Category Archives: China

Oops!

I am a big fan of satire…especially of the Borowitz kind, although The Onion will do in a pinch.

So I should be forgiven that when I read a particular “news bit”, I automatically assumed that what I was reading was a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun.

It was when I realized that it was a true story, that my chuckles wouldn’t stop.  See, I’m chuckling now, just thinking about it. 🙂

Some background and context first:

The President of the Republic of China Xi Jinping (the anglicized pronunciation is “Shee Chin-Ping”) had a state visit to India a week ago.  When you think of it, considering that we are talking about the massive nations of China and India (sometimes friends, most times foes) this was really quite remarkable and rare. No surprise then that this significant event resulted in  considerable media coverage.  

According to the Economist, Jinping is the most powerful and popular leader in China in several decades.  To quote –

He has become the most powerful Chinese ruler certainly since Deng, and possibly since Mao. Whether this is good or bad for China depends on how Mr Xi uses his power. Mao pushed China to the brink of social and economic collapse, and Deng steered it on the right economic path but squandered a chance to reform it politically. If Mr Xi used his power to reform the way power works in China, he could do his country great good. So far, the signs are mixed.

Documents_being_signed_during_the_State_Visit_of_Chinese_President_Xi_Jinping_to_India

President Xi Jinping (second from left) during his recent State Visit to India

More context –

Doordharshan (DD) is the government run television channel in India, like PBS but nowhere near as good. When it was the only channel available, it was quite the star but today with the explosion of hundreds of commercial channels in India, this one has gone off into the background, neither able to attract an audience or high quality talent.

Doordharshan

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Who knew that putting these two together would result in such a colossal faux pas?

The news story in question was really very short; in fact, the headline said it all:

“DD anchor sacked for calling Chinese President Xi JinPing ‘Eleven‘ “

Turns out that this was no joke!

Instead, when covering the state visit (which I have not been able to find on youtube – great job obfuscating it, DD!), the unnamed DD news anchor* referred to the Chinese President as Eleven JinPing, mistaking his name for a Roman numeral. 

It really happened!  Here’s one of many links to the story.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And LOL-funny, to boot. 🙂

 

 

 

* As funny as this incident is, it is not so funny that the news reader was sacked. The saving grace for both DD and her is that she was not a permanent staff member but a substitute news reader (who will likely learn a lot because of this blooper).  Plus DD has done a great job of keeping her name out of the media spotlight. Perhaps she will look back on this several years from now and have a laugh too. Let’s hope.

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Photo Credit: By Narendra Modi [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Charlie Rose Interviews Bill Gates

Charlie Rose is a wonderful journalist – probing and immensely curious in the well-thought out questions he asks his subjects.  

So, I watched with interest all 52+ minutes of his recent (May 2012) interview of one my modern-age heros, Bill Gates.

That sounds like a long time. And it is. Think of this mad, frantic, busy, busy world that you and I live in. Spending an hour just to watch an interview? It better be good!

it was time extremely well-spent, if I do say so myself. 

Why?

First, the questions matter. Charlie Rose is not shy about asking some tough and many insightful ones. He makes the whole interview fly by.

Second, this is recent and therefore timely. You are not watching an interview from 3 years ago where so much is outdated and old news. This interview is from a mere couple of months ago.

Last but certainly not leastBill Gates. This is a man whose personal knowledge database is expansive on a bunch of worldly topics. In addition to that, he has such credibility that even his opinions are to be savored and contemplated. What more can one say about Bill Gates that has not been said before?

In any case, what else could I have been doing during this time? It was after working hours, so I could have been watching the idiot box, gone to the movies (with a highly optimistic 25% hit rate of selecting something that would entertain or educate), read a book (definitely a higher hit rate here, but hey, I’ve picked some losers in my time)…so yes, for me, this was truly worth it!

The Interview

With two high-IQ, highly credible individuals who are so darned interesting, I knew that I had a winner on my hands and I was not disappointed. Not even a bit.

Even more interesting, quite a bit of the focus of the interview was on India. It is incredible how much Bill Gates understands about this country, and how knowledgeable he is about the present conditions, the opportunities and challenges at work here.

He also spends a lot of time answering Rose’s questions about the similarities and differences between China and India.

You can catch the complete interview here. You will, won’t you? You must!

Yes, I know your time is very valuable, so to help you decide, here are some high points, paraphrased from Bill Gates’ answers and captured from the interview (with my notes in italics below) –

  • “India is jealous of China.” (I didn’t think people noticed…)
  • “There is inter-state jealousy in India, which actually helps our efforts.”
  • “In terms of innovation and a culture of innovation, China leads India.”
  • “China leads India in research.” 
  • “An area where India leads China is in software engineers.” (Note: It’s the only area he mentioned).
  • “It is hard for India to catch-up.”
  • “Both countries looked at the U.S. and copied their capitalist market structures.”
  • “India’s reforms really helped. Every time they have reforms, India gets growth from them.”
  • “Corruption exists. We need systems that trace the corruption in order to eliminate it. Systems like digital currencies (which has been successful in Kenya), for example.” (This may be the only viable solution for the corruption scourge…not Anna Hazare).
  • “We want to work more on agriculture and how scientific innovation can make a difference there, and therefore on children’s lives.”
  • “The US clearly leads all countries in the world in terms of philanthropy.”
  • “Some business leaders in India are coming together to talk about it. At least they have committed to meet once a year to discuss it. That’s progress.”
  • “Azim Premji is one good example of a philanthropist in India.”
  • I feel incredibly good about (the eradication) of polio. The last case in India was in January 2011. The last frontiers to make progress are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
  • We must make similar progress in malaria and we can.

Switching subjects to software and Microsoft (at ~32:00 mins), and his personal goals and objectives (this is really, really interesting too!), he spoke about:

  • The competition and the software industry giants today.
  • Microsoft (Bing) + Facebook against Google
  • His role at Microsoft
  • More about Google versus Bing, and why he is not jealous of the success of other software companies today.

And finally, the (awesome!) goals that he would like to achieve in life, such as:

  • There are 8 million children who die every year. With the availability of vaccinations, Bill Gates would like to reduce that number to less than 2 million in his lifetime
  • Changing education so that it allows kids to explore their curiosity (what a great concept!)
  • Availability of food for children of the world- working with farmers to ensure that it is adequate and available

These are mere teasers. There’s much more that he said on these topics, all of it remarkably interesting, especially when they come in the form of opinions from someone like him.

You can catch the complete interview here.  I hope you do!


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