Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When a loss means more than a win ...

Today, Indian cricket team somehow managed to defeat Srilanka ,while the boxer Jitender Kumar lost in a tough fight to Russian boxer Balakshin.I did not watch the cricket match but came back from office to watch the boxing bout.In fact ,cricket commentary was coming on 1o6.4(FM gold) instead of the usual old songs and it didn't please me one bit.Somehow ,one day cricket has stopped exciting me and it is not because i am a big fan of 20-20 either.I am very fond of Test cricket and the last two India-Australia series played in Australia remain very memorable even to this day. It was disappointing to see the young Jitender lose ,but his loss is much bigger than the victory achieved in cricket.Though,its unfair to compare sports ,but even losing in a olympic quarterfinal means a lot more than a solitary ODI win.I was watching NDTV India and the anchor Ravish Kumar reporting from Bhiwani (the home district of all three boxers from India who have reached quarter finals) talked about how in the absence of good facilities ,the people are so much driven towards sports.In fact ,sports is a means to name,fame and most importantly a govt. job for most of the youngsters from Bhiwani and nearby areas.
India has won a bronze medal (Sushil Kumar ,66 kg, freestyle) in wrestling ,52 years after K.Jadhav won the first individual olympic medal for independent India in Helsinki(1952)olympics.In a shortwhile the third boxer ,Vijender Kumar is going to fight for a medal against a 19 year old boxer from Ecuador.Will Indian boxing be third time lucky ? One sincerely hopes so...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bowing Out ...

The news is dominated by bowing out of two individuals.One bowed out a hero even in defeat while the other had to leave in disgrace.Akhil Kumar ,who lifted us with hopes of a olympic medal bowed out in the quarterfinals ,but remains a hero to all of us and a inspiration to Indian boxers still in the fray for a medal.On the other hand the suave Pervez Musharraf had to resign on the face of an impending impeachment.
Fortune favours the brave ,but believe me even the brave face fear once in a while.Akhil Kumar defeated the world champion in earlier round as he did not have the burden of a billion expectations.But with the media spotlight and medal in sight,it just might have caused Akhil to become a bit more conscious of what a victory would mean from hereon.If the govt.,the media and most importantly we the people forget his contribution just because he did not win a medal ,we would be guilty of killing a sportsman's spirit and will to fight against all odds.One hopes that the other two boxers would not be perturbed by all the media attention back home and just take it one round and one bout at a time.
As for Musharraf ,it is curtains for him as far as political power in Pakistan is concerned.He should have read the writing on the wall much earlier ,but the intoxication of power subdues one's senses and Musharraf was also human after all.Now Mr.Zardari(Benazeer Bhutto's husband) also known as Mr. Ten percent (his commission in all major deals while his wife was ruling) and much maligned Nawaz (not so) Sharif are going to rule.But it remains a moot point that with the common enemy gone how long would it be before these two power hungary individuals start targeting each other.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On the edge ...

There is a very good programme that comes on NDTV 24x7 - 'We The People' hosted by Miss Barkha Dutt.The programme is usually on any raging issue and has panelists from both sides of the divide as well as neutrals to debate it from all possible angles.Tonight the issue was ,what else, Jammu versus Kashmir.The debate was volatile and it soon became a shouting match.Barkha Dutt is usually in control but tonight even she had a tough time soothing the frayed tempers.Though the debate was inconclusive ,as is usually the case, as neither side would concede the issue even if they know that they are wrong.In any case there are no absolutes, neither is Sangharsh Samiti right in forcing an economic blockade of the valley nor are the separatist forces in the valley in trying to link up the land transfer issue to 'Hinduisation' of Kashmir.
The Indian govt. led by Dr.Manmohan Singh was busy trying to buy 'trust' of the MPs while J&K was burning.The govt. sat still while the situation spiraled out of control and now it seems almost beyond repair.The govt must take a firm stand by stating unequivocally that the Amarnath Yatra would continue as in previous years and the pilgrims would be allowed greater facilities ,and at the same time it would involve no transfer of land to the shrine board.End of the day ,Amarnath pilgrims want better facilities and uninterrupted Yatra ,they don't intend to settle down permanently there.So land should remain with the state govt. and it will take away the main argument of separatists about the threat to Kashmiri identity.One only hopes that Mr.Prime Minister wakes up to the problem and act decisively rather than procrastinating till it becomes an international issue.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Boxing Day !!!

