Archive | February, 2014

Keep Raising the bar Jonita Gandhi, a raising star of Bollywood

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Is it possible to adapt to the lifestyle of living in Bombay after being brought up in Canada – the answer is definitely yes, but it is not easy. I have visited India a few times since my family migrated to Canada so I knew what to expect. Still, visiting as a tourist is a very different experience from living here and dealing with the daily lifestyle. The weather, the people, the system – it is all very different. But I think I have a good support system in place and I’m adjusting well.

Jonita Gandhi, a blend of Canada and India has had the privilege of singing for superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Jonita crooned the opening track called Chennai Express in the film with SPB.

Jonita was raised in Canada with strong influence from her Indian roots. Her father was a musician and she used to sing with him at several community events.

Popular for her cover versions of songs such as Tum Hi Ho and Pani Da, Jonita is trained in Western classical and is learning Hindi. She has completed two undergraduate degrees from the University of Western Ontario: A Bachelor in Health Sciences and an Honors Business Administration degree.

The budding singer also sang a cover for the popular song, Paani Da Rang (Vicky Donor). The song has had millions of views on YouTube.

Among her other achievements are getting featured on a track in renowned flute player Naveen Kumar’s latest album, titled, Flutetronics, lending her voice for an advertisement which featured actor Priyanka Chopra.

Here’s Generation Next’s interview with this amazing young star:

   What has been the most difficult thing for you since you became famous?

I don’t consider myself famous. I don’t think there are any difficulties associated with the amount of fame I have right now… it is always a great feeling to have people out there who respect you and value your talent!

   Was it being lucky or being talented?

Truthfully speaking, it has been combination of both. Both are necessary for success, and it is a case of “preparation meets opportunity”. I’ve worked hard on honing my talent since I was a child, and now I’ve been lucky and blessed with opportunities to let that show.

   Do you think your career choice can create problems in a married life? 

I think the amount of traveling involved can make it difficult to spend enough time with your partner in marriage. That being said, if the lines of communication are open and an effort is being made by both sides, I don’t see why it cannot work out. It is all about mutual understanding.

   What’s your motto in life?

My motto in life is to go hard or go home. Give it your all and keep raising the bar!

   How did you get an opportunity to sing the most popular song of your life?

My most popular videos have been my YouTube covers with musician/producer Aakash Gandhi. Our videos have gone viral with millions of views. I had discovered his videos one day and decided to send him a message requesting to collaborate about two years ago. We worked on the song “Ye Honsla” from the film Dor and released it to a very positive response. From then on we decided to keep working together and we’ve put out several popular songs since then!

   How do you identify yourself – Canadian or Indian?

Both!!! (I’m sure you knew that would be my answer). But honestly speaking, I am 100% Indo-Canadian, a blend of both cultures!

   Was it hard to adjust to life in Bollywood, especially when South Asians are known for following Indian standard time?

Indians everywhere (including Canada) follow IST, so that wasn’t hard to adjust to haha. The culture is indeed different here, but it just requires some time getting used to, and adapting to. Here things generally involve a little more running around to get things done.

   Can you really adapt to Bollywood with its culture especially when you have been so used to the Western lifestyle?

If you mean is it possible to adapt to the lifestyle of living in Bombay after being brought up in Canada – the answer is definitely yes, but it is not easy. I have visited India a few times since my family migrated to Canada so I knew what to expect. Still, visiting as a tourist is a very different experience from living here and dealing with the daily lifestyle. The weather, the people, the system – it is all very different. But I think I have a good support system in place and I’m adjusting well.

   Why Bollywood and not Hollywood? 

Bollywood was a natural next step for me, given my musical background. I’ve grown up performing Hindi film music around Toronto with my family band. Then when I started doing covers of popular Bollywood songs on the 88keystoeuphoria YouTube channel, I got a lot of recognition for my voice from people within the Indian film music industry. Although I am currently working in Bollywood, that is not to say that I won’t explore other musical avenues as well, be it in Hollywood or elsewhere.

