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Competence in election depends on competent criteria in selection

April 10, 2014

This write up is inspired by Mr Gurucharan Das’s article on the current Indian elections, “Secularism or Growth-choice is yours” in the Sunday times of April 6, 2014 where he says “ “where he suggests how economic growth is crucial to the lives of the youth who represent demographic dividend. The last line states “ There will always be a trade off in values at the ballot box and those who place secularism above demographic dividend are wrong and elitist”.

Former Union Minister and Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani had written in his book “Imagining India” how demographic dividend could make or break India. This is only possible through good governance which obviously implies a sincere, competent and experienced prime minister which in turn reminds one of Mr lal Bahadur Shastri . One should learn from history how he came about being prime minister on sheer merit unlike today’s dynastry politics. . Apart from performing very well in several party posts on different occasions , he was also a capable minister in many spheres- He performed with distinction as Railways minister, Transport and communications minister , Commerce minister and even union Home Minister. In the book “The Prime Ministers of India” compiled by Dr R.K.Pruthi, it is mentioned,” In 1964, Pandit Nehru fell ill while attending the annual sessions of the congress. It was decided to strengthen the union cabinet to relieve the prime minister of some of his routine work. Persuaded to return to the cabinet, Mr Shastri became Minister without portfolio whose task was to perform such functions as may be assigned to him by the prime minster from time to time in relation to the ministry of external affairs, atomic energy and Cabinet secretariat.” It is further mentioned that though Nehru did not name a successor, he had been grooming Lal Bahadur to step into his shoes. He had been entrusting to him the most pressing problems of the country and he had tackled them well. This has proved his ability to the masses and when the time came, he was unanimously elected the new leader. Perhaps Mr Rahul Gandhi could have tried something similar under Professor Manmohan singh for getting valuable governance experience. Mr Nehru has spoken extremely highly of Mr Shastri’s competence.

Mr Shastri had governance experience even before Independence- Mr Shastri was elected to the UP assembly in 1937. In 1945, he became secretary to the state government parliamentary board. Re-elected in 1946, he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the chief minister. The following year, he became minister for police and transport. There is mention of exceptional service under state chief ministers as well. It may not be out of place to mention here that he went to Jail for a total period of nine years during independence.

In contrast today’s candidates seem to be found wanting . Though Mr Modi has become chief minister of Gujarat several times, he has no experience of central government. Though not officially announced, one gets to hear Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal’s names is possible PM candidates. Neither has any governance experience to speak of. Mr Kejriwal won the Delhi elections, made a lot of announcements and quit for dubious reasons. Those announcements were touted as achievements which no government had achieved in 49 days. This is like trying to compare cricketer Vijay Merchant’s test batting average of 47.72 to Saurav Ganguly’s 42.17 forgetting the fact that while Mr Merchant had played only 10 tests , Ganguly played 113. This comparison can be misleading as Mr Kejriwal does not have any performance to speak of actually. Well known management writer Ram charan in his book “Execution” states how the best of students of ivy league colleges are found wanting in execution skills though they have excellent articulation skills. Venture capitalists say “ We fund teams(execution), not ideas”. Mr Kejriwal maybe a well meaning man but taking execution for granted and making accusations without proof make his seem naive.Even internationally, there is seems to be quite a gulf between President Obama’s oratorical and execution skills..Mr Kejriwal’s pet issue corruption is a major issue but a less corrupt politician who is not capable enough is equally undesirable.

As for Mr Gandhi, him and the congress party should have a look at what his great grandfather stated on electing his successor “Do democratic leaders choose their own crown princes? Are we Roman Emperors? I know that the ordinary process of democratic politics will pick my successor. Four hundred million people are capable of selecting a leader for themselves. I am not going to do it for them. It would be insolent for me to do it. “ On paper, the congress party may profess to do this but there is clearly a predominance of the Gandhi family. According to media reports, Mr Gandhi has made sincere efforts to induct professionals from other streams. From my experience, professionals only accept somebody who has superior capability as their leader or maybe that does not apply to politics where the stakes are much higher than the corporate world. Apart from shastri all the other prime ministers from the non Gandhi family had plenty of governance and administrative experience and performed better as well. Though we all want competent politicians, the mainstream media rarely highlight this fact. How somebody like Jagan Mohan Reddy can straightaway aspire to be chief minister of a large state like Andhra Pradesh also defies logic. It reminds me of my college days thirty years ago when, being an impressionable teenager, I used to think that the short cut to success was a rich father. I would go around saying

Whether your father makes profit or loss,

When you join him in business, you become automatic boss.

