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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Seasons Greetings And Happy Holidays to All

Well, what do you know? It's December 2012, the year ending already, with Christmas eve just round the corner. It's truly amazing how time just flies by. So let me begin by wishing all my readers season's greetings and happy holidays in the next week. As the year ends, we get the perfect opportunity to spend time with our family and friends to spread cheer and joy. And yes, don't forget the gifts for all your near and dear ones!!

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays 2012

The year 2012, for me, started on a good note with promises for good things to come, and has ended fulfilling that promise. I feel very positive at the end of the year and am sure that the year 2013 will be much better. I should have many aspects of my life sorted out in the coming year, which will help in making me stronger - emotionally, mentally and physically. 

Reading Cafe will continue to be my main blog in the year to come and I hope to be able to post articles or blogs on a more regular basis. Unfortunately, I was unable to maintain my blog in the last year, due to several personal reasons. It will be my endeavor to bring my blog back up to the level of readership that it had enjoyed earlier.

Like I said, I am happy that the year 2012 is ending on a positive note for me, as my story of weight loss is going to be mentioned in an upcoming issue of Prevention Magazine (India Today Group), which is quite an achievement for me, as the freelance writer who took my interview for the story came to me after reading my blogs here on Reading Cafe.

And the icing on the cake is the fact that I am going to attend a family function next week where I am going to meet all my family members together after a gap of many years. Can there be any better way than this to end a year?

So here's wishing all of you a "Merry Christmas", "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays"!!  

Be back in 2013....!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gangnam Style - Most Watched Video Ever on YouTube

The Korean pop star PSY's "Gangnam Style" has become a viral hit video on You Tube and is now officially the "Most Watched" video ever on You Tube. The video has now crossed the 820 million views, which is approximately 9.8 million more than Justin Bieber's 2010 Hit song "Baby". The tune of this song is insanely catchy, making it no wonder that the song has hit a chord with the masses..young and old alike. The Gangnam Style video has managed to achieve this very impressive feat in a matter of just a few months as it was uploaded only on 15th July 2012 and went viral instantly. This video is projected to hit the 1 billion view mark by 16th December 2012 according to ChannelMeter.

PSY Gangnam Style

Apparently PSY hinted in an interview earlier this year that there may be a collaboration between him and Justin Bieber in the near future, as they do share the same manager after all. So one can hope for some more hit viral videos in the future. In case you are one of those who didn't get time to listen or watch this video, you can do so right here:

Watch Video - PSY - GANGNAM STYLE (original video):


 Recorded as the Second Most Watched Video - Justin Bieber's Hit Video "Baby" - Watch Video 

Third Most Watched Video:  Jennifer Lopez - "On The Floor" - Watch Video

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Facebook Arrests Sparks Protests and Spreads Fear

The death of Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thakre on Sunday, 18th of November 2012 was an event that was handled with extreme care and precautions by the authorities of Mumbai, namely the police, politicians and the Thakre family to ensure that peace and order remained in the city. His death happened at a very delicate time when the country and the city was busy with the festivities of Diwali and Bhai-duj etc. Not to mention, that November is the month that everyone remembers for the 26/11 attacks. So keeping the law and order was a huge task for the police of Mumbai during this time.

Here, I would like to quote Bhavin Jankharia who wrote this in a column for the Mumbai Mirror today, "Our leaders, the police and the ruling bodies did a phenomenon job over the last weekend with virtually complete control over the situation....something that must be commended giving the rarity of such an occurrence....all of which was then instantly ruined by the arrest of the Palghar girls, an act so completely ridiculous that it belies any attempt at rational thinking."

Reenu Srinivasan and Shaheen Dhada arrested in Palghar
Yes, the same day that Bal Thakre died and the whole city came to a standstill due to a complete bandh, two girls from Palghar, Reenu Srinivasan and Shaheen Dhada were arrested for posting a seemingly innocuous comment that questioned the need for the bandh and her friend simply "liked" the comment. In just a few hours of posting the comment, the police knocked on her door with an arrest warrant. The girls were subsequently taken to the police station and charged with offenses under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code and section 66 A of the Information Technology Act (ITA). Apparently her comments "hurt" the sentiments of religious communities. 