   Do women have to use their femininity to attract attention to causes? Are you involved in any charitable organization?

I am not officially associated with any charitable organization. I enjoy volunteering though, and throughout my studies I used to volunteer at hospitals and Indian cultural organizations. Most recently I have done some work with the World For All group in Mumbai, who deal with stray animals in the city.

   Who do you find to be a super hot actor of Bollywood industry?  

 Arjun Rampal, Hrithik Roshan

   So far out of the stars you have met, who has been the most inspiring and why?

I have met and been inspired by many artists and musicians since I’ve come to India. Most recently, I was very inspired by AR Rahman, who despite having accomplished so much, is so grounded and friendly. I think it is amazing how he is so dedicated to trying new things and not worrying about being “commercial”.

   How do you keep yourself physically fit?

I’ve become less fit since I’ve come to India! I find it more difficult to eat right and find the time to work out. I don’t stress about fitness but I try to maintain healthy habits. I really enjoy dance and that’s been one of the most motivating ways for me to exercise beyond my daily routine, because music makes it all the more fun!

   What would you like to change in the world?

This is quite a loaded question! I think there are a lots of ways the world needs to improve and I wouldn’t even know where to start the discussion. The desire to change the world is ambitious, but I think if we all looked within ourselves to reflect on how we impact the world, we could all make the world a better place by being the best people we can be (at the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant). Being here in India having grown up in Canada, seeing the living conditions of the less fortunate is heart-wrenching.

   Your definition of Mr. Perfect? 

I’ve yet to figure that one out. I’m sure I’ll know when he comes along

Comments (0)

Canada’s Middle Class In Bad Shape, Internal Government Report Reveals

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Canada’s troubled middle class is holding back economic recovery because families are so cash-strapped, suggest federal bureaucrats who cite the work of a maverick American economist.

An internal government analysis approvingly cites the work of Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who argues that “inequality is holding back the economic recovery.”

“The hollowing out of the middle class means that they are unable to invest in their future, by educating themselves and their children by starting or improving businesses,” it adds, citing another of Stiglitz’s arguments, referring to the U.S economy.

And a middle class with weak income does not deliver the taxes governments need to improve infrastructure, education, health and research, another borrowing from Stiglitz.

The document, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, was produced by a little-known unit within Employment and Social Development Canada, which runs Canada’s income-support programs such as EI.

The bleak message is in sharp contrast to the Conservative government’s talking points, that a million jobs have been created since the recession, that “average” families have been given 160 different tax breaks since 2006 and that incomes are in fact rising.

The government has repeatedly emphasized its tax cuts for average families, amounting to $3,400 a year — including GST cuts — for a two-working-parents family with two kids, bringing in $120,000 a year.

That was a message repeated in the House of Commons on Monday, as opposition parties each claimed to be the standard-bearer for the middle class.

Kevin Sorenson, minister of state for finance  said in the House of Commons that “the greatest threat to the middle-class would be the piling on of more taxes and taking more from their pockets.”

“The middle-class has been very well-served by this government. Over one million new jobs have been created since the deepest part of the recession.”

Comments (0)

Harper Government Continues to Put Consumers First

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced that the Government of Canada is introducing new fuel consumption ratings for cars and light trucks. The new ratings take into account everyday driving experiences — realities like cold weather and air conditioner use. Beginning with the 2015 model year, the updated test methodology will help Canadians buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle that fits their lifestyle — saving them money in the process.

In addition, an updated, more informative label will appear starting on model year 2016 vehicles to provide more accurate fuel consumption information. These labels will include additional information such as the fuel consumption of other models in the same vehicle class and CO emissions. The label will be tailored to address new, emerging technologies such as battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. We will continue working with the auto manufacturers to implement the new label.

Minister Oliver also announced the publication of the list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles for 2014 and the launch of the 2014 Fuel Consumption Guide, which includes a searchable database so consumers can easily compare the fuel consumption of different vehicles. The list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles and the guide are available on the department’s website, www.nrcan.gc.ca.

