DEAR ZINDAGI – Movie Review

Until you’ve had depression, I don’t think you are qualified to talk about it – Geoffrey Boycott

INTRO

In recent years, Hollywood has made some astonishing films on the complex subject of depression. Count  among them Kate Winslet in Sam Mendes’s poignant REVOLUTIONARYROAD, Gwyneth Paltrow playing the lead role of the traumatised SYLVIA and perhaps the most stunning of them all was Ashley Judd in the very average HELEN. Nearer home, one cannot recall a single Bollywood film made on depression in all these years. How ironical for a country where more than a third of the population suffers from this mental illness. But with a very popular actress recently disclosing how she had coped with depression, director Gauri Shinde’s DEAR ZINDAGI could not have come at a better time.

WARNING : SPOILERS AHEAD

On the face of it, camerawoman (or should that be camera girl considering that Alia Bhatt is barely 23?) Kiara has a perfect life. Her career is going great guns, her personal life is no less dramatic what with her two timing on her boyfriend (played by an average Angad Bedi) with her producer (an under utilised Kunal Kapoor) while there is another hottie waiting in the wings (Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar) But as the latter portions reveal she is nursing a broken heart and her relationship with her folks is far from perfect (Whose is?!) Sure enough, she slips into depression. Enter therapist cum philosopher cum friend Jehangir Khan (a delightfully understated SRK) who helps her to bare her soul and in the process rediscover life in all it’s many hues, dark and bright. With the picturesque Goa providing a vital supporting role to the therapist.

The last decade has seen some iconic female centric films create ripples. From Nagesh Kukunoor’s underrated Dor(2006) to DIRTY PICTURE(2011) Gauri’s own debut film ENGLISH VINGLISH(2012) and Vikas Behl’s fabulous QUEEN(2013) You can add DEAR ZINDAGI to that list now. Sure it is far from perfect. It gets too verbose at times and the writing (credited to the director Gauri Shinde) could have been better. Yet there are those who are unfairly comparing this film to the Sridevi comeback vehicle ENGLISH VINGLISH. Stories about underdogs who triumph against all odds are always that much easier to write and make into film. Making a film about depression is not. And think about this. When was the last time that a reigning superstar played second fiddle to a new kid on the block? In fact it is not till almost an hour into the film that SRK gets a look in.

Director Gauri Shinde stays loyal to her crew from ENGLISH VINGLISH preferring to work again with music director Amit Trivedi, editor Hemanti Sarkar and cinematographer Laxman Utekar. Of them, Amit Trivedi is surprisingly underwhelming and though they seem all right when watching the film not a single ditty stays with you when you exit the theatres. The editing could have been more tight for the film with a running time of 150 minutes seems half an hour too long. But the camerawork is quite superb with the audience getting to see parts of Goa hitherto unseen on the big screen. Alia’s scenes with her friends(played by Ira Dubey and a very watchable Yashaswini Dayama) are fun and breezy.

Shah Rukh Khan as the charming middle aged therapist restrains himself and hardly hits a false note throughout. After his last outing FAN where he was in top form (though the film bombed) here is another eminently likable outing. Watch him try his hand at Italian Opera and you know that here is an actor in fine fettle. Here’s to the new and improved SRK 2.0. But DEAR ZINDAGI belongs to it’s two women, the director Gauri Shinde and actress Alia Bhatt. Gauri Shinde proves that her debut film was no fluke and makes a heart warming film that will have it’s own fans. Almost every scene that has SRK and Alia together is memorable. For some reason these scenes reminds one of the cackling chemistry between Big B and Tabu in Gauri’s husband Balki directed CHEENI KUM

Above all DEAR ZINDAGI belongs completely to Alia Bhatt. Here is an actress who is raising the bar with every film of hers. If she was charming in Imtiaz Ali’s HIGHWAY and gut wrenching in Abhishek Chaubey’s UDTA PUNJAB earlier this year, she has outdone herself as the enigmatic Kiara. She rises above the role (which should have been better written) and acts with an innate understanding & maturity that is beyond her years. DEAR ZINDAGI is worth the price of a movie ticket just for Alia alone.