Remember Dingko Singh ,the boxer who won Asian Games gold medal in Bangkok(1998).Well ,it seems we all have forgotten his heroics.In a nation ,where only cricket matters ,it is no surprise that other sportsperson are soon forgotten.Coming to Beijing Olympics ,Abhinav Bindra's gold has brought cheer to a billion Indians and more importantly it has inspired Indian boxers to come up with some superlative performances.Now as things stand ,three Indian boxers namely,Akhil Kumar(bantam weight),Jitender Kumar(fly-weight) and Virender Kumar(middle-weight) have booked quarterfinal berths.Akhil Kumar stands out as he defeated world champion Sergei in a tough fight and through a split verdict after being tied 9-9 on points.He has set his eyes firmly on the gold and if there was a gold medal for confidence he would have won hands down. Jitender and Virender have had comprehensive victories over their respective opponents.One just hopes that all three of them box away to sporting glory.Hopefully, it will inspire not just the govt.,but more importantly the general public to take interest in sports other than cricket and consider sports as a viable profession and not just a pass-time.The parents who want their sons and daughters to excel only in studies have to understand that there is a world beyond academic achievements and they should extend all support to their wards if they show that spark in any field and not just force them to outscore the neighbour's child in exam.Wishful thinking ,huh ?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Losing the plot again ...

So ,India is on the brink of another series defeat in Test cricket.Nothing new ,as Indian cricket team has made a habit of losing series after going one zero up or after leveling the series and bad habits are difficult to change.Any other team with five wickets down and two days to play for would still have an outside chance of saving the match by playing out of their skin.Many teams have done it in the past and very recently South Africa saved a test match against England by battling it out for a draw.But with our Indian cricket team,its almost guaranteed that Srilankans would be celebrating tomorrow afternoon or even earlier.Something ,somewhere is not right ,we either win comfortably or lose pathetically.Supporters,at least those who think,don't mind if their team loses but at least there should be a fighting effort till the very end.News channels will be after the players ,in fact they have already started the head hunting exercise and Sachin is their target this time.Lets hope against hope that Indian cricket team bats out of its skin and saves this match because in Test matches saving a match when the opposition is smelling victory is no lesser than a win.
While lots of newsprint and even more of prime time by news channels would be devoted to understanding the defeat of Indian cricket team,at the same time the Indian football team has reached the finals of AFC Challenge Cup virtually unnoticed and uncared both by the public and the media.The final is on 13th august at New Delhi between India and Tajikistan.

Jammu versus Kashmir ???

I remember that when i was in school,one always used to read about Jammu and Kashmir as one single entity.But of late the two have drifted apart and media also talks about Kashmir valley and Jammu in isolation.With the criminal mishandling of Sri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) land issue, initially by state govt. and later on by central govt.,things have come to such a point where bifurcation and trifurcation of state is being sought on religious grounds.The congress govt. both at the state and the centre have given fundamentalists a handle to beat them with.The govt. should have been pro-active but they just waited for things to spin out of control and now they have started discussions which are more in the nature of an eyewash.
The BJP is also playing into the hands of pro-pakistan elements by communalizing the issue.The issue should be seen in its proper perspective bereft of any communal angle.Yes ,there should be facilities for Amarnath pilgrims as it also boosts the local econonmy and gives employment to many locals as porters,lodge owners,transporters etc. But at the same time local sentiments should be addressed and any misgiving as to the permanence of land transfer should be removed.Making this a hindu-muslim issue ,which it is certainly not,would only vitiate the atmosphere further and benefit none in the long run.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dark Night !

Finally ,after days of planning (in vain) and wishful thinking ,I managed to watch the best movie of the year so far and by some distance.The reviews say it all , and while watching the first half was in itself so engrossing that interval came as a rude shock.Before that shock ,i had experienced another minor jolt on reaching PVR Saket.On asking for tickets ,we were politely told to take a walk and we were contemplating taking a long walk back to the home pavillion.But at that very moment appeared a shady character with a smile on his face and tickets in his hands.Black of movie tickets is in good shape,after confirming the date and time on the ticket we shelled out the requisite amount.We had to pay fifty rupees over the counter and the movie was worth every single rupee.But i have a big issue with PVR Saket management ,the sound is just too much for such small halls.Believe me, if you watch three movies on the trot you are sure to do permanent damage to your ears and even otherwise sound is just maddening.
Movie has mind blowing action and a very taut script supported by excellent acting by Heath Ledger(Joker) and Christian Bale(Batman) and everybody else.It reminded me of the time when i used to be an avid watcher of Batman series on starplus(1997).Mostly the serials were in two parts and the first part used to end at a point where Batman and Robin used to be in some trouble with questions thrown in like "Will the cape crusaders have the better of Joker/Riddler/Penguin etc" ...