Monday, December 18, 2006

Great Win !

Nobody would have given India any chance of even giving South Africa a tough fight in the test matches after their insipid performance in the one-dayers.But the way Indian team regrouped amidst all the criticism and hullabaloo,most of which was media`s creation,has been nothing short of inspirational.They took the bull by its horns and its apt that India`s first ever test win in South Africa has come in the wanderers which is called the 'bull ring'.Now the same media will go overboard in its praise and Guru Greg would be back in currency.
No doubt , the Indian team has accomplished a great victory but the work is by no means over yet.There are two more test matches to go and South Africa would come hard at them.In the past Indian team has been guilty of squandering away the lead in a test series all too easily.This time the team would do well to stay focused and secure a series win to wash away the ignominy of the drubbing in one dayers.
This test match has been a privilege to watch for a variety of reasons.The positive mindset of the team was conveyed when Rahul Dravid decided to bat first after winning the toss on a pitch that had a lot of sting.The openers did not score that many runs but they stayed put for ten overs or so which again was a morale booster.The application and exquisite batting by Dravid and Tendulkar laid the foundation for a good total.The positive intent shown by Laxman and Ganguly got India to reasonably good scores in the two innings with good support from VRV Singh and Zaheer Khan.
But the man of the match and that too by a big margin was Sreesanth who rocked the South African boat with his incisive spells in both innings.No one would have imagined that an Indian bowling attack could dismiss South Africans for a paltry 84 runs .Sreesanth has a bright future ahead of him and he gives his hundred percent every time he has a ball in his hands.
Hopefully,the media as well as the fans would keep a sense of proportion while celebrating this fine win.India has a very good chance of winning the test series and must not get complacent with this win.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My tryst with cannabis !!!

It hapened while i was in second year.....It was 'Shivaratri' and early morning myself along with a few seniors went to the Shiva Temple nearby .Afterwards ,we took the real "prasad" ...ladoos laced with 'bhang' ...tasted real bad(murde ko khila do to wo bhi tilmila uthe...get the picture!) ...I some how managed to eat 3 or 4 of them.I did not think much of it as even the previous year I had taken a few 'Laddoos' and there had been no effect whatsoever and this year i desperately wanted that something should hapen but what unfolded was beyond my wildest imagination... As we were returning back to the hostel.... I started feeling very happy(without reason ,ofcourse)...reached my room where my roommate(4th year guy)was watching a movie ...I didnt tell him anything and straightaway slumped on my bed ...This was the beginning of the end as I thought at that point of time....My head started spinning like never before....I felt like that I am being pulled in one direction like a rubber band but not being let free after that...I told my roommate that i am under the influence of 'bhang'(cannabis) but still very much in control...This news spread like wildfire in the hostel and i became a "celebrity"for the wrong reasons ...Almost all the boarders came to have a look ... By this time I started thinking that what if the Laddoos were poisonous,i pleaded with some seniors to take me to the hospital just in case (but no one listens to a mad person ,especially when he talks sense)...My heartbeat became very fast and i almost had a near death experience(not kidding)....I wanted to know about the other two guys who had also eaten the laddoos with me my dismay one was fast asleep and other was perfectly fine but for a slight headache ...At this point i knew that bhang was having an effect on me but still i tried talking sense.But no one seemed to believe even a word of what i was saying ...By evening the "bhang effect" had subsided somewhat ...But still it took me 3-4 days to come to grips that it was not a dream that i was watching while sleeping under the influence of cannabis.Come to think of it the dreams that i saw that day were so frighteningly real that sometimes i do wonder that whether that dream is continuing still !!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Statue Desecration !

The spate of mindless violence that follows desecration of statues deserves equal condemnation ,if not more-so.The so-called followers of these great men forget the essence of their teaching, which has been nothing but peace and universal brotherhood.
Moreover the violent reactions by a fringe section allows an opportunity to the anti-social elements to create social disharmony.The sentiments of a person or community ,if hurt, can be assuaged but if lives are lost it cannot be undone.The government will have to be proactive in providing security to such statues and also put a stop to the installation of any more statues where adequate security cannot be ensured.
Infact, installing statues has become a ploy to grab land in prime locations and further one`s political aspirations.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Fresher Trouble !!!

