December 31, 2011

Google says Indians at top in searching adult content online (Dirty, dirty, Indians!)

New Delhi: Given the size of our population, one would have thought Indians get enough sex.

But that still doesn't stop us searching for more. Data collected by Google through its search engine shows that in 2011, seven Indian cities featured in the list of top 10 cities worldwide where the "sex" query was particularly popular.

The rankings might come as a bit of a surprise. Lucknow and Kolkata - cities which pride themselves on their high cultural values -- came in at No. 2 and 3, respectively. Pune was at No. 5, New Delhi at 6, Bangalore at 7, Chennai at 8 and Mumbai at 9. The only non-Indian cities in the list were Colombo, which topped the chart, Lahore at No. 4 and Hanoi at 10. In short, every single city in the top 10 was from Asia. Expect the demographic dividend to last for a while. The famed Indo-Pak rivalry spilled over to this sphere as well, with Pakistan emerging as the country from where Google received the maximum number of search queries for "sex" in 2011. Pakistan had topped the list in 2010 as well.

The data, which is part of Google's Trends application, also reveals that Pakistan tops the all-time list - which maps the period ever since the search engine started collecting the data - while India comes in third behind Vietnam.

Though Google says "Trends provides insights into broad search patterns" and "several approximations are used when computing these results," the data mirrors the volume of actual search queries. To rank regions and cities, the web firm "calculates the ratio of searches for the term coming from each city, divided by total Google searches coming from the same city."

The Trends data is not the only indication that people in India and Pakistan have sex on their mind. A few weeks ago Google had released its Zeitgeist report, which takes a look at the top search queries of the year.

In India, "How to kiss" topped the list of the most popular "how to..." searches. The same query topped the list in 2010 as well. "How to flirt" and "how to love" were the 10th and 11th most popular queries. The "how to kiss" query was equally popular in Pakistan in 2011. India and Pakistan share some basic intincts - which could add a whole new dimension to the phrase, "Make love, not war".

December 30, 2011

UPA's Munnabhai doctors administered anaesthesia on Lokpal Bill at midnight... and the buffoons almost killed it

New Delhi: Faced with a certain defeat in the Rajya Sabha over the Lokpal Bill, the government on Thursday ducked the vote, leaving the fate of the landmark anti-corruption legislation in limbo and prompting many parties to term it a sad day for India's parliamentary democracy. UPA ally Trinamool Congress described it as a murder of democracy.

Defeat had stared the government in its face, after all its efforts to persuade Trinamool to give up its opposition to the bill's Lokayukta clause and cajole the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party into walking out of the House had failed.

Some 122 members had looked set to oppose the government's bill while the government's tally stopped at 109 in a House of 243. More ominously for the government, there was a risk of a rival bill being passed if many amendments - including the one moved by Trinamool Congress - were cleared by the Upper House.

Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House without fixing its next sitting just past midnight after the government claimed that it would not be able to sort out and respond to a record 187 amendments submitted by various parties.

"If we want to be true to the cause, we need more time to go through the amendments," said parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal. He then responded to opposition taunts by saying the government was ready to pass the Lok Sabha version of the bill.

Congress sources later told TOI the session had been inconclusive and the government remained committed to the passage of the bill.

Ansari's ruling was vehemently protested by the opposition which accused the government of running away as it lacked a majority, and said that it was ready to sit through the night to clear the bill. Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley also said that the government had choreographed chaos to dodge a vote.

It is ironical that I am the leader of opposition but I am speaking for the majority of the House. A government which was in a hopeless minority had deliberately choreographed proceedings so that a vote could not be taken today. A government which runs away from facing the House has no business to be in office for a minute," said Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the RS. Proceedings dragged on till midnight as members belonging to parties backing the government, directly or indirectly, rambled on. Rajneeti Prasad (RJD) tore up the bill with hardly a protest from treasury benches. Opposition leaders saw it as a time-wasting tactic.

After parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal said that the government did not want to pass a "hodge-podge" legislation and needed time to sift through amendments, Ansari rose to address the House "An unprecedented situation has arisen. There seems to be desire to outshout each other. It is a total impasse. Proceedings cannot be conducted in this noise. There is no option.... most reluctantly.... (to adjourn the House sine die).

After that he called for the national song, Vande Matram, to be played and thereafter formally announced that the House was adjourned sine die. Political analyst Yogendra Yadav described the abrupt end to the proceedings as "match-fixing of the worst kind".

Earlier, the opposition had sought his intervention as "custodian of the House" to protect rights and get the government to face a vote. Though Bansal claimed the government is keen to pass the bill, there is no clarity when this can be done. The bill will remain pending in RS which cannot be summoned without President's nod. Rules lay down that the first session of a year has to start with a joint address by President. Bansal made it clear it was the government's prerogative to decide when to hold the next session; in this case whether to hold one ahead of the budget session due to start end February. Uncertainty will persist as numbers are not going to improve for the government as the bill's opponents will find it difficult to alter their position without significant concessions from the ruling coalition. In fact, the term of three nominated members who would have voted for government ended on Thursday, worsening what was a difficult situation to start with.

The voting was preceded by last-ditch effort to persuade Trinamool, SP and BSP to bail out the government. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee held desperate parleys with the three parties, with Bansal and law minister Salman Khurshid chipping in with the effort to bring them around. With West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee monitoring the show from Kolkata, Trinamool MPs declared they would insist on putting their amendment seeking to scrap the Lokayukta chapter from the bill to vote as it ran counter to the right of the states to frame their state-level anti-graft ombudsman. Their defiance also spurred BSP and SP to resist government's pressure. The vote looked uncertain as the numbers continued to be elusive for the government.Even the debate crossed 11 hours, various speakers, including independents and one-MP parties were, allowed long minutes. Minister V Narayanasamy began his reply at only 11 pm. To some, it looked like a time-wasting tactic.

The six Trinamool MPs only held the key to the delicate balance of numbers in the House where the UPA on its own does not command a majority. The situation tilted further against the government with BSP indicating it might stay on the House. Congress managers realized if BSP's 18 MPs supported the Trinamool amendment along with BJP, Left and other regional players, the game would be over. Aware that the government was faced with dire options, the Congress core group met at 4.30 to take stock. Facing the vote, even at the risk of the Trinamool amendment being passed was an option, with some suggesting government should go down fighting and capitalize on the defeat like Indira Gandhi did on abolition of privy purses and Rajiv Gandhi on the constitutional amendment for Panchayati Raj. The option of sending the bill to a select panel was considered but was given up because of the realization that bill opponents would have the majority in the panel. Mamata resisted attempts to bring her around as Congress offered a couple fo changes in the lokayukta formulations but she remained unconvinced.

The change in Trinamool thinking lay in Mamata's anger over the party having been taken for a "ride" by the amendment that purportedly protected the rights of the states by stating the Lokayuktas will not be notified without their consent. With the government's strategy of repeating the LS gameplan of ensuring SP, BSP and RJD not voting against the bill coming apart, it was left scrambling for a way out. It was noticeable various independents and one-MP parties supporting the government being allowed to ramble on and on in the House as the clock moved towards 11 pm. This led to speculation that if the date changed the House would be adjourned as the three-day session ended.


December 28, 2011

Sunny Leone is promoting porn on Bigg Boss! Find out how

Mumbai: The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), an independent body set by the Indian Broadcasters Foundation (IBF) had directed the entertainment channel airing ‘Bigg Boss 5’ to end the indirect promotion of Sunny Leone’s porn site.

The body had asked the channel to withdraw all cross promotional activities that boosted the porn star’s websites by 26th December. And the channel had agreed to comply with the order of BCCC.

Now here’s an insight into how the adult film actress promoted her raunchy websites with the help of the show.

As reported by a daily, Sunny’s website ran messages that read, “‘As seen on ‘Bigg Boss Season 5’, ‘Now watch her strip down and be naughty and see why the world is obsessed with Sunny Leone’.”

The website also ran messages that stated her followers to vote in her favour. These messages that were apparent on the site have now been removed but there are certain eye-catching links in Hindi targeted to attract Hindi speaking surfers. Moreover, the homepage of her site carries an icon of Twitter that reads, ‘How does Voting work this week? If there are no public votes...’.

Prior to Sunny’s entry into the controversial house, very few Indian knew about her. But ever since she started featuring in the show, she has become one of the most Googled celebrities in India. She also became one of the most talked about personalities and even school children as young as 12 years-old were seen searching her on Internet.