When your father is in business, you can be sure of one thing.

Whoever may come and go, you will be the king

Whether it is restaurant, factory or shop

The principle is the same, replace the pop at the top

Practical life proved to be totally different. I worked in one company where there were four candidates from the same management institute- one person got three double promotions over a year but the others got only one promotion which was obviously because of difference in execution skills though everybody had the same degree.

I never thought that my short poem would apply to politics one day which has become a business, a thought well articulated by former cabinet secretary, TSR Subramanian in his book,” Governmint in India”. In an earlier article, Mr Das had stated that there is nothing wrong if a son or daughter of a politician chooses to follow in their parent’s footsteps but nature rarely distributes talent that way. How true. I grew up in the era of Amitabh Bachchan and Sunil Gavaskar. Their sons are hardly a patch on their superstar fathers as many others from bollywood and cricket. In politics, legislative and governance talent is not highlighted or monitored strongly. Bollywood and cricket superstars have to be on their toes(latest hit or latest match) but politicians have a five year term and public memory being short, they can many times get away with being incompetent.

Since I am likely to be accused of Gujju bias where Mr Modi is concerned, people can draw their own conclusions after reading the latest issue of India today on the possibility of replicating the Gujarat model or on the internet. His governance credentials are much better but for somebody who is asking votes for good governance, inducting actors/actresses as legislators in place of people with strong grassroots experience does not augur well unless they really have the capability and sincerity(I read long ago how actor Vinod Khanna had done a lot of good work in Gurdaspur and had won twice from there). Inducting an erstwhile dream girl as a candidate reminds of the famous Sholay song “Jab tak hai jaan, jane jahaan, main nachoongi, main naachongi”.. It seems her sunset years are being used for a different kind of dacne. How different reel and real life can be- for an exceptional display of dance and body, the same lady is not willing to even come out of her Audi. How competence in politics has to be promoted vigorously is something everyone needs to and should study.

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Publushed article on elections

May 7, 2009

Though I am not a Journalist, I began with blogging and now my articles get regularly published in a magazine called Management compass. This article was published in April’2009

Another grand election looms large on the horizon. Newspapers and political magazines are full of how the whole political scene in India has become centrifugal with influential regional satraps calling the shots and no national leader with a pan Indian following emerging. The year when a national party got an absolute majority was two decades ago, ie in 1989. The regional allies are becoming stronger and demanding their pound of flesh as no party is expected to get absolute majority in the new power equations that are expected to emerge. So much so that some congressmen feel that it is the regional parties that pose a bigger challenge than the Bharatiya Janata Party and there are several people with prime ministerial aspirations even among regional leaders.

All kinds of alliances are being contemplated by the regional and two centrist parties. In 1998, the Telugu Desam Party, National Conference, Lok Jan Shakti Party and Biju Janta Dal forgot their secular roots and aligned with the BJP against the Congress at the centre. Though they may have broken off later on, this was the first indication of the fact that alliances were more on the basis of self interest rather than any ideology or principle. That apart, in a diverse country like India, voting often takes place on caste, regional, ethnic and even linguistic considerations. Though infrastructure, jobs, terrorism etc are the major issues, most parties are targeting the various vote banks. One hears of the Lodh vote, the Muslim vote, the Yadav vote, the Thakur vote , the Dalit vote, the Brahmin vote, the Vaish vote etc. Such tendencies are bound to multiply in the absence of a strong national leader who can sway the masses singularly with slogans and oratory and also act as a transformational figure. Apart from the vote banks and regional considerations, one significant factor playing a major role in these elections is the youth.