Comments (0)

Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander fires back at critics over changes to naturalization process

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Chris Alexander defends changes to the Citizenship Act that critics say will make it more difficult for permanent residents to become citizens

Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander is challenging critics who suggest the federal government is making it more difficult for immigrants to become naturalized citizens.

Chris Alexander, in Halifax as part of a cross-country tour to promote proposed changes to the Citizenship Act, said Friday there’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to the amendments tabled earlier this month.

“Every time we’ve made the criteria slightly more demanding for citizenship …. we have seen the number of permanent residents applying to be citizens go up,” he told a news conference at an immigration museum on the Halifax waterfront.

“When you do these things to underline the meaning and value of citizenship, you make it more valuable.”

The minister said a new provision that requires applicants to be present in Canada for a total of four out of their past six years is not an onerous demand. As well, the amendment says applicants must be in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years.

“It’s not a dramatic change,” Alexander said.

However, some critics have suggested that highly skilled immigrants who travel the world to find work will find it more difficult to meet such a test.

Alexander said most immigrants who typically apply for citizenship have already been in Canada for at least four years, which means the requirement won’t be hard to meet. Besides, he said, the requirement used to be five years before it was dropped to three more recently.

More importantly, Alexander said, the amendments include key changes aimed at thwarting people who pay consultants to pretend they are living in Canada when they have no intention of ever setting foot in the country.

“Under these new provisions, we won’t be vulnerable to that,” he added.

Alexander also suggested there has been confusion over amendments that deal with terrorism.

Under the proposed changes, citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals convicted of terrorism, high treason and spying offences, or who take up arms against Canada. As well, permanent residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.

Alexander said the rule would only apply to those facing such charges in a Canadian court.

“We would not accept such convictions from a dictatorship or countries that don’t have the rule of law,” he said. “By doing this, we are only catching up with (most of) our allies in NATO.”

He said the change would act as a deterrent to those with dual nationality who might think of “going off to Syria or elsewhere to … fight with extremist groups.”

Alexander said the changes are needed because the Citizenship Act hasn’t been overhauled in 36 years.

He said the amendments are meant to strengthen the value of a Canadian passport and to improve the efficiency of how citizenship is acquired.

The minister said he hopes the changes will help cut a backlog of citizenship applications that has grown to 320,000 files.

On average, Canada admits about 250,000 immigrants every year. The Immigration Department plans to admit more than 261,000 in 2014.

Comments (0)

Pakistan moves closer to the Arab World

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

        Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have traditionally maintained very friendly relations. This relationship has been beneficial to both. Saudi Arabia has provided financial help to Pakistan in the form of aid, loans, investment, supply of oil on favorable terms and humanitarian assistance in case of major disasters like floods and earthquake.  It has also accommodated Pakistani labor and professionals in major sectors of Saudi economy. Pakistan has provided expertise in Saudi Arabia’s development work, contributed to building setting up state and financial institutions and deployment of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia on training assignments and regular security duties. In the mid-sixties and the seventies a large number of Saudi male and female students used to come to Pakistan for medical, engineering and scientific fields.  Later institutions in these educational fields were set up in Saudi Arabia.

     Saudi Arabia has helped managing political conflicts in Pakistan. In March-July1977 when the opposition (Pakistan National Alliance) launched street agitation against the government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad attempted to defuse the conflict. He held meetings with the leaders of the two sides. This effort did not resolve the problem.

 Saudis helped the military regime of General Zia-u-Haq to Islamize Pakistan on conservative lines.

 When in 2000 a special court convicted Nawaz Sharif and others for hijacking the aircraft that brought the Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf from Colombo, Sri Lanka, on October 12, 1999, the Saudi government intervened to convince the military government of General Musharraf to let Nawaz Sharif and his family go to Saudi Arabia in return for a commitment that he would not take part in active politics for ten years. Nawaz Sharif and his family, including Shahbaz Sharif, left for Saudi Arabia in December 2000. His return to Pakistan in November 2007 was also facilitated by Saudi Arabia.