Her presence in India has raised a number of eyebrows and scandalized many.

Talking to the daily, the channel’s representative said, “BCCC requested us to use our commercial endeavours to persuade Sunny Leone to not use ‘Bigg Boss 5’ or Colors on her websites, and we assured BCCC of our efforts on the same. In the past, we have persuaded Sunny Leone to not use Colors or ‘Bigg Boss Season 5’ in any form, and now we have decided to write a letter to her informing that in case the references to ‘Bigg Boss 5’ are not removed from her website, we shall immediately terminate her contract and evict her from the ‘Bigg Boss House’.”

Anna Next: 'We'll awaken people and urge them not to vote for traitors'

Mumbai: In a sudden climb down, Anna Hazare today made a surprise announcement of calling off his campaign to fill jails from Friday and ended his fast.

No reasons were given by the 74-year-old activist for the abrupt decisions but apparently it was the poor public response to the three-day fast which he had began here yesterday and to have a parallel fast by his team in Delhi that weighed heavily on his mind.

He was also unwell and was earlier urged by his doctors to give up the fast.

A girl from Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare's village, gave the activist a glass of juice to break the fast. Hazare offered juice to his team members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Mayank Gandhi.

Curtains came down suddenly on the fast with the activist, who showed up on stage for the first time since yesterday, making the announcement about calling it off.

He also announced indefinite suspension of the 'jail bharo' agitation planned for three days after the scheduled conclusion of his fast tomorrow.

His close aide Kejriwal said the fast was being called off keeping in mind the deteriorating health of Hazare and the way the "weak" Lokpal Bill was "bulldozed" through the Lok Sabha.

"...Whatever we are seeing today in Parliament is tragic. So I have decided to call off the fast today. There is only one way now. We will make a programme in the five states and go and awaken people there. I will tell them don't vote for traitors," Hazare told a sparsely attended protest meeting in the afternoon.

Replying to a question by a reporter on poor turn out, Hazare said,"I have no power, no money, yet people come. You will see at the time of elections how people rise to the occasion."

He said an atmosphere had been created in the entire country in favour of the proposed fill-the-jail campaign "but I am told Lokpal Bill has not been tabled in Rajya Sabha. What will happen there we don't know. So, the time for it ( jail bharo) has not come."

Fielding a volley of uncomfortable questions by media which wanted to know why he and his team were making a villain of Congress and targeting Sonia and Rahul Gandhi when several other parties too had not supported his version of Lokpal Bill, Hazare said, "Congress have destroyed the nation."

After his announcement that he and his team will campaign against Congress in the five poll-bound states early next year and later in the general elections, he was asked whether Congress was sought to be made a villain and whether the strategy adopted by them was not wrong.

Hazare said they had no reasons to oppose other parties.

Hazare said he had no reason to campaign against any other party, despite a questioner pointing out that given the Congress' strength in Uttar Pradesh his drive against it would hardly alter its electoral fortunes there.

Defending Team Anna's anti-Congress stand, Kejriwal said, "Can BSP and SP pass a strong Lokpal bill if they want to? Congress can. If it can get a weak Lokpal Bill passed...If it can get a nuclear bill passed, it can also get a strong Bill passed. The responsibility is of the ruling party."

Hazare said, "In the last five months, it was the UPA government that has betrayed us. They were betraying us again and again in the past one year."

One reporter asked whether he will campaign against BJP which betrayed the Hazare campaign in Lok Sabha yesterday and whether Team Anna was not following a wrong strategy, Hazare said, "Congress has cheated them the maximum."

After this question, Hazare abruptly quit the dais, leaving Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia to field searching questions from the media which was heckled by the crowds that had gathered there.

Asked about the future course of action, Kejriwal said "We will build up pressure on the government to make subsequent amendments to the Lokpal Act if the bill passed in Lok Sabha is also passed by the Rajya Sabha and is made into a law. We will intensify our agitation."

In the backdrop of accusations of Team Anna's proximity to RSS and BJP, when it was asked if they would have taken a similar stance if the saffron party was in power, Kejriwal replied with an emphatic "yes".

"We have nothing to do with any party. Digvijay Singh levels such unfounded allegations but never gives any evidence," he said.


Ambani brothers dance to mother Kokilaben's reunion tune

Junagadh: A traditional raas garba was Kokilaben's way of bringing the Ambani family together on the eve of Dhirubhai Ambani's 80th birth anniversary. The get-together at Chorwad in Gujarat on Tuesday was the biggest family show since 'ownership issues' between Mukesh and Anil Ambani divided the Reliance empire in 2005.

The two brothers hugged and talked earnestly as their wives and children joined the dance. On Tuesday, the two brothers hugged each other at their ancestral home in the coastal town of Chorwad, where their illustrious father Dhirubhai Ambani spent his childhood. They performed havan at the home, which is being converted into a museum in memory of their father, and even paid homage at the temple of Goddess Chorwadi, or Chorwad Bhavani.

The two brothers and their families, along with matriarch Kokilaben, will spend two days at the two-storied family home to commemorate Dhirubhai's 80th birth anniversary on December 28.

The last time that this coastal village had really come alive was way back in 1996, when Dhirubhai Ambani, along with Mukesh and Anil, threw a sumptuous feast for four villages - Chorward, Kukaswada, Kanek and Jujarpur. Dhirubhai had made it a point to thank all old friends and villagers, who had kept badhaas (vows) for his fast recovery after he suffered a heart attack some time before that.

After 15 years, Chorwad is once again bustling with excitement with the Ambani brothers coming together in the town. Miles away from Mumbai, where talk of their six-year-old squabble is slowly dying out, it was nothing short of a homecoming for the family. The Ambanis performed a havan and pooja in the presence of family guru Rameshbhai Oza inside the house. Talking to mediamen on Monday, Kokilaben had said "there is love between Mukesh and Anil" and that the family stands united, triggering speculation of an important business announcement.

The excitement in the town was visible since morning with hordes of villagers lining up across the narrow coastal highway for a glimpse of the brothers. Anil arrived at around 9.30 am with wife Tina and two sons. He entered the house after seeking the blessings of his mother.

Mukesh Ambani landed in his chopper at around 1 pm and drove straight to the house with Nita and three children. He received spontaneous applause from villagers gathered outside the house. The entire function remained a fiercely guarded family affair.

"Kokilaben has a strong emotional bonding with this house - Dhirubhai no delo. She lived with Dhirubhai here after their marriage. Both Mukesh and Anil will stay here for two days," said Parimal Nathwani, group president, Reliance Industries.

While the family remained closeted inside the house, several villagers were seen making desperate pleas to the company officials to let them meet the Ambanis. "My brother is an excellent cricketer. I want to meet Nitaben as I strongly believe that she would help him get a chance in IPL," said Vikram Kher, a shopkeeper from Mangrol. Gaurang Joshi, an engineer, had been camping outside the house since morning. "Dhirubhai is a great source of inspiration for me. I only want Kokilaben to give her blessings on a piece of paper." Joshi's grandfather knew Dhirubhai very well, he said.

Kukaswada sarpanch Bhima Bhadarka said, "I had gone to meet Kokilaben in Mumbai a few years ago. We all are very happy that both brothers and their entire family have come here. We are praying for their well-being."


December 26, 2011

One kick on the butt is more than enough... I have learnt lessons in politics, says Tharoor

Thiruvananthapuram: Listing his major achievements in the last two years as member of Lok Sabha in a 'half-term report,' Shashi Tharoor today said he was not disappointed with his work, but had learnt lessons in politics and got rid of illusions.

The diplomat-turned MP, who was elected from Thiruvanathapuram constituency, told  a press conference here that he had not yet become a 'typical' politician whatever that term meant.  "I am still who I am. I am learning lessons and making contributions," he said.

He said it had now become fashionable to decry the entire political class which was improper. There might be corrupt politicians, but there were others with long experience in politics and devoted to social service.

To a question, Tharoor said he was not 'parachuted' from the top. "If I was parachuted, I should have entered the Rajya Sabha. I took the ground transport, went to all sections of people and won an election fair and square," he said.

Not hiding his disappointment at the failure of his dream project of twinning the cities of Thiruvananthapuram and Barcelona, Tharoor alleged that due to 'petty politics' by Left Front municipal corporation, the agreement for twin city was sadly allowed to lapse.

He also listed as his achievement the bringing of IPL team for Kerala, the controversy over which he lost his post as Union Minister. The work for getting an international cricket stadium for the capital city was being strengthened, he said.

