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Friday, June 4, 2010

SSHHH! Don’t Utter The P Word

Even as the number of vehicles in city is assuming Himalayan proportions, the civic body is in no mood to discuss the parking problem in Pune. On the other hand, word spread that there has been changes in parking rules for the benefit of builders.

Devidas Deshpande
When the general body meeting of Pune Municipal Corporation was convened on April Friday 23, one of the most important issues, which are at the heart of the present infrastructure and future development of the city, parking rules, was to be discussed. It was on the official agenda released by the administration and some useful deliberation on the subject was expected to come. Instead, the talk veered to other subjects and the issue was conveniently postponed for discussions.

Now, the corporators will pour their heart out on the subject on May 5. One is not sure whether the issue will find echo even on that day. Then the General Body’s recommendations will go to administration after which a final order will see the light of the day. This is not going to happen soon. Red-tapism and political considerations will sure play their role. At the same time, more than 350 vechicles are added on the city on an average each day.

It seems that the PMC is not showing enough seriousness when it comes to the vexed parking problem. Perhaps the functionaries of the civic body, who are responsible for framing right rules in timely manner, are not aware how much time and energy this issue takes up of a daily life of an ordinary citizen of Pune.

Almost two years have passed since new parking norms were approved by the PMC’s general body. These norms were framed modified after taking the public’s suggestions and objections into considerations. A long time passed after the norms were approved to sent it to the City Improvement Committee (CIC). The committee recently gave its approval to norms but there were allegations that large scale changes were made in norms to facilitate the builder lobby. Now, another approval from the general body is required for a final approval and then to the state government.

The norms were expected to be stringent and fair to the citizens. After the changes, they seem to have been relaxed following suggestions from builders and architects. For example, the existing norms for residential areas with tenements of 150 sq mt is two cars and two scooters. New norms had recommended to provide space for three cars and three scooters. However, CIC members said the old norms should be retained as it is. It means providing parking space for two cars and two scooters since it is not possible to leave aside much extra space. For tenements in congested areas having a carpet area of 150 sq mt and above, the PMC had proposed a parking capacity for four scooters instead of the existing two. However, Credai and AESA suggested two scooters. This suggestion too was accepted by the civic body.

At the same time, the PMC kept its recommendations on parking space for government offices, mercantile shops, offices and malls, IT buildings, multiplexes and community halls intact.

The issue is still in balance as PMC’s General Body thought it wise to discuss other matters.
The Numbers Say All
19,00,000 Number of Vehicles In Pune (upto Dec. 2009)
6,00,000 Number of Vehicles In Pimpri Chinchwad (upto Dec. 2009)
370 Average vehicles added on in a day on city roads.
14% Cars & Jeeps of all vehicles in Pune
74 Two wheelers of all vehicles in Pune

The Charging Shock
Another issue pertained to that of charging parking fees in multiplexes and commercial establishments. Following the proposal from the traffic police and complaints by some corporators, the CIC last month instructed the administration to take action against multiplexes and malls who charge money for parking. But this order is not being followed.

The traffic police argued that all malls and multiplexes in the city should either stop charging fees for parking of vehicles or introduce a system where the money could be refunded to a customer after he/she makes purchases or buys a movie ticket. Some malls have already started redeeming parking fees on purchases. However, other malls and multiplexes charge about Rs 20 to Rs 40 for four-wheelers and Rs 10 to Rs 20 for two-wheelers. Since these rates are high, citizens prefer to park their vehicles on roadsides causing problem to traffic.

According to Kiran Bartakke, chairman of CIC, “PMC has provided the parking place to these malls and multiplexes free of cost. Even then, these establishments are charging fee for parking. This is illegal and hence, the Committee has approved the proposal to take action against these establishments.”
What Happened To This:
Even as the new parking rules are waiting to be discussed, the existing norms set by the PMC are hardly followed. For example, the eco-housing policy, mandated by the PMC, provides that:
Shade on at least 40% of non-roof impervious surfaces on the site, including parking lots, walkways, plazas etc should be provided.
A minimum of 50% of parking space underground or plan covered parking with a reflective roof (net impervious area of less than 50%) for a minimum of 50% of the parking area should be placed.
But these get neglected in the course of time. The officials and functionaries do not heed the nitty-gritty of the policy.

What Experts Said
The comprehensive mobility plan prepared by ……… Pune Municipal Corporation three years ago itself highlighted the seriousness of the problem. The report says, “Measures that discourage the use (not ownership) of personal motor vehicles during peak periods would have to go hand in hand with measures that encourage the use of public transport. The Central Government would, therefore, encourage the adoption of measures that restrain the use of motor vehicles, through market mechanisms such as higher fuel taxes, higher parking fees, reduced availability of parking space, longer time taken in traveling by personal vehicles vis-à-vis public transport, etc. The objective would be to encourage people to use public transport or non-motorized transport for daily trips to work or school and limit the use of personal motor vehicles to periodic family outings and recreation or leisure trips”

The same report says, “Multiplexes and shopping complexes have free FSI for providing parking places; there is substantial expenditure for construction. As free parking anywhere (including in industrial premises for their own employees) is against the principles of good traffic management and should be discouraged, PMC should take a major percentage of the parking charges in shopping malls and multiplexes leaving a small portion for maintenance of the parking places for the owners while compensating the owners for the amount spent on the construction of the parking spaces. Hence, parking charges should have a built-in system for recovering the construction and maintenance charges over a given time frame and ensuring that the parking charges both inside and outside have a proper correlation.”

