• Stung TV hosts defend phone chats with Nira

    Soon after Open magazine published transcripts of conversations between well-known journalists and public relations consultant Nira Radia, the journalists in question said it was legitimate for them to talk to people from all walks of life.

    The transcripts suggest that Barkha Dutt, group editor of NDTV, and Vir Sanghvi,  advisory editorial director of The Hindustan Times offered to mediate between the DMK and the Congress, but both journalists dismissed them as routine conversations where they were just being polite. Open reported:

    The phone lines of the head of Vaishnavi Communication, Niira Radia, were twice placed under surveillance by the Income Tax Department (based on a tip-off by the Central Board of Direct Taxes) for a few months in 2008 and 2009. Niira Radia is a woman of formidable networking and PR skills, so much so that she represents both the Tata and the Mukesh Ambani group. Some of these recorded phone conversations are now available with Open; they were

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  • Who Will Win the F1 Title?

    I don't know who will win, it is very close. It is between Mark and Fernando — Button

    Formula One current world champion Jenson Button has given up and now the race for the F1 title in Abu Dhabi will be fought between Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

    After the Brazilian Grand Prix, the sport stands in an exceptional four-way battle set for an exciting high point. Also, it is the fourth time in five seasons that the champion will be decided only after the final race.

    The contenders are neck-to-neck before the Abu Dhabi decider:

    * Fernando Alonso on 246 points
    * Mark Webber on 238 points
    * Sebastian Vettel on 231 points
    * Lewis Hamilton on 222 points

    It seems like the Red Bulls and Ferraris are quicker than us in the dry, which means they probably have a bit more downforce. But if it is wet that will make it much more of a lottery - Lewis Hamilton

    Now that the constructors' title has been snapped by Red Bull in Brazil,

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  • As a weakened US President Barack Obama arrives for a 10-day trip to Asia, security, trade and economic issues will top his agenda.

    If a sagging US economy has been blamed for his Democratic Party's loss in the mid-term election, reviving the economy would be the key to renewing his presidency, and economic issues are sure to top his agenda.

    Ahead of his visit, Obama described India as a "cornerstone of the US engagement in Asia", but held out no assurances on key issues — support for India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council and ending curbs on export of dual-use technology.

    That clearly indicates that he will not endorse anything that could land him in more trouble than he already finds himself and his party in.

    Obama has also stressed that his India sojourn would provide him with an opportunity to work with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring Indo-US cooperation on a broad range of issues to a new level, but if he skirts important issues like CTBT and

    Read More »from What India Can Expect From Obama
  • Tata Nano is something that took the national pride to new levels, no doubt about it. Tata tied the tongues of the global auto experts and critics who claimed it's impossible to build a one-lakh car.

    But now, Tata seems to be proving critics right by increasing the price of the world's cheapest car for the second time since its launch. Tata Motors on Friday said it had decided to increase the prices of Nano by about Rs.9,000, effective from November 1.

    For Tata, it may be an attempt to 'partially neutralise the steep increase in input costs in the last two years', but Nano will now cost twice the much hyped 'one lakh', at least in India's commercial capital.

    The ex-showroom price of the top-end Nano (the largest selling) will be Rs 2.01 lakh in Mumbai, while the standard version will be priced Rs 1.49 lakh. The ex-showroom Delhi prices will be Rs 1.88 lakh (top-end) and Rs 1.37 lakh (base model) from November 1.

    Will you call Nano the people's car again?

    Share your views with me on

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  • Cell phones and cars have historically been a dangerous mix. But this idea was floored at last week's i-Stage event, where Mavizon Technologies walked away with first place and $40,000 to develop the AutoBot (no, not that Autobot in your mind), a smartphone application that allows drivers to control a number of car functions with the touch of a button.

    Autobot is nothing but a small piece of hardware mated to your car and syncs up to an Internet-based account, which you can access via a smartphone application. The device is capable of doing things such as sending an SMS when the car leaves a specific boundary or messaging friends and family when the driver meets with an accident. Moreover, AutoBot will allow the driver to lock and unlock doors, control window settings, start the car, locate the car if it gets stolen, and even check engine functions and get tips on saving money.

    The most amazing thing is that it works in all vehicles with an OBD-ll port (1996 or later).