Tharoor said he also personally intervened to bring the world-renowned Hay Literary Festival, which had never before been held in India, to Thiruvananthapuram.

Tharoor said during his short 11-month stint as Union Minister of State for External Affairs, he could initiate new policy-planning activities on the Indian Ocean and represented India effectively at many global events, creating new relationships, especially with the countries in Africa which were earlier French colonies.

He could also guide and implement arrangements for Haj pilgrimage in an exemplary manner leaving no room for complaints from pilgrims.

Functioning of passport offices was improved and help rendered Keralites facing problems relating to visas, repatriation and compensation claims.

He listed as his achievements constituency road development works, infrastructural development for postal services, inauguration of the Rs 120 crore super-speciality departments at the Medical college Hospital complex and progress with the Vizhinjam International seaport project.

The new terminal for international airport and Air India hangar unit here were also pursued to completion, Tharoor said.


Bollywood songs of today are duhhh: Amitabh Bachchan

New Delhi:  Bollywood mega star Amitabh Bachchan, who has spent more than four decades in the Hindi cinema industry, says today's songs lack the charm of 50's and 60's.

The 69-year-old actor said that the lyrics of the songs from the bygone era are remembered till today.

"It remains a mystery that the refrains of the interlude music in songs from films of the 50's and 60's continue to be remembered more appropriately than an entire song from the times of today. Words and meanings of the lyrics of times gone by still haunt our memory often , not so now," said Bachchan

Bachchan, who moved to Kolkata to get a break in films in the early 60's, said he still remembers his days of struggle in the city of joy.

"What an atmosphere it was in the early 60's when I had just migrated to this wonder city in search of a future and a job," he posted on his blog.

What Bipasha Basu eats to stay healthy!

Bipasha Basu shares her fitness mantra

1. Stay hydrated.

2. Watch what you eat.

3. Eat six meals at regular intervals.

4. Eat breakfast like a king and then reduce portions through the day till your last meal, which should be like a pauper.

5. Stay active: it could be anything from going to a gym to indulging in a sport - anything you like.

6. Take the stairs wherever and whenever you can.

7. Invest in a good pair of sneakers.

8. Your meal should be a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and essential fats.

9. Must have a multi- vitamin supplement once a day.

10. Have six cups of green tea a day since its an anti-oxidant and fat burner.

11. For anykind of cardio-vascular activity you do weight training is important. For strengthening of the joints and muscles as well as fat burn.

12. Gym gear is important. For people who exercise. I endorse my own gym attire (designed by Bipasha) for women.

13. Post exercise a massage is important. To relax the mind and body.

14. Think good thoughts - keep your mind clear.

15. Dance. Be a free spirit and enjoy life.

16. Sleep eight hours minimum.

17. Smile more often. A happy mind is a fit mind.


December 25, 2011

Sikhs to have separate marriage law soon

New Delhi: Sikhs are likely to have a separate marriage law soon with the Ministry of Home Affairs planning to move the Union Cabinet in this regard.

Ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, the Centre has decided to accede to the long-standing demand of the Sikh community for enacting a separate Anand Marriage Act, giving legal sanctity to the marriages under Sikh religion, official sources said.

So far, Sikh marriages are solemnised under Hindu Marriage Act after the annulment of the Sikh Marriage Act in 1955.

Prior to Independence, marriages among Sikhs were held under the Anand Marriage Act in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and the practice continued till 1955 when the Sikh Marriage Act was replaced and included in the Hindu Marriage Act, clubbing four communities together-- Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain.

The sources said after the Cabinet clears the proposal, a bill in this effect will be tabled in Parliament and once it gets approval, Sikhs can marry under the new law.

However, it is not clear whether the bill would be tabled in the current session of Parliament, they said.

Several political, religious groups and individuals, including former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Congress leader R S Jaura, have appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram for enactment of a separate law for solemnising Sikh marriages.

Earlier, a Parliamentary Standing Committee had unanimously approved the creation of the marriage law for Sikhs.

However, the Centre has been refraining from acting on it it apparently apprehending that it could lead to similar demands from other communities covered under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Source: PTI

2011 Top Story | Politicians molested, ravished and near-killed FDI in multi-brand retail in India

New Delhi (PTI): It was a case of politics prevailing over policy reforms as far as India's booming retail sector was concerned in the year going by, although that did not deter companies from going ahead and expand their operations.

Just when corporate India thought that the much-awaited opening up of multi-brand retail to FDI would see the light of the day, political compulsions meant that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to eat the humble pie.

He had to put his government's plans of allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail and 100% in single brand on the back burner.

Amid all the drama, the year 2011 saw online retailing make its presence felt with newer players jumping on the bandwagon.

The highlight of the year in the retail sector, estimated to be around $450 billion and growing at around 15%, was clearly the cabinet's decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail and 100% in single brand retail in November.

The decision was welcomed by both domestic retail players, including Future Group, Reliance Retail, Shoppers Stop and Aditya Birla Retail, and foreign giants such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour.

The celebrations, however, did not last for long as in the absence of a political consensus, with UPA ally Trinamool Congress one of the most vociferous opponent, the government was forced to hold back its decision. It, however, gave an assurance to take it up at a later stage.

The tug of war between the government and corporates on one side and the Opposition and small traders on the other, meant that the final word on the issue is far from being said.

"This stance on FDI has left many in modern retail wondering if the government does have the grit and determination to propagate consumption in the country when the world is reeling under recessionary pressure," Retailers Association of India (RAI) CEO Kumar Rajgopalan told PTI.

India currently allows 51% FDI in single-brand retail and 100% in cash-and-carry, but does not allow any foreign investment in multi-brand.

Besides the FDI issue, the sector overall saw growth as most retail companies continued to expand their operations by setting up new stores. Most players witnessed healthy sales across the year, particularly during the festive season.

During the first half of the year, most retailers were on an expansion spree.

According to estimates of research firm CB Richard Ellis India, over six million square feet of retail mall space was added across India in the first six months of 2011 alone.

For retailers, business was growing in double digits till Diwali but tapered off later in the year.

"In the initial part of the year, the overall sentiment was positive and even demand from consumers was robust. Had the FDI been cleared, it would have been much better," Ernst and Young Partner and National Leader (Retail and Consumer product Practice) Pinakiranjan Mishra said.

During the year, retailers had to bear the burden of 10.30% service tax on rentals and excise duty of 10% on branded garments announced during the Budget.

However, following widespread protests, 50% abatement was given on the excise duty, meaning the levy would be on half the cost of a product.

Otherwise, for many organised retailers it was business as usual. Tata Group firm Trent that announced appointment of Philip Auld as its CEO, sought shareholders permission to raise up to Rs 300 crore through the issue of securities for future expansion.

While Aditya Birla Retail said it will invest about Rs 1,500 crore in the next five years to open new stores under 'More' brand, Bharti Retail continued expansion of its 'easyday' stores across the country.

Future Group's Pantaloon Retail India Ltd (PRIL) hived off its consumer electronics products arm 'ezone' into a separate subsidiary. The company planned to raise up to Rs 1,500 crore by issuing equity-linked securities amounting to stake dilution of not more than 15% to pare debt.

The retail major also announced an equal joint venture with the UK-based footwear maker Clarks to set up retail outlets in the country, besides entering premium foods category with a retail chain under 'Food Hall' brand.

PRIL also completed realignment of its business by transferring its value retail formats -- Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar -- to Future Value Retail Ltd (FVRL).

Even troubled players tried to infuse a fresh lease of life in their businesses. While debt-ridden apparel chain Koutons roped in SBI Capital Markets to recast its financial liabilities, Vishal Retail that had sold its operations to TPG and Sriram Capital in 2010, changed its name to 'V2 Retail Ltd' and embarked on a new journey.

In the foods space, big names such as US coffee chain Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts also fine-tuned their India plans. While the former signed a pact with Tata group firm sourcing of coffee, the latter appointed Jubilant Foodworks as its master franchisee in the country.

Even the wholesale segment saw heightened activities with Bharti Walmart, the joint venture between US-based Walmart and Bharti Enterprises, opening new stores in the country. Domestic giant Reliance Retail also launched its first wholesale store in Ahemadabad.

Kishore Biyani-led Future Group announced its foray into rural wholesale business with opening its first 'Aadhaar Wholesale' store in Gujarat.

France's Carrefour, that is building an IT platform in India to enable its customers to shop online, ended the year with two cash-and-carry stores under operation.