The police apparently acted with great speed in response to a complaint filed by the Shiv Sena activists. Later, when they were questioned for their actions, they admitted that they did what they did out of fear for what would happen if they did not act upon the wishes of the Shiv Sainiks who probably had threatened them with much more dire consequences to follow if they did not act immediately. The girls too were scared out of their wits as soon as they were arrested as they immediately had to post an apology on their Facebook status and soon went on to deactivate their accounts. The arrest of the girls by the police was not only wrong from the "law" point of view but also wrong as they trampled on the right to free speech of the two girls.

This arrest has sparked a huge controversy in the land of the social media, including twitter, which was flooded with messages from all over the country as people questioned the move and the arrest. The girls, after apologizing, said that they were "scared" for their own lives. It should be noted that the Shiv Sainiks had reportedly vandalized an Orthopedic Clinic that belonged to the uncle of the girl who was arrested. So, we can understand where the "fear" is coming from. But to learn that the police too were acting out of "fear" of the Shiv Sainiks sends a different message altogether. "Fear is more contagious than dengue." Quoting Ajit Ranade from the Mumbai Mirror today, "Remember August 11 riots at Azad Maidan? There too the police restrained themselves, "fearing" much worse religious riots if they had enforced the law vigorously. In both Palghar and Azad Maidan, the police acted contrary to conventional wisdom on law enforcement, out of "fear" of a worse consequence, if they had simply upheld the law."

This whole debacle brings forth the question of whether we should be living in fear and letting this "fear" rule our lives.....and much worse still....rule the "law"?

Should I be afraid to write this blog? To wonder if I may get arrested for simply putting forth my views on the subject? Don't I, as the citizen of India, have the right to question the actions of our leaders or politicians? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ajmal Kasab Hanged to Death In Extreme Secrecy by Indian Government

In the early morning hours of 21st November 2012, Wednesday (7:30 am) the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Ajmal Kasab was hanged to death in the Yerwada Jail of Pune. The whole operation (Codenamed 'X') was extremely hush-hush as nobody came to know of the execution till it was all over. 

The recently appointed President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, soon after taking office,  wasted no time in rejecting the mercy petition that had been filed by Kasab. He has also similarly rejected 12 other petitions that were lying pending of other terrorists that are languishing in Indian prisons. The hanging of Kasab brought a sense of relief and some sort of closure to the people and victims of the 26/11 attacks. 

Read the whole story of how this whole operation was carried out and why the Indian government chose to keep it all hush-hush. The Pakistan government has been informed about the execution and given the chance to claim the body. 

Asked for his last wish, the 25-year-old terrorist from Faridkot village in Pakistan's Punjab province said: "Gharwalon ko milna hai (I want to meet my family members)." He was told the Islamabad government had been informed about his hanging but had failed to respond. As his hands and legs were tied, his last words, according to officials who witnessed the hanging, were: "Allah kasam maaf karna. Aisi galati dobara nahi hogi...(Allah, please forgive me, this mistake won't happen again)." 

How Kasab came to be hanged as most of India slept is as dramatic a tale as the unfortunate cycle of terror he and his nine other terrorists unleashed across Mumbai landmarks on November 26, 2008. Read More.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Maha" Grief - Balasaheb Thakre No More

The state of Maharashtra was deep in grief mourning the death of their iconic leader of the Shiv Sena for the past 45 years, Balasaheb Thakre. He suffered from natural ailments and passed away on Saturday afternoon, soon after the festivities of Diwali and Bhai-duj.  

There was a state-wide bandh as a result of his death on saturday and sunday. All the streets were deserted and all shops and businesses shut down due to the bandh. This included all the wholesalers and retailers as well, leaving people to wait for two days before they could get any groceries or vegetables. The people of Mumbai who wished to pay their last respects to their great leader were given the chance to do so on sunday before the body was taken in a procession to Shivaji Park for the final cremation ceremony before all the fans and followers who waited there patiently the whole day. The park was filled to the brim as the people crowded in to see their leader for the last time. 