What Happened To This:
Even as the new parking rules are waiting to be discussed, the existing norms set by the PMC are hardly followed. For example, the eco-housing policy, mandated by the PMC, provides that:
Shade on at least 40% of non-roof impervious surfaces on the site, including parking lots, walkways, plazas etc should be provided.
A minimum of 50% of parking space underground or plan covered parking with a reflective roof (net impervious area of less than 50%) for a minimum of 50% of the parking area should be placed.
But these get neglected in the course of time. The officials and functionaries do not heed the nitty-gritty of the policy.

What Experts Said
The comprehensive mobility plan prepared by ……… Pune Municipal Corporation three years ago itself highlighted the seriousness of the problem. The report says, “Measures that discourage the use (not ownership) of personal motor vehicles during peak periods would have to go hand in hand with measures that encourage the use of public transport. The Central Government would, therefore, encourage the adoption of measures that restrain the use of motor vehicles, through market mechanisms such as higher fuel taxes, higher parking fees, reduced availability of parking space, longer time taken in traveling by personal vehicles vis-à-vis public transport, etc. The objective would be to encourage people to use public transport or non-motorized transport for daily trips to work or school and limit the use of personal motor vehicles to periodic family outings and recreation or leisure trips”

The same report says, “Multiplexes and shopping complexes have free FSI for providing parking places; there is substantial expenditure for construction. As free parking anywhere (including in industrial premises for their own employees) is against the principles of good traffic management and should be discouraged, PMC should take a major percentage of the parking charges in shopping malls and multiplexes leaving a small portion for maintenance of the parking places for the owners while compensating the owners for the amount spent on the construction of the parking spaces. Hence, parking charges should have a built-in system for recovering the construction and maintenance charges over a given time frame and ensuring that the parking charges both inside and outside have a proper correlation.”

Edition20: Loser is Cricket

Now that the Indian Premier League has become more entertaining for scandals that are breaking daily, than the cricket matches themselves, the debate over the scandal is attracting more players in it Even as the opposition stalled proceedings in both Houses of Parliament on Friday, demanding a joint parliamentary probe, everybody was talking about the shortfalls of cricket in the country.

In the past, JPC option has been used with mixed results. As on now, the air is full of suspicion of both cover-up and vendetta. This scandal, now using any other word to describe the developments will be detrimental to the truth and level of seriousness, has again highlighted the manner in which sport of cricket is administered non-transparently and discriminately in the country. It is riddled with conflicts of interest fuelled by patronage.

The concept of IPL when it was conceived by the BCCI was a sound one. But it took a form wherein right connections and patronage became the keyword. If the JPC is set and it really goes to the deepest wrongdoing in the affair, a possibility as remote as Hockey gaining same popularity as Cricket, the cricket will be forever damaged, blemished in India. It will therefore be a big challenge to save the IPL's innovative content while cleaning up its administration.

IPL and controversy are running side by side since the league's very inception. However this time, it's a crisis of monumental proportions as allegations ranging from money laundering to betting to match fixing are flying thick and fast.

Besides, the league's conceptualiser and boss Lalit Modi is almost out with disgrace as the BCCI prepares to shut him out after being embarrassed by the Income tax department's raids that have revealed murky financial dealings and benami holdings in at least three franchises.

Junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor lost his job after trying to "mentor" the Kochi franchise' bid while two other ministers in the government -- Shard Pawar and Praful Patel -- are facing the heat for their alleged involvement in the IPL's affairs.

There are also various lines of thinking which range from banning the IPL to nationalize the BCCI, suggesting that the game will be free of market notions and influence of money. Cricket has evolved tremendously in the past decades — from one-day internationals, to abolition of rest days in Tests, to the use of technology to assist umpires, to Twenty20, and now, when the club of cricket-playing nations shows no sign of growing, to a league format.

Edition 20:Rambhau Thorat

Rising From Ground To Sky
City Blog Desk
When Sahitya Kalayatri, a cultural organisation felicitated Assistant commissioner of
police Rambhau Thorat on Monday, it was a true appreciation of an officer in the khaki uniform. For Thorat is one of those few people in the police department who have worked their way up from adversities. In a true sense, he can be an example of achieving success for today's youth.

Thorat joined the police department as a constable, which entails one to work on the ground. Now he is serving as ACP. He was felicitated on Monday at the hands of former minister of state for home and socialist leader Bhai Vaidya for his contribution to society.