German firm Metro Cash & Carry that currently operates around six stores, said it plans to open 8-10 stores in the country every year.

A lot of action was also seen on the online retail space with many new players joining the band wagon. A host of names such as Flipkart, Yebhi and Myntra focused on advertising on mass media such as TV to get consumer attention.

Many e-tailing companies also got funding from private equity players for expansion. While, Bigshoebazaar divested 20% stake for Rs 40 crore to Catamaran Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners, HomeShop18 acquired online books retailer CoinJoos.Com for an undisclosed amount.

Similarly Fashionandyou.Com raised over Rs 200 crore from a group of private equity firms, including Intel Capital and Sequoia Capital, and Flipkart.Com received funding of around Rs 90 crore from its existing investor -- Tiger Global.

The world largest Internet retailer Amazon on the other hand was reported to be in the process of setting up a facility in Andhra Pradesh to develop technologies and solutions for its global e-commerce business. Even Walmart announced a similar venture -- 'WalmartLabs' in Bangalore, with plans to hire up to 100 developers.

The market size of online retail industry in India is likely to touch Rs 7,000 crore by 2015 due to increasing Internet penetration across the country, from Rs 2,000 crore at present, according to industry chamber Assocham.

Buoyed by the government's intentions to fully open the single brand retail sector to foreign firms, global luxury brands, including Salvatore Ferragamo and Jimmy Choo said they would increase their investments in India.

Commenting on the outlook for 2012, Mishra of Ernst and Young said said: "The macro view is positive for the coming year. It is just a matter of time that more discussions will happen on FDI before it is cleared."

According to estimates of industry body CII, further opening up of FDI in retail can increase the organised retail market size to $260 billion by 2020.

December 24, 2011

Sunny Leone’s ex-boyfriend leaks out their first video online

Mumbai: While Sunny Leone is all set to go for an image makeover of sorts with ‘Jism 2’, her ex has leaked the couple’s adult videos online.

Leone’s former fiancĂ©, Matt Erikson has been cashing in on her first straight porn video. The duo had got engaged in 2007. Before meeting Matt, Leone had only featured in lesbian adult films. Post her engagement, she starred in adult films only with her then fiancĂ©. The couple broke up in 2008. Interestingly, their first movie together was a huge success.

The same movie is doing the rounds on the Internet now.

Matt has, in fact, uploaded some of Sunny’s other films on his website which can only be viewed on rental on pay per view basis. Owing to her sting in ‘Bigg Boss 5’, Sunny’s popularity has increased in India and there is a renewed interest about the porn star’s work and this perhaps Matt is taking advantage of.

Post her break up with Matt, Sunny opened her own production house and did commercial tie-ups with other porn portals. She was also the first porn star to feature in an approved app for a leading smart phone.


Mukesh Ambani tells PM: Don't worry, Manmohan, I’ll invest 70k cr in India

NEW DELHI: After a long spell of gripes over policy inaction, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has provided some much-needed support to the government, saying he did not share the gloom and pessimism that several industry leaders were talking about.

At the meeting of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry on Thursday, the country's richest man went on to talk about his group's mega investment plans. "Sir, I don't share the gloom and pessimism on India. I plan to invest Rs 70,000 crore in India over the next two years. To me, India remains the best investment destination," a senior government official present in the meeting quoted Ambani as saying.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is learnt to have responded by saying that he hoped that others shared Ambani's views. "Very good! I hope others also follow your example," the official quoted Singh as saying. Government representatives present in the meeting also emphasized that the mood was not as negative as it had appeared before the deliberations began.

Several industry leaders, such as Ratan Tata, N R Narayana Murthy, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Sunil Munjal and Vindi Banga endorsed Ambani's view and suggested that they were all betting big on India. Industry leaders said the perception that India was not a profitable place to do business was wrong, stressing that they were not planning to shift their business overseas.

They, however, urged the government to expedite infrastructure and other large projects. Industry leaders were assured that a mechanism would be put in place to sort out bottlenecks in implementing large projects.

There did seem to be a sense of exasperation with the Anna Hazare-led movement. Sunil Bharti Mittal is learnt to have said that there was no place for such a confrontation in a parliamentary democracy. Sources quoted him as saying that maintaining constitutional order was critical for a conducive business climate.

Ashok Ganguly, former HUL chief, also spoke in the same vein. Significantly, the RS member was part of the group of industrialists which went public with its lament over policy inaction, but pressed for backing the government on FDI in retail.

The statements from industry leaders came against the backdrop of some straight talking by the prime minister. "I must confess that it is a little disappointing to sometimes hear negative comments emanating from our business leadership or be told that government's policies are causing slowdown and pessimism in the industrial sector," Singh had said. "Such comments have added to uncertainty and have emboldened those who have no stake in our economic growth. It is true that our country faces a large number of issues which need urgent resolution. The energy sector, the port sector, the transport sector, the supply of gas and coal, all need greater attention. Corruption and better governance also require firm handling," the PM said.

He went on to talk about the possibility of reduction in interest rates if the easing trend on inflation was sustained. Besides, he agreed with concerns on the sharp depreciation of the rupee but urged exporters to take advantage of the situation.

The business leaders expressed confidence in the fundamental strength of the Indian economy. They were generally of the view that the economy was poised to return to a high rate of growth in the near future.


December 23, 2011

Let's go to jail: Team Anna (

Team Anna has now launched an online campaign for their 'jail bharo' agitation from December 30 against government's Lok Pal Bill wherein people can register theAnna Hazaremselves for the protest.

Besides online registration, people can also approach Team Anna through text messages and a missed call service.

Those planning to participate in the 'jail bharo' agitation can either register through or sent a text message to 575758 or give a missed call to 0730-31509500.

Till now, over 5,500 people have registered for the agitation through online alone with Maharashtra and Delhi topping the list with over 1,000 each volunteers joining hands with Team Anna.

Bigg Boss 5: Mahek Chahal makes wild-card entry, wants to settle scores with uncouth Sky

Mumbai: Bigg Boss is all set to introduce the wild card entrant of this season of the reality show.

The three evictees approached to make wild card entry on the show,the last evicted were Shonali Nagrani, Mahek Chahal and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi. At last, sexy siren Mahek is announced as the wild card entrant and will re-enter the house to become a part of the final leg of the competition.

Mahek was the tenth contestant to get evicted from Big Boss 5. But now, she will re-enter the house as a wild card entrant. It is said that actor Salman Khan has made it possible for Chahal to get back to the house.

Mahek will join Sky, Juhi Parmar, Sunny Leone, Amarr Upadhyay and good-friend Siddharth Bharadwaj. Her entry makes the contestants total as six, who will all battle it out for the coveted title and the prize money. Her entry is expected to take place by the end of this week most probably on Saturday.

On contacting Mahek Chahal, she confirmed that she has been approached. “Yes, I am one of the contestants and if I get the chance to get back, I will settle scores with Sky.”

At present, amongst the five inmates in the house, apart from Sky, all four inmates have been nominated for this week’s eviction.

The five remaining contestants in Bigg Boss 5 are divided into two groups. Siddharth Bhardwaj and Amar Upadhyay are part of one group, while Sunny Leone, Sky and Juhi Parmar form the other group. If Mahek Chahal indeed enters the house, she will most likely join Sid and Amar.

It is predicted that Juhi Parmar might win the show, Mahek’s sudden wild card entry might shatter Parmar’s dream to become the winner of the season.

Moreover, Mahek is definitely having a huge fan following base both nationally and abroad. Also her smart, picture perfect and gorgeous looks adds more to the possibilities of her winning the show.


December 22, 2011

Lalu proves in parliament that he is a joker

NEW DELHI: Lalu Prasad was at his irrepressible best in the Lok Sabha today as he used his rustic wit and humour to send a message against rushing through the Lokpal Bill, taking potshots at Anna Hazare and his team.

"Don't put the noose around your neck," the RJD chief appealed to the packed House, saying "Parliament cannot be run from the footpath. We are the lawmakers."

Prasad's poser was "how many friends of (Suresh) Kalmadi you want to make? If an ex-MP comes, he doesn't get place even in the bathroom," evoking laughter. He said the Lokpal would open a Pandora's box for the lawmakers themselves, both past and present.

In the midst of his hilarious remarks, he said "I was born in 1948. Mere aane se pahle hi Angrez bhag gaye (even before I arrived, British fled)". This sent the House into peals of laughter.