In a youth survey conducted by India Today magazine in February 2009, Narendra Modi was the number one choice of youth as the prime minister of the country and at 16 per cent of the vote got double the percentage of vote as the official nominee of the BJP, LK Advani. What and how the youth thinks would be a key factor in these elections. The report further stated that the youth have chosen a leader who delivers, a leader who has found redemption in the hard work of reform. They have chosen the doer and rejected the wafflers. If this is indeed so, it is surprising that prime minster is number four and Rahul Gandhi is number two. This is a clear indication of the fact that apart from performance, biology does matter. One got to readon how an 81-year-old Advani was rushing out playing hi-tech games, launching trendy websites, meeting IIM graduates and spoke of his experiences to the Microsoft headquarters in Seattle. The desperation to reach out to the youth is also visible in the fact The Hindustan Times report on February 22 about popular blogger Sidin Vadukut refusing to be a part of ‘bloggers for Advani’ programme. This is what he had to say in his refusal letter “Obama’s greatest success perhaps was in infusing his nation with optimism even during a period of great economic crisis. With your blog and website, you have the power to do that.” Where just the youth factor is concerned, future politicians will have to keep in mind this experience of the experienced Advani — “Javani nahin hai gavani” (can’t afford to be old). Considering the youth factor in demographics, this may actually be a good thing for an Indian Obama to emerge.

In another India Today study that was published in September 2008, it was stated that Amethi, which has elected members of the Gandhi family — Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi (twice), Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi — (five times out of 10 polls) ranks 484 on the socio-economic index and 475 on the infrastructure ranking. Phulpur and Allahabad, represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, who was prime minister for 17 years, ranks 409 out of 543 on the socio-economic index. Barring Surat, which elected Morarji Desai, none of the prime ministerial constituencies figure anywhere on the top 100 list.
Though business management and politics are drastically different in India, some reference to the management world is not completely out of place. One of the best write-ups that I have come across about the credentials of family members in running their businesses is this extract from the father of modern management, Peter Drucker’s What makes an Effective Executive? which has been selected by Harvard University among Drucker’s best. There, Drucker writes on the well known company Du pont, “In the successful family company, a relative is promoted only if he or she is measurably superior to all the non-relatives on the same level… Beyond the entrance level, a family member got a promotion only if a panel composed primarily of non-family managers judged the person to be superior in ability and performance to all other employees at the same level. The same rule was observed for a century in the highly successful family business J Lyons and Company when it dominated the Britsh food-service and hotel industries.”

Considering the fact that in politics, the scale of problems is much greater than in business and the country is not anybody’s private property, the vetting and validating process of separating the wheat from the chaff should be even more stringent. I once worked for a boss who got several double promotions in one year and went on to establish several businesses of his own. He was much better than three other people from the same management institute. In this context, if I were to compare him to the chairman’s sons, no amount of business training or coaching would have made them as good as he was.

However irrelevant the parameters of voting may seem on parochial considerations and whatever the political drama that may ensue, from a management perspective, one has to look at the entire scenario on the basis of performance. Though the economic performance has been no doubt exemplary, since this government came on the promise of aam aadmi or common man in 2004, certain comments in this context made by the the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) made headline news in the Times of India on February 23. The CAG reported “Over Rs 51,000 crore was allocated for the government’s flagship schemes in 2007-08 which got transferred to the bank accounts of NGOs, autonomous bodies and district authorities. However, the government has told CAG that it was not aware of the actual expenditure by these organisations. The aggregate amount of the unspent balances in the accounts of the implementing agencies kept outside government accounts is not readily ascertainable. The government expenditure, as reflected in the accounts to that extent is, therefore, overstated.” The report also pointed out how the social and infrastructure development fund (SIDF) — created in 2006 for funding initiatives such as the employment of physically challenged, insurance cover for rural poor, etc — was diverted to unspecified programmes like celebration of 150th year of the First War of Independence and towards grants to various cultural organisations. The report concluded that the CAG’s observations in an election year, just before dates are to be announced for Lok Sabha polls, is a big blow to the UPA government’s pro-poor, pro-development posture. That apart, according to other reports, even the Rs 2 crore-per-MP-per-year local area development scheme has become a tool for nepotism and rampant corruption in some cases. So much for the aam aadmi. It seems that instead of the recent award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire the poor execution is more on the lines of Slumdodge Millionaire. It is dodging the real people towards whom the funds are targeted and to whoever they are going is probably becoming a millionaire.

