Posts in Category: Uncategorised

Corbusier snubbed by Hitler, blessed by Nehru.

A little while ago I had written about Lost Opportunities and Heroic Visions of architects in India, just after Independance. Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn are two architects that laid out the philosophical guidelines, that led to the expansion of a new vocabulary of Indian architecture in the decades after 1947.

Today, the Indian Express has an interesting article titled

“Did Nehru allow Corbusier what Hitler denied?

Architect had dreamt of building new Berlin, but was refused.

CHANDIGARH’S master architect Le Corbusier’s little known aspiration was to build the new Berlin in Germany in 1940s — as envisaged by Adolf Hitler. But, as his dream remained unfulfilled after Hitler refused to heed to Corbusier, the City Beautiful became a reality instead.

Architect-historian from Switzerland Prof Pierre Frey today revealed that the fascist links of the Swiss-French Corbusier came to light when his letters to his mother were published in France in the last decade.

”In one of the letters, Corbusier had written in the 1940s that Hitler will allow him to build the kind of city that he always wanted to. Corbusier was looking for commitment from Hitler, which never came. The architect also went to Italy to meet Mussolini, but was turned down again. He then migrated to the USA,” said Frey, while talking to Newsline today at Chandigarh College of Architecture”

Charles Correa design opens at MIT

Last friday marked a very important and momentuous day for Indian architecture. Veteran Indian architect and urban planner Charles Correa designed yet another marvel, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, opened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Charles Correa is one of the greatest Indian architects alive today, and his body of work encompassing four decades is outstanding. He has built all over the world, and his work has become the de rigeur since Independance, 57 years ago. He along with Kanvinde, Doshi, Raj Rewal, Stein, and Raje, helped form the vocabulary for a post colonial Indian architecture.

This is not his first building in the US. That honour goes to his design for the Permanent Mission of India to the U.N. here in New York City. In a city where there are more skyscrapers than arguably anywhere else in the world, this building stands out on its own. Having seen it first hand, I would say that it is a great design, that brings the essence of India, but fits in perfectly with its surroundings in New York. Built on a very difficult site, it does justice to its surroundings.

Correa has over the years pushed the boundary of Indian architecture beyond the ordinary. His juxtaposition of colour, material and context into a very engaging composition and the clarity of spatial movement are a class act.

Secunderabad-born and Mumbai-based Correa, 75, who studied architecture at the MIT and the University of Michigan, is known for a wide-range of his architectural work in India and on urbanisation and low-cost shelter in the Third World, which he articulated in his 1985 publication, “The New Landscape”.

His architectural designs have been internationally acclaimed and he has received many awards, including Padma Shri in 1972, the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal in 1984 and the International Union of Architects Gold Medal in 1990….[link]

Correa’s work covers a wide range, from the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at the Sabarmati Ashram, to the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, and the State Assembly for Madhya Pradesh — as well as townships and housings projects in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other cities in India. The McGovern Center at MIT is one of a series of new buildings that have opened at MIT in the past few years. Along with the Stata Center by Gehry and the student housing by Steven Holl, this building becomes an important part of MIT’s commitment to quality architecture.

MIT’s new 411,000-square-ft brain and cognitive sciences complex, to be dedicated on December 2, will be the largest neuroscience centre in the world.

The breathtaking architectural design for the entire state-of-the-art research facility, which will house the laboratories of 16 global leaders in neuroscience, is a collaborative effort of Boston-based Goody, Clancy and Associates, and the Charles Correa Associates of Mumbai

The centre, which would house the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, was created by the largest philanthropic gift in MIT history — $350 million over 20 years — courtesy Patrick J McGovern and his wife, Lore Harp McGovern. Patrick McGovern is the founder of International Data Group, the publisher of Bio-IT World, and an MIT alumnus…..[link]

In a global world where continents are coming closer and closer in the virtual and real sense, this instance of an architect from desiging at one of the world’s premier institutions is truly a proud moment for Indians and for Indian architecture.

Sadly Correa today is not the most famous architect in India today. That dubious distinction would go to one Hafeez Contractor. However it is a case in point that you do not need to be the best to be famous.

More on architecture in India over here.

More reviews and comments on this building when I get a chance to see it first hand.

Some thumbnails of the McGovern Center at MIT.

Guiness Record for writing letters

In this day and age of fast communication via email, blogging, et al, it seems there are still some people who do it the tried and trusted old fashioned way.

Behram Dastur is one such person.

The Indian Express informs us that

“Chief executive of Bombay Parsi Punchayet sets world record for writing maximum number of letters to the editor”

This achievement is stupenduous, if you take this into consideration

Behram Dastur has more newspaper bylines than most journalists. Over the past 50 years, he’s written 2,493 letters to various publications in the city and recently, secured a place in the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Behram wrote his “first letter in November 1955, pointing out that a number of luminaries had been omitted from a list of historical figures.”

