Author Archive

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No Sex Please, We’re British – Background To “Slam,Bam, Thank You Ma’m”

December 14, 2008

By Sunil Kumar

Changing attitudes to sex have made Britain “Pleasure Island”.

The British penchant for sex is well documented, even more so for the kinky aspects. From Henry VIII, Elizabethan and Victorian England right down to the present day with sex scandals involving the royals, England has been merry with the romp.

So how did staid, conventional gentlemen transform into Italian lovers? Researchers “blame” Britain’s high casual rating on a few factors, including the decline of “religious scruples about extramarital sex”, a highly sexed up popular culture, and “the growth of equal pay and equal rights for women.”

British comedy has tended to be farcical, serious and “downmarket” at the same time. The “Carry On” comic series poked fun at British institutions in a humorous, underhanded fashion. John Cleese as “Basil Fawlty” in Fawlty Towers was the prude outraged by promiscuity in his “upright” establishment.

Aleister Crowley, supposed occultist and Satanist was one of the first people to spout “sexual nirvana” in conservative Britain. The decline in prudish morality has been gradual as England undid her knickers and inched closer to the G-string.

SPICE UP MY LIFE

Smack my Bitch Up!! How did sex become even more mainstream?

The 90s were the “wonder years” for the tabloid media as Britain’s royals kept the cashboxes ringing. Princess Diana and “Fergie- The Duchess of York” collectively became the merry wives of Windsor.

As Generation X became Generation Y, sexual mores transformed overnight.

According to the Brand Science Institute, Generation Y E-Ethics term most illegal behavior as acceptable.

Shows like “Sex and the City” – ‘Carrie Bradshaw knows good sex’ and brazen feminists exporting their own brand of sexual nirvana may have contributed to the most interesting finding of the survey- “Women are more promiscuous than men”.

Coupled with an oversexed popular culture and easy access to video, it is no surprise then that Britain tops the sex league tables !!

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Web Critique- The Statesman- Sunil Kumar

December 13, 2008
The Statesman Screenshot

The Statesman Screenshot

By Sunil Kumar

The Statesman is one of the oldest newspapers in India. It is published simultaneously in Calcutta, New Delhi, Siliguri and Bhubaneshwar.

The website aims to provide news for people in Eastern and North-East India. A target demographic would largely be people from East India and the Indian diaspora.

Analysis of the site is going to be on the following four aspects:
• First Impressions
• Writing
• Content
• Navigation

First Impressions:
According to Jessett.com, in terms of web usability, colour should not be used as the only visual clue. Underlining and links should be visible on the website.

The Statesman site is sans any engaging colour scheme. There are no links and underlining in any of the articles.

Jakob Nielsen’s rules add that the banner masthead should be in the extreme left hand corner. On the Statesman website, this is centred.

The Statesman website has a search engine directly below the masthead which gives an option to search within the site and advanced search within the World Wide Web. This is a useful feature.

Some Web 2.0 essentials like video and multimedia are absent in the site.

The left hand portion of the website has eight sub-sections under the “News” head which in my opinion are not an adequate mix.

SUB-SECTIONS:

16 sections under magazine are a wee bit too many. There are no sub-sections and no sub-navigation visible. Also, the font is too small and not easily accessible. Three banners under World Focus, “8th Day”, “Subscription” and “Asia News Network” are not aesthetically appealing. The purpose of these banners is unclear.

There are no columns and efficient sub-division visible on the website.

According to my colleagues, there is too much whitespace visible on the site, wasted space and the font is too small.

WRITING:

Comparing this to the BBC as a benchmark, there is no introduction to the website, headlines are consistent but devoid of colour, and there is no lead and introduction to any article, content is not consistent and visually poor. There are no descriptive subheads.

A majority of my colleagues in the class mentioned that the columns should be narrow, font should be web-friendly and added that there is no paragraph spacing.

Positives in Writing:
• Some of the written pieces are informative and critical.

According to Jakob Nielsen’s rules, the writing does not follow the F-Plan.There was a consensus among colleagues/classmates that there was a lot of wasted space and indigestible reading i.e extremely dense.

A standard Web 2.0 mantra is social bookmarking visible on ‘Guardian’ and the ‘BBC’ and several other websites. Also there is space for feedback i.e comments on most sites.

Most popular stories are usually listed in many websites as a measure of gauging public interest. There is nothing of this sort on the website.

Grammatical glitches are evident as there is no consistent punctuation anywhere on the site.
Adequate statistics are not visible in many of the stories. There are no hyperlinks visible anywhere and many articles begin with value judgements instead of the standard “inverted pyramid” route.