FORCE 2 – Movie Review

I don’t like to go to the movies to see violence or some kind of spy thing with all kinds of information you have to assimilate to understand the plot – Pia Zadora

 
INTRO

The James Bond franchisee is the most successful in all of film history having spawned a mind boggling 26 films in the last five decades. Yet four words ‘Bond saves the world’ sum up the story across all of them. On the other end of the spectrum you have the John le Carre novels which arecloser to reality. Where the life of a spy is far removed from the flamboyant, tuxedo clad, gadget flaunting, smooth talking ladies man that Bond is. If anything the fact that he is quite ordinary like the rest of us is what allows him to blend in. And in here, the lines between good and bad, right and wrong are blurred ever so often. And who your heroes are depends on which side of the fence you are. Yet when a film adaption of the 1974 le Carre novel ‘TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY’ released in 2011, it got a lukewarm response at the box office though it wowed critics. In between these two extremes, you have the Jason Bournes, the Ethan Hunts and all the rest. Where does the John Abraham action flick ‘FORCE 2’ (inspired by the true story of a RAW agent) figure in all of this? Read on.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

One of the motivations to watch FORCE 2 was it’s director, Abhinay Deo whose recent work has been fairly  impressive. Be it in this year’s acclaimed TV series, 24 – Season Two or his last film, the unapologetically quirky DELHI BELLY (produced by Aamir Khan) But not having watched the first part of this film was one of  the difficulties in reviewing FORCE 2. After doing so and then sitting through the sequel the realisation dawned that one should not have bothered. For a few minutes into the original, one understood that it was a remake of the Gautam Menon helmed Tamil film ‘KAAKHA KAAKHA’ The Hindi version was not half as good. The sequel starts on a brisk note with a few RAW agents getting bumped off. One of them was good friends with our ACP Yashvardhan (such a cliched name) and before you know it our brawny cop who was last in the Anti Narcotics Bureau takes off on this international mission for revenge that unfolds in picturesque Budapest.

To make matters worse, the entire track of his morally upright female boss (played by a strictly average Sonakshi Sinha) who take umbrage to the ACP’s penchant for destruction of public property never takes off. Their clashes lack spark, the eventual romance seems forced and the songs are yawn inducing(pass me the popcorn,dude) One can nitpick the insipid writing but then action movies are not exactly renowned for great scripts anyway. It is the action sequences that define the genre but sadly even on this front, FORCE 2 is underwhelming. The numerous chase scenes (strongly reminiscent of the Bourne films) are impressive only in parts and seem poorly conceived, choreographed and edited.

Ram Sampath who has done the music seems to be clearly uninspired. The editing by Amitabh Shukla & Sanjay Sharma could have been better which is why even the running length of 127 minutes seem a tad too long. The action scenes by Franz Spilhaus (the same guy who worked on the 2013 action film COMMANDO) leave you with a seen-it-all-before feeling.The camera work is credited to the duo of Imre Juhasz(who was superb in the Matt Damon sci-fi flick THE MARTIAN) & Mohana Krishna and is easily one of the best things about this film. Where FORCE directed by Nishikant Kamat had a ready made script to work with by virtue of being a faithful remake, the director of the sequel, Abhinay Deo clearly is handicapped and it shows in the final product. Sad, for the story of a disowned RAW agent had potential.

The only saving grace of the film is the game of one upmanship between the protagonist played by John Abraham and the antagonist portrayed with rakish charm by actor Tahir Raj Bhasin. Not having seen Bhasin’s last film MARDANI, the way this young actor channels his energy fills one with hope for his future ventures. Where hopefully his parts are better written. John Abraham carries FORCE 2 almost entirely on his ridiculously broad shoulders with one expression on his face all through. Of grimace. Sadly, that is the exact reaction of the audience watching FORCE 2. Grimace!

