Friday, February 29, 2008

Elections are Coming Soon

If there was one thing the Left and the Congress could agree on on Feb. 29, it was that the 2008-09 Union Budget of the Republic of India was one tailor-made to suit the needs of the world's largest democracy going to polls in a year's time or less.

The Budget has several shortcomings but nearly all of these were eclipsed by the huge allocation to social sectors. The most prominent among these was the waiver of loans of farmers, effectively bringing them back into the credit cycle. Furthermore, the tax slabs have been set and the minimum income up to which one is exempt for taxes has been raised to Rs. 1.5 lakhs per annum (men below 65 years of age). Similar changes have been made in other slabs as well. However, short term capital gains tax has been raised from 10% to 15%.

The Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car, has just gotten cheaper with the duty on small cars being reduced from 16% to 12% in line with the UPA's policy on making India a small-car hub. Anti-AIDS drugs have been freed from taxes.

Indian Economy
India's growth rate decelerated to 8.7% from 9.6% YoY. The fiscal deficit is expected be around 3.1% of GDP while tax-to-GDP ratio has risen to 12.5%. The revenue deficit is 1.4% of GDP against a budget estimation of 1.5%. The total outlay for this budget is Rs. 2.43 lakh crore.

Social Sectors
Educational allocation has been raised by increasing the allocation to schemes such as the SSA, JNV and Bharat Nirman. Three new IITs would be set up in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. 16 more central universities would be added. Already, IIM Shillong has started functioning. The NREG scheme would be rolled out to 596 districts and Rs 16,000 crore would be invested under the scheme.

Corporates and Industries
Double tax on dividends has been removed for the Industrial sector.
Import duty on project imports has been reduced from 7.5% to 5.0%. Roads, highways and power however, got very little. For the mining sector, a Coal Regulator has been proposed to be set up.

Retailers did not get the sops they expected. However, they can rejoice at the fact that citizens will have higher disposable incomes due to the changed tax slabs. PAN (Personal Account Numb
er) has become the identification for an individual in almost all transactions except select ones.

Cigarettes, cellphones and customised software have become more expensive, while Airline Tickets and Small Cars have become cheaper.

The budget is expected to spur spending and control inflation at the same time subject to the RBI's norms.
India's defence budget, one that the whole world looks at keenly (for both commercial as well as strategic reasons), has been raised by 10% to more than Rs. 1 lakh crore with assurances of greater supply if ever needed.

The BSE Sensex was down over 300 points today, but it was more due to global factors such as the strengthening Yen and weak economic data from the US.

The Best Budget news and analysis on

It's a Leap Day!

For the happy ones, this year is a whole day happier. For the sad ones, this year is just going to get worse.

Yes, it's a leap year and today is that very special extra day. Now, you should know that every year is NOT a leap year if it is simply divisible by four. If a year is divisible by 100, then it must also be divisible by 400 for it to be a leap year. Consequently, 1900 was not a leap year.

Now, there are many superstitions associated with this day. Can't wait for your man to propose? Do it today! Want to get married today? Think again!

But most importantly, do something good this day. After all, an extra day doesn't come every other year: the longest duration between tow leap years is actually eight years!

Further Reading

Rest in Hell

Chemical Ali, aka Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam Hussein's cousin, known for gassing thousands of Kurds to death,will be executed in 30 days, say Iraqi officials. His crimes, too numerous and heinous to describe, warrant such a sentence. Death is the only answer to a man who killed for sport.

Report from CNN
Before EU-supporters condemn us for encouraging the death sentence, do read this profile of "Chemical Ali" from the BBC.

Exam Centres Declared

IPE 2008: 5 DAYS TO GO

Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Feb. 29: The college declared the centres of various students today and all the centres were in or near SR Nagar as promised by the Principal and reported EXCLUSIVELY by OTFS.

The majority of students were assigned Narayana Jr. College, SR Nagar. Among the other colleges, New Vision Jr. College and Kakatiya Jr. College were prominent. Students or their parents can collect their hall tickets from the IIT Campus tomorrow or Monday.