The first few days in the hostel were an eye opener in ways more than one.I was quite plump all throughout my school years .But, what regular exercise and balanced diet could not do to my waistline ,was achieved effortlessly by the hostel food and regular chores given by the seniors.I lost weight dramatically, and i m very positive that even Vandana Luthra cannot get such great results so quickly.Anyway i was happy with my new found slim look ,but everyone else, especially family members were worried about my 'ill-health'.
The seniors asked my batchmates ,all of whom had already come out from the agony and ecstacy of the ragging period,to inform me of all the rules and regulations which were to be followed ,with the caveat that any misdemeanour on my part would lead to an unequal but opposite reaction for them as well.I was told about all the rules and given certain lists to memorise and explained in graphic details the consequences that any mistake on my part would entail.
Some of the rules were innocuous and others outrightly absurd.One rule was to say goodmorning to all the seniors,nothing wrong in principle with that rule but it carried a big risk if you wished the same senior goodmorning twice in the same morning .Because that meant you were not able to recognise the concerned senior and ended up hurting his fragile ego in the process.And that could result in serious consequences ,turning the so far good morning into the worst morning of your hostel life.Another rule was to wear formals at all times ,except when you were in your room.This rule was okay with me as i had nothing against wearing formals though sometimes wearing shoes while brushing your teeth did feel awkward to quote just one instance.The rule which bugged me most, and which was abused by the seniors to irritate newcomers ,was to stand-up as soon as a senior entered your room.Now again, nothing wrong in standing up and showing respect .But some people used to put only one leg inside the room,now if you stand up you are in big trouble as the guy has not entered the room completely, technically speaking.You have to stand up just a little giving his one leg due respect without hurting the sentiments of the other leg which is all this while roaming outside oblivious of the happenings.
Only a week after my entry ,there was a strike in the college.It was a big tragedy for me.Not because i was very fond of attending classes or anything but atleast during classes there was no risk of breaking any rules and more importantly getting hauled up for it.With strike continuing, i had to spend more time in the hostel under the watchful eyes of all the seniors who were too eager to see me break rules, even if inadvertently.Thankfully, just two days into the strike ,after playing football (compulsory for newcomers)in the hostel, i was overcome with high fever.Never before had i felt such relief at falling sick as it saved me from attending the regular protests in front of the college gates and also from the hunger strike which was being planned.But to my dismay , fever was gone in just two days and i missed it sorely for the first time in my life.
Again the same routine started and continued for what seemed like an eternity but was in actually a week or so,and i was losing hope fast.There was an avoid-approach conflict as regards to getting freshers.Some of my batchmates warned me that getting freshers will involve a sound thrashing and better be prepared for that.Now i was pretty much terrified and hoped for some divine intervention.The strike was soon over and one fine sunday i was asked to report to the monitor's room.He asked me about certain things to which i gave satisfactorily vague answers and after that he paused for a moment,looked at my sorry figure and told me that i had got my freshers and was free to wear anything of my choice within the limits of decency.I was thrilled ,i thanked him profusely and rushed to my room.I removed my shoes and kept them in one corner as i was sick and tired of wearing shoes all the time.I decided that from now on i wud be wearing only chappals,come what may.The shoes did not take kindly to this slight and after about a month when i looked for them,they were nowhere to be found !

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Ragging ???

I had made up my mind that i wont run away from engineering college because of ragging but comforted myself with the thought that if i find it difficult to cope with studies i would just return home .I joined college one and half month after the classes had started.There was a positive as well as a negative side to joining late.The ragging which is officially banned was unofficially over by then,infact fresher`s nite was just a few days away.I was thanking my stars, but ,ofcourse, i was mistaken .Ragging was over for others but not for me,i had to face the music.
When one is in school,especially during the last few years of school life,one imagines a very rosy picture of forthcoming college life.I had also imagined a utopia where after attending a few lectures,i would be off with my friends to catch the latest movie,roaming around and capping the hard day with a beer.The days were hard alright, but there wasnt any beer ,atleast during the first year.
On the day of admission,i met my hostel superintendent(super) and he reassured me greatly when he told me that he visits the hostel daily.I was so relievedand happy,again misplaced happiness.I was thinking ,with the hostel super making regular visits to hostel ,ragging may not happen at all.To my dismay his 'regular visits' was a euphemism for a fleeting visit and that too once a month.
Finally that evening i took a small step for mankind and a big leap of faith for myself when i entered the hostel.I was astounded by the positive reception accorded to me by seniors but there was a catch.The warm reception was on account of my father who was accompanying me.Seniors kept coming to my room and spoke encouraging words,even the hostel super came and gave me a piece of advice /warning "hostel life is all about adjustment".But soon it was time for my father to leave me there and return.
After seeing him off to hostel gates the gravity of the situation struck me.Suddenly everyone appeared so menacing,there was a change in their body language and attitude.I was brought back to my room and interrogation started.By the end of half an hour of pure unadulterated mental torture i was close to breaking point.Every answer of mine to their questions was met with war like cries and bouts of laughter.One guy dressed only in something remotely resembling a halfpant came with a 'drafter' and broke into an impromptu monkey dance ,the kind of dance that you see in movies when savages catch their prey. The dinner bell started ringing before the war dance could be completed.The dinner bell had saved me for the moment.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Strange Bedfellows !