 

Doctor Strange – Movie Review

Every villain is a hero in his own mind – Tom Hiddleston

INTRO

Marvel Comics never had it this good. They first hit pay dirt in 2008 with the iconic Iron Man played with inimitable style by Robert Downey Jr. And it is no coincidence that every superhero film post that featuring the Iron Man has turned out to be a blockbuster. Equally, other superhero films starring characters like Thor, Captain America and Hulk have just not reached those dizzying box office heights. Now after almost a decade, the wait has finally ended. With the casting masterstroke of the mercurial Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role of Doctor Strange. Let the fun and mayhem begin.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The first few minutes of Doctor Strange takes the audience completely unawares and easily qualifies as the most exhilarating introduction sequence that one has seen all year at the movies. This is also where we get to see the uber cool, bald headed mystical guru (a superb Tilda Swinton) known only as the Ancient One take on the main antagonist, Kaecilius (a slightly disappointing Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen) In an interesting aside, the Ancient One is actually a Tibetan male in the comic. The gravity defying CGI effects in this scene where inanimate objects like pathways, streets and buildings come alive are spellbinding and would have delighted the likes of Christopher Nolan. This sets the mood for the entire film and there is hardly a dull moment during the entire length of a 115 minutes.

The story of Doctor Strange is pretty ordinary. Dr Strange is a neuro surgeon who is full of himself and has a romantic connection with his fellow doctor, Christine Palmer(a ravishing Rachel McAdams) till one day he meets with a ghastly accident (the scene has left such a profound impact that I have vowed to never ever text while driving)leaving both his hands in a mangled mess. When all fails, Strange leaves to see a mystic healer in Kathmandu, who turns out to be the Ancient One. Healed by her and ably mentored by the masterful Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor in another winsome role following his Academy Award nominated role in 12 Years A Slave) Cumberbatch’s character undergoes a metamorphosis of sorts to become this heroic sorcerer who obviously must save our world.
What elevates this perfectly routine story to make Doctor Strange such an awe inspiring film is actually two things. Firstly it is the director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) who also shares writing credits. Everything that he has done so far pales in comparison to what he has achieved here. Aided by CGI that is likely to get the nod at the Academy’s, an eclectic score by Michael Giacchino and first rate cinematography by Ben Davis (Avengers: Age of Ultron fame) Derrickson delivers a winner. It has lighter moments (scenes between the Benedicts, Cumberbatch & Wong) in abundance and though enough jargon like multiverse, mirror dimensions and alternate reality does get thrown around, the narration never gets heavy handed. It also never gets too complicated, preachy or boring. Something that films like Matrix and Inception were guilty of. In parts.

Secondly, Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is everything that a superhero must be. And some more.Though he is a British actor, he nails the American accent while playing Doctor Strange with great aplomb. He has a wry sense of humour, magical powers that allow him to travel across time and weapons that will help him overcome the toughest of adversaries. Talking of adversaries, Cumberbatch even plays the feared monster, Dormammu who Strange confronts in a pivotal scene that takes place in an eerie place called The Dark Dimension. Among his weapons is the Eye of Agamatto which is a relic containing an ‘infinity stone’ to control time and defy space. Above all he dons the Cloak of Levitation and lest you mistake this for some ordinary cape, it is like a faithful pet which watches Strange’s back. It has a mind of it’s own and enough powers to take down anyone wanting to harm the Doctor. Invigorating!

Right at the end, the audience is treated to a teaser of Doctor Strange joining the league of the Avengers. So do not be in a hurry to leave and wait till the closing credits are fully done.