Shiv Sena Chief Balasaheb Thakre

Shivaji Park apparently was a fitting place for the final cremation ceremony for Balasaheb Thakre as this is where he had addressed a crowd of people, giving a moving and impacting speech for the first time when he was young. All the people who remembered him and his speech were overwhelmed emotionally by this last tribute to the great leader and could not help but shed tears.

All the great big-wigs and important people, politicians and Bollywood stars came to pay their last respects to Balasaheb Thakre. The entire police squad of Mumbai were busy with the bandobast of his last rites and to make sure that the city maintained peace and quiet during the weekend. Earlier, there had been rumors of his death on the day of Diwali, but the news channels reported otherwise saying that though his condition was critical, he was stabilized. 

Lately, two young women from Palghar were arrested for simply posting a comment on Facebook regarding the bandh on Saturday. (Read More)

The 21-year-old who posted, "Respect is earned, not given and definitely not forced. Today Mumbai shuts down due to fear and not due to respect", says she "will never post on Facebook again." She also says, in a low voice, a blue and green dupatta pulled tight across her face, that, "I would like to apologise. He (Bal Thackeray) was a great man."

The other girl was arrested for merely "liking" the status. 

The prompt action of the police for arresting these girls due to pressure from the Shiv Sainiks received a lot of furore from the public and social networking sites like Twitter, where people posted their ire.

The action of the police questions our basic democratic rights and freedom of expression. And a basic question remains unanswered - Why were any of the Sainiks who vandalized the orthopaedic clinic that belonged to the young woman's uncle, not arrested?

Updated news today states that nine people were arrested today morning for the vandalism and an inquiry will be held led by a senior cop into the arrests of the young women. Sources say there is consternation in the police headquarters in Mumbai over the action of the Palghar police. "We have ordered an inquiry... if any further action needs to be taken the probe team will decide and send a report. On this report we will act," Deven Bharti, IG (Law and Order), Maharashtra Police said.

The Shiv Sena leader's death on Saturday afternoon had brought Mumbai to a virtual standstill on Sunday, with shops and other establishments shutting and taxis going off the roads, amid fears of violence by Mr Thackeray's supporters. There was, however, no untoward incident in Mumbai over the weekend.  

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray(86), who died on Saturday, was cremated with full state honors in Mumbai on Sunday.

Thackeray whose climb to fame was due to his championing the cause of the marginalised 'Marathi manoos' saw a sea of humanity coming to his funeral from not just all parts of the state but also from the country.

Read more at:


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Super Sunday - Watch Live - Cricket, Grand Prix, NFL Football, Soccer EPL and El Clasico

It's a Super Sunday today with lots of sporting action for all sports fans and enthusiasts.

Cricket World Cup T20 Finals Live : For those who love cricket, don't forget to tune in to Star Cricket or ESPN to watch the World Cup T20 Finals of Sri Lanka Vs West Indies Live at 6:45 PM IST or 13:30 GMT. Watch Live online Free at

Sri Lanka take on West Indies in Colombo with both the teams looking to win the title for the first time. Chris Gayle is a force to reckon with, who helped to annihilate the Australian team in the semi finals.

Formula One Grand Prix: The sporting action continues with the Formula One (Japan GP) Grand Prix that can be followed Live on Star Sports at 11:45 AM. You can also follow it live online free at ESPN site: 

Defending champ Sebastian Vettel leads Red Bull's first front-row lock-out of the year with Mark Webber, Leader Fernando Alonso starts sixth. Fernando Alonso has a 29 point advantage over Sebastian in the driver standings. 

La Liga (Spanish League Football) El Clasico: Soccer die hard fans have their favorite Spanish League match El Clasico to watch Barcelona Vs Real Madrid in the final clash for the title this year. You will be able watch the Match Live Online Free at 23:20 PM on ESPN and CCTV 5, ESPN Hong Kong at this link: 

Defeat for defending champions Real Madrid in the El Clasico at Nou Camp will stretch Barcelona's lead over their bitter rivals to 11 points. Indian fans can watch Live on Star Sports at 11:15 PM. 

