• The game is up for the Marans. On Monday, as the CBI was raiding their homes and offices, their party, the DMK, was in no mood to rush to their rescue.

    They will now have to fight their battles alone, with no support either from the Karunanidhi family, to which it is closely related, or from the larger political alliance in Delhi that had protected them all these years.

    After the DMK lost power in Tamil Nadu, the Marans' business began feeling the heat from the new dispensation. Soon after assuming power, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa made sure their cable business wouldn't thrive as it used to under a government run by their uncle and cousins.

    The DMK's top leaders remained quiet about the raids in Chennai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Neither Karunanidhi nor his influential sons Stalin and Azhagiri were reacting to the crisis in the Maran family, which owns the Sun TV empire.

    T R Baalu, the former union minister, mumbled something about how the raids were about 'business transactions' and

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  • (Thank you for your order — Flipkart.com)

    Recently, I fulfilled a promise I made to myself when I was a college student — that one day, I would start buying original music CDs. And through the next decade, I kept saying that one day, when I had money, I would actually pay back the artists that I'd stolen borrowed from.

    It was then, with some sense of excitement, that I finally decided to start going legal in October 2011. Truth be told, I could have done it long back — I started earning my own money almost 5 years ago — but like the old saying goes, better late than never. Close to three quarters of a terabyte and torrents of torrents (heh) of FLACs and MP3s later, I finally hit the 'confirm order' button for two CDs that I'd heard in and out on my Cowon.

    I can guarantee you one thing. The respective artists wouldn't have benefited from that 'confirm order' click if it weren't for those illegal downloads in the first place. Oh, no. If a friend of mine hadn't discovered that Australian

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  • Same Difference

    Blessed are those that can make music, for their work falls within the rare combination of two wonderful sets - that which brings joy to the world, and that which cannot be easily produced or replicated except by those with inordinate talent. But even those with copious talent slip-up at times, and there is one transgression in particular that gets my goat. Today, we talk about recycled music.

    I care very little for the morality of the issue itself. Passing off repetition as originality seems to be pretty bad form all around, and that is pretty well established by those who care, for those that don't. No - what bothers me instead is that music is as much a key into one's memory as letters from the past carefully preserved, or photo albums gathering dust suddenly discovered. And when someone comes along and decides to take liberties with that, it all feels rather rude and abrupt.

    At the very least, if liberties are being taken, I'd rather they were fairly generous in nature. And I think

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  • There's much rejoicing in Karnataka over the announcement of the Jnanpith for poet and playwright Chandrashekhara Kambara.

    Kambara's work draws on the folk idiom of the Belgaum region, and examines myths, modernity, sexuality, and even contemporary politics in a style rich in music and symbolism. (He is now planning a comedy on the life and times of the bandit Veerappan).

    We bring you a transcript of one of Kambara's lectures, where he talks about how a fear of ghosts and the British provided the inspiration for his early writing.

    My life, my writing
    Chandrashekhara Kambara

    Ghodgeri is our village. The Ghodgeri I came away from still exists. But the village I knew and grew up in does not. Boys of our village now come all the way to Bangalore. We notice many changes in the way they speak and live.

    Belgaum was just a story to me until I actually went there. We were terrified of the place. The British had a camp there. Their army also camped at Gokak, 12 km from our village. The British

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  • Introducing Tomas Tranströmer

    Tomas Tranströmer, Nobel Laureate for literature, 2011. A Swedish poet born to a teacher-journalist couple in 1931, here are ten things you and I may not know about TT. Well known in literary circles to walk the word mile from being deeply alive to nature's hisses and human misses, via the Swedish landscape. Onto a darker void of questioning, a vertigo of 'unsentimental cool'th . Widely traveled, turn of the century man whose first published collection, at the age of 23, was a Swedish hit. He went on to use his academic training as a psychologist, working at a juvenile prison. And write. Meanwhile jugaadu Indians have suitably discovered a connection. (Did you read the one about Steve Job's Apple logo being inspired by an Uttarakhandi baba who gave apples for prasad?) Right.

    Opinions on his body of work and the award vary from private ecstasy of well known contemporary poets writing in English to wait-a-minute-WHO-is-this? Always fun to hear the Nobels go to the Europeans too

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  • A cartoon featuring Sharad Pawar has caught the attention of the world after the police tried to browbeat its creator into taking it off the Net.