Speaking EXCLUSIVELY to OTFS, VP Mrs. Jhansi asked students not to be tensed and to "write the exam with a coll mind."

Today's exam - the last of this series of exams - PFC (Chemistry) received a very easy or A rating on the Instant Poll. However, some students added that questions from the additional syllabus (Telugu Akademi Textbook: Appendix) were not expected but did receive an allocation of six marks or 10% of the paper.

The PFP marks were also handed out today and the results were very good with most students having scored above their average marks.

OTFS sadly reports that a lot of students will be leaving the IIT Campus next year, in want of greener or less demanding pastures. We are however, not authorised to give out any names.

Party Time!
Preparations for after-exam parties have already begun with former BVBPS students planning an informal meet.

The college reopens for First Years on March 25 for the new session, illegally of course.

During IPE 2008, OTFS will be bringing you reports from Kakatiya Jr. College. OTFS is the only blog to visit for a comprehensive analysis of each and every paper. (OTFS)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gorgeous, but Worth It?

When you look at pictures of Windows Vista like this one, you have to agree that for all its glitches, patches and seriously inflated price, this doll is HOT! So while the European Union slaps a record US$ 1.3 billion fine on MSFT [ Associated Press Reports], I'm yet to decide what to take come my little tech-upgrade in 2009.

Any help out there?

Roadies 5.0: Episode 3


We've all seen Episode 3 of roadies 5.0 (if you haven't, then what are you doing alive?). So what do the 'enlightened' :-) users of Facebook have to say?

Well, Ayaz, after his little (OK, fairly serious) bike crash, has become the darling of all... everything from cute to अच्छा लड़का । Shambhavi meanwhile, has come under the hammer from virtually all quarters. Right from her flriting with Nihal to behaving as though every single bone in her body was broken most brutally by Ayaz, she's become one user's biaaaatch (sic).

Meanwhile, everybody is still in shock over Vikrant's unexpected departure and Snehashish's unquestionable albeit misplaced genius. And to be fair, Snehashish, who was previously called Sneha by Nikhil, has been rechristened UNCLE JI thanks to Sonel!

A few users have pointed out that Ayaz and most of the others are on Facebook. OTFS can back this claim. However, we cannot say if the users who claim to have spoken to him are telling the truth or not.

With Vikrant gone (though many hope he'd return via a wild card entry), Facebook users are left without a surprise winner! So now some great souls claim that Ashutosh, the chilled out, देसी dude, would eventually win. Seeing that the actual shooting ended in Nov. 2007, this could be true. But then, others claim that Prabhjot and even Sonel (!!!) would win.

To echo those poor beings who do not have access to MTV India (Viacom18 doesn't run everywhere, right?), and also of those South Indians who do not know Hindi, we can only ask the rumour-mongers to shut up. The winner isn't as important as the experience. Right?

I, by the way, do have access to MTV and speak Hindi quite well, thanks to all those years in Mumbai. Just to clear the air.


Hark, the fairies fall
From the heights of heaven
To the dregs of mankind's realm.
See them, so dark and tall.

They have come to bless us thus,
Bring change without questions or fuss
And the world will change forever
And in our pockets will appear gold and silver.

See the light from the sky
How bright it is, neither afraid nor shy.
But wait, what is that noise?
Rising so steadily from the depths of oblivion...

Is it war? Is it disease?
Is it the crash of shares and stock?
No, wait, it is the sound
Of an alert alarm clock.

For change in dreams,
And change in words,
Can move the minds of the young.
And bring to fore heroes unsung.

But come the day of reckoning,
and words will be but words.
And the test of time alone
Will create sinew and steel.

Change, is action.
Not words.

Tick Tock: UPA Stop?

Robert Gates has finally done what many have been waiting for: sending an ultimatum to the UPA on the Nuclear Deal. This was long overdue particularly since the Left has made it clear that George Bush would never sign on that particular dotted line.

