Sunday, December 23, 2007

Things I hate about Indian film awards

Soon 2008 will dawn upon us. And the award season will start. Screen, Zee, Filmfare, Stardust and what-not film award functions will be held, all over Mumbai. All of them look the same, all seem biased to me. There was a time when I used to highjack my remote control for over 4-5 hours and patently see the entire function. Now, I hate them because they sound cliched amongst other things. Here are my reasons:

Variety entertainment
Award shows are less of awards and more of variety entertainment. They have now become, at least in the 20 years or so, a convenient platform to show off an actor's 'dancing' talent because 99% of the industry with all the famous directors, producers, etc are seated in the audience. So what better way to sell yourself to them than to show some of your so-called dancing "skills". Most of the dancing is horrendous with even the likes of salman khan doing some items there. It's a pain to watch them dance when they don't know the D of dancing.

The actual award ceremony does not take more than an hour and a half, but the show goes on for over four hours. The rest is obviously taken up by all these mindless performances.

Irritating emcees
Almost always, the emcees are irritating. Unlike the western award functions where hosts memorise their entire script and say it effortlessly, even when it comes to describing a certain film and its casts, details, etc to announcing nominees, complicated names, they say without peeping into cue cards, our hosts read out from the script much like a 3rd standard student reading out a para from their textbooks minus all the artificial drama and emotion. In my memory, the only capable hosts on India award functions have been the Siddhartha Basu and the combo of SRK-Saif; the latter put up a very entertaining skit some years back.

Further, if the hosts are a couple, they stage these stupid and artificial arguments or fights and try and be humorous and even witty. They end up looking miserable and don't amuse.

Biased jury and unfair winners
This is the one single reason why I hate all film award functions. Not that partiality doesn't happen in international awards, but our Indian awards have become quite biased in recent years.

All you need to be is a major production house, keep giving regular interviews to film magazines and bam, you've got an award! No wonder SRK has won so many film awards throughout his career that we've forgotten to keep track of. Yes, no one's interested anymore in any case, but still. Hrithik Roshan won the best actor award for his role in Krish as against some other better performers. It's like Tobey Maguire winning an Oscar for playing Spiderman. Gone are the days when credible performances, even by some of the elder actors, like Sanjeev Kumar, Naseerudin Shah, Shabana Azmi used to win awards for their mind-blowing performances.

The fault also lies in the voting system. Firstly, instead of a credible jury, the public is allowed to vote. Public is know to get swayed by emotion. Then again, how many would have seen a film called 'Dharm' or say' Blue Umbrella' and would nominate their lead actor Pankaj Kapoor who gave award winning performances in both these films? It's only when you are an SRK, Saif, Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar and the likes that you get noticed and voted.

One final point. I have noticed that higher the movie's collections, better are its chances of winning awards or at least getting nominations across all categories.

Never-ending categories
In order to satisfy as many people and also to ensure that as many people as possible attend award functions, Indian award functions have numerous categories. So you have awards like the Best Villain, Best Comedian in addition to Best Supporting Actor. In 2001, Paresh Rawal got nominated in and won the Best Comedian award when in reality his was a lead role and should merited attention in the Best Actor category. In 2002 at the Zee awards, while Aamir Khan and Tabu won the best actor and best actress awards, respectively, for Lagaan and Chandni Bar, Suuny Deol and Kajol won the Best Outstanding Awards - Male and Female, respectively. What is the difference between Best Actor/Actress and Best Outstanding Performance, I fail to understand.

Chewing gum and ladies stroking their hair
Since most award functions are held outdoors, the attendees have to constantly tackle the wind. So all you see the actresses doing is stroking their long hair backwards and plugging their strands behind their ears, every minute or two, throughout the 4-hour extravaganza. Notice how they do it especially when the cameras are focusing on them. They look like rich housewives who are thoroughly bored and have nothing else to do.

If ladies have this irritating habit, could the male species be any far behind? What do they do? They chew gum. Chew, chew, chew and chew gum all the time. Chew gum when they enter, keep chewing it throughout, some chew with their mouths open and some chew even when they come up on stage to receive the awards! They think they look stylish. hmmm.