    Read More »from Now, Control Your Car Using A Cellphone
  • The affairs of the Indian Premier League just got murkier as members of the Kochi consortium continued to fight amongst themselves to set up a joint venture as per the directives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

    According to a report, Kochi owners have sent an e-mail to the BCCI on share structure and seeks Rendezvous Group's sweat equity to be reduced to 10 percent. The Rendezvous Group, however, is refusing to accept anything less than 25 percent. Two different proposals from sparring owners could get the Kochi team scrapped

    The Kochi consortium had on October 10 been served a show-cause notice for failing to form a joint venture in accordance with the franchisee regulations of the IPL, by the IPL Governing Council, even as the Council decided to scrap Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab from the multi-million dollar tournament.

    The IPL Governing Council was slated to meet again on October 21 to consider the response of the Kochi IPL. Kochi, however, has not

    Read More »from Indian Premier League in Trouble
  • Well, when its competitors come up with every other vibrant colour out there, why should Bajaj sit and watch? They're giving Pulsar a flamboyant metallic orange shade that will exclusively be available on the Pulsar 180, 220 and 220F variants.

    When the fuel tank, doom and the rear panels come in metallic orange colour, the front mud guard and side panels remain black. However, there won't be any mechanical changes to any of these models.

    Prices will remain unchanged, too — 180cc at Rs 74,300, the naked 220 DTS-i at Rs 80,900 and the top end Pulsar 220F at Rs 84,300 (prices, on-road Mumbai).

    Pulsar, which is largely responsible for changing Bajaj's 'scooter maker' image, is by far the leading sports machine in India with a consistent 50 per cent market share.

    For Automobile-related updates and queries, connect with me on Twitter

  • When I first read about how Rohinton Mistry's Booker-nominated novel 'Such a Long Journey' was dropped from Mumbai University's BA English syllabus, I was enraged. Aditya Thackeray — Uddhav Thackeray's son and Bal Thackeray's grandson, had paid a visit to the University's vice-chancellor and demanded that the book be withdrawn for containing a few passages that were critical of the Shiv Sena's violent ways during the 1970's (the period wherein the novel is set). The University immediately fell at Aditya's feet, pulling the book off the second year BA syllabus the very next day.

    The issue hit close to home. I was an English major and History Honours student at St Xavier's College — the same institution that Mistry is also an alumnus of and where Aditya Thackeray is currently a final year History student. When I was in college, 'Such a Long Journey' was not a prescribed text but a part of additional reading for the second year subject on 'Indian writing in English'.  I had

    Read More »from Such a lot of nonsense
  • Shocked? I was too. But the news is true. Suzuki Motor said it will recall a total of 90,617 units of its Swift and three other car models in Japan to fix a possible door mirror defect, with about 192,000 cars sold abroad also possibly subject to repairs.

    Suzuki said that over time strong vibrations could cause screws to loosen, possibly causing mirrors to dislodge.

    But worry not, Maruti Suzuki has clarified that Swifts sold in India are completely safe and there were no plans to replace it.

    "Swift cars sold in India are all indigenously developed and are absolutely safe. We have a huge plant here where we make our cars and our Swift in India is absolutely safe, with no such mirror screw problem," said a spokesperson of the country's largest carmaker.

    Meanwhile, Suzuki is all set to launch the new 2011 Swift in the Indian market with K-series engine and completely refurbished interiors, with better quality plastics and a re-designed dashboard. Know more

    Got queries? Connect

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  • Tata Aria didn't come down in the last shower of rain. Tata Motors has matured the learning curve over the years, facing many challenges and crossing many hurdles. Now they are, in every sense of the word, accomplished enough to develop a world-class vehicle; and the result is Tata Aria, the  first indegenous 4X4 crossover.

    Having taken Aria for a short spin, I'm fairly impressed with the vehicle, especially the safety measures. Tata has left no stone unturned, Aria is a potpourri of every feature that you'd expect from a world-class crossover.

    Safety Prime Concern

    Tata has taken safety to new heights. Aria comes with safety features, both active and passive, that only 30 lakh plus vehicles can boast of. While active features like ESP, ABS & EBD to aid steerability and control in emergency braking, six airbags — driver, passenger side and curtain — ensure protection from front as well as side impacts. Passive features include Hydroformed chassis members that enhance strength and

    Read More »from Tata Aria: Road Test and Review


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