Indeed, if this deal, THIS deal of all deals, fails, then the UPA can simply dissolve Parliament because it would exist more as a slave to the Left than as a real government. The Left, after all, is very powerful now that India has a lot of money (close to US$300bn in FOREX reserves). Once India is once again in debt, when her gold reserves are pledged with a FOREX reserve of just $5bn, then the all mighty communists will learn to shut up.

Credibility? If the deal fails, then Manmohan Singh would officially win the not-so-coveted title of Weakest PM, a shame to the post once held by the likes of Indira Gandhi.

Mr. Gates, you're ultimatum couldn't have come at a better time. Better to cut the limb than feed the poison.
Story from

Lalu Prasad, Zindabad!

Lalu Prasad Yadav presents the 2008-09 Railway Budget. Highlights:
  • Freight rates on fly ash cut by 14%
  • To cut freight on petrol, diesel by 5%
  • Freight rates for North-Eastern states cut by 6%
  • To cut sleeper fare cut by 5%
  • To cut A/C-I fare by 7%, A/C-II by 4%, and A/C-III by 3%
  • Amravati-Mumbai new train (2 days/week)
  • AIDS patients to get 50% concession
  • Decorated soldiers get fare concession
  • New train: Ahmedabad-Mumbai AC train
  • Bomb detection devices at major stations
  • 53 new trains; extensions in 16 trains
  • 10 more Gharib Rath trains to be started
  • To set up new rail coach factory in Kerala
  • To provide CFL bulbs in 6 lakh staff quarters
  • Mother-Child health express to be started: Lalu
  • Girl students to get season discounts of 50 per cent
  • Seniors citizens to receive season discount of 50 per cent
  • Concessions in rates for women of 60 and above
  • 30-50% concession for women senior citizens
  • TV, internet services on trains in future: lalu
  • Pvt cos to be allowed to make terminals on rail land
  • Okay for Delhi-JNPT North-West freight corridor
  • Railway Protection Force to be equipped well: Lalu
  • 5,000 wagons to be upgraded, 20,000 wagons to be made in FY'09
  • Automatic Signalling System to be put in place: Lalu
  • Escalators and lifts at 50 big stations
  • Railway vision 2025 to set targets for 17 years: lalu
  • Display board on Overnight Mail, Express trains
  • Green toilets in 36000 bogies at Rs 4,000 cr
  • To upgrade infrastructure in 7-yrs at 75,000cr
  • LCD display screens at A, B category stations
  • 30 major stations to have multi-level parking
  • To only use stainless steel coaches by 2010-11: Lalu
  • Public address system to be in some express trains: Lalu
  • Planning smart card based ticket system: Lalu
  • Railways fund balance up at Rs.20,480cr: Lalu
  • People using telephone enquiry to be 5 lakh in 1-yr: Lalu
  • Railway has generated Rs 25,000 crore surplus
  • Indian Railways employees at 1.4 million
  • Rs 68,778 crore surplus in 4 years: Lalu
  • Porters (coolies) to be made government employees
OTFS rates this budget as S (Superb!). The communists have said the budget was 'disappointing,' but that's no surprise. Everything is bad for them! I can just hear the Politburo now... Union Budget... 2020... is horrible... Rail Budget... 2050... is useless. How predictable!

हर बच्चा कहे, चक दे Railways! - Lalu Prasad Yadav, Railways Minister

Data courtesy NDTV

Mrs. Jhansi Returns!

IPE 2008: 7 DAYS TO GO

Sri Chaintanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Feb. 27: Mrs. Jhansi, who hasn't been seen for days, finally made a comeback today! Of course, she didn't come with any loud bangs... just a check if everyone was writing well.

Today's Physics exam PFP was rated very easy on the Instant Poll. Students said that most questions were along expected lines. PFC, the last exam before IPE 2008, would be held on Friday. Many students are already planning a party with friends after the board exams!

The Intermediate Public Examination 2008 begins on Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2008: one week from today. Read OTFS for coverage of each and every exam on ground. (OTFS)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Let's Brag!

