Jason Overdorf

Stories by Jason Overdorf

  • A New Kind of Bollywood Film

    Midway through Vishal Bhardwaj's 2009 movie Kaminey (Scoundrels), the hero is captured by thugs looking to recover $2 million in stolen cocaine. As the goons torture him to find out where he's hidden the drugs, they run into a problem: he stammers so badly that they can't get a word out of him. So sing, they say. Out come his answers, to the tune of a popular song. Problem solved. Except the hero the thugs have captured isn't the thief. His twin brother, who lisps, stole the dope. And the twins haven't spoken to each other for years.For those unfamiliar with Bollywood films, the scene, like the rest of Kaminey, plays as if it were directed by Guy Ritchie. From the tortuous plot twists to the ludicrous double speech impediment, Bhardwaj treads the tightrope between comedy and camp—keeping it just straight enough for the audience to suspend disbelief. But for aficionados of the Hindi-language genre, Kaminey is a revolutionary manifesto. It takes classic Bollywood tropes—estranged...
  • India's New Anti-Corruption Laws May Not Work

    Experts estimate that corruption in India indirectly kills more than 8,000 people a day by diverting money from food programs into the pockets of crooked officials. Now the government hopes to reduce graft with a new approach: instead of specifying how much money will be spent on welfare programs, it will use laws guaranteeing employment, education, and food to set out the exact services that each government agency must deliver. ...
  • The Rise Of The Hindu Right

    Upcoming elections in India could help usher an even more nationalist BJP back into power.
  • New Delhi's Booming Dining Scene Gains Another Gem

    In a drive to remain top table in New Delhi's fast-growing fine-dining scene, in August the Taj Mahal Hotel opened its second new restaurant in as many months. This flashy Indian eatery is already attracting the city's swish set. ...
  • Indian Companies Still Torn By Family Feuds

    For some time now, Indian firms have been growing in competitiveness; companies like Tata, Reliance, and the Aditya Birla Group now rival giant Western multinationals like General Electric and Procter & Gamble. The conventional wisdom has also been that Subcontinental powerhouses are getting more sophisticated. Management is becoming more professional, too; bullish analysts point to the recent merger of Ranbaxy (India's largest drugmaker) with Japan's Daiichi as a sign of a new willingness among India's CEO scions to move beyond the walled garden of family firms and team up with smart outside companies.Now a very public fight between Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd. and Anil Ambani's Reliance Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group—the billion-dollar refineries to telecoms rivals created when the brothers divided the family assets after a soap-opera-style split in 2005—underscores how much work remains. The brothers are battling over Anil's planned merger of his Reliance...
  • The Negotiator

     Kamal Nath has become not only the voice of India in trade circles, but an advocate of the developing world.
  • Stolen Kidneys in India

    Indian investigators suspect as many as 500 illegal transplants have been performed.
  • The World’s Cheapest Wheels

    When Tata Motors set out to build a $2,500 car, people said it couldn't be done. This week the company will unveil its vehicle of the future.
  • Cashless In The Hinterlands

    Mobile banking might save the government and banks money and reduce fraud that plagues the public-distribution system.
  • Bollywood Takes on Hollywood

    India's film industry has long been prolific and chaotic. Now, with modern business leaders, it's coming of age—and taking aim at Hollywood, U.S.A.
  • Bowling For Bucks

    Beloved cricket is becoming big business in India.
  • Cricket in India Is Big Money

    A burgeoning Indian middle class is giving the nation's beloved slow sport, cricket, new sex appeal.
  • The $100 Un-PC

    In a humble residential neighborhood in the south Indian city of Chennai, Hema Malini--a quiet 13-year-old girl whose hair was braided with jasmine flowers--switched on the family television and a curious new device called Nova NetTV that was connected to the TV and a keyboard. In a few seconds, the Microsoft Windows logo appeared, and suddenly her TV was transformed into a PC. With her mother looking on proudly, Hema fired up encyclopedia software, checked her e-mail and Googled for a site that offers free versions of Nintendo's Mario Bros. games.If Rajesh Jain is successful, the NetTV, which hooks up to any television, could be the first in a family of devices that connect the next billion people to the Internet. Jain, 39, is cofounder and chairman of Novatium, the Chennai-based company that makes NetTV and NetPC, a similar product that uses a normal computer monitor. Both are based on cheap cell-phone chips and come without the hard-disk drive, extensive memory and prepackaged...
  • Do-It-Yourself Education

    In India, education is supposed to be free and universal through age 14. In fact, it often doesn't work out that way. Consider Dhiraj Sharma, the 10-year-old son of a bicycle rickshaw driver in Dehli, who was forced to stay home last year after the local state denied him admission because he didn't have the right papers—a common problem. So Dhiraj is now applying to a private school. For just $6 a month, the R.S. School offers a much better education than the state, says Dhiraj's father, Ramesh, complaining that his son "finished class three in government school, and he can't read anything!"Such problems have sparked a boom in private schooling throughout the developing world. In 2000, James Tooley, an administrator for Orient Global, a Singapore company that invests in education for the poor, went walking in Hyderabad, India, and was startled to find private schools on virtually every corner. He launched a full-scale study in India, China and Africa, and everywhere, officials and...
  • Mosquito Trajectory

    Mosquitoes like warm air, and they breed in water—that much we know. It stands to reason that the bugs would flourish in a world that is getting warmer and wetter. "We're seeing changes in the Himalayas, the highlands of Africa, in the Andes and up into Mexico and in other places in Asia, too," says Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. "We're seeing a very consistent pattern in highland regions throughout the globe." Is this a taste of what's to come?Some studies say yes. One found that temperature increases from 0.5 degrees to 3 degrees can double the population of Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry malaria, and double the speed at which dengue incubates in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, suggesting that its infectious life would increase. And temperature rises can extend a mosquito's range and lengthen the biting season. Climate models have the risk of catching dengue rising to 74 percent by 2050 and the number of...