Watch English Premier League (EPL): Manchester United Vs New Castle Live today on Star Sports at 8:00 PM or Watch Live Online Free On ESPN3 at 

NFL Sunday Night Football:  For NFL football Fans: don't forget to tune in to all the NFL Sunday matches live online at NFL network or the Sunday Night Football. Get all the details of the matches scheduled today at this link:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Watch Live Online - NFL Sunday Night Football (SNF) Regular Season Games

The 2012 NFL Regular season games are well under way going into the 6th week. Watch Live Online - NFL Sunday Night Football (SNF) Regular Season Games on NFL network and NBC sports on SNF all access. Get ready for this sunday's match up on 14th October 2012: Green Bay Packers Vs Houston Texans brought to you live The match starts at 8:20 PM ET(Watch Live). (Game Centre) 

For all the NFL Sunday Night Football (SNF) fans out there, get the entire schedule for all the upcoming matches up until the last week of this year December 23rd at : NFL Sunday Night Football Schedules.

You can also watch all the NFL games live online including the Sunday night football on NFL Network with the Game Pass. There are two packages you can choose from to watch the games live online. With the Season Plus package you can watch LIVE 2012 Regular Season and Playoff games including Super Bowl XLVII. Plus get 24/7 NFL Network live, NFL RedZone and any 2009-2012 game archive through the entire Offseason. (Access through 31 Jul 2013). Whereas with a season pass you will get to Watch LIVE 2012 Regular Season games, 24/7 NFL Network and NFL RedZone LIVE, and all 2009-2012 games. (Access through 4 Jan 2013). You can also choose monthly or weekly offers to watch individual games, in case you do not want to follow "all" the games.

You can also now watch all the NFL games live on your mobile phones/ Tablets with the Android apps. Access NFL Game Pass on your Android and iOS mobile and tablet devices with a free download of the NFL Game Pass mobile app. All you need to do is just download the FREE NFL Game Pass mobile app for your smartphone / Tablet from the App Store or Google Play Store

Watch Live Streams of all the NFL games with Live Stats and Live Scores of NFL Network and NFL RedZone.

You can also get the entire NFL network coverage of all Thursday night, Sunday Night and Monday night football games with Verizon Mobiles Wireless with NFL Mobile.

Get ready to watch the NFL games live online. This week's games are as follows:
















Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Watch ICC World Cup T20 2012 Semi Final / Finals Live Online

The 2012 ICC World Cup T20 is being held at Sri Lanka, which started on the 18th September and will last till 7th October. brings you live action from the field. You can watch all the Semi Final matches of the ICC World Cup T20 live online free.

Yesterday, India played against South Africa in a do-or-die match for a chance to enter the semi finals. They did manage to beat South Africa and win the match with just one run, which was unfortunately not sufficient to overcome the net run rate that was required to beat Pakistan to enter the semi finals. Earlier in the day, Pakistan had managed to beat Australia with 32 runs to qualify for the semi finals, if India did not meet the criteria, which it did not! So India is out of the World Cup!

Well, the four teams that qualified for the semifinals are Sri Lanka, West Indies, Pakistan and Australia. The Semi Finals of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 Matches will begin on the 4th October, the schedule for the matches will be as follows:  

1st Semi Final at 4th October  (Watch Live)

Sri Lanka Vs Pakistan (Colombo) starts 19:00 Local Time or 13:30 GMT 

2nd Semi Finals on 5th October (Watch Live)

Australia Vs West Indies (Colombo) starts 19:00 Local Time or 13:30 GMT 

Finals on 7th October (Watch Live)

TBA brings you all the cricket matches live streaming online for free. Get the latest overview, statistics, fixtures and Video on demand at the link provided above. Don't miss all the action that's going to happen.

J.K. Rowling's New Novel - "The Casual Vacancy" is Fastest Selling Best Seller of the Year

J K Rowling's latest book "The Casual Vacancy" has swept the charts again to become the fastest selling hardback novel since 2009. After her successful "Harry Potter" series that was written for children, she has now attempted an "adult" fiction. The book is now out for sales and people are giving mixed reviews, although the book is fast selling out of the shelves, even though it's just the first week since the release of her first fiction novel in the adult category.
The Casual VacancyIn the story, the girl "Sukhvinder Jawanda" is dyslexic student who is being bullied by this character called Fats and starts having suicidal thoughts. The Casual Vacancy has hit a raw cord with the Sikh Community in India as the story revolves around a sikh girl "Sukhvinder Jawanda" who is a rowing champion but has been described as "the Great Hermaphrodite" by a classmate ironically named Fats. The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has sought removal of all "objectionable" text in the book along with an apology from the author, J K Rowling. The Chief of the SGPC described Rowling's words in the book as " a slur on the Sikh Community and Provocative" by calling into question the gender of the girl. 