From my experience as executive assistant to my father and managing director in another company, I can say that where implementation is concerned, there is indeed a slip between the cup and the lip. However the executive assistant to the top man’s presence in what is called “Management by walking around” could mitigate all this to a significant extent. Rahul Gandhi could have put his considerable influence in the party and the government to bring about a systematic change rather than help some poor individuals sporadically like highlighting the plight of Kalawati Bandurkar of Vidharba where he had gone visiting.

Even on terror, the common man suffered considerably. The Times of India reported that after the Mumbai blasts of 26/11, the Maharasttra government put forward a slew of security measures. Some of these measures had already been put forward after the Train blasts of July’06 but never been put in place. This clearly hints at faulty execution. The public outrage at 26/11 also revealed how the political class as a whole is derided in India. This is not restricted to the central government or terror alone. One article in India Today on the Maharastra government had this to say of their track record: “Despite criticism from various quarters, the government is falling back on populist schemes. Once announced, no one bothers to see when the schemes are actually implemented.” This reminds of a dialogue that Amitabh Bachchan says in the aptly named movie Sarkar “Pass ka faayda dekhne se pahle door ka nuksaan dekhna chaahiye” (one should look at the long term loss instead of the short term profit). However, in general and the election years especially, it is exactly the opposite — all the governments are only concerned with winning the elections and all kinds of populist schemes and loan waivers are announced without a thought to how the future governments and generations will cope.

When one has a ringside view of how difficult it can be to run even a medium sized company, one is able to realise the fact that one needs really good talent to run a diverse country like India. I was around 20 and a college student when Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister. In his first year he was very impressive with the kind of speeches he gave and the business-like manner in which he went about signing the Punjab and Assam accords. Apart from the Gandhi name, his sweet smile, charming manners and handsome looks could have bowled anybody over. He came with noble intentions but was not able to fulfil all that he had promised initially and faltered on several other spheres. The experienced Nararsimha Rao made a better prime minister performance wise. He, along with his finance minister, Manmohan Singh, made possible the “garibi hatao” slogan that India Gandhi had coined in the election of 1971. This alone shows that merely depending upon family names or slogans can prove deceptive and the best orator need not be the best performer.

In his book India from Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond, Shashi Tharoor has this to say of the 1971 Lok Sahha: “The majority of backbenchers seemed to be out of their depth; they knew how to get elected but not how to legislate.” Tharoor is himself standing from Thiruvanthapuram to perhaps reverse this trend. The word “legislate” reminds me of eminent jurist, the late Nani Palkhiwala, whose speeches on the budget in matters of fiscal legislation used to be more popular than the budget itself for the manner in which he exposed the government blunders. When asked why an eminent and intelligent man was not in the higher echelons of the government, he replied “I don’t mind being nominated but I will not get elected”.

The manner in which Rajiv Gandhi was elected prime minister also deserves some mention. In the first February 2009 edition of the magazine The week, this is what I Rammohan Rao has to say of former President, R Venkatraman who died recently: “When RV became the vice-president, I was the director of news services division of All India Radio. The day Indira was assassinated; President Zail Singh and home minister PV Narsimha Rao were abroad. I sought RV’s permission to broadcast the news. He came to the studio and announced her death and the swearing in of Rajiv Gandhi as prime minsiter.” One wonders can even the student leaders be elected like this. Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory speeches on religious grounds reflects a desperate attempt to perpetuate dynasty politics.