CONTENT:

The Webby Award for best copywriting goes to www.wired.com, a leading technology website. In content, each article has adequate links and probably loads of tags on the backend.

There are no links visible in any article to any site and there are no RSS feeds highlighted prominently such as in the top left hand corner.

Also websites like

, Webby winner have adequate navigation and drop-downs with a lot of video.

In comparison, the content in this site is staid and static with no regular updates.

The unique selling points of the website can be enumerated as follows:
An old establishment newspaper in Eastern India
Banner ads on website( three jarring ones)
A few photographs

Compared to the best sites on the web however, this pales in comparison.
Most websites listed in the Webbies have navigation and content management light-years ahead of http://www.thestatesman.net.

Jakob Nielsen also makes a point that consistent use of English (American or British) is necessary for any website to succeed. This is not visible in the ‘Statesman’ website.

NAVIGATION:

The navigation is not easy to use and is partially consistent. There is no sub-navigation.

The Webby Award for best navigation goes to www.ted.com (Technology, Entertainment & Design). Themes and interface and navigation change in http://www.ted.com according to specific topic for instance, technology, entertainment or design.

Now if this is considered as a benchmark, then the navigation in the ‘Statesman’ falls short as it is not interactive, the navigation is just a single-click taking you to the required subsection which is bland and has no text and multimedia/video.

Sports Section - Opening Screenshot

Sports Section - Opening Screenshot

A better comparison would be to compare it with NDTV.com, a major Indian news organization which is far better in terms of layout and navigation and usability. It is visually more appealing and rich.

It has a RSS feed so that newsbots and global RSS feedreaders can pick the requisite news up for their inboxes.

The Statesman site is not web-savvy in that respect, it does not have any video or RSS feeds. Also the NDTV.com site is well laid out.

In the Statesman site, there is an emphasis on ads, but they are not aligned properly in the right places.
One can understand an emphasis on economics, but it should be properly positioned.

UNPLUGGED SECTION :

Unplugged section is also short on any visuals and video, probably lacking in any visuals. There are no RSS feeds. Formatting is inconsistent. Fonts used are not aesthetically attractive. Jakob Nielsen adds that in terms of web design, interaction design i.e. navigation support, homepage layout, templates, search etc. are important.

Also in terms of search, indexing information, listing and sorting and retrieving information by keywords/tags/attributes is essential.

In plain SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) basic terms, this is not present on the Statesman website.

In a BBC article, Nielsen adds that most users want instant salvation on the web i.e they want to get in and get out. So they want pages that are useful and provide instant information.

As the navigation in this site is not very user-friendly and easily accessible compared to the best on the web and as per Nielsen’s rules, the site falls short on both counts.

Links open in a mini-window, with two ads at the bottom.

Web pages do not have adequate text with links in every window.

Opening Screenshot- Statesman- Career & Campus

Opening Screenshot- Statesman-Career&Campus

The extreme right hand corner of the website has the login and password details with three banner ads below that are not easily accessible.

Conclusions

The Statesman site needs a drastic upheaval in order to become more Web 2.0 compliant.

  • More tags and links in text

  • More web-friendly interface and navigation

  • Proper alignment on the website

  • More scannable text
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    BACKGROUND PIECE TO ‘RIDERS ON THE STORM’: WE NEED EDUCATION

    December 12, 2008

    By Sunil Kumar

    The global financial meltdown has resulted in loss of jobs around the world from New York to Tokyo. Some of the reasons cited for the crisis include reckless spending in the United States, increased global integration and speculation in stock markets worldwide.

    According to sources, MBAs in top management posts are held partially accountable for the global financial crisis. A Kaplan admissions consultant however claims that this has not decreased interest in management education.

    An international MBA education site states that average salary for MBAs in the UK is £64,000 with 12 percent earning over £100,000 and the same number on less than £30,000.

    In the short-term, jobs are set to decrease with lower bonuses, smaller raises and slower promotions. How are students affected?

    The global market for education is not expected to go down anytime soon. A University World News Article cites a report by researchers at IDP education that by 2025, 300,000 Indian students and 645,000 Chinese students are expected to study abroad.

    EDUCATE MY MIND
    According to Prof. Priya Angle, ICFAI Business School, Pune, the reason students pursue an MBA in India as this qualification guarantees a job

    Navi Radjou, vice president at Forrester Research points out the dichotomy in India’s education system.

    Quoting McKinsey research, he says that by 2020, India is expected to account for a fourth of the world’s total skilled workforce. In addition, he also quotes Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission, India on the level of primary education being abysmally low.