This book has already achieved the status of being the number one best selling hardback fiction book of the year since Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol', which sold more than 550,000 in its first week of sale in 2009. 

If you are a die-hard fan of J.K Rowling and would like to buy the book to add to your collection, you can BUY the book in hardcover from the amazon stores at a reasonable price of just $20 and it will be shipped to you in 24 hrs. 

Product Description: 

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Watch Video London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony - Team India

This is the first time that the Indian squad is participating in the Olympic games with full preparation and it is the biggest contingent to represent the country at the games so far. This year a total of 81 athletes are taking part in various sporting events for a chance to win medals and bring glory back home. The team was supported by the government of India and other private sponsors for proper training and sporting facilities of world class standard to compete with the other world class athletes. So this year India has high hopes of bringing back many more medals than it has done so far in the history of it's Olympic sports. There are many women also taking part in various sporting events, the hopes for medals being on archery, badminton, athletic events, boxing, wrestling and shooting etc.

The Indian squad was seen in the march past proudly bearing the Indian flag. Sushil Kumar, the wrestler who won the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics was given the honor as the flag bearer of the Indian team. Watch the you tube video of team India at the march past of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics 2012, as they proudly wave to the crowds and the Chief of the IOA present in the stadium.

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony - Team India - Watch Video

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Olympics: Intruder in Indian contingent: Mystery Woman

Watch Video Opening Ceremony - London 2012 Olympic Games

London 2012 Olympics Opening ceremony was a spectacular grand event directed by Danny Boyle. It was a show that had never been done before. It started off with a "bang" ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell. It showcased the entire culture and essence and history of the city of London with a ride down the river Thames. The music, literature, stories and famous characters came to life right there in the stadium. 

Danny managed to bring the meadows to the stadium, complete with the people and animals that included sheeps, horses et al..It was a story telling that captivated the audience like in the movies from the beginning to the end in a truly grand spectacular fashion. You can watch the entire opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics on you tube video.

The main highlights of the entire show were the sequence showcasing the industrial revolution, lighting of the Olympic rings, entry of James Bond and the Queen of England declaring the games open.

The Intro Sequence of the Opening Ceremony at the London Olympics 2012

"The Isles of Wonder" directed by Danny Boyle is inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Tempest". It takes you on a journey across the famous landmarks of London showing you the people, culture, music, sports and history as the introductory sequence to the grand opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Travel down the river Thames on this epic journey to reach the Olympic stadium where the 30th edition of the games are to begin their saga. The ceremony begins by striking of the huge bell that is the first of its kind and harmonically tuned.

The Queen Sequence - Opening Ceremony - London 2012 Olympic Games

Daniel Craig as James Bond goes to fetch Queen Elizabeth at her residence in Buckingham Palace and escorts her in a waiting helicopter, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh to make a grand entry to the waiting crowds at the Olympic stadium in the true James Bond jumping off the helicopter alongwith the Queen..!!! Did she really jump??

Rowan Atkinson Sequence - Opening Ceremony London 2012 Olympics

Rowan Atkinson, popularly known as Mr. Bean made his entry in the London symphony orchestra of Chariots of fire directed by Simon Raphael as a tribute to the British Film the true "Bean" style. His comic antics are a pleasure to watch as he plays his part in the symphony. Humor at it's best...!

Torch Montage including David Beckham - Opening Ceremony 

The video showcases a torch montage featuring the Olympic torch from 1948 in Wembley to its present  journey to London. It is carried by a number of people and celebrities, sports people all across the city and finally makes a grand entry on the river Thames in a boat accompanied by David Beckham, against the backdrop of the London Bridge to hand the torch to Sir Steve Redgrave (five time Olympic Gold winner) who makes the grand entry into the stadium of the London Olympics.