Adjectives in announcements

This is a copy of the British award system. Whenever any guest or a co-host or an emcee is called upon stage, the caller always uses an adjective. Just the name is not enough. It's always, 'The very beautiful Ms XXX' or 'The very talented Mr XXX' or 'The very gorgeous Ms XXX'. I find all this praise to be very artificial and so not-worth the time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Touchy stars

If you ever want to know where to find the biggest egos - or at least amongst the bigger ones - in society, look no further than Bollywood. Recently Aamir Khan made a comment on the movie Black and mentioned in an interview that Black didn't work for him because it was insulting and humiliating to children. Beating a visually, hearing and speech impaired child to make her come out of her senses and learn the ways and walks of life is not his kind of cinema, he said. He also said that the performances of Black were over-the-top.

Now Amitabh Bachchan, considered by many as one of the best actors, got offended. He gave a rebuttal interview and said that maybe the performances went over Aamir's head.

Bollywood is full of ego personalities. They can't digest any criticism. Critics are retards they say because critics pan shit movies. Performances have gone over people's heads if people do not like the performances. Damm people, damm freedom of speech, if I am Amitabh Bachchan, how dare a fellow actor, especially one who is younger than me in several years, criticize my performances, especially when I have won a National award for that same performance! Who the hell is he?

So what if I did not support him when his movies were (unofficially and unconstitutionally) banned in a part of India because he exercised his rights as an Indian citizen and spoke out against what he thought was injustice. So what if I, Amitabh Bachchan, the most respected, honoured star of Bollowood and one who is looked up by peers and public alike, did not speak out in the honour of my own industry, one that has cherished and nurtured me and given everything what I have today, and was under threat by fundamentalists. Why? Obviously, because I am politically correct and then why should I dirty my hands in somebody else's problems? But hey, if a fellow actor criticizes my performances in Black, then GOD save him from me. Because for that, I have a right. waise ton rishte mein hum sabke baap lagte hain. Naam hain, Amitabh Bachchan.

Clearly, Amitabh needs a lesson in democracy. He may be one of the biggest stars, but he will never ever be beyond any criticism. Understand that very clearly. Every public figure is open for criticism. Everyone has a right to speak. Many members of the public and audience also criticised Black. I too found his performance in Black - and to some extent Ranis' - over the top. Alzheimer patients do not twitch and turn and behave the way he did. Credit for that should actually go to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, director of one of the worst films in 2007 (Saawariya) and one that i have ever seen. Does AB have the guts to then tell us, the audience, that his performance went over our heads? I don't think so. Overall, I liked Black, that I must admit. But I also respect Aamir's views and the fact that unlike his politically correct and cowardly Bollywood colleagues, at least he knows to speak his mind and do his own thing.

Taare Zameen Par

Striking the Right Cord

Barely missing the movie on one of my most hectic Saturdays in recent times, I am glad that I finally made it to Regal cinema and watched this masterpiece called 'Taare Zameen Par' (TZP). The movie takes a sympathetic look - or rather the way it should be looked - at dyslexia. Young Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) cannot study like some of the other kids, he is poor in Maths, his language and vocabulary does not make sense nor can he make sense of it all, he does not show his red-inked report card to his parents, does not do homework and bunks classes. Fed up by his antics and his teacher's constant complaints, his parents, especially Daddy, banishes him to a boarding school, much against the little one's wishes.

Enter an angelic arts teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) who observes and identifies Ishaan's problems and mental agony. He takes it upon himself to set things right for the little one by creating a conducive atmosphere for the children and of course Ishaan, simultaneously educating Ishaan's ignorant parents, teachers and principal of the school. The little one slowly comes out of his shell and jells with the 'outside' world.

Neither TZP is a documentary on dyslexia nor it its pace documentarish like Swades'. Though I quite liked Swades and was disappointed it didn't work. But TZP is among the new breed of off-beat Hindi films told in a mainstream manner that unshackles us, raises a stir amongst us, and urges us to rise to the occasion, such as Rang De Basanti (RDB). For the record, I wasn't referring to the assassination in RDB, it was about making a difference in a positive manner despite one's stature and size. TZP's pace is entertaining, at the same time not deviating from the subject. It takes us right into the mind of the troubled Ishaan to show us his hidden brilliance on one hand, and agony on the other of, for instance, what goes in his mind when told to read a line from the textbook.

The movie does take certain liberties and is not without flaws. For instance, I felt the teachers on a whole have been portrayed in a poor light. Yes, some teachers are most certainly like the ones portrayed here, especially the knuckle-hitting nerd teacher (Saluja Singh of Physics and Pingle of Algebra were those teachers for me at my school Hindi Vidya Bhavan), but certainly all teachers can't be so insensitive. The boarding school hostel warden is also unnecessarily stern. I do not think anybody in his position would threaten a fresh boarder and remind him of how 'rowdy' children before him were tamed.