Since then nearly 2500 (and counting) have followed.

What is even more interesting is that some of the letters are collectibles, having appeared in publications that have long since ceased to exist…..viz. he Daily, The Commerce, Kaiser-e-Hind and Sunday Standard..

It seems we Indians have a penchant for writing letters. Coincidentally, the previous record holder was also Indian, Delhi’s Subhash Chandra Agrawal, whose tally was about 1,600.

Way to go Behram. You make India proud !!

[cross posted on Parsi Khabar]

The Rise of the Few: Tall Buildings the World Over

Next week the world’s tall building experts specialists in technology, finance, and architecture gather in New York City  for the Council on Tall Building’s 7th World Congress. This event is held from October 16-19 in New York City and this years theme is “Renewing the Urban Landscape.”

One Bryant Park, the project I have been working on for the past 2.5 years and will for the next 2.5 is going to be presented on two fronts at this conference. Our structural engineers are going to present it in a panel discussion on innovative structures, and my boss Richard Cook heads a panel on Green Design in Tall Buildings.

Tall buildings are coming up all over the world, despite people’s inhibitions, post 9/11. The biggest thrust is in Asia, where nations are embarking on a race to see who has the world’s tallest totem pole. Currently Taiwan leads the pack with its Taipei 101 building which opened last year, but by 2009, the mantle of the tallest building shall go to Dubai

    

India, it seems is also in the race with a huge ugly monstrosity planned by none other than Hafeez Contractor in NOIDA, outside of Delhi. Another castle in the air is something that some godman wants to build.

On the eve of the congress, the Chairperson answered some very pertinent questions about how this race will go in the future years.

Q: Taipei 101 is just one of many super-tall structures either recently completed or under construction in Asia. What accounts for the surge?

RK: A lot of it has to do with the local governments wanting to put their flag in the ground and say, “We have arrived as an economy.” China, Malaysia, and Taiwan are really trying to establish themselves on the skyscraper playing field. They want to make a statement that they have arrived.

Q: Some would argue the Middle East is racing to overtake Asia.

RK: Yes, the race to build super-tall structures has reached epic proportions in Asia and the Middle East. Some insiders say that the Burj Dubai, which is now underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will reach almost a half-mile high. Construction of super-tall buildings is more realistic in those regions where there is no defined street lay-out that can limit floor plate size. You can just build it in the middle of the desert.

Continue reading the entire interview here

IIPM: How International ?

Just three days ago, I posted about a call I placed to IIPM’s Toronto Research Center, Canada. You know what it turned out to be. DesiPundit carried the story, and I would have thought that IIPM would have removed the info from their website. But as of just now, it is still on there.

Toronto was not the only international center that IIPM has. According to their website they also have contacts in Belgium. It is at The International Management Institute listed as both in Antwerp and Brussels.

A quick call (bless technology and cheap calling cards!!) brought out some interesting facts.

On calling Antwerp, the operator at IMI directed my call to one Mr. Sanket.

I told him that I was calling to find out more about IIPM because they have advertised on their website that they have contacts in Antwerp and Brussels, and from the Toronto experience, I could not take them on their word. On enquiring on the nature of IIPM’s role in Belgium, he basically said that IMI awards degrees to students who graduate from IIPM. They have a monitoring committee which visits IIPM regularly and makes sure “standards” are met. I told him I was calling because of all the bad publicity in the press and the media, and asked him if he was aware. He said no….and sounded genuine.

He said that there are some exchange programs that happen from time to time. He could not offer more info and pointed me to IMI’s website.

I asked him about the recognition of degrees issued by IMI and whether these were issued by IMI directly or another larger institute like the Univ of Antwerp or some such. He said that IMI is recognized by the regional Flanders government, but the degrees are awarded by IMI. I did not further question him to elaborate what that was supposed to mean.

The IMI  website is very ambiguous. It does not give any detailed information about the courses offered. Their about us page lists four institutions with which they have academic collaborations. All four have websites which are equally dubious and ambiguous. And IMI’s research and publication pages prominently show books by ….who else but Arindam Chaudhari.

A little googling on IMI and its academic collaborators, makes one thing for sure. Academic institutions of dubious nature and veracity are not only India’s prerogative. They are all over the world. And sadly there are suckers everywhere who get duped into paying a hand and a foot for education that is not accredited.

Here and here is more on the web about IMI……all “ambiguous, feel good, dupe people, gimme your money,” kinda stuff.

My previous posts on this topic are here and here. DesiPundit’s constantly updating sticky is here, for the latest updates.