Olympic Cauldron is lit at the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Olympic Games

The Olympic torch is carried by Sir Steve Redgrave, five time Olympic gold winner who hands it over to the young team to carry it all the way to the grand cauldron to light the petals, which rise high up in the air to make a huge torch, in a truly spectacular display. 

The games are declared open by the Queen of England....! Let the games begin!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Watch London Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012 Live Streaming Online

The London Olympics 2012 will begin today 27th July with a grand opening ceremony that kicks off at 9:00 PM London Time (4 PM ET) and will be broadcast live on NBC at 7:30 PM ET. The whole show will be no more than three hours and is being directed by none other than the Oscar winning British film director Danny Boyle along with acclaimed director Stephen Daldry. The opening ceremony has been named the "Isle of Wonder" as inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Watch London Olympics 2012 from July 27th - 12th August Live on You Tube (The Official Olympic Channel by the IOC). Watch Live: Opening Ceremony on 28 July 1:20 (IST). Live streaming of the London 2012 Olympic Games will begin in 64 territories on July 27th 2012.

London 2012 Olympic Games The Official Book

The grand ceremony will be flagged off with the sound of the world's largest harmonically tuned bell.You can watch every event of the London Games streamed LIVE on However, NBC is available only to citizens in the US. One can also watch the events of the London Olympics Live on BBC iPlayer if you are in the UK. BBC TV will provide the most comprehensive coverage of an Olympic games in broadcasting history, with up to 2,500 hours of live coverage.

London 2012: How to watch the Olympics on BBC TV

BBC Sport will broadcast all 2,500 hours of competitive action at London 2012 via its new live interactive video player.  It gives viewers access to up to 24 live HD streams and complete control of what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. Read More...

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony
London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony:

The grand opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 is expected to blow your mind and be much more spectacular than the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.It is promising itself to be the biggest spectacle that has ever been seen so far. 

London will showcase 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine contrast to the pounding drummers and a cauldron lighter of the Beijing Olympics.

One will get to witness the British pop culture, music, literature, a dash of James Bond in the middle along with the Beatles Paul McCartney. Danny Boyle's Isles of Wonder will also showcase the green and pleasant land of meadows, farms, cottages, village cricket matches and bird song, as well as dwell on Britain's darker industrial past.

"I would have thought the difficulty is how you cram in all that is great about our country," British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday. "Whether it is sport, art, literature, history, contribution to world events, there are so many things to celebrate about our country that packing all that in to these hours must be a pretty tough task. But I am confident they have done a good job."  

The Queen of England has a role to play in the opening ceremony. Her entry will be a key part of the show, but the details are being kept under wraps, so you have to just wait and watch. All in all there will be 18,000 performers in the show and around 10,000 volunteers inside the Olympic stadium. With Danny Boyle at the helm of affairs, it is but a given that AR Rahman will also have a role to play. The Indian music maestro has composed a track for the inaugural ceremony  and it celebrates the Indian influence in UK culture. It is a Punjabi track and will be part of a medley in the Olympics Opening ceremony.

Among other stars, Muhammad Ali, David Beckham and Haile Gebrselassie will also be a part of the star parade. One will also get to witness some of the literary stars come to life, like Harry Potter, Alice, Captain Hook, Oliver twist and James Bond and last but not the least, a 40-foot Voldemort....who scares them all away!

London Olympics 2012 Sound Bytes: Inside the 2012 London Olympic Games
  • This year marks the 30th edition of the Olympic Games, with a total of 204 countries participating in the games. 
  • This year also boasts of the highest number (4,847) of women athletes that have ever taken part in any Olympics so far, and nearly every country has women participating in its teams. 
  • There are 81 athletes from the Indian Contingent that include 23 women.
  • There are a total of 10,000 participating athletes in all.
  • The cost of the games is 9.3bn pounds - most expensive so far.
  • The smallest delegation will be from Nauru with only 1 athlete, who is a weightlifter.
  • The most obvious legacy for London is Olympic Park, with the 80,000-capacity stadium that will host the opening ceremony and other new venues. It is built on formerly derelict, polluted industrial land in the east of the city that bore the brunt of bombing in World War II and, for centuries, concentrated London's stinkiest industries and its poor.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Social Media For Business - The Engagement Blues

Many businesses are quite confused about social media. Most are reluctant to use it for reasons best known to them, some are treating it like a website i.e. they open their fan page or profiles on various networks and that’s it. Still others are treating it like a one way broadcast to those who care to listen; they are not really engaging with the followers.