TZP captures many nuances of a typical aspirational family quite well. The constant comparison to the excelling elder sibling, parental pressure to perform, score high marks and forcing their ambitions of becoming a doctor, engineer, etc on their children and 'training' them like as if they were some assembly-line products, are just some of the incidents thrown at you. It reminds us of our own childhood to a large extent.

The good part is that TZP balances entertainment and education evenly and manages to strike the right cord in you. Performances are excellent. The kid Darsheel who plays Ishaan is a rare find. It is to TZP's director Aamir Khan and creative director Amol Gupte's credit that they zeroed in on Darsheel to play the part, out of thousands who had applied for the audition. His performance is flawless, he makes you laugh and cry all along the way, his mannerisms, his fear, his happiness, his confusion, his agony, his plight, he just takes you alongwith him, all along. His is one of the best performances I have seen in a long, long time. Aamir Khan is as usual brilliant and gives yet another winning performance, though gladly this time he takes a backseat and lets Darsheel paint the entire canvas on his own, taking charge.

TZP is a must-watch. It's one of the best movies I have seen in recent times.

Rating: * * * * *

Friday, December 21, 2007


Can diversified equity funds tilt heavily towards mid-caps?

What does diversification mean for a diversified equity fund? Does it mean it will diversify across sectors and scrips or does it mean it will diversify across market capitalisation stocks?

Outlook Money looked at equity funds to check out how little scheme objectives can tell you about their potential action. To keep things simple, we checked out only diversified equity funds. We omitted thematic, sectoral, dividend yield funds. We also left out closed-end funds and equity-linked savings schemes since they usually have a higher allocation towards mid-cap scrips on account of a lock-in. Then, we examined the portfolios of short-listed funds across five time periods since July 2005 when mid-cap scrips were the flavour of the market .

MF schemes that call themselves ‘diversified’ had an unusually high proportion of their assets in mid-cap scrips. In all of them (top five mid-cap exposure schemes), the average mid-cap exposure was 61 per cent.

Gunning for the flavour
As diversified equity funds have a mandate to go anywhere, some of them usually skew their portfolios towards scrips and sectors that are the flavour of the month. For instance, during the technology sector boom in 2000, many diversified equity funds had invested significant portions of their portfolios in technology sector scrips. Birla Advantage Fund had invested an average of 75 per cent of its portfolio in technology sector scrips between January and August 2000.

Unlike the 1999-2000 bull-run where only technology and related sectors were the flavour, the current run-up in equity markets has been more broad-based and encompassed several sectors. Additionally, small and medium-sized companies have revamped their operations, downsized and turned into profitable ventures. Since these companies have shown tremendous potential, they attracted foreign and local investors such as mutual funds that saw their share prices zoom. Since January 1, 2004, CNX Midcap index has returned 30 per cent on a compounded annualised basis, as against 28 per cent by the large-cap Nifty index. Returns between these two indices would not be comparable around a decade ago; now both are mentioned in the same breadth.

During the same time, 17 mid-cap funds were launched as compared to just five that were present prior. Additionally, diversified equity funds titled their portfolios towards mid-cap scrips to cash in on the boom.

Evolving markets and industry…
Things were different in earlier days when diversified equity funds were launched mainly as large-cap oriented funds, though they didn’t say so explicitly in their offer documents. Reason being, mid-cap scrips gained prominence only in the past four years when many of them restructured themselves. Years back, such companies were avoided by MFs as many of them were not highly profitable and suffered from low liquidity.

Only in the past four years, such companies have grown in stature and size, thanks also to a growing economy and acceptance of ‘Made-In-India’ products. Companies like Hero-Honda, Infosys, Bharti Airtel, etc. that were once mid-caps are today names to reckon with and are considered as large-cap, bluechip companies.

The investment universe for MFs has just gotten bigger. As regards to a modest size of companies available at the hands of your fund manager, say 10 years ago, today companies across market capitalisation, including established mid-caps, command as much attention from equity funds, as large-cap companies. Add to that to their growth potential – mid and small-cap scrips are generally not targeted by analysts and MFs in their initial years, but when discovered tend to register bigger gains than established companies – and it’s no wonder that even diversified equity funds want a pie of them, in addition to mid-cap funds.