It was bound to happen some day, and on Feb. 25, 2008, it finally did! We've crossed the 9,000 viewers level at last! Now, This is Feb. and we started counting from Jun. That's nine months (counting both Feb. and Jun.). If my math is right, and it is, OTFS has nearly 1,000 visitors a month! That's pretty good for a blog that lacks ads and doesn't really score well on Search Engine Optimization.

Perhaps it's our centrist approach to politics. Perhaps it's our original content. Perhaps it's our variety. Or perhaps it's all of these, or maybe none! But with nearly 400 posts to date, the target for 2008 being 500, OTFS has a long way to go: 10,000 visitors will be just the beginning!

EN- or ON-?

Yes, this is another boring article on English pronunciation!

A common question people - both native and acquired speakers of English - have is on the pronunciation of the words envelope, envoy, enclave and so on. Is it On-velope or EN-velope (forgive us, but blogger does not allow IPA Transcriptions).

Well, we did a bit of research into this topic. The word envelope derives its existence in English through the French enveloppe; envoy from the French envoye; and enclave from the French enclaver.

Now, the original French pronunciation was ON-, highlighting the nasal pronunciation that is common characteristic of French. However, over time, the pronunciation has been anglicized and it is now common to hear EN-velope, EN-voy and EN-clave. On the other hand, ON- is not entirely wrong either. In fact, a survey reveals that 30% of the Usage panel says ON-velope, while 20% of those that say EN-velope do not see anything wrong with the alternate pronunciation.

So, although both the pronunciations are acceptable, a students' dictionary would only provide the most common one: EN-velope. However, take heed of the fact that this kind of Anglicization is not true for all EN-words.

Encore, ennui, ensemble, entree, entourage and entrepreneur all start with EN- and are borrowed from French, but their correct and accepted pronunciation is ON-, not EN-, although some dictionaries might provide both.

The Hindu's Reply
This article makes use of information from the American Heritage Dictionary

The Business of Marriage

Marriage: that sacred unison between man and woman. Oh, how the hallowed have been desecrated! Indian marriages today, especially in South India, are more about money than love. Consider this: the first expense in a marriage is dowry. Don't listen to those officials that say dowry is extinct: they have been fed by the government. Dowry is a reality even today. In fact, it qualifies as an open secret.

Gold. Ah, how that shiny metal - the touch of Midas - has enamored the rich and the poor alike. In any Indian wedding, you will find at least a kilogram of gold on or near the bride. The natural beauty of the bride is irrelevant: her natural pulchritude is a matter of little concern. And with gold comes the expense of gold: parents save up for the gold ornaments right from the day the girl is born!

In Telugu weddings, there is a tradition wherein the female guests are given a little hamper containing anything from silver artifacts to fruits. But the essential ideation is that the more expensive the trinkets, the more 'blessed' is the bride! Again, money counts: not the thought.

The Indian mob at a wedding believes that a wedding that is not lavish and that does not treat its guests like celebrities is not a wedding worth attending. Indeed, in any wedding, more than three quarters of the guests would appear out of the blue only when dinner is served! Perhaps this is true of weddings all over the world, but it seems that, at least in India, the last thing on people's minds is the marriage itself!

Money is splurged openly. Apart from those who obviously evade paying their taxes (real estate barons, for example), the most lavish weddings are those of the kin of government officials. How quaint: using public money and taking bribes for personal events which are publicized like the next Olympics!

It will take a lot to change the social infatuation we have with money. However, I would like to point out the brighter side of the story: Marathi (Maharashtrian?) Weddings, I am told, are extremely simple. Although they too follow the multitude of rituals prescribed for the occasion, they tend to be simpler than any other kind of wedding. The food is plain and healthy (but delicious all the same), the clothes are lucid. The point being that a marriage is not a celebration of one's wealth but that of holy love. Now, isn't that what it should be about?

Rediscovering India is a new series in the OTFS Editorial label, through which we hope to do our part in fostering social reform.

