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MAY 6, 2007
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Web Censors
Internet censorship is on the rise worldwide. As many as two dozen countries are blocking content using a variety of techniques. Distressingly, the most censor-heavy countries such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Uzbekistan seem to be passing on their technologically sophisticated techniques to other countries of the world. Some examples of censorship: China's blocking of Wikipedia and Pakistan's ban on Google's blogging service.

Temping Trend
Of late, temporary staffing has become a trend in India Inc. In industries such as retail and logistics, temporary hiring has become a business strategy as it enables them to quickly ramp up teams. It is becoming increasingly important for the survival of Indian firms, given the growth rates and talent shortage. Although the salary gap between temporary and permanent jobs is narrowing, temporary staff in India earn lower salaries than permanent ones, which is contrary to the global trend.
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Business Today,  April 22, 2007

Chandra's Circus
Can ICL do for cricket what Packer managed?
Zee’s Chandra: India’s Kerry Packer?

In 1977, Kerry Packer hit upon an innovative approach to revive the languishing ratings of his Australian television station, Channel Nine. He launched World Series Cricket (WSC), a breakaway professional cricket competition that took on the established format of the game by luring 50 of the best international cricketers with lip-smacking pay-packets. The concept took its time to click, but by the time the second season began, Packer's unique day-night one-day matches-played under floodlights, with teams in coloured clothing-began to gain in popularity. Sections of the media dubbed the series "Packer's Circus", but looking back he was responsible for taking the game to a new level-microphones in stumps, helmets, cameras at both ends of the pitch and a variety of camera angles, much of which is taken for granted today, were a function of WSC.

Now, 25 years on, Subhash Chandra, the pioneering founder of the Essel Group, which broadcasts the Zee bouquet of channels, appears to be trying something similar. Last fortnight, he announced the launch of a parallel cricket series, dubbed the "India Cricket League" (ICL), in association with financial institution IL&Fs. Ostensibly aimed at improving the quality of cricket talent in India, ICL will be set up with an investment of Rs 100 crore and will be the richest professional cricket league in India with an annual prize money of $1 million (Rs 4.3 crore). The amount by itself may not appear mouthwatering-after all Indian one-day cricketers will be paid Rs 1 lakh per match (after a recent revision)-but what works in Chandra's favour is the timing of the announcement; it comes as it is in the wake of India's debacle at the ICC World Cup, and the fans' disillusionment with the team, the game and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The format? The league will initially comprise six teams, which will be expanded to 16 after three years. According to Chandra: "A professional league is the need of the hour, as is a killer instinct. Budding talent must be groomed at the grassroot levels and given the experience to play on competitive pitches and not on placid tracks which is usually their downfall when tested on international circuits." ICL will have 50-over one-dayers as well as 20:20 format games. Each team will also have first and second division sides so as to maximise talent utilisation.

So, is the ICL another WSC in the making? Not quite, if you go by what Harish Thawani,