UPDATE # 1: Curious Gawker @ The Renegade of Junk follows the URL from the IMI site and has some really fascination analysis and discovery. Jump right there to catch the scoop

IIPM: A web of (mis)management and deceit

This is another post in the “Its Fucked Up” categoryI asked him if there was IIPM presence in Toronto as claimed on their website and he said “nothing is there because nothing worked out and its not like what they say on their website”

It is with horror that I have been following the recent fiasco at some run of the mill management institute called IIPM.

It all started when a small magazine decided to do an expose. JAM Mag wrote

“You see the ads in the papers almost everyday. They claim to be one of the 10 best B-schools in India, and in some ‘fields’ even BETTER than the IIMs. We wanted to be doubly sure, so we did a little asking around, and here’s what we found out! There are many questions that come to mind when one glances at IIPM’s full page advertisements. Will it REALLY be beneficial to my career if I complete IIPM’s MBA program? Can all of these promises made be backed up by facts? And will I get a suitable return on my investment?

“The truth is out there” they say. And with that thought in mind, we went fact-finding.”

The editor of the magazine, and an regular blogger Rashmi Bansal has been hit hard on her blog with vile and vicious comments. How I wish I could get down to the level of those so called students and lambast them in their own language. Rashmi and her magazine have been issued legal notices.

Gaurav Sabnis a respected blogger linked to the article and blogged about it. Sadly with very dire consequences. Not only was he slammed with a legal notice to cease and desist from blogging about this topic, but he was asked to remove his posts by IIPM. Standing by his convictions, he has had a high price to pay. He resigned from his job at IBM because he believed in what he wrote and was amazingly decent not to get his employers in trouble. As he writes

The second thing dear to me is IBM’s well-being. IBM has been a good employer to me. I have no complaints about them. Even in light of these events, they did not pressurise me to go against my principles and hush the matter up. Yet, IBM was being dragged into this unnecessarily. It was being made a target of bizarre pressure tactics. If even one Thinkpad laptop was actually burnt, it would cause a lot of bad press and nuisance for IBM. So I did not want IBM’s well-being to be compromised in any way.

Hats off this man !! I dont know if I would have done the same thing in his place !! I probably would have, because i feel very strongly about what i write, and generally dont back off in a confrontation of this kind. I salute you Mr Sabnis. !!

Press Talk does a complete expose of the bullshit that IIPM dishes out in their advertisements.

Amit Varma has a very well balanced account of the whole fiasco.

DesiPundit has a sticky on their site and I would recommend you go there for the latest on this.

Kaps at Sambhar Mafia has issued a call to arms against the fake bloggers.

Internationally InstaPundit, and Global Voices Online write about it.

Lots of other bloggers have their say on it, just like I am doing here.

If you are a blogger, please write about this. Even posting a link to DesiPundit or linking to the indivudual bloggers will be great. If you are a reader protest about it by shooting an email to the “Dean” of the school Arindam Choudhari.

Here is the website of IIPM 

The website is registered to IIPM and the administrative contact is one Mr. A Sandeep.

Funnily the same

Here is their WHOIS info Domain Name: IIPM.EDU

Registrant: The Indian Institute of Planning & management C-10, Qutab Institutional Area New Delhi, Delhi 110016 INDIA

Contacts: Administrative Contact: A Sandeep Professor The Indian Institute of Planning & Management 24-B, DDA (MIG) FLATS, RAJOURI  GARDEN New Delhi, New Delhi 110027 INDIA 91-11-5194633 a_sandeep@vsnl.com

Technical Contact: Same as above

 

To further take this case, I called up the telephone number listed on their contact page for their IIPM’s Toronto Research Center, Canada; which is listed at The Indian Institute of Planning & Management; Suite 806; 150 Cosburn Avenue, Toronto: M4J2L9; CANADA Phone: +1-416-424-4649

All I get is a recorded message followed by a human voice speaking the seven digit number. What is this, a bucket shop ?? Does anyone familiar with Toronto know where this is ?

OK now this is big……

Just as I finished typing this sentence, my cell rings and a person by the name of Sanjeev calls back saying that I had called his telephone and he was returning the call. I said that I had called because this telephone number was posted on their site and I wanted to find out more about the institute. He categorically told me that they had nothing to do with IIPM. I asked him if there was IIPM presence in Toronto as claimed on their website and he said “nothing is there because nothing worked out and its not like what they say on their website”.

I now leave it to you to decide what’s going on !!

This just in

Curious Gawker informs us that the IIPM graduates have decided to burn their degrees in protest 🙂

.ORG Domains Sell Fast

My personal website has for years been on www.arzan.org. I selected that domain, because the others .com, .net werent available then. A lot of people wonder why I registered a .org when I am not an organisation ! Well now they know why. Thus it is with great interest that I read a story on Yahoo News about how the .org domain in India is the fastest selling amonst all countries.