Rock On 2 – Movie Review

A sequel is an admission that you have been reduced to imitating yourself – Don Marquis

INTRO

No other movie industry anywhere in the world makes sequels that are bigger and better than Hollywood. So much so that the groundwork for these sequels is done by the writers even while they are working on the original film. Inspite of this, there are very few sequels which surpass the first part let alone match up to them. In Bollywood, sequels are a more recent fad with films in the genres of horror and comedy being the usual suspects. Sadly nine out of ten sequels have been tepid with just a few exceptions. Count among them Anurag Kashyap’s cult ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (not technically a sequel since it was shot and envisaged as one film) and Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ which unbelievably was better than the first Munnabhai film. The best sequel by far would have to be Anand L.Rai’s sequel to ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ which had everything that the original had. And that much more. Will Rock On 2 follow in the steps of this film or will it turn out to be another damp squib? Read on

WARNING : SPOILERS AHEAD

Rock On released almost a decade ago (2008 to be specific) and likewise in the film, the story has moved forward by five years. The fight over writing credits between the makers, Excel Entertainment and the director of the first part, Abhishek Kapoor is said to have been a big reason. Rock On was a fairly good film but not a classic by any stretch of imagination and the long gap of eight years proves detrimental to the sequel. For the audience struggles to connect with the lead characters and their motivations for doing what they do. The goofy character of KD (short for Killer Drummer) played by Purab Kohli who now makes a living composing ad jingles is still charming but only just.The volatile Joe played so well by Arjun Rampal in the first (he even bagged a National Award then) is a shadow of his former self. He has lost his ‘mojo'(read long hair) and now spends his time judging talent shows.

The biggest letdown has to be the character of the lead singer of Magik(that is what their band is called) Adi played so charismatically by director & actor Farhan Akhtar in the original. Playing a good Samaritan looking after the interests of poor farmers(??) in Shillong (perhaps to get over the painful memory of a fan who committed suicide for which he blames himself?) His scenes are too cliched and somehow never resonate with the audience. Then there are the new introductions to whom quite a lot of screen time is devoted. Shashank Arora (last seen in an impressive outing in the Cannes selection film Titli) plays Uday a Sarod player who is reluctant to become part of a rock band. Sadly his role is half baked and gets frequently sidelined by the character of Jiah played by actress Shraddha Kapoor. Hers is the meatiest role of the sequel (the other two female leads of the wives played by Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami are just walk-on parts) with even a separate track devoted to her love-hate relationship with the musician father (played by theatre actor Kumud Mishra who seems to crop up in every second film nowadays be it Sultan, Dhoni, Rustom or Airlift)

The Belgian cameraman Marc Koninckx (whose work in the 2013 Dhanush starrer Tamil film ‘Maryan’ was awesome) captures the stunning Shillong and other parts of Meghalaya quite beautifully and it is the one silver lining in what is otherwise a strictly average fare. The writing credited to a gentleman by the name of Pubali Chaudhari is hackneyed and is clearly the villain of the piece. Thanks to which, no character really moves you and one ends up wondering about the compulsions behind relocating the story to the North East. Also underwhelming is the soundtrack by the trio of Shanker, Ehsaan & Loy with just the ‘Jaago’ track providing some respite. The last decade has seen several ad filmmakers get into film direction with Rakesh Mehra and R.Balki being the notable names. Rock On 2 sees another from their tribe, Shujaat Saudagar make his directorial bow. He is handicapped to a large extent by shoddy writing yet is able to extract good performances from the entire cast. Wish he gets better material to work with in his next venture.

None of the actors is great but they are not bad either. Purab Kohli provides some light moments though his voiceover tends to jar at places. Arjun Rampal is quite good but Farhan is just not in his element, it seems. The talented Shashank Arora and Kumud Mishra are wasted in roles which are just not written well enough but Priyanshu Painyuli is quite superb. Shraddha Kapoor has poured her heart and soul into the role of Jiya (even spending months taking Jazz singing lessons) and though her acting is flawless she just seems miscast as a rock singer.
In the end, what stays with you is the fantastic climax which is full of energy and the real rock star Usha Uthup singing with a local North East band in the local khasi language ends the film on a high. If only the rest of the film was as much fun.