Repeatedly saying that he was not against the Bill as was being projected, Prasad went out of the way to woo the media saying that it should be exempted from the ambit of the Lokpal, maintaining it was doing "nothing wrong but giving publicity" to politicians.

In this context, he said Union minister Kapil Sibal's photographs were being well-published in the newspapers. Then he turned to another minister Pawan Kumar Bansal saying he has a file tucked in his armpit and feels like he is running the government.


Virginity... is that still a big deal?

Are you being 'brutally honest' with your partner? Well, here are some of the truths that most of couples prefer keeping under wraps. 

From ages we have been told to stick to one fact - be 'brutally honest' with your partner in all aspects of life.

However, do we all follow that golden rule? Before you start feeling guilty, allow me to tell you that you are not the only one living with white lies in your relationship. The place where people feel most comfortable lying is their bedroom.

If women lie about their vital stats, men also fudge about the numerous sex partners they have had. May be it helps them in keeping the romance alive in their den. So here are some of the truths that most of the people prefer keeping under the wraps.

Fake it! 
From once in a while to all the time, most couples fake an orgasm to avoid upsetting their partner. This is pretty common among the fairer sex.

Revati Prasad, who works with a Noida- based MNC says, "Like all other girls, I spoke at length about lovemaking with my friends before getting married. But when it came to practicing it, I literally got cold feet. It's been eight months, but it's rare that I reach an orgasm. I find intercourse a painful act. Because of hesitation and the fear of rejection, I keep mum. I think it would affect my husband's ego if I tell him that he fails to satisfy me."

Dr Sanjay Chugh, a psychiatrist suggests, "At times men also fake an orgasm, but it's mainly a female dominated phenomenon. There can be several reasons like guilt, fear of getting pregnant, no desirability for the partner or painful intercourse. Not necessarily you reach the big 'O' all the time, but faking it for long to save your partner from embarrassment is not the right thing to do in bed. Talking about the issue frankly will certainly help."

I forgot the count 
Most of the men consider women as extremely possessive beings. Therefore, they generally manipulate the number of women they have shared 'good' times with.

Rakesh Aggarwal, a marketing executive tells, "No women love competition, therefore I make no effort to bother my girls. It's my ninth affair in four years, but I think I am really serious this time. She is my colleague in office. She does know that I am not a virgin, but I am in no mood to tell her that I have made love to almost half a dozen women."

Dr Kamal Khurana, a relationship expert says, "It's not only about women, men also don't think highly of women who have had several sex partners in their past. This is the main factor why people prefer to lie about their ex partners. It's definitely a personal choice, but keeping your partner in the absolute dark is unfair. If not completely, try to share some of details of your past with your mate."

It was fun honey! 
You were in between the act and your partner pushed you to try a new position. You found it awkward and it wasn't that pleasurable too. Still you preferred to say, 'it was great'. Many people can relate to this situation.
Reema Sinha, a content writer reveals, "Me and my guy were on a weekend break. I was really looking forward to some rocking action in bed. It was all going good before I found myself in a funny position. I think he was enjoying our new sex position, but I burst out into laughter, and my man was very disturbed seeing my reaction. So, I decided that I will let him experiment the way he wants."

Dr Sanjay Chugh explains, "It's a great thing to try out new ways to attain a high point with your partner in bed. Nobody likes to stick to a monotonous sex routine for too long. But you need to be considerate towards you partner's comfort too. Keep in mind that it becomes difficult for women to attain the big 'O' in certain positions."

Sizeable issues 
Who goes to bed with a measuring tape in hand? And that makes it easy for everybody to boast about their vital stats.

Chitra Rawat, a media person says, "Men simply adore women who are blessed with a nice cleavage and my boyfriend is no different. Thanks to all the inventions in terms of lingerie, it is easier to look a size bigger. I think it's fair enough to misguide him this much, if it gives him a sexual high. The only problem I face is, I can't go for lingerie shopping with him."

"Most of the men have a fascination for women with fuller figures. And if you know how to take advantage, than there is nothing like it. At times men also brag about their size. It's better not to make claims that you may not be able to sustain for long. It may cause embarrassment to both of you," tells Dr Khurana.

Virginity values... 
Virginity still seems to be a big deal when it comes to marriage. No matter how modern people claim to be, they still want a virgin while getting married.

Suparna Gupta, an architect confesses, "I have been in an intense relationship in my past, because of his family issues we couldn't take it forward. Now I am getting married to another guy. With my sexual behavior, he might get to know that I am not a virgin. Therefore I plan to act extra cautious, I cannot afford to ruin my future because of my past. Sometimes I wonder, is it really a big deal."

"It's certainly not an uncommon situation. We live in a modern society and pre-marital sex is not an alien term now. However, it's still a hush-hush issue. So if you think your partner will not be able to digest the truth about your past, then it's better to keep it to yourself. Still it's always advisable that if you have had a sexual relationship, you should go for a medical check up before you tie the knot," Dr Chugh concludes.


December 21, 2011

I think Katrina Kaif likes me, she follows my dance moves: Rakhi Sawant

Rakhi Sawant, perhaps true item-girl in Bollywood today, alleges that actress Katrina Kaif has copied her antics in her " Chikni Chameli" act in "Agneepath" remake.

"I think 'Chikni Chameli' is a good song. Katrina has danced very well but it's not something new. I have already done all this before. You can watch all my songs, I have already done that," the 33-year-old controversy queen said here at the Big Stars Entertainment Awards.

"I have done this in 'Dekhta hai tu kya' and she did this in 'Shiela ki jawaani'. In 'Chikni Chameli', she is again following me. It seems Katrina really likes me...It's alright if someone wants to follow me and dance," added Rakhi, who did a cameo in a few films before featuring in a full-fledged item number "Chura liyaa hai tumne" in 2003.

Rakhi hasn't got any awards so far. When asked about it, she compared herself with Aamir Khan, though in a light-hearted manner, and said: "Aamir and I are similar. Neither he gets awards, nor do I. But we have won the heart of India and we do not need an award."

The loud-mouth actress, who has dabbled both in television and films, was last seen on the big screen in an item song in "Loot". On small screen, she hosted the reality talk-show "Ajab Desh Ki Ghazab Kahaaniyan".

December 20, 2011

Cabinet clears Lokpal, PM in but CBI & lower bureaucracy out

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet tonight approved a historic bill for creation a Lokpal with Constitutional status that will have no control over CBI but brings within its purview the Prime Minister with a number of safeguards.

Not succumbing to Anna Hazare's demand for inclusion of CBI under Lokpal, the government also decided against hiving off of the prosecution wing of the CBI.

After two days of intense drafting by a group of ministers and officials, the new draft of Constitution (Amendment) Bill was cleared at a special Cabinet meeting that lasted 70 minutes.

The bill will be introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the existing one, introduced in August, would be withdrawn.

The Lokpal will be a nine-member body, whose Chairman will be selected by a four-member panel consisting of Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or his nominee from among the Supreme Court judges, sources told PTI.

The bill provides for the Prime Minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with certain safeguards that keep out aspects like international relations, public order, atomic energy, space, internal and external security from inquiry.

Probe on any complaint against the Prime Minister will be decided by the full bench, of which at least three-fourth should agree. The probe will in-camera and if a complaint is dismissed, the records on it should not be made public.

Though the Lokpal will have no control over CBI, a demand strongly pursued by Hazare, an important provision has been added under which the CBI director will be selected by a committee of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge, they said.

Appointment of SPs and above in CBI will be done by a committee consiting of CVC, Vigilance Commissioners, Home Secretary and Secretary, DoPT.

According to the proposals in the Bill, the Lokpal cannot initiate any inquiry suo motu and a complaint will be required.

The Inquiry Wing will be headed by a Director for preliminary inquiry. The Lokpal can also ask the CBI to conduct the preliminary inquiry, which should be completed within 180 days.

Ideally, the preliminary inquiry should be completed within 90 days and extension if necessary should be sought in writing.

December 19, 2011

Greg Chappell is 'mad', says Sourav Ganguly

NEW DELHI: There was no love lost between Sourav Ganguly and the then India coach Greg Chappell, but the former Indian captain has taken their feud a step further by calling the Australian "mad".

Reacting to reports that Chappell would 'demystify' Sachin Tendulkar and other Indian greats for the Australian bowlers during the upcoming Test series, Ganguly said "this was good news" for the Indian team.

"He has been a selector and also the head of their academy (Australian Centre of Excellence in Brisbane) and he has been thrown out from there as well. When he came to India, it was said that his Australian mindset won't work here but he couldn't work in the Australian set up as well," Ganguly said.