Originally coming from a rural family in Solapur district, Thorat is serving in the department for last 39 years. According to Thorat, "It was the inspiration given by my father Dattatray that led me to the police force. He was instrumental for me in making police department as a career option. " He says his parents took pains to educate him which later infused sense of character in him.

He completed his matriculation at Porafale village in the Barshi taluka. Then came the moment to join the department. He headed for Pune to appear in the police recruitment test. After completing the test successfully, Rambhau Thorat served his first day as a constable at the police control room at Khadki on June 28, 1971. Incidentally, he was the last selected candidate for the post of constable as there were around 7,000 aspirants trying for 400 posts.

While working as a constable, Throat got a chance to work with former director general of police (DGP) S S Virk and present DGP AN Roy, who was then deputy commissioner of police in Pune. After almost nine years, he appeared in the direct police officer recruitment examination, passed it and got a posting as Police Sub Inspector at Nashik in 1980.

He received a promotion in 1999 as police inspector and was posted at Thane. Thorat will be retiring next month. He said, "I am happy that I started my career on June 28, 1971 at Khadki police station and would be ending it at the same place. But my life would not have been complete without the support of my wife Sanjeevani. Whatever situation I am in, she stands behind me like a rock in every situation in my life."

While replying to his felicitation, Thorat said what could be interpreted as the true message. He said, “The duty carried out by police is a social work itself. It is the duty of the police to bring together the society. Keeping this in mind, I tried to bridge the divide between various people. Liquor trade was closed. In Pandhare village in Baramati division, the annual festival of the village was stopped since the British era because of the petty differences of opinion in the villagers. I could talk the way out with them and the festival was again started.” Well said Thorat Sir!
Photo Caption
Rambhau Thorat, Assistant commissioner of police was felicitated for his social work at the hands of veteran Socialist leader Bahi Vaidya on Monday.

Edition 20: Beauty brings Bounties

Beauty Brings The Bounties
Jan Bruck/DW
According to many studies, good looks and success go hand in hand. Attractive people tend to get ahead faster and earn more money - which in turn makes them more appearance-conscious.

Berlin's celebrity hairdresser Udo Walz has a clear opinion: beauty definitely provides an extra boost in the job world. When you look good, "people want to communicate with you." Although it cannot be determined whether many celebrities owe their success to this skilled hair designer, numerous studies have found a connection between good looks and job success. In other words: the more beautiful the person, the easier their climb up the career ladder.

Americans in particular have done a lot of research into beauty. The topic suddenly became very popular in the 1990s. Economist Daniel Hamermesh from the University of Texas even found that attractive employees earn more money than their aesthetically less appealing colleagues.

Beauty Premiums
In his study, Hamermesh asked participants to rate the attractiveness of people on a series of photographs. He then compared the ranking with the salary figures of the test subjects. The result was clear: the persons considered unattractive earned on average up to 10 percent less than their averagely attractive counterparts.

Hamermesh euphemistically describes this appearance-based financial disadvantage as a "plainness penalty." The most attractive subjects, meanwhile, were found to earn up to five percent more than the average - a "beauty premium."

"Unfair!" said Walz. "Where I work, the pay is equal for everyone, regardless of appearance or weight - it's only based on performance."

Does this mean that at his a salon a gorgeous person will never be considered more competent?

"That depends on the boss," said Walz.

In order to prove that beauty brings success, Hamermesh used old photos of university graduates who had already been working for a long time. He also found that good-looking people tend to seek out jobs in which their appearance gives them an advantage, such as those in the PR and advertising industry.

Good Looks Booster For Men, Too!
The growing significance of appearance is reflected in surveys. In a long-term study, Hamburg-based scholar Sonja Bischoff researched factors that influence success among managers. She found that appearance had increased in importance over the previous 20 years.

In the first surveys on this topic in 1986, only six percent of respondents rated appearance an influential factor in a career, but this figure increased to 14 percent in 1991 and 20 percent in 1999. There were no large differences between the opinions of men and women, until the survey in 2003, where 32 percent of men and 26 percent of women named appearance as an important success factor.

Walz can see this trend in his own salon. "It's not only women who want to get a new look before a job interview," he says. "Men are also becoming increasingly vain."

Nevertheless, most of Walz's customers are still female. For successful businesswomen he recommends "mid-length hair, which can be tied back into a small ponytail during the day and be out and sexy for parties and cocktails in the evening."

Walz has already granted aesthetic career help to some prominent people, including German chancellor Angela Merkel. Since Walz gave her a makeover, Merkel's haircut has not been the subject of as much mockery as before.

Despite all this, Walz emphasizes that beauty should not be overestimated.

"If you can't do anything well, you can't have a career."
Have A Perfect Hair Colour!
If you've mustered up the courage the try a whole new hair colour, it's generally best to know it will look fantastic well before you're halfway through the process. When you can't decide which shade to choose, always follow these tips below.

Your shade isn't right if... You feel the need to pile on makeup (especially bronzer) to keep your skin from looking pale. Think your hair color is off? Don't worry, you can fix a bad dye job. Just make sure you see a stylist for help to avoid causing hair damage.