Koffee with Karan – Ten years and still rocking

  It was way back in the 1950s that the American television network, NBC first started a talk show. It was titled The Tonight Show with Steve Allen as it’s host. It was then seen as a logical extension of Allen’s immensely successful radio talk show. Of course, neither Steve Allen nor NBC in their wildest dreams would have imagined that their show would open the floodgates. And that every television channel in every part of the world would have their own talk show. Be it an international, national or regional channel and on topics ranging from politics to stand up comedy, sports to cinema they were all at it.
In these last many decades, India has had it’s own share of talk shows. Though right until the 1990s, it was only one government run TV channel (Doordarshan) that held sway, this changed completely with the arrival of private TV networks led by the Zee network channel. Today there are dozens of channels dedicated to 24/7 reporting of current affairs where every second programme is a talk show. Point being that there is such intense competition to grab eyeballs today that only the best will survive. And only the ones that rule the roost when it comes to TRP(Television Rating Points) will shine through.

In this scenario, the continued success of the talk show titled ‘Koffee with Karan’ is indeed worthy of praise. This show started more than a decade ago (2005 to be precise) and has completed four very popular seasons so far. One must bear in mind that the host, Karan Johar is a very successful film producer and director who would probably have done more of these shows if not for his extremely busy schedule. What it also means is that the talk show is more of a passion for the filmmaker and less of a necessity to keep the money rolling. The fifth season began last week with a bang setting the tone for what should be another year full of tongue-in-cheek humor, juicy gossip and candid confessions involving celebrity guests.
What is also admirable about the success of the show is that it is conducted completely in English and inspite of this, Koffee with Karan has become a hit with the masses. The reasons for this can be broadly divided into two. First is the way in which Karan Johar keeps constantly reinventing things by adding new fun sections every season. There was the ‘Lie-o-meter’ where the host would press a loud buzzer if he felt his guests were not being forthright in their answers to candid questions; a Rapid Fire round where you answered tricky posers as quickly as possible at the end of which you even got gifted a Gift Hamper if you did well and last season saw the introduction of Koffee Quiz where each guest was given a buzzer to enjoy the privilege of answering first.
Of course, the real attraction behind Koffee with Karan has to be the no holds barred style of asking candid yet extremely controversial questions by the host. For the audience loves nothing more than watching a famous celeb getting grilled.

Impact of demonitisation on black money

Two days after the Indian government demonitised two high value currency notes (Rs 500 & Rs 1000) the impact of the move has already started showing in some sectors. This can be first attributed to the fact that almost 86% of the transactions in the country happen with these two denominations of currency. Let us look at some pros of this momentous move by the current regime.Hawala transactions – If media reports are to be believed, hawala transactions which are considered like a parallel economy in the country have been the hardest hit by this demonitisation. It is said that on an average, two to three thousand crores of money changes hands on a daily basis via hawala. And according to Interpol, it accounts for 40% of country’s annual GDP. Since those caught with hawala money are usually let away with a fine, it has led to many international terror groups to do their dealings using this method. Not surprising then that hawala operators have shut shop for the time being

Curbing of counterfeit cash – The inside story is that every year, hundreds of crores in fake money is pumped into the market every year. In fact, intelligence agencies in the country have claimed that nefarious elements in the neighboring country of Pakistan have been making and circulating lakhs of crores in Indian markets with an aim to cripple the Indian economy. The other purpose is to fund terror and anti national activities in India using this fake currency. The sudden and unexpected stoppage of notes which are of these two types of denomination has caught these criminal elements off guard.