   Saudi Arabia extended financial support to General Zia-u-l-Haq’s military government in the decade of the 1980s for building up Afghan-Islamic resistance in Pakistan with the cooperation of the United States to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan.  This exercise laid the foundation of Islamic militancy that haunted Pakistan in the later years. Even today’s extremism and terrorism in Pakistan can be traced back to this period.

    Saudi Arabia quietly provides financial support to religious schools and religious leaders that share Saudi Wahabbi Islamic traditions. In Pakistan Wahabbi, Deobandi and Ahle-Hadees madrassas and religious leaders have benefited from this Saudi policy. Iran and other Arab states also compete with Saudi Arabia to cultivate support among the relevant religious circles.  These policies of Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern states increased religious orthodoxy, militancy and sectarianism in Pakistan

     Within a couple of months after the assumption of power by Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan in 2013, activity on the diplomatic front increased between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Several important visits took place between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan during the last two months:  Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (January 6-7), Governor of Tabuk Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz visited Dalbandeen, Balochistan on a private visit (January 10 onwards), Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultlan (January 20-22), Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on a visit to Saudi Arabia (February 4-7),  and Chairman of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz (February 7).

      The most significant visit was that of Crown Prince Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud with a large delegation (February 15-17). This visit made a comprehensive review of bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Saudi Crown Prince showed special interest in expanding the existing bilateral relations in economic, security and other sectors of mutual interest.

    The joint statement expressed Saudi support for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. Saudi Arabia also appreciated the efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations. The two sides expressed identity of views on the Palestinian problem. They agreed to expand cooperation in investment, trade, energy, infrastructure development, and agriculture. The also agreed for cooperation for countering terrorism and control drug trafficking.

    Saudi Arabia offered a credit facility of U.S. dollars 125 million to Pakistan for purchasing Urea fertilizer from Saudi Arabia. It also agreed to provide U.S. dollar 58 million for the development of Golden Gol Hydropower project in Chitral.

    The most significant development was Pakistan’s decision to support Saudi Arabia’s demand for setting up a transitory administration with full executive authority in Syria replacing Bashar-al-Asad’s government.

 In the past Pakistan avoided taking a categorical position on the exit of Bashar-al-Asad and criticized foreign intervention in Syria. It was more or less non-partisan on internal political changes in Syria. Pakistan shifted its policy to the satisfaction of Saudi Arabia.

    The two sides are expected to cooperate in the security field. The non-official Pakistani sources claimed that Saudi Arabia had sought Pakistani troops for internal security in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is willing to do.

    Pakistan’s security relations with Saudi Arabia go back to the mid-1960s, the period of rule by Field Marshal Ayub Khan in Pakistan.  Pakistan troops were based in Saudi Arabia in the late 1960s and the 1970s on training and active security assignments. However, Pakistan made it clear then that Pakistani troops would not undertake any assignment beyond the Saudi borders.  It seems that if Pakistan troops again go to Saudi Arabia, these will not get involved in any conflict in the Arab world. Pakistani troops are expected to perform security duties inside Saudi Arabia and these will not get involved with Syria’s internal strife directly or indirectly.

   Once again, Pakistan is getting closer to conservative Arab kingdoms like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. It is already close to the UAE and Bahrain. These countries can provide financial support.

Pakistan is working on a deal with Qatar for gas supply.

From Saudi Arabia it would try to get oil on deferred payment basis and more Saud investment.

Pakistan will continue to keep its relations with Iran as normal but the prospects for construction of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline are reduced to minimum because Pakistan does not have money to construct pipeline in Pakistani area.

 No major international group is willing to fund this project because the U.S. is opposed to it. Pakistan is now turning towards conservative but rich Arab countries for coping with its internal economic problems.

Comments (0)

India needs to learn a lesson about Northeast

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

In New York two weeks back, a woman claiming to be globetrotter asked a fellow journalist which country was he from. India was not the answer she was expecting.

