Tag: Mumbai

Aam Aadmi Party Kicks Off Lok Sabha Campaign In Mumbai

By Aglaia Staff

Launching its Lok Sabha campaign in Maharashtra with a roadshow and rally in Mumbai, the Aam Aadmi Party on Wednesday attacked both the BJP and the Congress for being corrupt and called itself a “real alternative” and not a “substitute” to the existing political establishment.

Addressing the rally which saw an impressive turnout, senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said the country had not reached such a low point as to choose only between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. “The common man would run the aam aadmi’s government,” he said.

“When we talk of corruption by Congress, people say we know it, don’t bore us. Where was Rahul when Commonwealth Games, 2G, Adarsh, irrigation scams came to light?” Mr Yadav said.

Also on the AAP leader’s target was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, “There are misconceptions about Narendra Modi. He makes big speeches and says I am a common man. But I want to ask: how did Adani grow in Gujarat? Who gave the corporate land at discounted rates? When Indian Air Force asked for land, Gujarat government asked for market value.”

Mr Yadav also brought up the issue of Mukesh Ambani-managed KG Basin and said, “If Rahul Gandhi sneezes, Modi has a comment to make. But he has not spoken a single word on this issue. Why? What does this prove? They are hand in glove.”

Also attended by AAP candidates Mayank Gandhi, Anjali Damania, Medha Patkar, Meera Sanyal and Vijay Pandhare, the rally was an effort to cash in on local sentiments, with the rookie party even honouring Maratha warrior king Shivaji by garlanding his statue.

But perhaps the biggest announcement of the evening was the Aam Aadmi Party’s policy on slum redevelopment, a major issue in Mumbai. 

Mayank Gandhi, candidate from Mumbai North-West, said, “We are working on a policy with Medha Patkar on slum redevelopment. No slum dweller will be evicted without being given a home. Each home will be 450 square feet carpet area.”

“In (Mukesh) Ambani’s mansion, there is light but people cannot light their homes because of steep electricity rates,” Ms Patkar said in her address.

While AAP is taking on the political and corporate establishments in the run-up to national elections, it remains to be seen whether it can recreate the Delhi magic across the country.



 Aam Aadmi Party Kicks Off Lok Sabha Campaign In Mumbai
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Six Years On, Mumbai Awaits CCTV Project

By Aglaia Staff

Mumbai’s wait for a much-delayed CCTV-based surveillance system may get a little longer with the state government deciding to extend the deadline for the submission of the bids for around Rs1,000 crore project due to lack of response from potential bidders.


The CCTV project was initiated after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, and the high-level enquiry committee headed by former union home secretary Ram Pradhan, which probed the attacks, had also touched the issue.

It plans to install around 6,000 CCTV cameras across 1,500 identified locations with an average of 14 cameras per sq km. The project will also include 12 patrolling vans with mounted cameras and 1,000 police vans with GPS.

In November 2013, which saw the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, the state government invited Request for Proposals (RFP) to design, implement and operate a state-of-the-art, internet protocol-based CCTV surveillance system. It also held a pre-bid meeting.

The first attempt by the state to award the project hit a dead end after one of the companies in the consortium which had successfully bid for it was blacklisted. In the second attempt, the selected bidder faced a financial crunch and failed to deposit the bank guarantee.

“While 38 bid documents were taken, we did not receive any bids by February 13, which was the last date for submission. Hence, we extended the duration to February 24,” said a state government source. He said one reason for the poor response could be the stringent conditions laid down in the tender.

The official said the tender consisted of conditions like the companies having a net profit of Rs100 crore for three years. “The IT industry has been in a bad shape in the past few years,” said the official, adding that hence, it was necessary for the condition to be diluted.

“Otherwise, that leaves only the big players in the fray… but many multinational firms have been dithering in submitting their bids,” the officials said, adding that some IT majors were seeking that they get a mobilisation advance for the project. According to the conditions, the successful bidder will get 20 per cent of the cost of the project if it goes live in 52 months and the companies have been seeking the extension to 62 months and the increase in the amount to 40 per cent. The remaining amount will be paid in phases over the next five years. The source said that the potential bidders had sought over 880 pre-bid clarifications and added that the project would be challenging considering the extent of work and amount of digging of roads required. The source further added that some potential bidders had also sought a “mobilisation advance” if the project were to be successfully awarded to them.

The work on installing 1,285 CCTV cameras in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad has already been awarded.

Incidentally, the Pradhan report had pointed out that the Mumbai city police had no ready access to the CCTV cameras mounted in private premises including hotels. These had to be requisitioned legally if need be. However, the police force in places like New York have ready access to these cameras.


 Six Years On, Mumbai Awaits CCTV Project
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Single Line Connection: India’s First Monorail In The New Year

By Aglaia Staff

For the past few months, a pink, blue and green structure resembling a metallic caterpillar has been zipping overhead of narrow roads, decaying slums and mangroves in Wadala and Chembur. Cars have been halting to take a picture, people in high-rises staring at it from their balconies, and children in slums underneath egging it on it with cries and outstretched arms.