…but stagnant definitions
Unfortunately, your diversified equity fund therefore still keeps harping on diversification that largely revolves around the number of scrips and sectors, but keeps mum on market capitalisation in its offer document. Technically, your fund is still said to be diversified even if it invests around 60-80 per cent of its corpus in mid-cap scrips, so long as it is has a sizeable number of scrips and sectors.

So are MFs wrong?
Theoretically, they are not. MFs are bound by their offer documents and can stretch their horizon as much as their offer documents allow them to. Most diversified equity funds phrase their objective in such a way that makes them mandatory to diversify across sectors and scrips, but rarely talks about market capitalisation of potential investments.

Most MFs don’t think that to be a problem. “Sebi mandates MFs to abide by their offer documents and treat them as the Bible. So as long as the offer document gives the leeway to the scheme, irrespective of whether the objective is loosely or tightly defined, it’s okay for schemes to skew their portfolios towards mid-caps”, says T. P. Raman, managing director, Sundaram BNP Paribas MF. Adds Krishnamurthy Vijayan, CEO, JP Morgan MF: “If a diversified equity fund goes heavy into mid-caps, you can’t fault him. In spirit though, it will not be advisable.” Industry sources say that if a fund manager has expertise in picking up stocks from a particular domain, his trustees may give him a larger leeway to play around in that domain, across all his funds, in one way or another.

Silent regulation
Sebi guidelines say that MFs must invest at least 65 per cent of its corpus in assets in tune with its objectives. This means an equity fund and a debt fund must invest at least 65 per cent of its assets in equities and debt, respectively. It is silent on other aspects in diversification. Internationally too, the US MF regulator Securities and Exchange Commission also doesn’t specify the market cap limit that diversified equity funds must work within. Further, says Sanjay Prakash, CEO HSBC MF: “One fund manager’s large-cap can be another manager’s mid-cap.” Prakash, though, feels that a standardised and flexible definition of various market caps would do well.

What should you do?
There isn’t a simple answer to this. As far as mid-cap funds are concerned, it’s easier look into the offer document as to what construes mid-cap scrips according to the fund. Or, say, a large-cap fund that explicitly says so, like Franklin India Bluechip and SBI Bluechip Funds. Or even some flexi-cap, multi-cap or ‘opportunity’ funds that at least claim in their offer documents to be go-anywhere schemes.

But if it’s a diversified equity fund, there’s little assurance that your fund manager would keep largely to large-caps and not sway into mid and small caps, especially in rising markets. It’s only when equity markets turn exceedingly volatile or start a downward trend that diversified equity funds titled heavily towards mid-caps would suffer. Stick with MFs that come with a long-term track record and watch out for consistent performance.

Playing the NFO game once again

MFs rush to launch multiple infrastructure funds with negligible differences

Can a mutual fund (MF) launch a new scheme with identical theme to an existing one? MFs say they can, provided one is open-ended and the other is closed-end. Despite its heavily-advertised and successfully existing open-ended UTI Infrastructure Fund (UIF), UTI MF has launched another infrastructure fund, UTI Infrastructure Advantage Fund – Series I (UIAF) that is closed-end, whose new fund offer (NFO) closes on 19th December.

Old wine in new bottle
Fund manager Sanjay Dongre told us that since UIAF is a closed-end scheme, it can invest significantly in mid-caps and remain invested, as closed-end funds do not see much redemption like open-ended ones. This is a frequently-used argument of MFs to launch closed-end schemes, but do closed-end funds deliver? UTI Equity Tax Savings Plan, an open-ended tax-savings fund but with a three-year lock-in, returned 39.5 per cent in the past three years underperforming the benchmark and category average by six and four percentage points, respectively. Additionally, it also underperformed the category average of open-ended diversified equity funds by eight percentage points.

Cashing in
As against 2.25 per cent entry load that open-ended funds charge, closed-end funds can spend more as they charge as much as six per cent as NFO expenses. To make matters worse, UIAF’s name suggests that it could well be a series of infrastructure funds.

Tata MF has jumped on the infrastructure bandwagon, too. Despite a successful existing infrastructure fund, it recently launched another infrastructure fund that would invest 65 per cent in Indian infrastructure equities and the rest abroad. And now it has filed a draft prospectus of yet another infrastructure fund; targeting emerging economies, including India.