Rule of thumb: Pick a base color that’s no more than two shades lighter or darker than your eyebrows.

Why it works: The brow color you’re born with complements your skin tone perfectly. Stray too far from it and your complexion will appear washed out. (Dyeing your brows won’t make a difference—the benchmark is always their natural color.) You can also use your true base shade as a barometer. But if you can’t remember it exactly (or don’t have pictures of yourself at age 12 handy), you’re better off going by your brows. Want to return to your natural shade? Patience and a good colorist can do the trick.

Also keep in mind: Weaving blond highlights into your base color enhances any complexion. Logics colorist Jennifer J. taught us that, like self-tanner, golden tones illuminate your skin. Keep the streaks thin to ensure everything blends in well.

The best blond for dark skin: These days, lots of darker-skinned beauties are making a major mane statement by going blond — think Beyoncé, Tyra Banks, and Mary J. Blige. "The contrast between dark skin and light hair can be really striking, but it's tricky to do yourself," says stylist Kim Kimble. "A pro will know the right shade for your skin tone."

The basics: Women with deep brown skin should go with a rich honey hue. If your complexion is a medium tone, try a sandy color. And if you have lighter skin, you can pull off a pale golden blond. To keep strands healthy, do a deep-conditioning treatment at home twice a week, especially if you also relax your hair, says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. It's also important to choose hair products that will extend the life of your hair color and avoid fading.

How do you decide what shade to color your hair? Have you experienced a bad dye job?
Drink Green Tea To Fight Eye Disease
Green tea, renowned for its powerful antioxidant and disease-fighting properties, has been found to help protect against glaucoma and other eye diseases.
The new study, the first documenting how the lens, retina and other eye tissues absorb these substances, opens the possibility that green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases.
Glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, leading to progressive, irreversible loss of vision.
Chi Pui Pang, department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues point out that the so-called green tea 'catechins' have been among a number of antioxidants thought capable of protecting the eye.
Those include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin. Until now, however, nobody knew if the catechins in green tea actually passed from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye.
Pang and his colleagues resolved that uncertainty in experiments with lab rats that drank green tea, said a release of the American Chemcial Society (ACS).
Analysis of eye tissues showed beyond a doubt that eye structures absorbed significant amounts of individual catechins.
The effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours. 'Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress,' the study concludes.
These findings were published in the ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Edition 20: Bollywood

Charge Of The Young Brigade
Manpreet Kaur/IANS
The mantra in Bollywood is no more about learning on the job, but coming prepared before the director calls 'action'. Newcomers venturing into the industry believe they must have a sound understanding of their craft, even technically.
Raj Kumar Yadav, who played Adarsh in Dibakar Banerjee's 'Love Sex aur Dhoka', said: 'As competition is tough in the industry it gives a boost to an individual when you are technically sound and that is what filmmakers are looking for.'
'It is better to have ample knowledge before venturing into any stream. It is one of the greatest requirements of every industry. Personally, I have done theatre and a course from FTII (Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) which helped me face the camera. It made me feel comfortable as I had technical knowledge,' he said.
Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha's son Luv Sinha, who debuted in 'Sadiyaan' this month, did a course from FTII before venturing into movies. 'I think it's good to come prepared as it isn't an easy industry to survive in,' Luv told IANS.
In 2010, more than a dozen youngsters debuted in Bollywood as actors and directors.
Shradha Kapoor, Siddharth Kher, Dhruv Ganesh and Vaibhav Talwar were seen for the first time in 'Teen Patti', Luv Sinha in 'Sadiyaan', Anubhav and Adarsh in 'Love Sex Aur Dhokha', Neeru Singh and Aruna Sheilds in 'Prince 3' and Maradona Robello in 'Pankh'.
Director Shawn Arranha who debuted with horror-thriller 'Hide and Seek' echoes similar sentiments. 'It makes everyone comfortable when the actors have specific knowledge about the subject and moreover it saves a lot of time,' he said.
'Hide and Seek' was not just his directorial debut, it also saw new faces like Amruta Patki, Pavail Gulati, Mohit Dutta, Nutan Shinde and Shweta Verma. Southern actress Sada made her Bollywood debut with 'Click'.
Other debutant directors this year include Mudassar Aziz ('Dulha Mil Gaya'); comedian Sunil Pal ('Bhavnao Ko Samjho'); Abhishek Chaubhey ('Ishqiya'), Amit Rai ('Road to Sangam'); Abhishek Chaubey ('Ishqiya'); Vijay Lalwani ('Karthik Calling Karthik').
Star plus cannot afford my hubby: Shilpa
Shilpa Shetty-Kundra is never known to be a diplomat. Throw a tricky question at her and she’s bound to come up with a gaffe. Perhaps, that explains why she was an easy prey at Big Brother.

She may be married to NRI businessman but that hasn’t brought about any diplomacy in her. The actress continues to speak from the heart. This was evident at the press conference of Zara Nachke Dikha 2, a show which Shilpa is adjudicating.