The monorail, a mass transit system few countries have, is coming to India for the first time, though two years late.

Five years after construction started, Mumbai‘s development authority MMRDA is set to open the first phase to the public in January. Of the 19.5-km corridor from Chembur to Jacob Circle in Byculla, the first phase will run 8.8 kilometres until Wadala. The completed route will be the world’s second longest, after the one in Japan’s Osaka.

A few others steps remain. Documentation is involved in the handover from the project team to operations and maintenance. The project also needs final safety clearance from a former commissioner of railways; a senior official says it won’t get that until the opening rules are published. “The draft rules are published but the final rules have to be notified. The file is with the chief minister’s office,” the official says. The commercial rules are currently in the public domain for suggestions and objections, but their publication is not mandatory for final safety clearance.

Pluses and minuses

The monorail, which runs on a single rail (guideway beam) that grips the wheels laterally from either side, is preferred when densely populated areas are to be connected with not much free space available. The beam is just about a metre wide, the size of a divider or a small footpath, and rests on single pillars about 6.5 metres high.

Besides, monorail systems can negotiate steep gradients and a turning radius as low as 50 metres, making them suitable for crowded areas such as Chembur, Antop Hill and Parel. The rubber tyres on concrete beams make very little noise. It is also possible to have an open station inside a residential building with the train running through the building.

Many believe the monorail, however, is more useful as a feeder service to Metro and suburban railway stations rather than as a mass transit system. This is because its carrying capacity is low. Each air-conditioned rake will be able to carry 568 passengers — 852 if the MMRDA decides to increase the cars from four per rake to six — while a Metro rake can carry three times as many though it requires a wider right of way.


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Only 5000 Tickets For Fans: Tendulkar’s Farewell Test

By Aglaia Staff

It is one of the most anticipated cricket events in India — Sachin’s Tendulkar’s 200th Test match marking his retirement from international cricket. Yet only 5,000 of the 30,000 tickets at Wankhede Stadium will be made available to the public for the Test match which begins on November 14.

Around 17,000 tickets will be distributed to cricket clubs affiliated to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which is hosting the match. Of the remaining, as many as 8,000 tickets will be given “complimentary” to sponsors and government bodies, including the municipality and the police.

300px A Cricket fan at the Chepauk stadium%2C Chennai Only 5000 Tickets For Fans: Tendulkars Farewell Test

Visit aglaia.co.in Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary,(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cricket fans are disappointed. “Do we need to have contacts to get tickets? 5,000 tickets for the public are much too low for a match like this,” said Chandrakant Rajeshirke, who is keen to watch the match.

Cricket clubs will sell tickets to their own members. We have no way of contacting them for tickets,” said Amod Sathe, another avid cricket fan.

Meanwhile, hectic lobbying is on for complimentary tickets. The police and the municipality have been flooded with phone calls. “I have been getting hundreds of calls every day. People are even dropping in to see me for tickets. I can’t help them and it is difficult to refuse them outright,” said Mayor Sunil Prabhu, who has received an invitation from the MCA to attend the match.

300px Wankhede 2 Only 5000 Tickets For Fans: Tendulkars Farewell Test

Visit aglaia.co.in Wankhede cricket stadium, Bombay Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Police officers too are facing a similar problem. “People feel that the police can help procure tickets instantly. We have been telling them they should ask the MCA,” said Krishna Prakash, Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region).

Even leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), whose chief Sharad Pawar is currently at the helm of the MCA, are at a loss. “I have been telling people that the MCA does not belong to our party and providing tickets to them is not our job,” said NCP corporator Dhananjay Pisal.

However, the MCA says this has been the practice all along. Cricket clubs have always been given the lion’s share of tickets to sell. And distributing complimentary tickets is also an old tradition. “We have to give complimentary tickets to the agencies that help us in our functioning,” said Ravi Sawant, vice-president.


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RIM to Launch 15 Premium Stores

18346v1 max 450x450 RIM to Launch 15 Premium Stores

Image via CrunchBase

By Sunil Kumar


Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion (RIM) has plans to launch around 15 BlackBerry premium stores across the country by the end of this year to expand its business in India.

The firm launched a store in Gurgaon Friday. It had opened one in Delhi last month.RIM also has over 5,000 retail points of presence across the country. According to data by IT research firm , smartphone sales in India surged 87 per cent at 11.2 million units in 2011 over the previous year.

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Jaipur Literary Festival – Day 3


skph1 300x189 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3


By Sunil Kumar

If we were to construct a tracking shot on the great canvas of life, it would be a blockbuster. The world today lives on extended imagery, conveniently living other people’s lives without even realizing it.

Princess Diana died in 1997, and I was sitting in some stupid college festival in Sydenham, Mumbai. Actually it should be pronounced as ham in Syden, since I have now had quite a lot of it in Germany, etc. Our shastras were quite liberal before the puritan Victorian nincompoops appeared to plunder India, this info is for my local friends and abroad.We shift the camera back to Jaipur, the capital of Rajputana, formerly where some of our greatest battles were shot, I mean fought. I am sure Ashotosh Gowariker would agree with me, I met him somewhere recently.