    Satish Acharya's cartoon of Pawar satirises the Maharashtra politician's declaration of wealth at just Rs 12 crore.

    Pawar, who heads the Nationalist Congress Party, is believed to be far wealthier than his mandatory official declaration suggests. He is also a cricket administrator. Pawar and his family have been linked to major scandals, including those relating to Adarsh Housing Society, Lavasa, and 2G spectrum allocation.

    Satish depicts Pawar as a pole dancer showing only so much, with lots remaining hidden.

    A senior inspector from the Mumbai cyber branch called up Satish, who now works from Kundapura in coastal Karnataka, to persuade him to take the cartoon off his blog.

    The cartoon remains on the Net. It first appeared in Mid Day, but ran into opposition only after it was shared online.

    Satish has won support from thousands of admirers on

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  • The World Remembers

    Today, the world across, there is shared sorrow in the passing of Steve Jobs. A legend in his own time, Barack Obama ranked him among the greatest of America's innovators, a man who exemplified the spirit of ingenuity, "Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it." In a round-up of tributes from CEOs, friends and contemporaries, it is inescapably clear that his name will be remembered with the greats, not just as a visionary who instrumented quantum leaps in technology and design, but as a man who lived a life so full, that his legacy will continue long after he is gone.

    As we pay our respects, we bring you some of the best of the web on Steve Jobs:

    In this Playboy interview with a young Steve Jobs, barely 30, he shines through as a true visionary, predicting the depths of possibility, unimaginable at the time. His prophecy for the personal computer is unnervingly accurate, "It can be a writing tool, a communications

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  • Manipur – Where petrol comes in mineral water bottles

    Kishalay Bhattacharjee

    Manipur BlockadeManipur Blockade

    Every time I try to write about Manipur without stereotypes I am confronted by the situation there which denies the narrative of a state that strives for excellence, of Mary Kom, and medals galore.

    My tours to the state over the last decade have recorded a people that have learnt to live with conflict and isolation. A third of the year sees blockades, shutdowns and curfew. Life goes on.

    Last year a marathon sixty-eight-day economic blockade seemed like the threshold. This year, another sixty-days-and-still-running blockade seems just another ritual in black humor.

    Manipur, a state on the Indo-Myanmar border, can be reached by three highways: One through Nagaland, a second by South Assam in Barak Valley, and a third again via South Assam and through Mizoram. The road through Nagaland is fraught with militant threat even when it is open to traffic. The other highway, which cuts through Meghalaya and is landslide-prone, is not safe either. All the highways are now

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  • A kilolitre of tears

    (Or a  dummy guide  on why the Delhi  powers that be cannot hear the common man in Manipur, 2005, 2010, 2011 )

    (Petrol selling in mineral water bottles on the black market)

    (Onions, potatoes being sold straight off the lorries)

    Some 2011 prices may be inconsistent with daily variances in official rate lists in both capital cities . But probably not as inconsistent as  the willful opening of the three highway entry points  that Manipur depends on. Manipur has no state transportation network to speak of, so reliance on private vehicles is heavy and be it petrol, kerosene, etc., it's been a jerrycan life.

    (How people protect themselves on these burning highways)

    A final word from a Manipuri many Indians will be familiar with.

    "A litre of petrol at Rs.200 in the black market and a cooking gas cylinder for Rs.1,500 or more... After two months of a blockade in Manipur, world boxing champion Mary Kom says she's at her wits end trying to balance training for the Olympics with the slow process

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  • In Manipur we are all Neros, fiddling away

    Debabrata Roy Laifungbam in Imphal

    Manipur BlockadeManipur Blockade

    This unacceptable, inhuman situation has been imposed in Manipur annually for some years now, like a feast to some despairing saint. The blockade, unlike international blockades, is confined to the national highways. While there is the question of the legality of such an action as a form of peaceful democratic action or protest, this remains a tinderbox of a political tool.

    Highway robbery?

    The term "highway robbery" refers to a payment you have no choice but to make there and then (i.e. no bargaining, just a total handover of all that you have).

    The punishment for robbery with violence was by hanging in the Elizabethan era; it was considered a capital crime. The public national highways to Manipur have been, for decades, the focus of targeted robbery in many forms. The highways run through many villages and lands inhabited by peoples of different ethnicity. There have been innumerable incidents of violence and fatalities on these roads. Policing of

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