To be a Girl

(*This picture is for illustrative purposes only)

An appalling truth in India - particularly in South India - is the hypocrisy... I'm sorry, "conservatism" associated with girls. Do not for a moment believe those beautiful Government of India ads that talk about equality and fair treatment: girls are still discriminated in India.

Take the case of clothes. Most schools follow a strict dress code for girls: they have to cover every inch of skin (except maybe their face, unless you count Islamic schools). Girls cannot leave their hair open, they must tie it every morning with a ribbon. As for boys, the only thing strict about the dress code is a tie!

Call me a member of the male species (though scientifically there is no such thing, as the definition of "species" suggests). Call me a feminist. Call me both! But I am shocked at how we blindly ignore the right of a girl to do whatever she wants! From something as simple as watching Friends to wearing a pair of jeans: the conservative tag is attached to everything.

How many boys do you see working as domestic help ("servants" to those who haven't read my previous post in this series)? How many girls do you see going to schools from impoverished families? Do you think dowry is no more? Think again... the dowry system was and is still prevalent, at least in South India. It's just that people don't talk about it openly, perhaps as a small mark of respect for the judiciary.

When an actress talks rightly about premarital sex, she is slandered and ostracized. But when an actor bears his bottom for a movie, he wins an award for Best Newcomer! While boys are free to watch sleaze, adultery and violence, girls are "protected" from that sort of "bad stuff."

But of course, when reformists (dare I say include myself among them?) speak out for the need to equate girls and boys as general human beings, the so-called conservatives decree it heresy!

A point to note here is that some girls themselves believe wrongly that they are mere objects before their male counterparts. A participant in an Asian Television Award winning episode of We, The People said, "If I saw a sweet uncovered, I would want to eat it." She was describing a woman wearing "less-than-complete" clothing. This is of course the result of centuries of blind belief that has been embodied into religion, although it is not one of the original tenets of the religion.

It is my sincere desire to see girls and boys - men and women - walking together in every field. To see girls celebrating any festival, including Valentine's Day, without being locked up inside. And lastly, it is my sincere desire to educate every child in the country. Only education can break the shackles of repression and discrimination, the strength of blind belief and the stigma that we call taboo.

I might add as a closing statement that Kerala has gone way ahead of the rest of India in bringing equality to girls. In no other state have I seen virtually every girl being sent to school, girls and boys studying the same subjects without discrimination and labourers taking their due wages and holidays and standing up for their rights. Kudos to God's own Country. Girls and boys were, according to religious theory, made by the same God. They were made one and the same. And if you ask me, they were made in Kerala.

Rediscovering India is a new series in the OTFS Editorial label, through which we hope to do our part in fostering social reform.

Ralph Nader enters Presidential Race

Ralph Nader - father of modern consumerism - has thrown in his hat for the fifth time.

"In the last few years, big money and the closing down of Washington against citizen groups prevent us from trying to improve our country. And I want everybody to have the right and opportunity to improve their country," he told reporters after an appearance announcing his candidacy on NBC's "Meet the Press."

His last nomination was controversial as it blocked now Nobel Laureate Al Gore from securing the Presidency against George Bush by siphoning off votes. The Democratic forerunners lashed out at him instantly. Hillary Clinton said the move was "very unfortunate." Barack Obama said that Ndar thinks "if you don't listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you're not substantive."

Nader meanwhile said that America needs another "Jefferson era." nadar says that he would stand as an Independent.

Report from CNN

Tense Exam


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Feb. 25: PFM1B held today received a low rating (D) on the Instant Poll. The exam was Very Difficult. However, the AIEEE Campus has said that the questions were along expected lines.

J4 was not made to stay back today. PFP - Physics - will be held on Wednesday. (OTFS)

And the Oscar goes to...

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There will be Blood

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, for There will be Blood
Nominees: George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There will be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah), Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Marion Cotillard, for La Vie En Rose
Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages), Ellen Page (Juno)

Best Animated Film: Ratatouille
Nominees: Persepolis, Ratatouille, Surf's Up

Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters
Nominees: Beauort, The Counterfeiters, Katyn, Mongol, 12

While we had hoped that There Will be Blood and George Clooney would've won Best Film and Actor respectively, the results are still proof that the Academy expects very high standards. And not to forget, full points to PriceWaterhouseCoopers!