“But you have Mongoloid features?” she sounded puzzled. “I am from Ladakh. They have people like me up there,” he replied flatly.

The conversation veered to where Ladakh was and led to the question if it was near Goa. “There is not much to say. The queries are the same. Here or back home,” the journalist told me once the lady moved on.

It is hard to explain India’s diversity to foreigners, even if they are from a multi-ethnic hub like New York. Unlike the United States’, India’s multi-ethnicity is indigenous, although we do have a fair number of immigrants living here for generations.

But why grudge a foreigner for her lack of knowledge about India when so many of our own are quick to dub fellow Indians ‘foreigners’ just because some of us look ‘different’?

If you are from the Northeast or Ladakh, you could face stupid questions like ‘are you a Chinese/Japanese’? Or ‘do you need a passport to get there’? But it causes alienation when workmates, landlords and neighbours show intolerance towards one’s dietary and socialising habits.

More extreme manifestation of such discrimination results in hate crime that claims victims like Nido Tania. A minor tiff turned into a murderous assault because the Arunachali youth did not look like his attackers and talked differently.

A survey about the perception of the Northeast among the people in the rest of India conducted by the North East India Image Managers (NEIim) two years ago found that for 52% of the respondents the immediate association with the region was of “people with Mongoloid features and weird food habits and an alien culture”.

Over 400 communications and service industry professionals from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore participated in the survey. They did not know that the current UPA government had ministers from the Northeast. They refused to believe that three Northeast states had per capita income higher than the national average. Nearly one-third said they would never work in the Northeast even if it offered better prospects.

But can we blame the masses of the “mainland India” for not knowing enough about the rest of the country? When was the last time we got real exposure to the Northeast, except the stereotypical stock shots of men and women in tribal gear performing bamboo dance on Doordarshan, and the Republic Day parades, as part of some national integration campaign?

Even after several changes in the syllabus to make textbooks more relevant and inclusive, the books prescribed under the national curriculum in schools across India are silent on the Northeastern states.

Geography lessons mention the landscape in passing. All that a student gets to know is that Cheerapunji is one of the wettest place in India and Arunachal Pradesh the most thinly populated state. But forget their ancient and medieval histories, even contemporary politics and cultural movements do not find a mention even at the university level.

Except for reports on the insurgency, there is not much in print and visual media either. Yes, there are occasional reports on Assam’s rhinos and Manipur’s Mary Kom.B ut when was the last time we heard the people from the Northeast doing something other than protesting, being arrested or explaining how they deal with recurrent embargos?

The law and order machinery has no excuse for buying into racial stereotypes and must watch out for hate crimes in Delhi. But to really appreciate one another, we, as Indians, need to know one another better. Only then, we may understand the differences a matriarchal society makes to gender equations or the different cultural mores that influence food habits, taste for music and even social behaviour.

Integration begins with exposure, and it is a lot more than dressing styles.

Comments (0)

NETIP-TORONTO HOSTS 2014 LAUNCH EVENT

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

over 200 sOUTH aSIAN YOUNG PROFESIONALS in attendance   

The Network of Indian Professional-Toronto (NetIP-Toronto) held their 2014 Launch, hosted by Labbat’s on February 19th. Over 200 South Asian Young Professionals from various backgrounds and discipline filled a room overlooking the Toronto Harbourfront on Queen’s Quay for an evening of networking and celebration.

 “I am very excited about NetIP-Toronto launch event. We have a very dynamic an talented board this year and a very ambitious agenda” We are looking at new partnerships and really want to hear from our membership on what is important to them”,  said Ruby Latif, President of NETIP Toronto ….. “We have shifted our mandate to be a bridge builder between the South Asian diaspora, we want to be seen as the organization that helps young professionals achieve their career goals.”

The event program featured an introduction of its new board members and an overview of upcoming events and initiatives. Other highlights of the evening included a special appearance from Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Hon. Yasir Naqvi who encouraged the attendees to become civically engaged.  NetIP-Toronto also announced its series of speed networking events, an entrepreneurship panel and the return of its annual South Asian Heritage Month celebration at Queen’s Park.