AMFI Guideline in the Dustbin

An NOC is still required to change agents despite an Amfi guideline that says it is not

On the heels of a story published in Outlook Money that highlighted mutual fund (MF) investors’ plight in shifting agents, on account of a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) requirement from the original agent (‘Consolidate Your Fund Folios’; 15 August 2007), and investor complaints alike, the Association of Mutual Funds of India (Amfi) issued a circular to all MFs on 5th September advising them to avoid asking for NOCs. Unfortunately, quite a few MFs have chosen to ignore the advice and still insist on an NOC.

Sticky trail
At the root of the problem is the trail commission that agents get. Also known as loyalty commission, MFs pay around 0.35 to 0.50 per cent of the prevailing investment value to the agents - in addition to the 2.25 per cent entry load at the time of initial investment – for as long as the investor stays invested.

MF sources told us that as soon as Amfi issued this directive, few unscrupulous agents started luring away investors of other agents on the premise of giving them some cash incentives and gifts. Not only do these new agents stand to grow in size and strength by acquiring new assets, they also start earning trail commission on investments acquired by someone else.

This is similar to the incentives or pass-back commission that agents used to pay investors earlier to attract inflows; a practice banned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Sources also told us that a Surat-based MF agent was at helm of this practice.

Alarmed by this misuse, other agents have reportedly threatened MFs to withdraw their investor-base, en-masse, if MFs allow agent-swapping without an NOC. Adds Debashish Mohanty, head-retail sales, UTI mutual fund and one of the MFs that still insist on an NOC: “Large and corporate agents with financial and operational muscle could stand to unfairly gain at the expense of the smaller agents.”

Caught in the middle
But what if you are simply unhappy with your agent’s service standards and decide to switch agents? Should he then continue to earn on your investments despite you taking your business elsewhere? Mohanty, as well as a section of the industry, feels that investors have no right in deciding who gets the trail commission. “The trail commission is an agreement between the MF and the agent. Investors are never taken into confidence about it and are not even told upfront about it.”

Counters financial planner Lovaii Navlakhi: “If the agent-investor relationship involves the former servicing the latter like recommending and explaining schemes, help change the address/bank accounts when required, ensure direct credit of dividends, etc., then there is absolutely no justification for the previous agent to continue earning trail fee on the investment which was brought in by them, but which they have long forgotten to service. It is the investor's money after all, and how do the AMC and the distributor get to decide on a subject like this?”

It’s Amfi, not Sebi
The moot cause why the Amfi directive is not taken seriously is because it is merely an advice and not a law. On the contrary, Amfi chairman A.P. Kurian was in a denial mood. “Except for a handful few, all other MFs are following. The ones that aren’t, will need to explain their actions”. However, for it to become a law, Sebi needs to issue this directive that would make it binding on all MFs to follow it. An Amfi directive is not binding on MFs, as Amfi is not a regulator, but merely a trade body.

And in order to discourage illegal investor acquisition, perhaps Sebi could also bar MFs to pay the trail commission to the new agent on the acquired business, so that unscrupulous agents are stripped of any incentive to unfairly snatch their peers’ assets. This is one more reason why Sebi should expedite its investment advisor guidelines, make them more robust and ensure that best practices are adhered to by all parties.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

News Channels I like

I am not an avid reader, I do not bury my head in books for hours and hours like some people I know. Except Harry Potter, Busybee and some on financial topics, I do not read books. But I read lots of newspapers, magazines and watch a lot of news on TV.

I watch only English new channels. Mainly because there is only one Hindi news channel on Indian television, NDTV India. Other Hindi channels that call themselves news channels, are not news channels to me; they are variety entertainment channels during the day and adult entertainment channels after 9 pm. Nothing wrong about it, but I think it would do us all good if they stop calling themselves news channels instead of what they truly are. Especially Rajat Sharma, who time and again, asserts on India TV that this is what the public wants to see and so they're showing it. But this piece is not about what I do not like. It is about the channels I like and watch.

My favourite channel is CNN-IBN. Starting from its editor, Rajdeep Sardesai, who may times presents the 9.00 news, raring to go and concerned with all the news there is to be presented, head nodding, his right hand carefully placed over his left hand and eager to present even the minutest of news in a way as if it will shake up the entire nation. But then, that's his passion. He was earlier with NDTV with Prannoy Roy, but later drifted apart and started his own news channel. Son of a cricketer and retired sociology professor St. Xavier's college, Sardesai is one of my favourite anchors. He started 'The Big Fight' on NDTV and took it to dizzying heights when it was almost compulsory to watch it.