Full List of Winners from

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roadies 5.0: Third Elimination

After much thought, Opinions 24x7 has decided to add a Roadies 5.0 label to expand its choice of content. This label will contain some episode updates, exclusives from the Facebook Group and a weekly picture of who's in and who's out.

On Feb. 23, 2008

el 3

Click image to download

Mugabe Celebrates, Nation Rots

Robert Mugabe, a man who has ruled Zimbabwe ever since it became Independent from Britain, is all set to celebrate his 84th birthday. For the grand occasion, supporters have raised 3 trillion Zimbabwean Dollars, or US$250,000 at the current black market exchange rate.

Does that seem a lot? Well, considering that Zimbabwe's inflation is above 100,000 percent, it is a lot, but not that much either.

In Zimbabwean supermarkets, a chicken can cost you ZWD15 million, and that's rising at over 200,000 percent! The per capita GDP is an astonishingly low US$9 per head, making Zimbabwe the fastest-shrinking economy in Africa, and perhaps even the world.

Happy birthday Mr. Mugabe. May you die in your money, while your nation dies without it.

Report from CNN
ZWD = Zimbabwe Dollar

Texas Showdown

The CNN Democratic Debate held in Texas saw many twists and turns. The candidate to watch out for was, of course, Hillary Clinton, for whom this debate meant everything. At the end though, it seems that although she did do well, she might have not done well enough to turn her fate around. CNN's analyst, who is clearly biased in favour of Obama, pointed out that her 'body language' was unusual, whatever that means. The NYT, biased towards Clinton, said that she did well but not great. And CNBC, which doesn't seem to be taking sides (yet), said that her performance might not be enough to win the coveted Texan Hispanic votes.

March 4 is when voters will decide, and Mar. 4 could be the end of Mrs. Clinton, or a new beginning. Meanwhile, you can check out the debate on Youtube.

What ails Mr. Swaminathan?


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderbad, Feb. 23: Maths lecturer Mr. Swaminathan, like the counselor, seems to be interested in looking into everybody's answer sheets. In Room No. 22 today, where ISB and JIIT1 were writing PFM1A, he went around looking into people's papers, patting them on their back and cracking odd jokes!

Today's Exam
PFM1A was rates very easy on the Instant Poll. To encourage students to answer questions quickly, the answer sheets were collected from 10:30 AM onwards, 1ith 11:00 Am being the maximum time one could write till. Impressively, most students from J1 handed over their papers at 10:30 AM.

The Second Years on the other hand, seemed to be struggling with their answers.

PFM1B will be held on Monday.

JIIT4 was made to stay back after college to study, under the eyes of... you guessed it... Swami! (OTFS)

When opportunity knocks... take it!

Tripura has gone to the polls, with the only two parties in the fray being the ruling Left and the Indian National Congress and Allies. This is a chance for the people to speak out against communism and its dangers. A vote can change everything.

With 20 lakh registered voters, there can be no better an opportunity to push out the old, lazy (the Left) and bring in the new, dynamic (anybody but the Left). Vote!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Money, money and more money

International Herald Tribune Report | By OTFS

The franchise owners of the Indian Premier league spent millions of dollars bidding for players fr the series of T20 matches that are soon to telecast on SET Max. Indian's Mahendra Singh Dhoni ended up being paid the most by Team Chennai (Indian Cements), followed by Australian Andrew Symonds, who was picked up by Team Hyderabad (Deccan Chronicle (DC)).

In all, $40 mn was spent in a single day of auctioning that lasted seven rounds. This of course, follows the $1.026 bn paid for broadcasting rights by Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Singapore-based World Sports Group (WSG), and $724 mn paid for franchise rights.

Mumbai, having lost its strong bids for Dhoni and Symonds spent aggressively to acquire Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya for $975,000 while also winning Harbhajan Singh.