Shilpa and her hubby Raj Kundra are among the co-owners of IPL team Rajasthan Royals. As always, some scribe came up with a weird query. This time the lady was asked why her hubby isn’t there in the show.

Hiding her displeasure over the question, Shilpa looked towards Star India EVP marketing and communications Anupam Vasudev and sighed, “Star Plus cannot afford my hubby (laughs). With the money that’s on offer, the channel can only afford me (itne paise mein, main hi aaongi).”

On serious note she adds, ‘No, he won’t be coming on the stage anytime.”

Shilpa’s jokes didn’t end here. Later on, her co-judge Vaibhavi Merchant was answering a query on how big or better the show is, Shilpa butted in to say, “Apart from what Vaibhavi mentioned, people and we too as judges are curious to know what Rakhi Sawant will say this time and what new drama will she create.”

Couldn’t agree more with you Shilpa! The firebrand Rakhi will certainly be up to her dramatics all over again.

No Lip Locking, Please!
Rajeev Khandelwal and Prachi Desai have moved to films after starting their careers with television, but the duo is still prudish about locking lips on screen. Both Rajeev and Prachi had reservation about kissing scene for their film Main Joker. The director Vikram Tuli tried his best to convince the two but they didn’t budge.

Speaking to a tabloid, Tuli admitted that he wasn’t able to pull off the kissing scene which is supposed to take place during the shooting of a song. Despite the refusal, Tuli hasn’t given up on the shot.

Prachi Desai was quoted saying that she didn’t have a ‘no kissing’ clause in her contract and was willing to do whatever is required for the film. Rajeev though maintained that he didn’t want to supersede the director but he has reservation about kissing on camera.

Strange that our Gujju babe Prachi has no objections but it’s the hunk Rajeev who’s backed out. Fans certainly will be disappointed as they’ve been deprived of what could have been a famous lip-lock between the two conservative TV stars.

Edition 20: Sports

Indian Scandal League

City Blog Desk
What started as a marriage of sports and entertainment has turned into the biggest scandal in the Indian sports. Each day, there is some revelation taking another politician, more Bollywood actors into the orbit of the doubts. What union sports Minister M. S. Gill said was true that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the creation of Indian cricket board and it is answerable to the nation.

Income-tax and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials are spending their days in and night out searching and seizing the documents from IPL franchisee offices across the country. Which, alas, included Pune also. Searches were conducted in Kolkata, Delhi (in the offices of GMR group that owns Delhi Daredevils) and Pune - in the office of the Sahara group that won the Pune bid for the new IPL team that will play from next year, the other franchisee being Kochi over which Shashi Tharoor resigned as central minister last week.

Charges and counter-charges between the cricket board president Shashank Manohar and Modi has vitiated the atmosphere to the core. Manohar has accused Modi, the IPL chief of selectively leaking private e-mails and breaching the confidentiality clause in the franchise contract through social networking site Twitter. Modi, meanwhile, was grilled by the ED mainly on the process of awarding the television broadcasting rights and the media contracts to Multi Screen Media (MSM) and World Sports Group (WSG). The investigation zeroed in on the $80 million facilitation money paid by MSM to WSG.
Board president Shashank Manohar said he had advised Modi not to go public on the holdings of all the franchisees as the IPL Kochi threatened legal action against the board after he had tweeted the ownership details.
'After the names were leaked, I get a communication from (Vivek) Venugopal (partner in Rendezvous) around midnight saying that there is a Confidentiality Clause in the agreement, which had been signed between the board and them and there is a serious breach of obligation on part of the board,' Manohar said.
'I said the issue is complicated and needs detailed deliberations and has legal implications and hence it should be discussed and considered by the Governing Council meeting in Mumbai. The other members of the governing council also agreed with me and so did Modi.'

Considering the big names involved in the Indian Cricket, like union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Arun Jaitely, the IPL imbroglio figured in the Rajya Sabha, too. Replying to the debate over his ministry's working, Gill said the IPL is a creation of the cricket board and it should answer questions posed to it. At the same time, he said, 'the ministry has to lose its passivity vis-a-vis cricket.'

Modi, however, is equally vehement in saying that he would either resign or attend the meeting and challenged the validity of board secretary N. Srinivasan calling the meeting, saying he was an interested party as the owner of a franchise.

Incriminating Evidence
As the officials dig more and more documents, they find evidence in equally large proportions. The income-tax officials in Kolkata are stated to have found incriminating evidence from the offices of Kolkata Knight Riders, whose primary owner is Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, and the Cricket Association of Bengal.