Politics in sports and politicians in sports bodies have come to stay .In most of the sports bodies the writ of the politicians runs large.Those sports bodies where politicians are absent,their place is taken by bureaucrats and the same story repeats itself .... a nation of a billion people fails to win a single gold medal in Olympics .India continues to languish towards the bottom in rankings of all major sports.Cricket is not a global sport by any stretch of imagination ,only a handful of countries(nine to be precise,test status) play it and even there we win occasionally and lose regularly.
There was a time when India was a power house in Asian Football but not anymore.The All India Football Federation(AIFF) is presided over by Priya Ranjan Dashmunshi(Union Minister and a Sonia Gandhi loyalist)and that too for the last fifteen years.The standard of Indian football has declined with the rise of Mr. Dashmunshi.This correlation may not indicate a cause effect relationship but it does point to the grim reality that a professional setup is urgently needed.Mr. Dashmunshi should be allowed to choose between continuing as a Union Minister or as the President of AIFF.We all know what will be his choice or for that matter of Mr. Sharad Pawar who is lording over BCCI absolutely unnecessarily.A nation of one billion people surely cannot be short on manpower that people need to occupy multiple posts.
Mr.Pawar and Mr. Dashmunshi are lording over cricket and football respectively but they surely are not the only ones.This malaise runs deep and wide.To name just a few,Jagdish Tytler(1984 riot accused,Congress) heads Judo Association,Prof.Vijay Malhotra(BJP) heads Archery Federation,Supercop K.P.S.Gill has made Indian Hockey Federation his prisoner....and the list goes on and on.
While removing politicians from these sports bodies may not bring dramatic results overnight, but it would surely be a step in the right direction.The sports bodies need to be professionalised and the people holding various posts should be paid regular salaries and made accountable for the performance of athletes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Animal Farm !

Animal Farm is a wonderful novel by George Orwell.It tells the story of a group of animals who are motivated to rebel against the humans by a wise old boar.The animals which include pigs,dogs,horses,sheeps,hens,a donkey and a cat take the cue and are succeessful in dislodging their human master who is not very humane in conduct.The pigs due to their cleverness become the leaders of the coup and try to corner all advantages for themselves with the help of dogs.The horses and other animals keep working without questioning the motive of pigs.The symbolism in the story is hard to miss.Though Orwell had written this story as a satire on the Soviet Union but it can be applied to human behavior as well.The pigs are like the politicians,the dogs are the bureaucrats,both protecting and encouraging the other and cornering all benefits for themselves.The animals frame certain laws as soon as their coup is a success but these laws are modified to suit the interest of the pigs as the situation demands.This is what we see in daily life where if you have money and power ,you can even get away with murder.The common man is like the horses who keep working without ever realizing to whom the fruits of their labour go.
There is cunning,intrigue and stratagems galore in this novel which makes one smile as well as reflect on the things going on in the real world.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Road Rage !!!

Dr.Amit Dewan,a radiologist, is no more.He was in the prime of his life ,loving husband,doting father and obedient son.Fate had other ideas for him.About 45 days back,while parking his car outside his home in Gurgaon lightning struck.Two youths driving in a Tata Safari brushed past him ,he yelled at them.This yelling was provocation enough for the two men to come back and run him over and not stopping at that.They dragged him for a fair distance which resulted in serious injuries that ultimately led to his untimely death.Police ,as is the case always,did not show any inclination to book the accused for culpable homicide as the case warranted.Both the accused were merrily drunk at the time.These people deserve no mercy and it is high time that laws are changed so that people who indulge in road rage are given stringent punishment.In this particular case the culprits should be tried for murder and nothing less.

