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The Peer group

Malavika SangghviThere is jubilation and hats in the air among journalists as news comes in of the appointment of author, journalist and political commentator Bashrat Peer as editor of the New York Times’ India blog, ‘India Ink’.

Peer who began as a reporter at Rediff and Tehelka has also written for publications like The Guardian, Financial Times, The National and the New Statesman and has authored Curfewed Night (Random House, 2008/Scribner, 2009).

His appointment follows on the heels of the relocation of the previous editor of the website Heather Timmins. India Ink, which has already won itself a discerning and wide readership, is expected to get even better with his nomination. We like!

Bashrat Peer
Bashrat Peer 

NYC Spottings
And for those who like these things, we offer two recent NYC spottings of Bollywood stars. Arjun Rampal was spotted at Pastis, the trendy Meat Packing district eatery last week.

Arjun Rampal
Arjun Rampal

Seeing that we were Indian, the waiter came up to us (quite excitedly we must report) and pointed out that the star was in the house. And over the weekend, the luminous Kalki Koechlin was spotted shooting for a scene for a forthcoming film or ad in Manhattan. According to our source, she looked completely at home, focussed on the job at hand and uninterested in drawing attention to herself. Nice!

Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin

Gratitude in politics
And from Mumbai comes this gem from our favourite muse, “There’s no such thing as gratitude in politics. How many people remember that in 2002 after the Gujarat carnage orchestrated by Modi, which killed 2,000 Muslim men, women and children, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had decided to throw Modi out, but Advani saved him?” he says, adding, “And imagine a scenario for our poor country where Advani, the champion of Hindutva and destroyer of Babri Masjid, is now considered a soft-liner!”

LK Advani with Narendra Modi
LK Advani with Narendra Modi. File pic/AFP

School’s in
It could be a trend that’s worth watching: The fact that two talented professionals, who have earned their success and recognition in their chosen fields by their hard work and commitment are starting schools to train others, is a sign that bodes well for young people in the country. Word comes in that ace lensman Shantanu Sheorey, who shot some of the most memorable advertising campaigns in the country in the ’80s and ’90s like Garden Vaerili, Thums Up and Raymond, is now on the verge of launching a photography school in Goa.

 
Shantanu Sheorey and (right) Ashutosh Phatak

Sheorey and wife, the former Bollywood actor Kimi Katkar (best remembered for her feisty performance with Amitabh Bachchan in the legendary Jhuma Chuma de de scene from Hum), had left India and settled first in Melbourne, Australia for half a decade and then Pune, India. Goa with its verdant beaches and natural beauty and young populace seems to be a natural choice to start a photography school. Meanwhile, musician and Blue Frog founder Ashutosh Phatak’s music school affiliated to the Manhattan school of music and academy of contemporary music in UK and Trinity appears to be progressing quite well and according to plan. Hmmm... A photography school and a music school. Time fellow hacks put their heads together and came up with a journalism school we think.

Gratitude in business
Gratitude in politics may be an anomaly but in business a virtual impossibility. Even as there is shock and awe doing the rounds over the dispute between Yes Bank’s Rana Kapoor and Madhu Kapur, his wife Bindu’s sister and widow of the bank’s late co-founder Ashok who perished in the 26/11 terrorist attacks, those in the know say it is part of a pattern. Exactly 10 years ago, Harkirat Singh, one of the three Indian promoters of the nascent banking company to be set up in partnership with Rabobank, had withdrawn from the venture following differences of opinion with Kapoor.

Rana Kapoor
Rana Kapoor

Ironically, Harkirat Singh’s exit was said to be primarily caused by the decision to appoint Ashok Kapur as executive chairman and CEO, with rumours that the appointment was made in Singh’s absence. “This decision is further evidence of a lack of mutuality of the objectives of the bank as envisioned by me. I have therefore decided to withdraw as a promoter of this new banking company,” said Mr Singh, who had been at that time appointed by Rabobank in London as a special advisor to the managing board to advise them on international strategy among other things.

His withdrawal from what was seen as his dream project and after the Reserve Bank of India had granted an ‘in-principle’ approval in Feb ’02 for setting up a new bank in the private sector amidst great fan fare and jubilation had created consternation and speculation at that time. Does a leopard ever change its spots? Or a banker his pinstripes we wonder.

Younger at heart
He’s always been young at heart with the energy that would put a 20-year-old to shame. But now, guess whose heart just got younger? Anil Dharker, acclaimed writer, untiring founder of Literature Live, passionate tennis player at the Bombay Gym and fervent champion of single malts has just returned home with three new stents in his heart after a four-hour angioplasty at Breach Candy Hospital.

Anil Dharker
Anil Dharker

“I am now supposed to be resting,” says the charismatic bon vivant. “Let me tell you that’s one of the most difficult things to do!” We think his tennis partners, his loyal readers and the many fans of his literary endeavours will not have long to wait! 

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