NETIP was also pleased to introduce at the event its 2014 Charity of Choice, the Heart and Stoke Foundation (HSF).  With South Asians having the highest rates of heart disease and stroke compared to other ethnic groups, NETIP members wanted to learn more ways to get involved and give back to the community.

NetIP’s new mission is to connect South-Asian leaders today, for tomorrow. It is the largest organization of its kind in North America with over 34 chapters and takes pride in our work.  For more information about NetIP- Toronto and to find out how to become a member in order to join the next event, please visit http://toronto.netip.org/

Comments (0)

University education pays off, new report finds

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Ontario universities are pushing back against the notion their grads can’t get jobs (other than baristas) with a new report from the Council of Ontario Universities

 Ontario university grads have the best odds of landing jobs in their fields at good wages, according to a feisty new report from the Council of Ontario Universities that disputes any notion its members are glorified prep schools for a life making lattes.

The 30-page “University Works,” to be released Tuesday, argues that university grads — sometimes painted as lacking marketable skills — have actually been more recession-proof, more destined for jobs in their field and more likely to draw higher salaries than those with any other credential, including community college.

“We’re pushing back against quite a number of articles and opinion pieces lately that characterize university education as less than successful preparation for the job market. You know the line about the grad asking, ‘Would you like a cappuccino with that?’ ” said Max Blouw, president of Wilfrid Laurier University and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.

“We’re bringing evidence to the table that university education pays off quite well, to counter some of the rhetoric we’re hearing about how well colleges prepare people for specific employment.”

Students in 23 university disciplines boast a 90 per cent employment rate within two years of graduation, noted the report, and a full 100 per cent are employed in dentistry, pharmacy, forestry, veterinary medicine and theology.

But it argued university grads are more likely to get jobs in their field than those from community college, where job placement has long been a bragging right. By analyzing the wording of graduate surveys done by each group — colleges and universities — the report concluded 73 per cent of university grads are working in fields “closely or somewhat related” to their studies within six months, compared to just 66 per cent of community college grads.

Too, university grads earn more over their lifetime, the report stated; over 40 years, a university graduate earns an average $915,840 more than a college graduate and $1.4 million more than a high school graduate.

“We’re not trying to be polarizing; colleges and universities have different visions and more and more students go from one to another,” argued Blouw, “but we want to bring evidence to the table that a university education does prepare students quite well.”

However, comparing salaries and employment rates between the two systems is not a “healthy or productive debate,” said Linda Franklin, president of Colleges Ontario. “The discussion we need to be having is how to marry post-secondary skills more closely to those employers need.”

In a recent report, Colleges Ontario urged Queen’s Park to help more post-secondary students get “career-specific learning and training,” and said more young people, from high school graduates to university students, need to study at college as part of their learning.

“There’s been a 40 per cent increase in university graduates coming to college in the past five years, and the combination of what both systems offer is very powerful,” Franklin said. “We need to increase the pathways between our institutions, because we’re both doing great jobs.

Comments (0)

Candy crushing it in the new economy

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Of the many claims Jim Balsillie once offered as to why BlackBerry’s future still looked bright a few years ago, none was as off-base as this one from 2010: “There may be 300,000 apps for the iPhone and iPad, but the only app you really need is the browser.” The way the former CEO saw it, apps were a sideshow for the real potential offered by mobile technology, in particular, his company’s doomed Playbook tablet, which he was flogging at the time—instant access to the Internet, anywhere, anytime. So it’s a safe bet Balsillie could never have imagined a time when a single downloadable gaming app, featuring brightly coloured bursting candies, might overtake his old haunt in sales.

If their trajectories continue as they have for the past two years (that’s a big assumption, but let’s stick with it for now), King Digital Entertainment, the developer behind the highly addictive Candy Crush Saga game, is on track to generate more revenue than BlackBerry. King, based in Ireland with roots in Sweden, is wildly profitable, too. It earned US$159 million last quarter alone.