The number of “.org” domain users in India increased 31 percent in the past nine monthsThe number of “.org” domain users in India increased 31 percent in the past nine months

Although India now accounts for less than 1 percent of the users registered with “.org” worldwide, new Indian users of the domain are growing at a pace matched by few countries, said Edward G. Viltz, the president and chief executive of the Public Interest Registry, the Reston, Va.-based nonprofit agency which manages use of the “.org” address.

As the article notes, the probable reason lies in the fact that

India is home to one of the world’s largest number of nonprofit organizations, which include aid groups, religious trusts, charities and welfare associations;

And another reason that I have a .org domain….NOT

“The dot-org domain is widely perceived as the Internet home for noncommercial organizations. If you have dot-org, your Web site is trusted,”

Of course both my current blogs [news views and analysis] and [Parsi Khabar] are on wadias.in which very recently came available.  All in all .IN Rocks

Regular readers here will remember my post on domain names and related info here and here.

Pakistan Cover up !!

Here is a letter that the Pakistani Ambassador wrote in response to this article by Nicholas Kristof in the NYTimes of September 20th.

This is further proof of a cover up after a series of stupid utterances by the Dictator….aka Musharraf.

More on this here here here and here.

New York Times
Letter to the Editor

September 27, 2005
Women in Pakistan
To the Editor:

Nicholas D. Kristof’s Sept. 20 column was deeply disappointing.Instead of offering a comment on the Pakistani government’s policy on women’s issues, it was a vitriolic and personal attack on President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Kristof has every right to express his opinion. But about a subject taken as seriously by the government of Pakistan as is women’s rights, no one ought to engage in ad hominem attacks.

President Musharraf’s remarks in the United States were sadly misinterpreted. He and the people of Pakistan believe in the equality of women and that violence against women is abhorrent and an affront to our nation.

We invite a review of our government’s commitment to women and its program specifically designed to empower women in our country. This is an important component of Pakistan’s development as a progressive and modern state.

Jehangir Karamat
Ambassador of Pakistan
Washington, Sept. 21, 2005

In the words of a Dictator !!

The Washington Post has an audio clip of  our friendly neighborhood dictator

To refresh your memory, this about the interview the “Saviour of Pakistan” gave on his recent trip to the US.

In particular hear the segmet from minute 8:33 onwards.

More on this here, here, here, here and here.

Low-Cost Airlines of India

Just the other day I was talking about why we should fly the big airlines. It was also discussed here.

And today Dvorak Uncensored points us to an article that appeared in the Guardian about low-cost carriers in India

“With eyes fixed to the clouds outside his window, Manoj Kumar is trying to fasten his seat belt. After a struggle, the shopkeeper from Delhi explains that flight DN661 to Bangalore is his first. “I have never flown before,” he says. “It is like being on a fairground ride.”

Until recently, air travel across India was only for businessmen and women, foreign tourists, and visits home from the country’s vast diaspora. Fares were prohibitively expensive and the middle class travelled on the British Raj’s most visible legacy: the railways.

But a booming economy, a congested and crumbling train network and the emergence of low-cost carriers similar to Ryanair have meant a slice of Indian society taking to the skies for the first time. With half-a-dozen airlines planning to launch in the next year, fares have tumbled – and more than a third of the seats will be filled with first-time flyers. Three years ago a return ticket from New Delhi, India’s capital, to Mumbai, the country’s financial hub, was fixed at 20,000 rupees (£250). Now travellers who book online can get Also, towns which used to be connected only by slow train services or potholed highways, have been linked by a series of airstrips unused since the end of the second world wara ticket for 450 rupees. Also, towns which used to be connected only by slow train services or potholed highways, have been linked by a series of airstrips unused since the end of the second world war.

Behind this transformation of the aviation sector is Captain GR Gopinath, a former army officer who ran a private helicopter business in the early 90s. “I used to fly over small towns and villages and saw satellite dishes and TV aerials pop up on all these tiny houses,” he said. “It told me that if people could afford to pay 5 rupees a day for television, then a new mindset was emerging. Rather than seeing India as a country with a billion people to be fed and subsidised, I saw 1 billion hungry consumers.”

It was an advert that convinced him India was ready for take off. “We ran an advert which showed a girl on an island with a caption that said: ‘If it’s on the map we will get you there.’ Then we kept on getting calls from people thinking we were an airline and wanting to book tickets. I realised then that India wanted to fly.”

In 24 months, Air Deccan has revolutionised Indian air travel. Last year it carried 1 million passengers, this year that figure will reach 4.4 million. With 35 destinations, the fleet is already stretched and the company has ordered a further 62 aircraft.

I don’t think India can redevelop and expand train service — and keep up with demand for domestic air travel at the same time. It seems obvious what the market wants.