    S.Richard, Director of the Full Time MBA program at Cranfield School of Management states that British MBAs are among the best in the world as British teachers are typically approachable, have a keen sense of humour and are very professional.

    According to him, British MBA students have several years of business experience and view it as a value-add rather than a post-graduate qualification.

    Nigel Bannister, CEO, Manchester Business School Worldwide adds that due to a global recession there has been a shift from specific program modules such as banking and financial management to more traditional modules such as leadership and international business strategy.

    In the final analysis, a consensus from students and staff alike is that interest in business courses has not waned despite an ongoing global economic recession.

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    A TALE OF TWO CITIES- BACKGROUND TO APOCALYPSE NOW

    December 11, 2008

    Terror in Mumbai and civil strife in Bangkok make the world unsafe for international travellers.

    By Sunil Kumar

    Nearly 11 blasts this year in India and a politically turbulent year in Thailand has made international travel more risky. What are the reasons for ongoing and escalating violence?

    India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Congress government have had a tough 2008. Opposition to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, a global economic recession and a spate of terror attacks have added to the government’s woes.

    Thailand has always been a favourite haunt for Britons and an eclectic international mix. A combination of sleaze, dope and beaches have made the country a worldwide hit.

    Political demonstrations and a state of emergency in Bangkok have affected the newer Suvarnabhumi Airport and the older Don Muang Airport. A Telegraph report lists Thailand and India as among the 20 most dangerous places on the planet.

    India is a volatile mix, with various religions and multiple languages. Problems stem from historical, political, linguistic and economic reasons.

    The Mumbai terrorist attacks, that India claims are the handiwork of Pakistan-sponsored militants are a manifestation of a deeper social malaise. Disgruntled elements within India are unhappy with government policies.

    India has wider systemic problems with corruption, bribery and extremist movements. Social inequity has led to widespread violence.

    THAILAND SIMMERS

    One of the most developed economies in South-East Asia, Thailand has been on tenterhooks since the ouster of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    The sole unifying factor in Thailand is the King. Thais have great respect and reverence for the King and Queen.

    The current political crisis is a conflict between People’s Alliance for Democracy and the People’s Power Party governments of Prime Ministers Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsowat.

    The 2008 crisis results from PAD’s assertion that Sundaravej and Wongsowat are stand-ins for Shinawatra.
    Recent events precipitating the current crisis are the fall of Sundaravej. On the evening of 25 November, the PAD executed “Operation Hiroshima”.

    Armed PAD members dressed in yellow blocked the two ends of the road in front of Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The domestic terminal, the Don Muang airport was also seized.

    ENEMY AT THE GATES

    The government called on the Royal Thai Army to restore order. The Army did not follow orders.

    Flights have resumed from Suvarnabhumi Airport, but the long-term implications of the political crisis are unclear. International press coverage on Thailand increased exponentially, with a number of high-profile news articles breaking.

    The world is becoming increasingly unsafe due to the scourge of global terrorism.

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    Slam,Bam,Thank You M’am: Britain On Top

    December 8, 2008

    A new study reveals that Britain is the most promiscous Western nation

    By Sunil Kumar

    British men and women are the most promiscous of all big industrial western nations, researchers have found. An international index that measures one-night stands, number of partners and casual sex, Britain is top of the league table ahead of Australia, the United States, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

    The Sunday times article reports that the study was conducted by asking more than 14,000 people in 48 countries to fill in anonymous questionnaires. Respondents were asked about numbers of partners and one-night stands, and their attitudes were assessed by asking them how many people they expected to sleep with over the next five years and how comfortable they were with the idea of casual sex.

    WOMAN ON TOP

    “Historically we have repressed women’s short-term mating and there are all sorts of double standards out there where men’s short-term mating was sort of acceptable but women’s wasn’t,” said David Schmitt, a professor of psychology at Bradley University, Illinois, who oversaw the research.

    The results were combined into an index of so-called “sociosexuality”, the term used by evolutionary psychologists as a measure of how sexually liberal people are in thought and behaviour. Most individuals scored between 4 and 65.

    The country with the highest rating was Finland, with an average of 51. Taiwan came lowest, with 19.

    Britain scored 40, placing it 11th overall, behind countries such as Latvia, Croatia and Slovenia – but it was highest among the major western industrial nations. The first tranche of research was published in 2005 but analyses have continued and Schmitt described the latest in this week’s edition of New Scientist.

