BID TO IMMORTALITY. Live as a Protagonist.
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BID TO IMMORTALITY. Live as a Protagonist.

Would you like to bid for immortality? Would you like a John Grisham hero or a Stephen King zombie?s victim to be named after you? Then, eBay?s the place for you, writes Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: Sep 29, 2005 19:13 IST

India has made quite a name for herself in tech outsourcing, last covered here on Saturday, 13 August 2005 (‘DOING WORK REMOTELY. Quo vadis?’). And, yet it has an Internet penetration rate well below 5% as of now. This was found byJuxtConsult, a New Delhi-based research firm in an April 2005 survey of 30,000 Indian urban Internet users’ lifestyle and Web use. There are about 17.5 million urban dwellers in India who use the Internet regularly and an additional 5.2 million who use it occasionally. Increased time online by established users has contributed the most to the growth in usage.

User growth was only 8% last year. 80% of Web users in India have been online for more than 3 years. Though still relatively few in numbers, the ‘regulars’ are so addicted to the Net that they access it frequently. Only a little under 20% surf the Web less than once a day. Almost 40% use it over 5 times a day. And, an additional 23% use it 2 to 5 times a day. Usage depth is heavy as well. Around one-third of urban Indian Web users are online more than 3 hours every day and about one-third of those users throughout the day.

By the way, the 22.7 million users make up only 9% of all urban Indians. Because the Internet usage is negligible in rural India, the penetration rate for the entire country works out to just 2%. Among the urban users surveyed by JuxtConsult, close to one-half are in business. Students make up fully 20% of the total. A good chunk of users have purchasing power as well. Three out of four have a car and 50% have a credit card. More than 50% of Indian metro Web users are between the ages of 19 and 30. An additional are 22% between 31 and 40. Users under 18 are rare. All this tells me that the Internet continues to be an elitist medium in India – out of the reach of the masses.

Finally, just to put the matter in a global perspective, here are the Internet user numbers in millions for selected countries with the percentage penetration given in brackets – compiled by eMarketer in May 2005: USA 170.1 (60.6); China 94 (7.2); Japan 72.8 (57.2); Germany 42.0 (50.2); UK 32.3 (53.4); South Korea 31.6 (65.6); India 21.3 (2.0); Brazil 19.3 (11.0); Canada 17.8 (55.5); and Australia 11.9 (59.2).

HOW TO BREAK INTO OFFSHORING. France as an example.

France is tentatively dipping a toe in the offshoring waters, as it were. This is the natural corollary of the competitive process as French companies try to keep pace with their foreign rivals who increasingly get their work done remotely at low-wage locations. Saying no to this feasible alternative can be counterproductive in the long run. Experience shows that outsourcing reduces costs, releases resources for expansion and innovation and creates more jobs in the long run. The interesting case study worth reading is at

BID TO IMMORTALITY. Live as a Grisham Protagonist.

Would you like to bid for immortality? Would you like a John Grisham hero or a Stephen King zombie’s victim to be named after you? Then, eBay’s the place for you. “As part of a charity venture (September 1 to 25), 16 authors, from John Grisham to Dave Eggers, are offering readers the opportunity to have their name appear in their forthcoming books,” reports Michelle Pauli in’ Authors auction chance to name characters’.

“Each author has stated on eBay precisely what it is he or she is offering, and the information and provisos stipulated by the writers provide one of the most intriguing aspects of the scheme,” she continues. “Stephen King warns that his new novel, Cell, is ‘like cheap whiskey – very nasty and extremely satisfying’. Potential bidders are told that the character to be given their name ‘can be male or female, but a buyer who wants to die must in this case be female’.”

The auction’s proceeds will be donated to an advocacy project to protect and promote freedom of information and expression. The First Amendment Project gives free legal services to writers, journalists and artists on first amendment matters.

PESKY ICONS: WHO NEEDS THEM? Wipe the slate clean.

The Chinese censors aren’t quite sure what to make of the latest 28-year-old “girl next door” Internet star, known nationwide as ‘Furong Jiejie’ or ‘Sister Furong’ – but Shi Hengxia in real life. She originally came from a rural area of central Shaanxi province. It seems Shi Hengxia started the furore by posting pictures of herself – draped back-down over a stone ball bent at the knees with her chest thrust out provocatively and so forth – on Internet bulletin boards of two top Beijing universities to which she failed to gain entrance. The pix and the accompanying captions and passages she wrote proclaiming her own beauty and talent created quite a stir on the campus. Her cult status spread nationwide like the proverbial wild fire. Then the censors in Beijing swung into action. "They've cracked down on me," Shi Hengxia reportedly told Reuters.

In late July, the Chinese censors made the country's top blog host to move content related to the icon to low-profile parts of the site. Her pictures are still online but links to them and chatrooms about her have disappeared from the front pages of major Web portals. Also, compared to the blanket coverage earlier this year in newspapers, magazines and television, she now gets almost no space or time. Her reaction? "When I first heard about it I was really disappointed. My friends all said the government should be encouraging a positive, helpful girl like me."

The Furong (‘Hibiscus’) fever is no more raging. Zongbo Media, the Beijing-based film production company, has hired her to star in a series of short digital video films. These will be broadcast only online both to appeal to Sister Furong's Internet fan base and to slip through loopholes in government controls, according to Chen Weiming, Chairman (Zongbo). He added. "Chinese youth are looking for different new ways to express their freedom. Some people still have the old mentality of wanting to control everything, but these days, with the Internet, they can't control things any more." Furong exulted: "People will be able to watch these and see new sides of me and my talent."


“It was not by chance that I have decided to write on this topic,” is how Vasyl (Bill) Pawlowsky, the Canadian head of Information Services at the Kyiv-based Law Firm Magister & Partners introduces his excellent article, ‘Plain and clear: Resources on Plain English’. His core reason for writing it: “On a regular basis many of our employees come to me (one of only two native speakers in our firm) seeking advice on translation, grammar and syntax.” What he has collected after extensive research is all here at Highly recommended!

SUBSCRIBE TO RSS FEEDS. By e-mail, if you please.

Go to RMail at Leave the URL of the feed and your e-mail address in the appropriate fields – and, lo and behold! – and you'll be subscribed. P.S.: According to the FAQ at the Rmail website, you’re supposed to get an e-mail confirmation of your subscription, though. But please don’t take my word. Go there yourself and try it out.

And for those of you who are interested in such matters, here’s a search engine for foreign embassies, consulates, permanent missions, legations and tourism offices the world over: The descriptor reads: “Absolutely All Of The World's Embassies In A Searchable Database”. Worth a look!

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles at Website: You may e-mail him at

First Published: Aug 27, 2005 13:43 IST