The former India skipper said Chappell has proved to be a failure in every coaching-related assignment he has taken up, which is enough proof that the fault lies with him.

"The people should realise that the problem lies with him, he is the one making mistakes. A person can be wrong once but if he commits the same mistake again and loses his job for that, then that man to me is mad," said Ganguly.

"So, I am glad that he is getting attached to the Australian team, it is good news for the Indian team. I am not surprised," he added.

Recalling Chappell's reign, Ganguly said such was the Australian's dominance that the then skipper Rahul Dravid just didn't have the courage to speak up against him.

"Rahul Dravid is the sort of person who wanted everything to be good. He knew that what was happening was wrong but he did not have the guts to revolt and say that it was wrong because after what happened to me during the Zimbabwe tour, any captain would have wanted to maintain peace in the dressing room which is quite right," he told Aaj Tak.

Ganguly, who was instrumental in getting the Aussie batting great the coach's job (2005-07), came under severe criticism from Chappell in his autobiography in which he was called a "panicker". The Australian said he had refused to be Ganguly's "henchman".

Ganguly said Chappell never really had the welfare of Indian cricket on his mind and was too focussed on implementing his plans.

"You can say that Greg Chappell's foresight and thinking was not cricket-oriented. He came here with a personal vendetta and it didn't work with Indian cricket. His mind used to work in a different way. His rule in life was my way or the highway," he said.


Don 2: Priyanka Chopra says movie is Farhan's best work

Everyone in Bollywood is currently watching out for one movie: Don 2. Expectations and curiosity has grown with each and every promo that has been released. How will the story continue? What has Farhan Akhtar come up with this time? And of course, will it break box office records? These are just some of the questions that are playing in everyone’s minds while they wait for the film to finally come to the big screen next week. The film will not only be the return of The King, but also his Jungli Billi aka Roma aka Priyanka Chopra.

Women in Bollywood in most cases don’t have much of a role in action-movies, but in Don 2 Priyanka will be seen in full action-mode. ”Don 2 is a cool role for me. It’s an action film of another level in Bollywood. I am more angrier in this one. I’ve done a lot of fist fighting that I didn’t do too much of in the earlier Don. I went through intense rehearsals for my action with guidance from Farhan and Shah Rukh who often pulled my leg.”

While Priyanka doesn’t mind playing the damsel in distress, in Don 2, for once, she is not and that is exactly what makes this role so good, “I don’t play a damsel in distress and so missed all the dance and frolic I’ve been doing in my other movies. Don 2 is one of those rare movies where I have to be serious all the time. I can’t even sport my foot long smile. But that’s what’s good about Don 2. It makes me do things I’ve never done. That’s one advantage of playing a cop but it’s got disadvantages also as I’ve mentioned earlier.”

If you can remember, in the first film, Roma fell in love with Don (who she thought was Vijay). Ask her about her relationship with Don in part 2 and she says, ”Don cannot be predictable. By that I mean Don as a person. You can never tell what his next move is going to be. He is one bad guy you can’t mess with. Don is cold blooded and such people are really dangerous to deal with. Roma has such a relationship with him, hot and cold as she is hell bent on taking her revenge and wants Don at any cost. It’s a cat and mouse chase.”

Everyone in Bollywood at some point wants to work with Shah Rukh Khan. According to Priyanka SRK can live up to anything. That’s what sets him apart from any other star. “He is a man who believes in challenges at this point in his career. He puts in more than one needs to put in his movies. There are very few actors who are like that. Don 2 is SRK’s best action movie of 2011 I feel.”

So, from what we can tell so far one of the reasons to watch Don 2 is, of course, Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra. Another reason we can think of is the fact that Farhan Akhtar is back as director. But there is more! “It’s suspense to another level too. The music is also rich, but the film is so huge in itself that music will stand out once the movie is released. You will get to the groove of the songs once you see the film. Don 2 is Farhan’s best work I have seen,” Priyanka added.

You can catch Don and Roma in their cat and mouse game on December 21st if you are in the UK and on the 23rd for the rest of the world!


December 18, 2011

Pretty, graceful, lovely Mayawati wants poll victory as birthday gift from Muslims

Lucknow: Contrary to expectations of important poll announcements, particularly sops for Muslims, UP chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday, while reiterating her demand for a separate Muslim quota at the mammoth party convention for Muslim, Kshatriya and Vaishya communities, chose to thank her supporters in advance for birthday falling next month and said that the best gift for her would victory in upcoming state assembly elections.

It was Mayawati who set the ball rolling on the issue of Muslim quota in July this year by writing to prime minister. In response, the Congress led UPA government promised to bring fixed quota for Muslims within quota for other backward classes (OBCs). As a result, Maya was under pressure to make announcements to counter Congress's move to keep intact her Muslim vote bank which played a crucial role in bringing her to power in 2007 assembly elections.

However, Mayawati reiterated her demand for a separate quota for Muslims as recommended by Sachar and Rangnath Mishra committees. "Muslims must be given quota on the basis of their population, for which the proportion of OBC reservation should be increased and a national policy should be formed to ensure that the benefits of quota reach Muslims across the country. BSP will support constitutional amendment required in this regard," she said.

Muslims constitute 18% of the UP population and can affect elections in over 150 constituencies. In 2007 assembly polls, Mayawati fielded 59 muslim candidates, of which 29 won. The Muslim votes also gave her edge in other seats. However, in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, of 20 Muslim candidates, only four won and the community preferred Congress and SP over BSP. As a result, the BSP, which was expecting to bag 45 seats, could win only 20 in the state.

Since Muslims tactically vote for the party which can defeat BJP, Mayawati reminded Muslims that it was Congress government at the Centre when the Babri mosque was demolished in 1992. She also said that during Ram Temple movement in 1989, SP chief and the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's provocative speech on foolproof security of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (parinda bhi par nahi mar sakta) and led to riots in all over the state and country.

In comparison, Maya said "In my rule there were no riots. There was peace even after 2010 Ayodhya verdict". Hinting towards shilanyas in Ayodhya during Rajiv Gandhi's prime ministership, she said that the Congress is responsible not only for many riots in the country after independence but has also promoted activities of VHP, RSS and Bajrang dal leading to demolishing of Babri mosque but she did not allow Mathura and Varanasi to become another Ayodhya.

Maya also touched the raw nerve of the Muslims by saying that during her regime, no one was harassed on ground of suspicion of involvement in terror acts but at the same time she kept away from the saffron terror controversy by adding that she believes that terror has no religion. Citing anti-sikh riots of 1984 after assassination of Indira Gandhi, she said that under Congress rule, entire Sikh community had to suffer for wrongdoing of a few from the community.

Emboldened by presence of huge Muslim gathering conspicuous by presence of skull caps and burqas, Mayawati promised to give proper representation to Muslims in ticket distribution for assembly polls and in the government, if voted back to power. Pointing towards her right hand man and party leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui who has over 12 departments under him as minister, she said that Opposition parties have not given any Muslim leader such importance.

Counting steps taken by her for development of Muslims, she said that she has delivered and not appeased Muslims like Congress. She claimed that the Centre had sanctioned Rs 1015.70 crore for UP under multi-sectoral development plan but so far only Rs 634.08 crore has been released. She also claimed that the law enacted by her government to grant special status to Muslim educational institutions is pending with the Central government for approval.


I am still in Mumbai: Veena Malik

Mumbai/Islamabad (PTI): Actress Veena Malik today denied reports that she had quietly returned to Pakistan following her nude photo shoot controversy, saying she was resting in a suburban Mumbai hotel to recover from exhaustion.

Against the backdrop of reports that she had mysteriously disappeared, Veena said she had changed her hotel in Mumbai and switched off her mobile phone as she wanted to rest. She told Geo News channel that she had been feeling unwell after working for up to 18 hours a day.

The 33-year-old actress said she was now staying at the Oakwood Hotel in Mumbai, a fact confirmed by the local police. Veena's conversation with Geo News marked her first contact with anyone in two days.

Earlier, speculative media reports on both sides of the border had claimed Malik had crossed over to Pakistan via the Wagah land border. The reports further claimed the actress, wearing a burqa, had crossed the frontier on foot.

But the police confirmed today that the actress is very much in Mumbai. "Veena Malik is in Oakwood hotel. She has registered by her real name Zahida and she has all the papers. She was unwell for a couple of days," Machendra Bodke of Juhu police station told media persons.