The probe by the Directorate of I-T Investigation was on the legality of money transfers from tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman Islands to buy the franchise and the players through auctions that went into making IPL one of the world's richest sporting events and a magnet for international cricketers.
'We've found incriminating evidence,' Indian Revenue Service Deputy Director Akhilendu Jadhav told mediamen. 'We needed to have a look at certain transactions and we have found whatever we were looking for.'
Warriors For Pune IPL
The Sahara India group launched the Pune team of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the S.P. College ground here on Saturday. The team was named Sahara Pune Warriors.
Against a white background, the emblem shows the silhouette of a warrior astride a horse, brandishing a spear in his hand. The Sahara India group chief Subroto Roy said, “Pune is the land of Maratha warriors. So the name of the team is as much Sahara Maratha Warriors as Sahara Pune Warriors.”
Speaking of his association with the city, Mr. Roy said, “I have received so much love and affection from the people of this city that I earnestly feel I lived here in my previous life. In this life, too, I have now become associated with Pune till the end of my life.”
Carrying forward its commitment to cricket, Mr. Roy announced that players from Pune who play at the State-level would be given a monthly allowance of Rs. 5,000. The amount would be Rs. 10,000 for National players and Rs. 20,000 for International players. He added that there were plans to set up an international sports academy in the district to train sportsmen from the grassroots level.
Asked what kind of glamour quotient the Pune IPL team would have in the tournament, when considered against other teams that were supported by Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty, Mr. Roy said, “Pune is a magnificent and glamorous city.

Sachin & Ojha Bag Honour
Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar was Friday named best batsman while Deccan Chargers' Pragyan Ojha bagged the best bowler honour at a glitzy IPL Awards Night in Mumbai. Tournament's most prolific batsman, Tendulkar, has 618 runs in his kitty from 14 matches with five fifties.

He beat competitions from Royal Challengers' batsmen Jacques Kallis (553 runs from 15) and Robin Uthappa (374 from 15) and Chennai Super King's Suresh Raina (463 from 15) and Murali Vijay (432 from 14) for the Jury Award for best batsman.

Tendulkar, who is uncertain to lead Mumbai Indians in Sunday's IPL final against Chennai Super Kings after splitting his right hand webbing during the first semifinal on 21st April, was also named best batsman and best captain in the Viewers' Choice category.

Edition 20: Shaniwarwada

City Blog Desk
Although Shaniwarwada bears no sign of royal history, there was a time when the place was non-official capital of India. Peshwas built the palace here. The place is a spectator of many incidents in the history of Maharashtra. The love story of Bajirao I and Mastani unfolded itself here. It was here that Narayan Peshwa was killed by his uncle Raghunath Peshwa on Dec. 13, 1772. For the fact, not Peshwa Raghunath killed himself Narayanrao. Gardis, the security guards attacked the young king. At the time, Narayanrao was just 16 years old. Today, the palace has no signs of greatness as a single wall is standing there which served tas the outer coat for the security of the palace. The original mansion which was inhabited by Peshwa fell victim to a fire in fire in 1828. The Maratha Empire was abolished in 1818. When Pune accepted the British rule, it was the beginning of the British Raj.

The Shaniwarwada was originally built as a residing place for the Pehwas. Bajirao I laid the foundation of the palace on Jauary 10, 1730. The actual construction was completed in 1732. The word Shaniar means Saturday in Marathi. The cost of the palace was Rs 16,110 at that time. At one time, the palace was occupied by over thousand people.

Even though the construction is mainly recognised by its imposing gates in the front, there are four other gates in the structure also. One is known as Narayan Darwaja, since it was from here that the dead body of Narayanrao Peshwa was taken out for crematio after he was murdered. The main gate is known as Dilli Darwaja because it is faced towards north, in the direction of Delhi. It was a sign of the ambitions of Peshwa to spread their kingdom. According to one legend, Bajirao chose the place for constructing his palace after he saw one rabbit chasing a hound.

It was with a small amount of mud taken from Lal Mahal, with which Bajirao Peshwa 1 laid the foundation stone of this palace. Teaks brought from the Junnar jungles, lime from the Jejuri lime belts and stones from Chinchwad were used to make this 13-storeyed monument. With the course of time, several new things were also added to the palace. Fortification walls, court halls and gates were some such things. Shaniwar Wada reflects the Moghul and Maratha architectural design. Presently, much of its parts are ruined after a devastating fire broke out in the monument complex. The things that still can be seen are 5 gates, fortification walls and 9 bastions. Dilli Darwaja (around 21 feet high) is the name of its main gate, whereas, Alibahadur Darwaja ( Mastani), Ganesh Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja are the names of the other gates of Shaniwar Wada in Pune.

Pictures from Mahabharata and Ramayana are engraved on the palace walls. Here a fountain can also be seen. Pune Municipal Corporation now maintains this ancient structure.
The things that can be seen inside the castle complex include statue of 1st Bajijrao, Rang Mahal, Ganesh Mahal, Hasti Dant Mahal, Aarsa Mahal, Diwan Khana and nagarkhana. From 8 A.M to 5 P.M people are allowed to enter here.

When the name Bajirao comes, that of Mastani also crops up. Mastani lived for some time with Baji Rao at his palace of Shaniwar. The palace's north-east corner held Mastani Mahal and had its own external doorway called Mastani darwaza. Because of his family's intolerance of Mastani, Baji Rao later built a separate residence for Mastani at Kothrud in 1734,some distance away from Shaniwar Wada. Court records (Bakhars) during Bajirao's regime specifically never included any reference to her.