Details of King’s finances were made public on Feb. 18 when it filed IPO documents with regulators to raise US$500 million and list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Based on King’s own estimate of the fair value of its existing shares, that would make the company worth US$5.5 billion.

Cue the backlash. Within minutes of the IPO announcement, analysts, bloggers and the business press unleashed what has come to be the three stages of incredulity accompanying most tech IPOs these days: 1) You’re kidding me; 2) How is this sustainable!? and 3) The stock market has gone nuts!!!

Spend a few minutes reading King’s preliminary prospectus and, indeed, there is a lot to be skeptical about. While King boasts owning a catalogue of 180 games, there are only a handful anyone regularly plays, and only one that really matters right now. Candy Crush, a “match-three game” in which users attempt to line up coloured sweets, which then promptly explode, accounts for 78 per cent of King’s business. And while that game attracts 100 million so-called daily active users—yes, three times Canada’s entire population—just four per cent of those cough up any cash to play. Players start with five lives and, once they run through them, they must wait 2½ hours for the lives to refresh—or pay 99 cents for a new batch. It’s a testament to the insidiousness of the game that players did just that 1.5 billion times last year. The problem is, as King admits, interest in older games such as Candy Crush is “seasoning”—a charitable way to say it’s losing its viral charm. King must either find ways to rejuvenate interest in that game, or develop the next big hit.

So you have a company built on producing something customers have an intensely passionate relationship with for a limited time, which must then be supplanted with another blockbuster. That’s not a crazy business model. It sounds a lot like a Hollywood studio, in fact, and they’ve been around for a century now. But Hollywood could only ever dream of the level of engagement that viral game-makers have with their players, or an audience that’s so willingly captive and eager to be targeted.

We spend incredible stretches of time on mobile devices. Flurry Analytics, a Silicon Valley firm that measures app usage, produced a report last year that found the average U.S. consumer devoted two hours and 38 minutes to mobile devices each day. Of that, the largest chunk—nearly an hour—was in playing games. Tied for second, at 28 minutes, were surfing the web and Facebook.

Suddenly, the goofy, time-wasting online gaming market is being recognized for the huge business opportunity it is. So can King succeed where others have stumbled? It’s not the first developer to follow a viral hit to the stock market. In late 2011, Zynga, riding the popularity of its Farmville simulation game, went public at $11, only to see its shares slump to below $5 for most of the time since, as interest in the game waned. Angry Birds, another wildly popular game, has also lost some of the hype it once had, though the Finnish company behind the game, Rovio, just last week signed with Sony Pictures Image works to animate a movie for release in 2016.

It could be that random developers will continue to be the source of viral games in the future. Or it could be that, until now, no company has had the resources that King will have in order to emerge as the MGM, Universal or Warner Bros. of the mobile gaming world. Even before its IPO, King already boasts a US$400-million war chest.

Who’d have thought the key to mobile success in the new economy would be found in exploding candy and throwing birds at pigs?

Someone should have told Balsillie.

Comments (0)

Keeping Acne at an arm’s length

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Dr. Amitha Jocie Mundenchira

Mississauga

 “Oh no! I have a pimple on my face.”

Acne is considered a disease of the hair follicles of the face, chest and back, that affects almost all teenagers during puberty.  About 50% of adult men and 25% of adult women now experience adult acne at some point.  Acne can cause major stress because the individual with acne worries that it takes away from looking beautiful or handsome.  In bad cases of acne, the individual can suffer from pain.

It is not caused by bacteria, although bacteria play a role in its development.  Our skin has many microscopic hair follicles often called pores.  These pores sometimes become blocked; sebum (oil) which normally drains to the surface gets trapped and bacteria begin to grow.  Acne appears on the skin as:

  • blackheads or whiteheads,
  • pimples or zits,
  • pus-filled pimples,
  • boils

            The exact cause for acne is still not well understood.  However, it is speculated that acne may result from a complex mix of factors:

(1)               Hereditary

If your parents had severe acne, you may be at increased risk.