Death Penalty ???

The sentencing to death of Afzal for plotting and helping in the attack on Parliament has brought to surface the disconnect between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India.A divide also exists between those who support death penalty and those who are opposed to it.Politicians cutting across party lines have tried to make political capital out of the issue.While BJP and its allies have made it an issue of national pride ,other parties have thought it fit to play the muslim card.It is quite evident that both sides are on shallow grounds.
Death penalty is given in rarest of rare cases and the attack on Parliament definitely qualifies on this criteria.If Afzal is allowed to go scotfree ,it will set a very dangerous precedent.While there is a question mark on the investigations ,there is enough evidence to conclusively prove that Afzal was in regular touch with the attackers before the said incident took place.
Moreover the grounds on which amnesty is being sought are divisive to say the least.Religious or regional grounds cannot and should not be considered for granting amnesty to anybody .The kind of demonstrations and protests held across Kashmir in support of Afzal is a very disturbing development.Though the demonstrations are mostly the handiwork of militant outfits and a way to show resentment towards Central and stae government.The government has simply failed to bring the Kashmiris into the national mainstream.The plight of Kashmiri Pandits has received no attention at all over the years.The kind of ethnic cleansing that has taken place in Kashmir has no parallels.One cannot help but wonder are they the children of a lesser god ?
I think it would be better to sentence Afzal to life imprisonment (not 14 years,but for life)because hanging of Afzal has the potential of making a martyr out of a terrorist and fuelling the fire of secessionism in J&K all over again.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Batman Returns !!!

The return of Saurav Ganguly to the Indian test team can be attributed more to the dismal performance of Suresh Raina and company than to the decent performances of Ganguly in domestic cricket.The furore raised in the Parliament has also had a role to play in his re-entry.There is not an iota of doubt that Ganguly has been the best captain that India has produced in recent times and the wins notched by India under his leadership stand ample testimony to that.Ganguly also has an enviable one day record and among Indian players only Sachin and Dravid have better or comparable records.
The major question remains as to what will be the fallout of Ganguly's return on the players in general and team management in particular.The bad vibes between Greg Chappell and Ganguly are known to one and all.As two mature individuals it is expected that they would be able to sidestep past issues and work in unison for team's success.
The injury to Yuvraj Singh should have resulted in automatic selection of Ganguly but the selectors played a waiting game and now they have egg on their face.Ganguly should have been in the one day squad as he is a much better one day player than a test player.It is not to suggest that the results would have been different if Ganguly was in the team but atleast it would have provided India better options than playing two wicketkeepers in the same team.All said and done, Ganguly still would have to play out of his skin to justify his selection and make a bid for a place in world cup squad ,otherwise South Africa may turn out to be his last huraah !!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mob Violence !!!

Yesterday some anti-social elements vandalised a statue of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar in the sleepy Kanpur and all hell broke loose in far way Maharastra.The so called dalit activists gave vent to their anger by destroying public property and disturbing law and order situation.Its not that this is a one off phenomenon, it has been happening quite frequently now a days.Our media friends stoke the fire by reporting half truths and reporting incidents in a way that will arouse extreme passions.'Peaceful protest' has become an oxymoron ,as protests of any kind are invariably followed by violence.When the Kannada superstar 'Rajkumar' died and that too of natural causes ,there was an outpouring of grief ...quite understandable but the kind of violence that followed it was senseless to say the least.Is this the way to bid farewell to a loved one ?
And this is by no means limited to India ..... the cartoon row that erupted over the publication of 'offensive cartoons'(again an oxymoron as cartoons are not to be taken seriously afterall)by a danish newspaper and later on by other newspapers across Europe is a case in point.Violent reactions were reported from across the globe,people participated in protests without even having seen the cartoons....the unruly protests only reinforced the stereotypes that the protesters were trying to protest against.
The point is that being in a mob provides a person the shield of annonymity which makes him do things which he would not do individually.Many times the media persons also egg on the protesters to do something dramatic so that it makes for better newsbyte.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Case Study !!!

