Pictorial warnings for smokers

Everyone knows that smoking is dangerous for health, but that doesn’t stop children from trying it, and eventually getting addicted to it.
Padmaparna Ghosh has been smoking for the past two years and she has never considered quitting it. Even though the 24-year-old journalist is aware of the health risks of smoking.
However, she may be forced to reconsider her decision if a group of ministers headed by Pranab Mukherjee have their way.
The Government plans to put pictures of cancerous lungs on cigarette packets as part of it’s anti-smoking campaign.
So will the pictorial warnings help Padmaparna all over again?
“I don’t think it will make me quit at all. Maybe people who haven’t started will consider,” says Padmaparna.
And so despite already existing statutory warnings and planned pictorial warnings, are smokers still desensitised to the fact that smoking in fact kills?
That is not the ground reality. A study by the University of Minnesota and two Indian NGOs points to an alarming trend. Children as young as 10 and 11 are beginning to smoke and consume tobacco in India.
But anti-smoking campaigners are hopeful. They say pictorial warnings have motivated at least 35 per cent consumers abroad to try and kick the habit.
Says Executive Director and Coordinator, HRIDAY-SHAN, K Srinath Reddy, “We believe that this new move will help build a healthier society. Our own young campaigners will ensure that these measures are successful.”
Out of the 4000 chemicals that enter your bloodstream when you light up, 55 are known to cause cancer.
“The health problems that people can face includes cancer and heart diseases,” says oncologist, Apollo Hospital, Dr Sameer Kaul.
So will images speak louder than words? It clearly gives greater room for thought for all of us who like to smoke away our stress.

Meet Sholay’s new Jai

One of Indian cinema’s most enduring classics, Sholay remains one of the most exciting films of all times. Little surprise that Ram Gopal Varma is remaking this cult film. Here’s an exclusive look at the new Jai played by newcomer Prashant Raj.

There has been no let up in violence as the angry Gurjar community, which is demanding to be re-categorised as Scheduled Tribes, continued their protests in Rajasthan. Two more people have died in police firing in Sawai Madhopur taking the total number of dead to 15.

The protests have reached Delhi’s doorstep with the Jaipur-Agra, Jaipur-Kota and Dholpur highways remaining blocked on Thursday.

A group of protestors torched the Nadbai railway station in Bharatpur and burned vehicles in Patauli, Rajasthan, throwing normal life out of gear.

Despite military troops and Rapid Action Force being deployed, the Gurjar community is adamant that it will not listen to anyone unless they are given the ST status.

The major arteries connecting Rajasthan with the adjoining states were blocked with travelers like Hameeda, who could not attend her brother-in-law’s funeral because she couldn’t make it from Chandwaji to Kotputli, taken unawares.

“The funeral can’t happen without me. I have to reach on time,” Hameeda said helplessly.

Violence touched the borders of Delhi where Gurjar protestors burnt tyres even as their leaders held closed door meetings. Now all eyes are set on the mahapanchayats, which will be held across states to decide the future course of action.

The socio-economic dynamics of the Gurjars is varied ranging from the poor in Rajasthan demanding the ST status to the rich and opulent around Delhi.

This economic divide is quite apparent within the OBCs but to prevent the further law and order collapse, perhaps the government needs to emphasise more on the sense of insecurity which has crept within the OBCs.

Shootout … on the red carpet

When one film has so many stars in it, no wonder Bollywood showed up in full strength at the premiere.

But it’s all about timing. So the opening of Shootout at Lokhandwala saw some rather tactfully planned appearances.

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif came in first, while Abhishek Bachchan without his better half chose to make a late entry and the Amitabh Bachchan decided to skip it all together.

“It’s a very nice film and everyone’s done great work in it. It’s a great storyline,” said actor Suniel Shetty.

The multi-starrer thriller by Apurva Lakhia, is based on the real-life encounter between the Mumbai cops and the underworld in 1991.

“I think by the time everyone finishes watching it I would have left because I’m so nervous right now and very excited,” said actor Tusshar Kapoor.

This being Bollywood’s big release this week, the celebrations were on an equally high note.

“I’m scared because it’s the first time I have seen so many people together at the same place,” said actress Dia Mirza.

So will Shootout at Lokhandwala make just as much noise at the box office? We’ll just have to wait and watch.

Foreign funds want Indian investors

Indian markets doing reasonably well but Indians still looking for new ways to make money. Foreign asset managers want Indian money. Some of these companies are promising returns of up to 40 per cent.

If you have an appetite for risk and want to earn more bang for your buck, investment advisors are now asking you to look outside India. With the Reserve Bank of India raising the limit on overseas investments to $1 lakh, several funds from countries like Singapore, UK and Switzerland are setting up shop in the country. They are providing investment opportunities in commodities, currency and even art. Parkfinadvisors.com Director Akhilesh Tilotia says, “They are coming to India after the limit has been raised.

These are hedge funds, they invest in exotic assets with min $100,000 to $50,000. Earlier they were not interested as they cannot send that much money.” London’s Lake shore group, Switzerland’s Tiberius Commodity fund and Cayman Island based Orbani forex fund have already targeted Indian investors. Most of these companies are providing investment opportunities in commodities, real estate and foreign exchange through which they are promising returns of up to 30 per cent to 40 per cent. But experts say that there are other reasons too for financial planners’ enthusiasm towards these foreign players.

Transcend Consulting Director Kartik Javeri says, “You have to compete with everybody else. The only other mechanism of competition is that you give a better incentive to the person and what he does at the back of the entire commission he is going to get.” That’s also the reason why experts advice caution and thorough research before putting your hard earned cash in foreign investment instruments. Experts say that some of these funds are prone to sharp fluctuations of over 10 percent in returns. The rupee’s current strength against the US dollar too is taking the sheen out of investing abroad.

Blog your way to fortune and fame

If you thought blogs are just about people’s random thoughts and opinions and have no monetary value then think again. If your blog brings in a good number of page views, it can also bring in the money.

Bloggers like Kiruba Shankar are making waves in the world of multimedia blogging with shows like Kiruba Show. Kiruba who interviews CEO’s of tech companies on his show syndicates it to sites like podtech.com and indiainteracts.com which have thousands of dedicated readers from the tech community. “Niche is definitely the way to go. For example, there’s this site, wallstrip, which was recently sold to CBS for $5 million and that’s a phenomenal amount of money for a six-month old site. That’s because the founders were very clear that they were going to be very focussed only on the stock and fiancial markets,” Kiruba said. If advertisers or potential buyers see that a blog has a dedicated readership and wide influence it becomes a buyout target. So, while Indian blogs are still at a nascent stage, Kiruba feels they still have a long way to go. “People have not yet realised the true advantages and potential of blogging. I think when people realise that they will do really well,” Kiruba said. As the India story continues and Internet-penetration increases, don’t be surprised if some Indian blogs are snapped up for millions of dollars.