Edition 20: Love Earphones , hear this

Love Earphones? Hear This!
Young people who listen to personal music players for several hours a day at high volume could imperil their hearing, an expert warns.
Peter Rabinowitz, professor at Yale University School of Medicine, says music devices like the MP3 players can generate levels of sound in excess of 120 decibels, almost as intense as a jet engine, especially when used with earphones that insert into the ear canal.
The use of these devices is high in young people - more than 90 percent in surveys from Europe and the US - and 'has grown faster than our ability to assess their potential health consequences,' he writes.
However, evidence that music players are causing hearing loss in young people is mixed, suggesting that the true effects may only now be starting to be detectable, says the author.
Other health effects may also need to be considered. For example, some studies have shown that use of personal music players can interfere with concentration and performance while driving, in a similar way to mobile phones.
Rabinowitz believes that the importance of hearing loss as a public health problem makes it reasonable to encourage patients of all ages to promote 'hearing health' through avoidance of excessive noise exposure, a Yale release says.
'Personal music players provide a reminder that our hunger for new technology should be accompanied by equally vigorous efforts to understand and manage the health consequences of changing lifestyles,' he concludes.
The write-up was published in the British Medical Journal.
Some Hope For Treatment On Cancer
Cancer researchers in Berlin are working on a genome sequencing project. It promises an individualized approach to a disease that still defies complete medical comprehension.

With almost half a million people in Germany expected to fall prey to cancer this year, some 1,800 of them under the age of 15, scientists at Berlin's Charité hospital are working on a new form of treatment. They hope it will help transform cancer into a chronic rather than a fatal illness.

They are beginning to understand that each tumor -- an accumulation of genetic mutations -- has its own genetic makeup. And as Reinhold Schafer, deputy director of the Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center in Berlin explained, in keeping with that discovery, they are now working on personalized approach for individual patients.
"We are beginning to understand that a cancer genome carries many more mutations than we would have anticipated," he told Deutsche Welle. "So far we are dealing with a handful of mutations, so called driver mutations, which drive the onset and are also responsible for the maintenance of the cancer phenotype."

Impotent Mix
As things stand, cancer patients can expect to be treated with a concoction of different and expensive drugs, some of which will have absolutely no effect on certain tumors, but which will do serious harm to other tissues in a given patient's body.
That is where genome sequencing technology comes in. As it becomes less expensive and more accessible, the potential for an individualized approach to cancer treatment is becoming a reality. And that is good news for Schafer and his colleagues on the Treat1000 project, which plans to do as its name suggests.
"The idea is to use deep sequencing technology to comprehensively assess the cancer genomes of these thousand patients and to compare the cancer genomes with a constitutive situation in order to find out which are the cancer-specific molecular alterations in these patients."
Conventional cancer medicine has focused on driver mutations, which are a kind of common denominator between cancers of the same type. Schafer, however, is exploring "passenger mutations," which are unique to each patient.
"There's a bunch - hundreds, thousands - of mutations that occur in cancer patients, and so far we don't have any idea what they are doing at the functional level, but they are there."

Bar code for cancer
The researcher describes the combination of passenger mutations as an "individual bar code" for cancer. As personalized treatment becomes more advanced, oncologists will be able to target specific mutations with combinations of drugs they know have a high probability of working.
Hans Lehrach, head of Vertebrate Genomics at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, says using computer modeling makes it possible to sort through thousands of drug candidates in search of a combination which can combat a tumor while minimizing damage to a patients' overall health.
The procedure requires researchers to take DNA samples from patients' blood and tumor and decode the genetic information of both.
"We can combine that with the results from decades of cancer research which has given us a very large amount of information on the pathways which connect the different components we see in the sequencing," Lehrach told Deutsche Welle.
Scientific evolution
Improvements in genome sequencing technology have made Treat1000 a viable project. It currently takes Lehrach and his team about 10 days to sequence a human genome. By comparison, the original Human Genome Project took from 1990 to 2003 to first identify and sequence human DNA. But both science and technology have moved on since then.
"We can try the wrong treatment thousands of times on the computer model but before we go to the patient we should be very sure that whatever we do will help the patient, it will not have any unacceptable side effects," Lehrach said.
Lehrach hopes an individualized approach to cancer treatment would enable doctors to respond to changes in tumors and better control them. But personalized medicine doesn't only have the potential to change the fates of cancer patients, it is also likely to drastically change the way clinical trials of drugs are conducted.
More personal all-round
Clinical trials aren't currently stratified by the genetic profiles of their participants. Patients suffering from the same tumor all receive identical treatments, a practice which may have caused research on some drugs to be discontinued on account of their apparently low rate of effectiveness.
However those drugs may be highly effective if tested on a subset of patients who share similarities in their 'bar code' of passenger mutations. And that, says Schafer, means the cancer battle of the future will become about tailoring treatments to the genetic profiles of individual patients.
"Some people even believe it's the big revolution in medicine, but time will tell," Schafer said. "I guess it's more or less a series of little revolutions, little progress, but steady progress. Hopefully."

Edition 20: Variety

A Town Named Mahatma Gandhi, In US
A part of southwest Houston, Texas, home to a large number of South Asians, including Indians, has been officially renamed Mahatma Gandhi district to honour the leader on his 141st birth year.
An ethnic conclave, Hillcroft was renamed this month, fulfilling the seven-year long demand of over 100,000 strong Indian-American population living in the Greater Houston area.
City Mayor Annise Parker announced the change of name along with Consul General of India in Houston, Sanjiv Arora.
Officials of the India Culture Centre have been working relentlessly for renaming the area that is popularly known as "Little India" due to the high concentration of south Asian shops and restaurants.
"Persistence alone paid off in the end as it was just getting no where, till the culture center and business leaders settled for adding the signs designating it a district, a USD 10,000 expense," India Culture Centre Spokesperson Manisha Mehta said.
Renaming the Hillcroft area required 75 per cent of commercial property owners on a street to sign a petition in its support, according to the municipal law. Only then the City Council can consider the change of the name.
But Indians earlier failed to gather required number of signs as it was difficult to agree the non-south Asians there.
The project was proposed during the tenure of former Mayor Bill White as the Indian Culture Centre and Indian merchants in the area wanted to rename Hillcroft Avenue to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue.
It was a moment of joy for the Indian-Americans in Houston as the change in name brings a feeling of recognition and they hope renaming the area would attract more tourists.

You Can Disco On Shikara Now
The Shikaras (Kashmiri gondolas) and houseboats have been the main attraction in the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, a beauteous town set amidst snow-capped mountains, pine forest and verdant meadows of Kashmir Valley.
With an increase in tourists' inflow, houseboat owners are introducing various new facilities to woo tourists and make them prolong their stay here. They provide quality food, good transport, and comfortable accommodation.
To make tourists' stay in the Kashmir valley more enjoyable and fun-filled, some local houseboat owners on Dal Lake have started holding dance parties.
This year, some houseboat-owners have even chosen to entertain tourists with 'DJ nights'.
Local people say that it's a revival of an old local tradition as per which the tourists would dance to various forms of music, including Kashmiri, played on houseboats till two decades ago.
"Such scenes were a routine, when foreign tourists used to visit here before 1989, when the situation was normal. Now, when the normalcy is returning, we have made a small attempt to keep the traditions alive," said Tariq Ahmad, a houseboat owner.ourists are delighted with the new feature of enjoyment.
"It hardly matters whether you are staying at a five-star hotel or a three-star but it's really different when you are on a houseboat...DJ nights on shikaras (Kashmiri gondolas) and's really different," said Chetan Mehta, a tourist from Mumbai.
The houseboats are aimed at providing wholesome entertainment to tourists.

Tipu’s Sword Still Shines…In Auction
Tipu Sultan's 200 year old majestic sword has fetched a record price of 505,250 pounds at an auction at Sotheby's, ten times its estimated price.
The sword was estimated to fetch 50,000 to 70,000 pounds. In 2003, the 200-year-old sword was bought with much fanfare by liquor baron Vijay Mallya. It has now been sold for a record price.

Sotheby's described the item as, "A Very Rare Sword with Tiger-Form Hilt, from the Palace Armoury of Tipu Sultan, India, circa 1782-99, with 19th century silver-mounted Scabbard".

Sotheby's said there were a very small number of sword hilts, such as Tipu Sultan's auctioned sword, which have a pronounced tiger theme that was a mark of Tipu's ownership.

Another highlight of the auction was a rare Indian bronze cannon cast at the Mysore king's royal foundry.

This artefact from around 1790 AD was bought by an anonymous buyer at 313,250 pounds.

The Tipu Sultan collection, comprising of seven lots, included weaponry and other rarities captured after the British stormed the erstwhile ruler of Mysore's palace in Srirangapatnam in May 1799.

An applique and gilt metal-thread embroidered shamiana, from the cloth of gold suite of fabric used by Tipu Sultan in the royal toshkhana, which was estimated to sell for 30,000 to 40,000 pounds went for 21,250.

The auction fetched 15.4 million pounds, compared to the 1.2 million pounds earned at the first part of the Tipu Sultan auction in 2005.

Even Dollar Has Makeover Now

The folks who print America's money have designed a high-tech makeover of the USD 100 bill. It's part of an effort to stay ahead of counterfeiters as technology becomes more sophisticated and more dollars flow overseas, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says.

The makeover, unveiled on Wednesday by Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, may leave people wondering if there's magic involved. Benjamin Franklin is still on the C-note.

But he has been joined by a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon composed of thousands of tiny lenses that magnify objects in mysterious ways.

Move the bill, and the objects move in a different direction.The new currency will not go into circulation until 10th February next year. That will give the government time to educate the public in the United States and around the world about the changes.