(2) Inflammation

Processes that promote the body’s inflammatory response may encourage acne formation.  Based on this possibility, anti-inflammatory low glycemic diets may reduce acne formation; this may be related to the weight loss effect of such diets.  As body weight levels out or increases, acne symptoms tend to return.

(3) Stress

Stress causes an inflammatory response in the body and can break the walls of these pores; the body responds with redness around the broken pore, and an influx of pus (a pimple or zit).  Stress also releases male sex hormones from the adrenal glands (especially in women) and this may lead to more acne.

(4)               Inadequate levels of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D, can affect acne.  Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc gluconate supplementation (40 mg per day) may have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that may decrease sebum production.

(5) Diet

There is no concrete evidence to suggest that certain foods cause acne; however, there are some strong associations with dairy and chocolate.  Whether saturated, unsaturated, and/or hydrogenated fats affect acne remains unknown.

Eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables will help your overall health and may or may not help reduce the inflammation inherent in the acne process.

(6) Hormones

Increased androgen (male hormones) levels in both males and females can result in acne.   Acne in women may be more cyclical due to monthly menstruation.  

            There may be some factors that aggravate acne that is already present:

  • Pressure from helmets, chin straps, collars, etc.
  • Some medications
  • Exposure to industrial products like cutting oils
  • Some cosmetics and skin-care products clog pores.  “Water-based” products (those with water listed as first or second ingredient) are usually best for those with acne.

            The focus of both home treatment and prescription therapy is to (1) unclog pores, (2) reduce bacteria, and (3) minimize oil.

            Lifestyle: Sleeping 6-8 hours, eating three good meals, and drinking eight glasses of water daily are all helpful.   Never pick or squeeze pimples unless done properly by a professional.  It is important to leave your skin relatively untouched because physically irritating the skin can cause breakouts.

            Unclogging pores: There is no magic product or regime – you have to figure out what works for you.  However, frequent washing actually irritates pores, which can cause them to become clogged.

  • Mild cleansers: Wash once or twice a day with a mild cleansing bar or liquid like Neutrogena.
  • Exfoliating cleansers and masks: A variety of mild scrubs, exfoliants, and masks can be used to open pores – these products may contain salicylic acid, glycolic or alpha hydroxy acids.
  • Retinol: This is a derivative of vitamin A and can help promote skin peeling.
  • Facials: Steaming and “deep-cleaning” pores are useful especially for people with “whiteheads” or “blackheads.”
  • Pore strips: Pharmacies now carry, under a variety of brand names, strips which you put on your nose, forehead, chin, etc., to “pull out” oil from your pores.
  • Antibacterial cleansers: The most popular ingredient in over-the-counter antibacterial cleansers is benzoyl peroxide.
  • External applications: These products come in the form of gels, creams and lotions, which are applied to the affected area. There are more expensive products like ProActiv or identical cheaper products in your drugstore – you can talk to your pharmacist.
            Reducing bacteria:

Minimizing oil:

            Use a gentle toner to wipe away oil – there are many brands available in pharmacies, as well as from manufacturers of cosmetic lines.

  • Products containing glycolic acid or one of the other alpha hydroxy acids cause the superficial layer of the skin to peel.
  • Masks containing sulfur draw out facial oil.
  • Antibacterial pads containing benzoyl peroxide help to wipe away oil.

If your acne worsens despite trying above suggestions, it is time to consult your doctor for more aggressive treatments that include externally applied medications, oral antibiotics, birth control pills and cosmetic procedures.   Accutane (isotretinoin) provides long-term remission of acne symptoms in approximately 2/3 of people who take an adequate dosage; however, since it may have potentially serious side-effects, it should be taken with consultation and ongoing care under a trusted physician. The goal of treatment should be the prevention of scarring, not necessarily a flawless complexion, because acne can spontaneously resolve over time.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here