Reduction in hoarding – It is common knowledge that in almost every political party, the practice is to hoard cash in a staggered manner over a period of time especially if elections are due to take place soon. And a lot of this cash is unaccounted for. With many states of India set to go for elections starting next year, corrupt parties will all feel the heat. Likewise in the realty sector, many folks with access to black money tend to invest it on acquiring land as a result of which prices always remain sky high. With demonitisation, it is expected that prices of high value assets like land, gold and jewellery among other things will come down substantially.

Big dip in inflation – Last but surely not the least is the long term impact of demonitisation. Prices of goods and materials cutting across industries are expected to come down gradually but surely. But for this to happen, it is equally pertinent that a slew of measures are initiated by the government of the day to make sure that the impact of demonitisation is not diluted with the passing of time. For those who are good at circumventing the law will eventually find ways in which to work around demonitisation of currency. So it goes without saying that there has be no letup. The pressure must be kept on. For as long as the need be.

To conclude, demonitisation is a good start. And as the saying goes well begun is half done. But then there are much bigger and bolder initiatives that the government of the day needs to undertake. The road ahead is long and there are many more miles to go before the malaise of black money is got rid of.

Demonitisation – What is it all about?

A couple of days ago, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi came on national television and made an important announcement before the whole nation. Two high value currency notes, that of 500 INR and 1000 INR were both withdrawn from circulation in the next few hours. The initial reaction of the people at large was of panic, followed by confusion and lack of clarity. This process of taking out a certain currency from circulation is what is termed as demonitisation. Like in most such cases, the government of the day has given citizens a few weeks time to deposit the demonitised notes with the banks. But what was exactly the reason for this sudden move? What are it’s implications for the country and it’s people at large?

This is not the first time in post independent India that demonitisation has taken place. It was about 38 years ago (in the year 1978) that a government undertook this step. And even back then, the move was made with the sole intention of curbing the rising menace of black money. Today after almost four decades, this process has been initiated to tackle the same problem. That of black money. As part of the process, the government has taken a few measures to ensure that the move yields maximum dividends. One of them involves strictly monitoring large deposits coming into banks. Where deposits over 2.5 lakhs are taxed and if found to be disproportionate with income, the person is likely to be penalized.

A survey conducted by a global agency found that cash accounts for 85% of all global transactions and a lot of these transactions are not easy to monitor neither are they properly accounted for. And many of these are not even strictly legit. One of the reasons for demonitising currency is to try and encourage people to move towards cashless transactions using debit/credit cards, cheques and online transfers. These types of transactions are much more easier to keep track of. The other aim of demonitisation is to ensure that people living in hinterlands & rural parts of the country most of whom do not even have bank accounts take that first step towards opening a bank account in their name.

But it is extremely crucial to understand that demonitisation cannot be that one step which will completely rid any country of corruption and black money. At best, it will be a small but decisive step in the right direction. Which is why four decades after demonitisation was first done in India, the use of black money has only become more rampant today. This clearly means that there are fatal flaws in the system that miscreants have been able to exploit to their benefit. It also indicates successive governments have taken very few concrete steps in order to stem the rot let alone rid the system of this menace.

So if the government of the day believes that demonitising some currency notes will be the panacea to all problems, they are clearly mistaken for nothing could be further from the truth. For it is only a matter of time before those who bucked the system will do it all over again. This is just the beginning and there are many more challenges ahead. Be sure of that.

Democrats and India – A tempestuous relationship

Over the years, Asian Indians (the US term for American citizens with Indian roots coined to avoid confusion with the native Red Indians) have associated themselves with the Democratic Party. The anti immigrant, ultra conservative stance of the Republican Party is a big reason why. They make up for just over 1% of the American population but what they lack in numbers they make up in education & economic well being making them one of the most powerful ethnic groups in the US. They made their choice pretty clear in 2012 when over 80% of Asian Indians voted for the Democrat candidate, Barrack Obama. Yet if one were to look at past history, it is actually Republican Presidents who have always backed India on all important international matters. With a few glorious exceptions.