    WHY THE BRITISH DO IT BETTER

    Britain’s ranking was ascribed to factors such as the decline of religious scruples about extramarital sex, the growth of equal pay and equal rights for women and a highly sexualised popular culture.

    Schmitt says the ratio of men to women is one of the factors that determine a country’s ranking.

    The high scores in many Baltic and eastern European states might be linked, Schmitt said, to the fact that women outnumber men and so are under more pressure to conform to what men want in order to find a mate. In Asian countries, by contrast, men tend to outnumber women slightly, so it is men who have to conform.

    Schmitt’s findings are reinforced by earlier research showing that the British are more likely than other nationalities to have “stolen” other people’s lovers.

    Schmitt said that in more liberal countries such as Britain women may even be becoming more promiscuous than men. Such trends are typified by the television series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, in which Billie Piper played a middle-class prostitute who relished her numerous sexual encounters.

    It’s Raining Men
    One of the most intriguing ideas emerging from Schmitt’s and others’ work is that when women are at their most fertile they become even more willing than men to consider one-night stands.

    There are, however, still key differences in the behaviour of men and women, especially regarding the ages at which they are most sexually liberated. Schmitt found that men tended to have the most partners, and to think most about acquiring new ones, when in their twenties. Women’s promiscuity and lustful thoughts tended to peak in their thirties.

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    The Moor’s Last Sigh

    December 8, 2008

    “The past and the future is where we spend most of our lives. In fact what you are going through in this small microcosm of ours is the disorienting feeling of having stepped for a few hours into the present”… Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh.

    By Sunil Kumar

    Salman Rushdie once said, “I hate admitting my enemies have a point.” Growing up in a newly independent India in the 50s and the 60s, Rushdie is very much like the midnight’s children he won the Booker prize for.

    Mixing Indian metaphors with global abstraction comes easy to Rushdie. Not easily accessible at first, Rushdie is a writer who captivates the reader with the broad sweep of his imagination and the sheer audacity of challenging the fundamentalist establishment.

    The fatwa made him famous. Rajiv Gandhi’s India banned him instantly and the Ayatollah Khomeini made him a pariah in the Islamic world. How did Rushdie live through those traumatic times?

    In an interview with clinical psychologist Pamela Connolly Sir Salman Rushdie says that that he plunged into despair when the fatwa was declared and says that it “erased” his personality.

    He adds, “The thing about hitting the bottom is then you know where the bottom is…And after that, it cleared things up in my head… One of the things it cleared up was an urge in my mind, which is that everybody should like me.”

    STOP BEING A PRISONER

    “That was the moment at which I stopped being the prisoner of that thing, because I thought, OK, there are people who are not going to like me and do you know what, I don’t like them.”

    Rushdie always reminisces about Bombay post-independence when he thought the city was going through a kind of golden age, an Indian Camelot, where Rushdie was the knight in shining armour.

    His imagination stems from Bombay and its multiple identities, a miasma of illusions, the city of Indian dreams, sleaze lightnin’!!!

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    RIDERS ON THE STORM-SUNIL K(LOCAL NEWS ARTICLE)

    December 6, 2008

    RIDERS ON THE STORM

    Global recession has not dampened interest in business education, reveals a management event at the QEII convention centre.

    By Sunil Kumar

    A worldwide economic downturn has not dampened the hopes of management aspirants across the world. At the ‘World MBA’ tour top business schools and potential business management students were upbeat about future job prospects.

    The MBA tour is an organisation travelling with universities and top business schools around the world giving MBA candidates the opportunity to network with admissions directors and participate in panel discussions and one-to-one interactions.

    Josh, a UK student said: “London Business School is my best bet at the moment. My previous job was in accounting. The MBA course will hone my managerial skills.”

    “The US was my first choice but the dollar has appreciated, so I am planning to stay in the UK,” he added.

    MBA schools painted a positive picture of the global scene with considerable speculation that China and India was where maximum growth lay. Marketing was the favourite specialisation for prospective graduates with sales development becoming more popular.

    FUTURE PROSPECTS

    Adam Kaniki a student from Paris, France felt that a management course with an emphasis on entrepreneurship was the right choice for him. He said that the downturn worldwide was not one of his top concerns and would not affect jobs.

    Harsh, representative, Indian School of Business, said: “The recent worldwide slump has not affected corporate packages globally.”

    Chris W. Chan, Director MBA Programs, University of Hong Kong, added: “Asia is the powerhouse of the global economy with China and India being the catalysts for growth.”

    Twenty-seven of the top 30 North American business schools and the top business schools from Europe and Asia are part of the QS World MBA tour.