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Jun 172011

For a country that prides itself on its software talent, India’s hardware dreams are, well, pipe-dreams.

A decade ago, it was the Simputer, a handheld low-cost Linux-based computer, that was all the rage in India.

But despite the tall claims of how the Simputer would be the hardware savior of India and other Third World countries little came of the $220 Simputer initiative.

Today, no one even talks about that junk and we doubt anyone even makes it.

As if one bad experience were not bad enough, a new initiative has sprung up with the blessing and funding of the Indian government to make a $35 tablet computer called Sakshat. This new nonsense has been underway for over a year now.

Again, the grand hope is that Sakshat will – yawn – bridge the digital divide in India where the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening and where even to this day starvation deaths are not infrequent.

Sakshat Pipe-Dreams

Over the last 12-months or so, millions of dollars has been squandered on this 7-inch Linux-based touchscreen tablet that yet again is expected to provide low-cost hardware to the masses.

Other specs of Sakshat’s Android tablet include 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, 2 USB ports, PDF reader, Open Office, web browsing and video conferencing.

The Indian government now wants to provide 10,000 units to IIT-Rajasthan by the end of June and distribute another 90,000 to the states in the coming months.

The grandiose plan is to subsidize these units to the end consumer by 50% so that they pay only Rs 1,000.00.

India’s clueless politicians expect the price of Sakshat will eventually come down to $10, bringing it within reach of most Indians, hundreds of millions of whom live on less than $2 a day.

A tablet computer is no joke. We’re familiar with tablets since we use the Apple iPad 2 tablet. It’s a great product but a complex product to get right even at a price-point of several hundred dollars.

It requires a strong processor, WiFi or 3G connectivity to log on to the net, frequent updates and a vast ecosystem of applications. Plus, a support and logistics infrastructure.

To expect the bumbling babus in the India’s incompetent and corrupt government and bureaucracy can accomplish all of this with a $35 Tablet PC is to engage in day-dreaming.

Except for Apple, none of the tablet vendors have made much headway in this competitive and tough landscape.

What India’s Human Resources Development (Education) ministry ought to do instead of pissing away millions of dollars on these moronic initiatives is to improve the library infrastructure in every nook and corner of the country and provide free computing resources to all.

Every public library in the U.S. that we’ve been to has free Internet access and a bunch of computers where members can log on, browse their favorite newspapers, social networking sites, play video games or research their home-work/special projects. That ought to be the model India must embrace to provide access to computing and Internet resources to the poor and less-privileged sections of society.

Sadly, most of India’s public libraries are in pitiful shape and little or nothing is being done to address their inadequacies Instead of strengthening the library systems and making them the neighborhood computer and Internet hubs, India chooses to waste millions on pie in the sky hardware schemes that lead nowhere.

Related Content:
Sakshat profile on Wiki

Jun 172011

Boy, it’s been eons since our last edition of Incredible India, hasn’t it?

As those of us fortunate enough to be familiar with that irritatingly beloved land are well aware, India is host to an incredible array of odd stuff.

Things that you can’t even imagine in other settings happen with monotonous regularity in India.

Here are a bunch of unusual events from Incredible India that we’ve culled from recent editions of newspapers:

* Used Condoms for Indian Dickheads – What happens when there’s a shortage of free condoms in remote Indian villages where prostitution is not uncommon?

Well, if these are remote hamlets in the South Indian state of Karnataka, the condoms are used, washed and re-used, exposing the second users to HIV/AIDS, Herpes and other unwelcome sexually transmitted diseases.

Think we’re joking?

Here’s an excerpt from the Times of India:

Condom scarcity is reportedly forcing sex workers to buy packets of branded condoms for Rs 10-12 each. ”They are used, then washed and dried and offered to gullible clients to be reused,” said D Shankarappa Gonwal, working for an NGO in Koppal district.

* (Un)Holy Ganges – Indians consider the Ganges, or Ganga as it’s popularly known in the country, the holiest of rivers. Millions bathe in it, worship it and take the water back to their homes.

But the Ganges remains one of India’s filthiest, most polluted rivers. It’s been so for decades and, given that the past in India is often a sure indicator of the future, will continue to remain so for several more decades.

A quarter century after the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi launched the Ganga Action Plan at the Rajendra Prasad Ghat in Varanasi on June 14, 1986, the river is more polluted than ever before.

As a recent newspaper story points out:

Ganga is more polluted in Varanasi today, especially between its two tributaries, Asi and Varuna, which have also been converted into huge sewage drains.

Much of the pollution in the Ganga is caused by the release of raw sewage directly into the river although there are other causes too.

* Fasting Babas – The other day, one of India’s countless saints, Swami Nigamanand died after a 73-day fast protesting against the pollution of the Ganga by illegal mining and stone crushing on the river’s banks in the Haridwar area. Did anyone even notice Nigamanand’s death?

* Millionaire Babas – India is a poor country but many of its Babas are filthy rich. Baba Ramdev has a huge business empire of over Rs 1,000 crore and the late Sai Baba’s assets were far too vast to even be accurately enumerated. Imagine, 98 kg of gold and jewellery, 307 kg of silver articles and Rs. 11.56 crore in cash were found just in Yajur Mandir (the private chambers of Sai Baba). Source: Hindu

What in God’s name was a Godman doing with 98kg of gold and 307kg of silver in his private rooms?