Starting off with India’s struggle for independence from the colonial masters where President Roosevelt
was known to have urged Winston Churchill to free India. But this was only an exception and the Democrat Presidents Woodrow Wilson & Truman both did little to help the Indian cause. The latter was reluctant to provide financial aid to India in the aftermath of partition nor was he wanting to get tangled in the Kashmir dispute. The first Prime Minister of India had great relations with Republican President Eisenhower but with Democrat President Kennedy, his relationship was a non starter. Mrs Gandhi never got along with Democrat President Johnson and openly criticized US attack on Vietnam. In contrast, her son, the young Rajiv Gandhi got along just fine with Republican Ronald Reagan.

Which is why the election of the Republican candidate and real estate tycoon, Donald Trump might actually be a blessing in disguise for India especially on matters concerning it’s neighbors, China and Pakistan. For starters Trump has recognised that in the last decade and a half, US has lost over 5 million jobs in the manufacturing sector to China which has only grown stronger in the same period. Trump aims to beat the low cost labour advantage that China enjoys by levying heavy tariffs on the country and this could negatively impact China’s economy. This in turn will reduce the influence that China wields in South East Asia which is obviously music to the Indian ears.

Lastly and most importantly, Trump has minced no words while calling Pakistan ‘possibly the most dangerous country’ in the world. As opposed to the previous Republican President Obama who enjoyed back to back terms in office but did little to make Pakistan toe the line, Trump has openly stated in his election campaign that he will cut down on the billions of dollars of aid that Pakistan still avails. Not just this, he also acknowledges India as a nuclear superpower and a responsible one at that making it a natural ally of the US. That India has been urging the US to do just that for the longest time augurs well for future strategic partnership between the US and India.

All said and possibly done, the election of Donald Trump to the Oval Office may just be what India needs in the troubled waters of South East Asia where things threaten to get out of hand. Ever so often.

The Trump factor – Will The Indian IT juggernaut roll on?

While the US Presidential elections were underway, there were many folks half way across the world in India who were all anxiously awaiting the results. And secretly hoping that the Republican candidate, Trump loses. Not without reason too for the outspoken Donald Trump had said repeatedly during his election campaign that if voted in he plans to scrap the H1B Visa, which according to him was robbing US citizens of jobs that was their right. For the uninformed, the H1B visa is a non immigrant visa that permits American companies to temporarily employ foreign employees and if done away with, can only mean bad news for the booming IT industry of India. The revenues of Indian companies from IT exports as of last year rose to over $80 billion. And US alone accounted for 60% of this. In addition, Trump targeted some big US car manufacturers who had set up factories in India by warning them of higher taxation on cars manufactured in this part of the world.So when a couple of days ago, Trump trounced his more fancied Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of USA, a lot of people got very worried. For it could all change drastically now but are these fearsreally justified? For the record, the previous President Obama did try and bring changes to restrict outsourcing work to India but never found popular support for the move and business has gone on as usual. So far.

Many experts who follow US foreign policy are of the firm opinion that a lot of what Trump spoke during his election campaign might have been more rhetorical than anything else. The same Trump would lambast US based companies for shutting down in the US and threaten them with stringent taxes on products made outside the country. But in another speech in another state, he would wax eloquent about academic tie ups, student exchange programs as well as scholarship for Indians in US schools. Thus showing that Trump can surely be flexible as and when required. Besides, the US economy depends hugely on the billions (or is it trillions?) of dollars earned through higher education where India is one of the largest contributors. And the businessman in Trump simply cannot ignore this.
These are early days still and it is not easy to be able to predict what is it that Trump plans to do. But the man who has made a successful career as a businessman and has turned to politics only in recent times would do well to realise that jobs are being outsourced outside the US not so much because of the low costs involved in doing so. It has to do more with the fact there is a genuine dearth of talent in the US. And till higher education is prioritised in the US, the situation is unlikely to change. Regardless of who gets voted to power. A man or woman,conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat.