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Ministry of liberal values

>>Mercifully there’s someone in our political classes who still stands up for Mumbai’s fast eroding liberal character. Milind Deora, minister of state of communications and information technology and South Mumbai’s charismatic MP says he despairs for the erstwhile city that never sleeps. “This recent wave of intolerance is very scary and a dangerous encroachment on the freedom of the individual,” he told us. “My view is that if someone’s not getting in to your home and face, what he does on his own time should not be anyone else’s business. All this micro managing of people and Mumbai’s nightlife is not required,” he said. Spoken like a true liberal we say. After all, wasn’t Deora the man who almost four years ago, initiated the landmark RTI debate in Parliament which brought about the historic act that empowers Indian citizens? Oh and he plays a mean blues guitar too.

Political gossip
>> One of Delhi’s legendary hostesses was giving us the scoop on the Presidential elections. “In an ideal world what the average Congressman is praying for is that the man who actually runs things — Pranab-da gets to be made PM and Manmohan becomes President,” she said to us.


Montek Singh Ahluwalia

“Oh?” we replied. “Yes, but whereas Pranab has made it clear that he’s ready and willing to take on either role, Dr Singh has said he’s quite happy with his status quo,” she said while sipping her early morning Lopchu tea. “Ok,” we said. And here our friend paused to pet her dog. It begs the question who’s going to get the FM job if Pranab-da becomes Prezzie. “Who?” we said.


Jairam Ramesh

“Well, though Dr Singh would like Montek for that role, and we all know that the business community will love that as he’s pro-reform and it will send out the right signals, there’s a section of the Congress that feels given it’s the run-up to the elections someone like Jairam Ramesh, who is seen as more pro aam admi will be better.” “Jairam Ramesh?” we repeated, “But no, he won’t get it, because a more middle of the road candidate,” said the hostess now sounding irritated as she had many more numbers to call on her speed-dial.

Anand Sharma

“And that will be Anand Sharma. He has a clean slate, a good equation with the powers that be, and will be the consensus candidate.” And with that early morning political gyaan the celebrated Delhi political observer hung up to go for her chanting session

Coverage Capers
>> This one comes from a meeow source. So competitive are the two sides of a hospitality family that when a newspaper featured the three scions of the business in one of their features and one side felt their progeny had not been given comparative coverage — they fired their PRO on the spot. The same source says that the media, which has already been subjected to one of the family member’s megalomaniac ambitions, is not surprised. “The lady has been pestering us for publicity for years!” we were told.


A protest against Internet censorship in Turkey

Occupy Mumbai protest
>> Subscribing to liberal values and against things that curtail the personal freedom of the individual, we were intrigued when we received this mail by a group known as Anonymous India regarding an ‘Occupy Mumbai protest march’ being organised on June 9. “Anonymous is a loosely associated hacktivist group that originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitised global brain.


An Occupy protestor

In 2012, American magazine Time named Anonymous as one of the most influential people in the world. The most recent attack on freedom of speech and expression has been in the form of the Information Technology (Intermediary Rules) 2011, which require that intermediaries, such as a website host, including social networking sites and search engines, do not host, display, share or publish information deemed as objectionable. On receiving a complaint by an aggrieved person, the intermediary site is liable to act within 36 hours and remove the content, without prior notice. As a result of this, Anonymous India has asked for a nationwide protest on June 9,” it informed. “Protestors are being asked to wear the famous guy Fawkes mask and organisers maintain it will be a peaceful protest, with banners and slogans and nothing more.” The message ends with the ‘Anonymous Motto: We are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget, expect us. Will Mumbai be the scene of India’s first real protest against Internet censorship? Watch this space!

The psychology of cars
>> Emmanueul Balayer, the French born India loving luxury consultant to companies like BMW was telling us the fascinating psychology of the Indian luxe car market. “It’s totally different from any where else in the world to start with,” said Balayer, “Firstly there’s chauffeur driven and non; then there’s the fact that people have three or four cars per family and that every member of the family drives a car corresponding to their status, then unlike elsewhere in the world people buy from across brands so the same family will have an Audi, a BMW and a Mercedes.”


îEmmanueul Balayer with the BMW Mini Cooper

Interesting. And what about the latest entrant to the luxe market in India the iconic Mini Cooper, which he says costs more than a BMW 3 series, and has been flying off the shelf? “It’s for the young, free spirited and confident,” he says. “Someone like Prateik Babbar or Anushka Sharma.” What about his friend the talented Zoya Akhtar? “No, it’s not her car,” says Balayer, “She’s more the Range Rover type, the Min’is too girly for her.” Point noted.  

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