After examination, OTFS has concluded that Preity Zinta/Ness Wadia, who own Team Mohali, bid the smartest. Mohali takes home Irfan Pathan and Brett Lee. In addition, Team Kolkata, owned by Red Chillies Entertainment/Shahrukh Khan, bagged the big guns Sourav Ganguly, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Ricky Ponting and David Hussey.

Jacques Kallis of South Africa was taken by Team Bangalore for $900,000. Team Jaipur won Shane Warne and Graeme Smith, which seems a risky move as the two have been known for a few verbal exchanges on-field.

The cash-rich auctioning held in the Financial Capital Mumbai also included what the IPL calls "icon players" who would be captaining their teams: Ganguly (Kolkata), Yuvraj Singh (Mohali), Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Rahul Dravid (Bangalore) and Virender Sehwag (Delhi). "Icon players" get a 15% higher salary than the highest-paid player in their respective teams. There is still no word as to whether VVS Laxman would be made the Hyderabad "Icon Player".

Arguably the largest auction of its kind, the IPL players auction also saw Mike Hussey, Glen McGrath and Md. Yousuf with no bids above their base price, and they would be added to the pool of reserved players for later distribution. No player from England was present for the auction.

"We're all very excited, this is a tremendous day for world cricket," Lalit Modi, Chairperson, IPL Governing Body, said before the auction began.

The inaugural T20 match of the IPL will be played at the Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy stadium on April 18, featuring Bangalore vs. Kolkata

'Auctioned' picture courtesy the Hindu Businessline

Perfect 10 for Obama

Barack Obama surprised Hillary Clinton by stealing 'her' state Wisconsin right from under her nose! In the democratic primary held in Wisconsin yesterday, Barack Obama secured an amazing 58% of the votes while Clinton won just 41%, with 100% of precincts reporting according to CNN.

The win was all the more shocking because Wisconsin has mostly middle-class blue-collared democrats: a category that has traditionally been Clinton's stronghold. Interestingly, the win follows a trend in which Obama has been eating into Clinton's base.

From Wisconsin, Obama will take 42 delegates and Clinton 32.

In the Hawaii democratic caucuses, Obama pulled in 76% of all the votes, but this win was expected since Obama was born and raised in Hawaii. However, Clinton was saved from a complete loss in Hawaii by deploying her daughter Chelsea Clinton for three days. She takes with her 6 delegates and he is awarded 14 with 100% of precincts reporting.

Hawaii marks Obama's 10th straight win against Clinton since Super Tuesday. Analysts as well as Former President Bill Clinton say that if she loses any of the big three states - Pennsylvania, Ohio and, in particular, Texas - then the road could be over for the Senator from New York. The reason for her loss seems to be the fact that she spend only a quarter as much as her opponent on ads. In essence, she has been neglecting her national campaign and concentrating only on delegate-rich states, a move which threatens to put her in Rudy Giuliani's shoes. Giuliani went from Republican forerunner to GOP dropout because he put all his weight behind Florida.

Speaking of the GOP, John McCain cemented his lead over Huckabee by winning Wisconsin by gathering 55% of the votes. Wisconsin being a winner-takes-all state, McCain took all 31 delegates with 100% of precincts reporting. This is all the more heartening as McCain had stared the race with the least money and was broke by the time he won his first state. Now, following a string of donations and endorsements, he says that he is "in a comfortable position."

McCain could gain an advantage over the Democrats if Huckabee steps out, as the Democrats are busy in-fighting. However, Huckabee reaffirmed that he would not drop out of the race.

McCain also won Washington state by taking 49% of the voters, with 57% or precincts reporting. He takes with him 6 delegates.

A Democratic non-binding primary was also held on the same day. The Republican Hawaiian primary/caucus will be held on May 18.

The delegates counts according to CNN estimates stands at:
Democrats: Obama (1,319); Clinton (1,250)
Republicans: McCain (918); Huckabee (217)

OTFS with inputs from CNN