From a customer point of view the first two categories are acceptable; they are as good as not being there. It is the third category the customers have expectations from and perhaps the one which lets them down.

Social media provides for a two way communication and that is what users of the social media expect from the other users/businesses. If one continues to use it for marketing his products, services or himself without paying any attention to what others have to say, you can rest assured that soon you won’t have anyone listening to you either.

Conversation is an art and not everyone can handle it well. Therefore it is important that the person responsible for social media is not only good at producing engaging content but also be able to continue the conversation when someone responds. For this the person should understand the business lest you want him to run to the concerned department every time there is a comment.

Every business owner will tell you that Customer is the King, but somehow on the social media the kings are reduced to just another number. That is the surest way to loose a customer. If your purpose of getting on to the social media is to attract new audiences and retain the existing ones you must follow the basic rules of engagement.

When a customer likes your page or starts following you, consider it as a customer walking into your showroom or shop. Welcome him with open arms and thank him for following or liking you.

When a person comments on an update or your blog post, think about it as a direct dialogue with your business. If it is a question, answer his concern by providing the requisite information. If it is a compliment thank him, if it is a statement think of it like a feedback and thank him. If it is a complaint, try to resolve it or guide him to the requisite department. Understand that the person has taken the time and effort to comment on your page/wall and it needs to be acknowledged, to say the least.

Doing this much will at least not put off the person and will probably encourage him to come back or continue following you. Conversely, if you do not respond, the person ends up thinking that he is not important enough for you and we all know what his next step would be.

Respect your followers/fans and do not let your ego take over. Unless it is spam, which can be deleted straightaway, it does not matter whether the person has not understood your update, the language is incorrect, or he does not seem as an important lead. You have to respond. That, is the beginning of engagement.

Download the free eBook “Understanding Social Media

Social Media – The Target Audience

A few days back, I saw a job vacancy for a social media executive on one of the portals. The job responsibility read something like this: Weekly increase of followers: FB 150 fans, Twitter 150 followers, LinkedIn – 150 followers….. Sounded like a shopping list of a big hotel.

It is amazing how the business even thought of such ludicrous objectives. Getting followers or fans is not a difficult thing to do, but whatever happened to the concept of inbound marketing. I don’t know what the business is selling, but unless it is a global business selling the elixir of youth, getting followers in this manner is going to be an absolute waste of time and effort, never mind the clutter they are going to create on the business’s walls or streams. With fans or followers acquired in this manner, your Facebook wall is going to become just that, a wall.

The social media manager’s quick fix to such objectives presented itself to me on the website of a major league (?) social media company. The company had integrated their Twitter feed on the home page of the website and the last couple of tweets were about requesting (pleading?) their followers to like the Facebook business page of a particular client.

Agreed, that in the longer run, the whole world is a market and everyone a customer, but then be prepared to wait an eternity for the impact of social media on your business. What use is a follower or fan acquired in this manner? The business does not gain anything from them. They are not interested in your products, they are not listening to what you have to say and they may not even be in your country/city of operation. What they are is just a number in your list.

This brings us to an important facet of social media, a targeted audience. That is what differentiates the social media from the traditional communications. On social media, people follow businesses because they are interested in some part of the business, be it products, processes, services or technology. These are the people one can engage in a two way communication, to understand them, their needs and to inform or educate. These are also the people who will contribute to enhancing your business by sharing and spreading the word about your business, by taking part in the discussions and by being your loyal customers.

It is important for businesses to realize that just numbers are not going to get them anywhere. The old age adage, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush” holds good with the difference that on social media a single genuine fan is worth hundreds, if not more, of indifferent followers.

The social media strategy of a company needs to define what their target audience is. Thereafter one can effectively go about reaching out to them rather than mindlessly getting followers as if they were going out of stock.

If you have some thoughts about this, for or against, I would be glad if you could share them with me.

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