In The Beginning

I arrive early at the venue and sit at the Tata Steel Front Lawns. Expectedly, it was jampacked with a lot of local and Indian media waiting for the great doyen from the West. Not quite getting front-row seats, I still am seated quite close to the stage. Shekhar Kapoor, Indian film director as well as Kabir Bedi, some other celebrities, and an army of cameramen, photographers seem to have arrived for the talk-show priestess.

Barkha Dutt seems to be at her effervescent best. As for me, I like the person sitting next to me, a simple person from Haryana. He gives me a straight response on the land of milk and honey, our country’s bread basket. The other people strike me as being false, pretentious and untrue, a brown blot.

So, Oprah arrives on the stage with some pomp and pageantry, and we are witness to our fawning, gyrating local as well as global media. I admire this lady, but again shows how skewed our country is. In the United States of America, they would only be slightly aware of what’s goin’ on in India, but the rest of the world seems to be in an imagined stupor. Lest I forget, I listened to an interesting discourse on Kabir and Dadu Dayal before this.

Chopra’s On

The next act after Oprah is Chopra, Deepak. Although his metaphysical quantum theories are interesting and transport people into a dream-like alternate reality, there are contradictory views. I shall put in a link from the Skeptic Magazine, an interesting debate between Deepak and the Editor. Quantum causality and all that jazz can ideally make us think more profoundly about the nature of the universe, after we can down some teas and have lunch. In a thousand years, the place where I and the other people were sitting would have transformed, and I do not know what would happen to these words and code in the extended world of cyberspace. Britain could be a jungle with monkeys.

Also, again the West and the rest of the world is funny. They bomb most of the places, and then celebrate culture in a theatrical rerun, marketing gimmickry. The mystical poet Rumi is mentioned often. Rumi, Jalaludin is from Balkh in Afghanistan and lived in Istanbul, Turkey, a city which I saw for a short time just recently.

After this spiritual-marketing exercise, let us move on to Michael Ondaatje, Philip Marsden, Tabish Khair , Kunal Basu and the art of historical fiction. Out of this, I met Mr. Basu somewhere on the sidelines. When the Qing dynasty ruled China, and they practised foot-binding, they were probably not aware that after three hundred years, their country would be an industrial colossus, and everybody from around the world would be so interested in the sights and sounds of the Forbidden Kingdom.


‘Journalism as Literature’ is interesting. Katherine Boo like all Americans, some people from the West, and a few local clones, seems to be partially taken aback by the natives and their tendency to now increasingly look after themselves. If you manage to conveniently loot India, and still do so in different ways, it is time the empire should be able to buy a few things back.

After all it’s open season with money, all you guys and every local crony made the world in its image. Indian IT seems to support jobs in the US, UK etc and neglect its own backyard. And the great President smartly quotes the half-apologetic, gritty but interesting father of this nation while indulging in rabid, outright protectionism himself. Geo-politics is another extension of our true selfish natures.

The day ends as I listen to Tom Stoppard and David Hare talking about plays. I would suggest that they see a few local acts in Bombay, as they were much more interesting than the massively boring ideas of the West. Life is peaceful here, in the open air. With no fan on, I’m sweating.


Skeptic 1 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3

Skeptic (U.S. magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)















 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3
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Day 2 – The Lit Fest

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I wake up, then I put my makeup. Just kidding, I am sometimes a bearded man, sometimes clean-shaven, and I despise any false ornaments, unlike some friends from the East and the South. The Lit Fest column is dedicated to literature, and the finer aesthetic sensibilities that get squashed living in the world of the self-obsessed people.

Sunil walks in the road close to his hotel. There is a strange cacophony of noises, auto and cycle rickshaws and the city Metro getting constructed close by.

I had seen the Diggi palace, the place where this festival was supposed to take place at night. My cousin tells me it is owned by a person with her name, Jyotika which gives her some bragging rights. A strange sea of expectation in my brain, I really want to understand how the whole place works and whether it would be really exciting.

Used to the partially metered existence of Mumbai, I find this city and its urban transport rather different. After I get into a massive auto with a turbaned moustached man, I see the sights and sounds of the land of the Rajputs.

The Maharaja and the Maharani colleges are standing neck-to-neck in competition on opposite sides of the road. I get close to the venue, where there is a police cordon. They need to protect our noble citizens from terrorists, within and without.

The first act: I head straight to the registration counter. As I had done some formalities online, the willing volunteer issues me with a pass(Applicable for all 4 days: he says, issued by HCL, another one of India’s technology majors or sweatshops with some narcissistic head, I am sure.)

So yours truly gets into the venue. My life is a truthful reflection of my own contradictory urges and ideas that sometimes make me despondent and sometimes extremely happy.

The Tata Steel front lawns. Some people working on their laptops, a few foreigners and locals have made their way early to the first day of the literary carnival.

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