Malik went "missing" two days ago after returning from a film shoot in Mumbai. Her manager Pratik Mehta told the media that her cell phone was turned off.

The actress, who has been in and out of India for film and reality shows, was shooting 'Mumbai 125 kilometres' in Goregaon and left the shoot midway, saying she was not well.

However, the police said that there was no missing person's complaint registered in this connection.

Some reports had suggested that Malik had returned to Pakistan to renew her Indian visa but sources close to the actress said her visa was valid till December 24.

The actress' family in Islamabad said it had no information about her whereabouts. Malik was recently criticised by hardliners and extremists in Pakistan for appearing topless on the cover of FHM India magazine with the letters ISI painted on her arm.

She filed a suit against FHM India, claiming damages worth Rs 100 million, while the magazine counter-sued her for Rs 250 million.

After finishing this movie, Veena is also slated to appear on Imagine TV's reality show 'Swayamvar', where she will be searching for her 'Mr Right'.

Rahul baba has gone bonkers, says Mayawati

Lucknow (PTI): Stung by Rahul Gandhi's criticism, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today lashed out at the Congress saying the party has "lost its mental balance" due to which it sees "elephant" eating money.

"The Congress, it seems has lost mental balance due to which it sees elephant eating money. The party, which failed to do any good to people in its 40 years rule is seeking their support again for forming government in the state for five years and claiming to change their fortunes," she said.

Mayawati was addressing a rally of Muslim, Kshatriya and Vaish communities here to seek their support for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Her remark came in the wake of Gandhi stating that an "elephant" in Lucknow was eating away all the money sent by the Centre for the poor in Uttar Pradesh.

In an apparent reference to the ruling BSP and its poll symbol, the elephant, the Congress leader had taunted Mayawati saying poll-bound UP has decided to "throw away" this elephant.

Alleging that Congress was shying away from initiating any concrete steps to bring back black money stashed away abroad, Mayawati asked the party to announce that 50 per cent of it, if brought back, would be spent on UP.

"I challenge them to announce that they will spend 50 per cent of the black money brought from foreign countries for development of UP...I know they will not do that...The role of Congress leaders appears dubious due to which it is not taking strict action to bring back black money," she alleged.

Gotcha! Missing actress Veena Malik has been found out

Veena Malik has been found. The actress is allegedly staying at a service apartment in Juhu for the last two days. Her manager Prateik Mehta said, "I am on my way to meet Veena who is at Oakwood Park. I have only spoken to her briefly.''

The Pakistani actor had gone missing from Aarey Milk Colony road from Friday morning. She had been shooting for the film Mumbai 135kms for the last 15 days.

The film's director Hemant Madhukar said, "Veena was shooting with us from 6pm to 6am for the last 15 days. From Thursday evening to the time she disappeared from the movie sets, Veena seemed distracted and upset."

Around 5.30am, she was advised to go to her vanity van. "I told her we would call her once the shot was ready. When my assistant went to the van, she was not there," said Madhukar. The production team sent a car daily to pick up and drop Veena. On Friday morning, she didn't use the car. "I know there was a car waiting for her for nearly three hours. Maybe she took the car but I am not sure," said Madhukar.

Veena hit headlines recently after a nude shoot for a magazine cover. She though denied participating in the shoot after a controversy broke out in Pakistan.


Bollywood 2011: Masala films ruled the Box Office; Bodyguard, Ready, Singham toppers

It was a return of masala fare with two Salman Khan starrers Bodyguard and Ready in the year 2011. Both films lacked water tight scripts but worked due to brand Salman, his typical one liners and songs like Character Dheela Hai... and Dhinka Chika....

Ready opened to a overwhelming response on June 3. Reportedly, the movie, made with a budget of Rs 40 crore, went on to earn around Rs 179 crore in approximately six weeks.

Next Bodyguard released on Eid, a festival which has always proved lucky for Salman. The film grossed approximately Rs 229 crore worldwide and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2011.

Thanks to Salman, Bodyguard heroine Kareena Kapoor continued to reign among actresses and South star Asin could also register a hit film with Ready.

Like Salman, even Ajay Devgn roared at the Box Office with Singham directed by Rohit Shetty, which made around Rs 150 crore in approximately six weeks.

"It was return of the 70's and 80's with action-masala films like Bodyguard, Singham, Ready doing well. The formula of action, packed with other elements like romance, family, drama, emotions is working. Approximately 90 per cent of the films failed this year, with lot of top actors disappointing audiences," trade analyst Vinod Mirani told PTI.

And among top names disappointing audiences comes actress Rani Mukherjee whose journalist act in No One Killed Jessica, the first release of 2011, failed to find takers.

To make the mega-budget Ra.One a cracker of a Diwali release Shahrukh Khan went on a marketing blitzkrieg, innovatively promoting the film on all possible platforms besides collaborating with over 25 brands to grab eyeballs and recover the huge investment. The film garnered moderate response.

For Aamir Khan, 2011 was a mix of good and bad. His home production Dhobi Ghaat directed by wife Kiran Rao, which had his first appearance after 3 Idiots, failed to garner attention.

But his next home production Delhi Belly starring Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vir Das, Poorna Jagannathan and Shenaz Treasurywala, was a hit. Aamir even turned 'item boy' for a song, I hate you... Like I like love you....

Priyanka Chopra's 7 Khoon Maaf and Shahid Kapoor's Mausam showed promise but failed to deliver.

The list continues with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's home production My Friend Pinto, Ranbir Kapoor's much-anticipated Rockstar and David Dhawan's comic caper Rascals.

Abhishek Bachchan this year too had a disappointing run with Game and Dum Maro Dum. Even megastar Amitabh Bachchan's Bbuddah... Hoga Terra Baap did not see success, nor did his Aarakshan directed by Prakash Jha.

Veteran actress Hema Malini's home production Tell Me O Khuda was a comeback movie for daughter Esha Deol but it sank without a trace.

The list of flop films continued with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Teen Thay Bhai, Anees Bazmee's multi-starrer film Thank You and Nikhil Advani directed Patiala House.

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, who shifted gears from realism to romantic-comedy with his film Dil Toh Baccha Hai Jee, couldn't weave the same magic at the box office like his previous films Fashion and Page 3.

"Films with big names did not do well like Ra.One, 7 Khoon Maaf, Aarakshan, Game, Dum Maro Dum, Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap, Tell Me O Khuda, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. How much ever promotion one does, a film cannot become a hit or flop on the basis of poor or great marketing strategy," Mirani said.

Yamla Pagla Deewana, a comedy, which marked the return of the Deols - Dharmendra, Sunny and Bobby after Apne, was declared a hit at the box office.

R Madhavan-Kangana Ranaut starrer Tanu Weds Manu was a surprise package. Even the voluptuous Vidya Balan managed to punch a hit with The Dirty Picture.

John Abraham followed in the footsteps of foe-turned-friend Salman by getting into the action mode with Force, which had a good run at the BO.

Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was a commercial and critical success.

"Every year there are hits and flops. But one good thing for the industry is that movies of different genres did well, it was not restricted to just one. Films like Bodyguard, Ready, Singham, The Dirty Picture, Delhi Belly and others showed that audience is open to range of different movies," Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV Motion Pictures, told PTI.

Cashing in on the success of originals, sequels to Bheja Fry, Dhamaal and Murder 2 did moderately well.

In the offing is Shahrukh Khan starrer Don 2 - The King is Back, an action thriller and sequel to Farhan Akhtar's 2006 film. The sequel is slated for a release in December 23.

Small budget movies like Ekta Kapoor's Ragini MMS, Vikram Bhatt's 3D horror film, Haunted, actress Lara Dutta's maiden home production, Challo Dilli and Luv Ranjan's Pyaar Ka Punchnama managed to please select audiences.


December 17, 2011

When it comes to Sunny Leone, people of Madhya Pradesh salivate the most

Indore: Sunny Leone, the sizzling porn-star, whose explosive entry in the Big Boss reality show last month had millions of Indian hearts pulsating, was googled across Madhya Pradesh extensively.

However, MP lost in the race for Leone -voyeurism to J& K, Delhi, Orissa and Haryana. Nonetheless, the latest statistics of Google suggest that the porn star was accessed on web across the state, in towns both small and big.

Gwalior topped in search for Sunny Leone on the web in the last 90 days. It was followed by Jabalpur. Bhopal and Indore were fifth and sixth in the web search of Leone.

However, Bhopal was on top in searching provocative images of the porn star followed by Indore.