Only in Mera Bharat Mahaan!

Read more stories on Incredible India here.

Jun 172011

Avan Ivan, which released in theaters today, has received poor reviews from a bunch of movie critics.

Directed by Bala, the film features Vishal, Arya and G.M.Kumar among others.

Here’s a sample of critical reviews for Avan Ivan:


It looks like the film has been made with no proper script,….Yuvan`s music is nothing much to write about. Arthur Wilson`s camera is fantastic, especially the chase in the forest. Suresh Urs`s editing is crisp as the film (2 hours and 9 minutes) moves at a rapid pace.

Bala has made the film without a proper script. It looks like the award winning director wanted to make a film with two saleable stars aimed only at the box-office. If the film works at all, it works in bits and sequences featuring the mad hatters Vishal and Arya, who play to the gallery.


The problem, you notice, is that Avan Ivan delivers very little of the things it promises….The stumbling block arrives in the form of writer S Ramakrishnan’s dialogues, which aren’t that funny, and the crowd, which bursts into spontaneous laughter whenever each brother arrives, soon lapses into a puzzled silence….You’re never quite sure what and how Vishal and Arya’s characters are supposed to be shaped. You never really feel any affinity towards them. You’re not inclined to laugh at their antics, feel for their sorrows and their sudden shifts in character don’t gel well at all. The leading men try very hard (Vishal, especially, with his squint), but ultimately can’t carry off such flaky roles.


The writing, which lets down the movie big time, turns out to be erroneous, as the screenplay remains vague and directionless. One could literally become puzzled and impatient over the proceeding of the story until a twist that appears only during last 30minutes of the movie.

Terrible, Unimaginable Torture

Of course, some of the critics may have a positive word or two to say but the overall sentiment is that Avan Ivan is not up to snuff.

Folks, we strongly recommend you stay away from this piece of trash aka Avan Ivan.

Jun 172011

By Naveen

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, People of all ages – SI brings to you the first comprehensive review on the Internet of the new Tamil Film “Avan Ivan” (starring Vishal, Arya, G.M. Kumar, Janani Iyer, Madhu Shalini and Ambika. Director: Bala).

Director Bala – True Elements
After directing alleged “gems” like Pitamagan and Naan Kadavul, Bala returns with another ‘compelling masterpiece’ called Avan Ivan.

Alas, the only vile thought running in my mind right through the movie was “Ivan verum Bala va? ille lavadaikebala vaa?

Seriously, y’all don’t have wait for the end of the review to raise your middle finger to this horrendous piece of shit. Do it now and do it again with gusto.

Tamil Cinema and its mostly boot-licking patrons often misuse words like “Genius”, “Masterpiece”, “Reality”, “Class” etc. to provide handjobs to mediocre film makers like Bala. And Bala rightly responds to such fawning adulation by farting in the face of the gullible Tamil audience.

Story Synopsis
Given the travesty on the screen, the best thing to do would be to leave this section blank.

That would truly be the most accurate representation of Avan Ivan.

However, for the benefit of readers, here are the loosely connected dots to beguile you into a false impression that there was indeed  a story. Continue reading »

Jun 172011

To all those querulous bozos who moan and whine endlessly that Times Square in NYC has nothing to offer except endless stores, teeming crowds and acres of boring billboards, we offer the following pictures taken on June 15, 2011:

OM in Times Square NYCOm Shanti Om

Charming Sight in Times Square NYCBoy, She Sure is a Charming Sight

Look Up to This Beauty in Times Square NYCLook Up to This Beauty in Times Square NYC

Boy,  We like these Young Women in Times Square NYCPretty Women on a Billboard

Charmer in Times Square NYC‘Posterior’ Angle of a Charmer

Gal on Stilts in Times Square NYCIs her Name Lady Gulliver?

Related Stories:
What’s the Big Deal about Times Square?

Jun 172011

Floyd Cardoz, who was the chef and partner at the failed Indian restaurant Tabla in New York City, is the new Top Chef Master in the third season of Bravo TV Networks competition.

Cardoz’ winning meal included a South Indian favorite Upma, a rice-crusted snapper in a fennel-laced broth and Rendang, an Indonesian beef stew.

“You cooked a meal that was deeply skilled and very, very memorable,” said judge James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine (the other judges were food writers Gael Greene and Ruth Reichl).

Floyd Cardoz, who hails from Bombay and Goa, pledged his $100,000 prize to cancer research.

Tabla, where Cardoz worked for a dozen years, was one of those fusion restaurants that served bastardized Indian cuisine. You know stuff like Stone Church Farms Normandy Duck ($28), Elysian Fields Lamb Loin & Short Rib ($32) and Roasted Poulet Rouge Chicken ($26).

Which sane Indian restaurant serves Stone Church Farms Normandy Duck, Elysian Fields Lamb Loin & short Rib and Roasted Poulet Rouge Chicken.

No wonder Tabla failed.

Failed Tabla Chef Floyd Cardoz Blah-blahing about his Win

Related Stories:
Tabla NYC Kisses the Dust; Closing Dec. 30