Three panelists would fight it out with the audience watching and Sardesai closely monitoring them, grilling, and many times fingering, them. But he would ask the most important questions and compel the panelists to come clean on a variety of issues. He was and still is the master of debates. He asks pertinent questions to the speakers, antagonises them, allows them to clarify without hijacking the debate and then goes shoots at the next person surprisingly without sounding rude. I do not like the current host Vikram Chandra. He is a better newsreader than a moderator. I feel he is too soft and does not 'attack' the panelists. As a fellow journalist, I feel we should always analyse issues and people, critically, not to be rude or insulting to them, but be ready and open to ask them tough questions. Because the reader / viewer needs answers. And answers, they must get. I do not watch 'The Big Fight' anymore.

Overall, CNN-IBN is a good news channel. Their coverage is good, their news-reporters are better than the rest and they are crisp and clear. More so, I like the fact that their 9 pm news stretches for an hour, despite a short sports and entertainment capsule thrown in. One good quality is also the consistent quality of all newsreaders.

If not CNN-IBN, I watch NDTV 24/7. Their coverage is good, newsreaders vary from good to average. Besides, they have strongly taken up causes as and when they and citizens have felt that injustice had been meted out, like the three murder cases of Jessica Lal, Priyadarshani Mattoo and Nitish Katara and also reservations in educational institutions for OBCs and the subsequent brutal crack-down on peaceful protests by innocent students. Through their persistent coverage, they put pressure on the authorities, got these cases re-opened and saw through the conviction of two of three murder cases. This is what the news channel should stand up for. These are rare and extremely potent powers that if mis-used could have disastrous consequences in a democracy, but if used well, like NDTV did, could make a big difference.

However, they have lost some charm ever since CNN-IBN came. NDTV's newsreaders I find them too soft. Sometimes they are so soft, I have to increase my TV volume. Except Barkha Dutt ("I'm calling from a bunker"). Prannoy Roy, head NDTV, is the best of the lot. Though I now feel Sardesai has overtaken him. But Roy is clearly one of the best English newsreaders Indian TV has ever seen. He reads out news to you as if he's talking to you. It's more of story-telling than news reading. When he reads news, you feel like he wants to tell you news and not someone who is just doing his job for a salary. His legendary 'The World This Week', every Friday night at 10 on DD was a must-must on our schedule. News and events from around the world were told in free-wheeling one hour that negated the need to have several world news channels of today. Though now I feel Roy has taken his style a bit far and isn't as magical as he used to be. Two programs on NDTV 24/7 that I still like are 'We The People' by Barkha Dutt and some car & bike show that I feel is still the best of the lot on TV.

I do not much watch Times Now, though I used to watch it when it started. And it showed a lot of promise at that time. Unfortunately, they couldn't hold my interest. Their editor Arnab Goswami is over-excited about everything. Times Now is loud and sounds unnecessarily excited about every little news item. Goswami tried to be tough in his weekly interview program called 'Frankly Speaking' like Tim Sebastian of BBC Hardtalk, but couldn't succeed. This is my personal opinion. Though he amused me initially when he used to grill several interviewees. "Look into my eye and tell me you didn't want to become a home minister", he once asked Mani Shankar Aiyar. Besides, Times Now is very inclined to sport, especially cricket. Their sports coverage is skewed towards cricket; this I don't like.

I do not watch foreign channels like CNN and BBC. All they report or like to report is of terrorism activities in third world countries like Kosovo, Iraq, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the works. There are hardly any positive developments they report. You would fall into depression and loose faith in mankind if you watch these channels for days and days. You don't watch them for news anymore, you watch them only to know the world's weather. Perhaps a bit of sports on CNN and occasionally Hardtalk on BBC.

I do not much watch business channels, because I deal with the kind of news daily at work, so I can't digest it anymore once I get home. But between NDTV Profit and CNBC, i prefer the latter. Like their general news channel. NDTV Profit is soft and dull.

Meher Mahino, Ava Mahino and Adar Mahino: The holy trinity of Zoroastrian calender

Zoroastrians- or better knows as Parsis and Iranis of India- have a separate calendar. We look at the English calendar of course, but we al...