The searches were registered on and after November 18 when entry of Sunny Leone in the Big Boss was announced in media. Netizens in Madhya Pradesh googled most on November 22 to look for Sunny Leone on web. On this day she officially entered the Big Boss house.


December 16, 2011

Incredible India... oh yes! Because here civil servants play video games in their offices

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Frustrated executives while away time in five-star hotels waiting for deals that never come, and civil servants play video games in their offices - growing signs of the reform limbo and crisis of confidence behind India's economic malaise.

Policy paralysis, corruption scandals and a government fearful of political backlash to any bold moves have combined with the global slowdown and worsening domestic finances in the last few months to derail Asia's third-largest economy.

India now faces the worst-case scenario that was touted earlier this year - stubbornly high inflation, slowing growth, a mounting fiscal deficit, a rupee that risks freefall -- and both policymakers and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have few levers to fix it.

For years, Indian entrepreneurs have boasted they can do business despite the government - adeptly working around potholed roads, clogged ports and reams of regulatory hurdles.

But government inertia - what many politicians see as "playing safe" - is taking its toll on corporate confidence.

Entrepreneurs once feted in Bollywood movies as national heroes, whose million-dollar homes and jetset lifestyles were a beacon for millions of India's aspiring middle classes, no longer seem capable of driving the $1.6 trillion economy.

"We may have seen phases of economic growth slower than this in the two post-reform decades, but never has the entrepreneurial mood been so low," wrote Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Indian Express.

It's echoed across offices of business leaders from Mumbai to Delhi. One foreign executive described increasingly strained telephone conversations over the past year with his US-based CEO as deals became mired in red tape and ministerial inertia.

"They always understood that India was difficult to do business in. But not this difficult," said the executive, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak for his company.

The banking sector is now under strain from bad loans.

Economic reforms that may bring in much-needed foreign investment, such as opening up the supermarket sector to the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, have been put on hold as political parties eye important state polls next year.

Even reforms seen as no-brainers politically, such as the introduction of a digitalised national ID card or food subsidies for the poor, have faced delays as opposition parties and coalition partners smell blood ahead of a 2014 general election.

From cocky to fearful

India used to be full of brash business leaders.

When Tata Steel bought an Anglo-Dutch rival in 2007 for $12 billion, the newspaper headline "Empire Strikes Back" epitomised the supreme confidence of India's aggressive capitalist kingpins then on a global buying spree. Jaguar, Land Rover and other foreign brands soon followed into Indian hands.

The economy may grow at under 7% this fiscal year, down from initial forecasts of 9%. That's still a far cry from the around 3.5% "Hindu" rate of growth that plagued the decades after India's independence from Britain in 1947.

But these last few heady years have changed expectations.

These days, growth below 7% is enough for investors to delay projects, for banks to put off loans and for voters to get angry: 7% is the new 2-3%.

It was corruption scams surfacing over a year ago that may have started it - a potentially $39 billion scam involving selling telecoms licenses at rock-bottom prices effectively saw distracted politicians asleep at the economic wheel.

Suddenly politicians were jailed and billionaires questioned by police. It sent shudders through the political class. The invincibility of the political "untouchables" disappeared.

Inside India's famously bureaucratic ministries, middle-level civil servants passed the buck to top-level officials who in turn passed the buck to their reluctant political masters.

One defence contractor, who asked to not be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, recounted spending weeks at a top hotel, sipping drinks every evening with fellow frustrated arms dealers waiting for "imminent" defence ministry decisions that never came.

An Indian executive likened the country's economic malaise and government's reform limbo to an old village adage - a bullock knows that if it goes to work in the field it could get whipped, while the animal that lazes around far away does not.

"Once the spotlight is on, even minor mistakes become noticeable," said the vice-president of an infrastructure firm about a slowdown in decision making ever since corruption scandals broke last year. "That's why nobody wants to take decisions."

Many civil servants have been seen playing computer games during official hours when parliament sessions are adjourned or their minister goes on trips for G20 or World Bank meetings, according to one government official.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may be reform-minded. But with real power lying with the populist-inclined Sonia Gandhi, he has been unable or unwilling to press for new steps to modernise and open up the economy.

With Gandhi ill, reportedly with cancer, there are signs the family dynasty that has run India for decades has lost its bearings, increasingly unable to keep its coalition partners in line as parties jostle for power before the 2014 election.

The cabinet's one sudden announcement of major reform - allowing foreign firms to hold 51% stakes in the supermarket sector - may have been partly driven by economic panic as the rupee plummeted, with Asia's worst-performing currency suffering from capital flight to safe havens like US Treasuries.

But Singh's about-turn only 10 days later in the face of a political backlash underscored that, even at a time of alarm over the economy, politics and the concern about forthcoming elections took precedence.

Flows slow, confident ebbs

India's annual financing requirement of $119 billion is the highest in Asia, according to a Nomura report. The trade gap for the fiscal year to March 2012 is expected to widen sharply to $155-$160 billion from $104.4 billion a year ago.

Foreign funds are net sellers of about $300 million of Indian shares this year in sharp contrast to record investment of more than $29 billion in 2010, and the 30-share BSE Sensex is down more than 23%, making it the worst-performing major global market this year.

"Industry is geared up to deliver infrastructure in line with the strong growth pattern and the government's forecasts," said Russell Waugh, managing director of Leighton Welspun Contractors, part of Australia's Leighton Holdings.

"But the flow (of new projects) at the moment, the real flow, is not aligned with that gearing. So we're seeing most companies struggling."

Infrastructure assets, including telecoms, construction and power, which account for about 25% of total corporate credit, are now a key concern for banks.

Worries about rising bad loans prompted Moody's Investors Service earlier this month to cut its outlook on India's banking sector to "negative" from "stable", saying monetary tightening and a slowdown in the economy would cut bank loan growth.

The car industry - a symbol of the aspirations of millions of India's middle classes - is now an example of how slipping growth and high interest rates have hit consumer demand and investment decisions.

Car sales in India, which jumped 30% in the last fiscal year, have slumped due to high interest rates and rising input costs. Sales may just break even this fiscal year.

Maruti Suzuki, India's biggest automaker, is deferring an investment of $560-740 million in plants in the western state of Gujarat due to the economic gloom.

"When we will start work in Gujarat will depend on how the market improves in the future ... at the moment the general economic situation is too negative to justify it," Maruti Chairman R. C. Bhargava told Reuters. "There's no point creating excess capacity if the demand is not there."

No quick fix

There is no quick fix for the government, with the fiscal deficit set to beat its target of 4.6% of GDP. But there is little sign of efforts to help investment, including speeding up approvals of projects hit by red tape and environmental approvals.

One official, monitoring government infrastructure projects, said that of 558 government projects, 241 were delayed as of end-July, resulting in a cost overrun of some 20%, or more than $31 billion.

The projects, which include setting up airports, new railway lines, shipping ports, roads and power plants, have been delayed by more than two years on average due to issues of land acquisition, environmental clearance and rising costs.

Senior government officials, who declined to be named, described a finance ministry dominated by 76-year-old Pranab Mukherjee, who is more adept at bringing together unruly coalition allies than doing anything bold about the economy.

"Mukherjee is a politician first with little time for his own ministry as he is also the chief trouble shooter for the Congress party. Many bureaucrats don't even get to see him for days and have no access to him," said one.

"His style is very old world and some say not very responsive to financial markets. It's not surprising that in a crisis like what's confronting us currently, lack of imaginative leadership in the treasury department is also reflecting in the economic woes facing the country."

Mukherjee first became finance minister in 1982, way before India had begun to rethink its post-independence socialist, state-driven economic model.

For many, India will remain in limbo only until a real crisis prompts it to act - similar to the 1991 balance of payments crisis that ushered in the country's first economic reforms under Singh, who was then finance minister.

"At the end of the day, I feel you need crisis to get going again," said V Ravichander, who advises multinationals on doing business. "And even though our growth rates have fallen from 8 to 6.9% on the last estimate, I guess people feel 6.9 is not still low enough for us to do something about it."

But that inertia could means India faces some turbulent years ahead, exacerbated by the 2014 election that may just polarise the country further.

"The new Hindu Rate of Growth is 6% and on all evidence, from macroeconomic data to the empty billboards of Mumbai, we're headed there next year," wrote Gupta.

"Returning to economic stagnation like that is bad enough by itself. But this is not the forgiving India of the past. This India has tasted growth, progress, optimism and aspiration."