Three high profile cases were the centre of attention yesterday.All of them have been in news for quite some time now.It must have come as a big relief for Sanjay Dutt fans and well wishers that he has been aquitted of TADA related charges and will be prosecuted only under the milder Arms Act.The case has carried on for over thirteen years and this in itself is a scathing comment on the state of crime investigation and judicial proceedings.Prolonged delay has become the norm as far as court cases are concerned.
In the Nitish Katara murder case ,things have finally started moving with the coming of prime witness Bharati Yadav.She has an ethical dilemma in front of her,whether she takes a stand against her brother or betrays a person who lost his life just because she loved him.I hope that she tells the truth but we all know that she will only say what she has been doctored to say.No one doubts that Vikas Yadav and his henchmen killed Nitish Katara but in the end he may walk scotfree because of shoddy investigation,hostile witnesses and money power.
Finally Shibu Soren has created history by becoming the first sittting Union Minister to be convicted on murder charges.Manmhohan Singh`s clean image gets cleaned up every now and then by his cabinet colleagues .Though the conviction does prove that the wheels of law move very slowly but it does move.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Breach of Privilege ???

The demand to bring a privilege motion against Greg Chappell by our (dis)honourable MPs is foolhardy to say the least.Every person who follows the game with some degree of interest knows that India has never performed well in South Africa,the last world cup being the only exception.This is not to suggest that we should be mentally prepared to lose matches,but there should be a sense of proportion.The MPs will do well to discuss and deliberate on issues that are much more important than winning or losing in a cricket match.Instead of demanding Chappell`s head as a bounty ,why not demand accountability from BCCI.Where the crores of rupees are being spent and what is the need for Union Agriculture Minister to head the BCCI.But these questions will not provide cheap publicity to politicians and TRPs to news channels.
The argument that they are representatives of people and have a right to vent their grievances does not pass muster in this case.While criticism is and should be welcomed but making unreasonable demands and displaying mob mentality is certainly not welcome.Greg Chappell is being made a scapegoat in the whole episode but what about the players who are not performing on the field.Anyone who thinks that just by removing Chappell ,the fortunes of Indian Team will improve are living in a make believe world of cricket fantasy.
The news media as always has got the soundbytes by stoking the fire on both sides and distortion of statements.Chappell made a very innocuous statement that politicians have a job to speak and are paid for it.This was distorted by our media friends and a caption was given "MPs par bhadke Chappell" which is quite far from what he actually said.After creating the controversy out of nothing the same news media is asking questions why is there politics in cricket and cricket in politics.My question - why is there no ethics in coverage of news ?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

News Hounds !!!

The increase in the number of news channels has a direct correlation with the falling journalistic standards. One look at the various programmes being shown on news channels especially Star News,Zee News and AAj Tak will leave no doubt that news has been overtaken by commerce.Aaj Tak took the cake when it ran a news story showing an indica car running on Delhi streets without a driver on prime-time for two hours . There was lot of serious discussion on the studio to explain this supernatural phenomenon and viewers also called in to share their experiences. It finally came to light that it was a case of driver with unusually long legs who was driving the car from the passenger seat,but by then AAj Tak had got what it wanted all the time viewer attention and TRP ratings.
Not only this,the news channels are also trying to propagate superstition among the masses .I recently happened to watch a programme on Zee News whereby one cleric was being projected as a person who can cure cancer.Now "faith healing" is something which most people accept as an alternative form of therapy .But the question remains whether news channels should indulge in promoting treatments or religious beliefs which have no scientific basis.
In most cases of mob violence ,media is as guilty if not moreso of providing the oxygen of publicity to trouble mongers and anti-social elements.
Its hightime that news channels do some kind of self introspection and put in place a mechanism for self-censorship.The race for TRP ratings by hook or crook must end .

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tame surrender !!!

The spineless performance by Indian team has reinforced the view that Indian cricketers are tigers at home and lambs abroad.But the way they have been performing in recent times calling Indian team tigers at home will be according them way too much respect.Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game but what hurts is the unwillingness to put up a fight .
The Indian media especially the TV news channels are also doing a disservice to the game .Their reporting is totally guided by TRP considerations and their only aim is to sensationalise things.Sometimes back Ganguly was targeted and hounded out of the team as if only he was personally responsible for the failings of Team India.Now the same media which earlier was all praise for Chappell`s experiments is finding fault with his every move and gunning for his head.
Its high time that we realise that Indian cricketers brought up on low and slow Indian pitches are sitting ducks on fast,seaming pitches .BCCI is only interested in minting money and is packed with politicians and sycophants.Unless some drastic steps are taken to improve pitches and standard of cricket at domestic level ,hoping for an Indian win in foreign conditions will remain a pipe-dream.