them in line with Europe's modernity. From this point of view, the Sanskrit Commission's advocacy of Sanskrit seems both subversive and tragic. Subversive because in seeking to revamp an ancient mandarin language that was nobody's 'mother tongue' and institute it as the official language of a modern nation, the Commission at least dared to pursue an alternate imagination which did not replicate the historical experience of the West. Tragic, because, in the end, its advocates made their case by deploying the logic of (Western) nationalism and modernity and by recasting Sanskrit in the image of other national tongues. In the nationalization of Sanskrit, as with so much else in the colonial and postcolonial world, difference struggles with and ultimately loses out to sameness."
(Ed. Asha Sarangi in 'Language and Politics in India,' p. 135 OUP)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Behavioral factors in poverty

"Aligning the behavior of the poor more closely with societal norms by causing them to work more, stay in school longer, save more, drink less, and commit fewer property crimes would have a positive impact on their economic condition. It is tempting to conclude, then, that opponents of poverty should use their time and energy to try to make this alignment happen... (But) some of the problematic behaviors may not be changeable, at least not by reformers. And even if they can all be affected by public policies to some degree, those with the most potential impact on poverty may be less tractable than other behaviors having a smaller potential impact. For instance, it may turn out to be easier to affect poor people's persistence in school than to affect their work behavior, even granting that work behavior is a more significant behavioral factor in poverty than school persistence. In that case, would the greater potential impact be worth the extra difficulty of affecting work behavior?"
"Essential for answering such questions is identifying the causes of the poverty-causing behaviors themselves. What makes poor people less likely to work, finish school, save, drink moderately, and obey the law than nonpoor people? And how hard are these root causes to alter through the use of the instruments of public policy? The hope is, of course, that some of these root causes will turn out to be promising targets for intervention, when the likely impact of the intervention on the behavior is factored in with the likely impact of changing the behavior itself."
(Charles Karelis in 'The Persistence of Poverty,' p. 25 OUP)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

English, the enemy

"The arithmetic and algebra he could manage, and Hindi he was good at. But English, and every other subject - all of them taught in English - fried his brains. He was not alone in this. The entire school was full of boys whose brains were being detonated by Shakespeare and Dickens and Wordsworth and Tennyson and memoriam and daffodils and tiger tiger burning bright and solitary reapers and artful dodgers and thous and forsooths and the rhymes of ancient mariners. The first counter-attack Kabir M made on English was in class four when he learnt like the rest of his reeling mates to say, 'Howdudo? Howdudo?' The answer being: 'Juslikeaduddoo! Juslikeaduddoo!' It set the pattern for life for most of them. English was to be ambushed ruthlessly when and where the opportunity arose. Its soldiers were to be mangled, shot, amputated wherever they were spotted. Its emissaries to be captured and tortured. The enemy of English came at them from every direction: in the guise of forms to be filled, exams to be taken, interviews to be given, marriage proposals to be evaluated. The enemy English had a dwarfing weapon: it made instant lilliputs of them. Whenever it appeared on the horizon they seemed to suddenly shrink in size. Their weapon of Hindi was a mere slingshot compared to the enemy's cannon..."
(Tarun J. Tejpal in 'The Story of My Assassins,' p. 229 Harper)

Monday, February 2, 2009

'Friendly' editorial environments

"Corporate advertisers also can be aggressive in insisting on 'friendly' editorial environments in the media outlets they do not own. In 1993, Chrysler announced a new policy to all the magazines in which it bought ads: Editors would have to tell Chrysler what kind of stories would appear in magazines with Chrysler ads. The company was concerned about having its cars featured next to stories on controversial sexual or political issues. If the editorial content wasn't friendly enough, Chrysler said it would pull its ads. Of the 100 or so magazines that Chrysler notified, about half agreed to the policy. Four years later, however, Chrysler dropped the policy after the Magazine Publishers of America denounced it as 'economic censorship' (Sheehan, 2004, pp. 41, 43). The influence of corporate pressure to determine the news, with the enormous profit margins at stake and the pressure for ratings and market share intensifying, is likely to get worse, critics have said. 'The drive to achieve synergy is often journalism's poison,' said media analyst Ken Auletta (2002). And it is this corporate influence, much more than any political bias, that increasingly threatens to dominate journalism culture."
(Patrick Lee Plaisance in 'Media Ethics,' p. 156 Sage)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Workplace friendship

"An interesting study, and one of the few guided by a critical perspective, revealed how the workplace culture is associated with friendship development among employees. In this study, Ashcraft (2000) examined relationships in an organization comprised primarily of female employees with an explicit commitment to 'feminine' ways of organizing values such as collaboration and emphasizing close interpersonal relationships. This organization was structured explicitly to contrast bureaucratic, and more masculine, approaches such as rationality and the bifurcation of work and personal relationships. As part of the 'feminine' structure, the organization leaders explicitly encouraged the formation and development of close friendships among employees. Employees willingly obliged and grew quite close to one another, forming friendships and, in some cases, romantic relationships, characterized by high levels of trust, intimacy, and affinity. These relationships had some surprising consequences, however, in that employees began to complain about favoritism and unfair treatment resulting from these friendships and romantic relationships. Thus, the close relationships that were the core of the organization's 'feminine' approach to organizing instead caused competition, jealousy, and political strife. The organization's leaders responded, quite ironically, by developing explicit, bureaucratic policies forbidding friendships and romantic relationships among staff members without the expressed permission of management."
(Patricia M. Sias in 'Organizing Relationships,' p. 106 Sage)