This is why it is said that democracy is more vibrant in fully literate societies where politicians can get elected on merit instead of caste, religion, region, language etc. When that happens, it is more of a mobocracy than democracy. There are other newspaper reports on how some politicians are planning to get into the bandwagon of reality shows. Unfortunately even the majority of talk shows are more obsessed with discussing issues and raising awareness than monitoring what exactly the politicians are doing. Instead of the talk shows, there should be walk shows to know whether or not they are walking the talk.

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Fare well to Farewell;Alvida, Dada

October 8, 2008

Fare well to farewell- Alvida, Dada.

Today’s(8/10/2008) entire sports page in the Times of India is devoted to Mr Saurav Ganguly’s retirement and deservedly so. Well, all the speculation about voluntary retirement in the media turned out to be true. It is only in the fitness of things that as the curtain draws on the careers of one of India’s best batsmen and perhaps greatest captain, he be given a commensurate exit. He has fared very well so far to earn such a farewell and one hopes that he fares well in what will turn out to be his swangsong series against the mighty Australians against whom he has waged many a battle.

I am reminded of a Television Show some years back where ex- cricketers Krishnamachari Srikanth, Mohinder Amarnath and well known cricket commentator Charu Sharma were discussing “How to drop a player gracefully?”. They could not come to any firm conclusion but concurred that while Sachin cannot be dropped because of what all he had achieved(70 plus hundreds in international cricket), the other senior cricketers deserved a dignified exit with graceful indications/hints in advance. Srikkanth seems to be walking the talk because this is his first major step as the new chairman of selectors.

I remember reading about what the Australians did with Steve Waugh. Waugh had failed to “cross the final frontier” of beating India in India in 2001 and would have liked one more chance. Since the Australians are ruthless, he got no such opportunity. They did not even allow him to play as a player(he was willing to give up the captaincy) in the 2003 world cup . He had to hang his boots as per the selectors bidding but they went about the process in a dignified manner.

Since in India, strong emotions are associated with cricket, there was bound to be speculation about the retirement of the fabulous four- Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly. The cricketers will always say that age is no factor as long as they are fit but from a country’s point of view, young players have to be groomed both for playing and leadership and a certain gestation period is involved because of which succession planning is necessary.. One of the reasons why Yuvaraj Singh has not got enough chances in Test cricket is because the middle order is filled with seniors. In retirement too, Dada is proving to be an apt leader ; the fabulous four have to be shown the door(gracefully) – Yeh, dil maange more( Younger cricketers)

It would not be out of place to mention here that one day, if the popularity so demands, test cricket too should be minimized or dropped gracefully in favor of 20/20 instead of breast beating over it as if it was some kind of holy cow. A country with a spiritual legacy should not shed tears over such matters and follow one of the tenets of spirituality- impermanence. Popularity apart, 20/20 has to potential to make the game global and also take it to the Olympics.

Coming back to Saurav, I will never forget what my father said when Saurav Ganguly decided to fight his way back after being dropped as captain and player and he had been captain for 49 tests. He said “This is like a managing director being stripped of his post and being told to try his luck again as a management trainee all over again in full public view”. I have read about how a cricket captain’s job is perceived to be next to the Prime Minsiter’s in the context of the following it enjoys in India. Saurav should be remembered more for mental strength and sheer resilience for his comebacks apart from unique leadership, graceful, southpaw touch and the towering sixes he hit in one-day matches. I had written a poem(of sorts) on one of his comebacks:-

The return of Saurav Ganguly(Click with mouse)

One can only say something like this while bidding goodbye:-

Pyare Dada,
Aapko na bhoolne ka karte hain vaada
Aapki leadership,mental strength aur resilience yaad rakhenge sada
Aapka silken touch or towering sixes pe ham hain fida
Australians ko dikha do dadagiri aakhri baar kehne se pahle Alvida.

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Gudiya or Media ?

July 14, 2008

When Rajesh Talwar was released from Jail after being wrongfully confined for 50 days after being accused of murdering his daughter, Arushi, it was surprising to see so many media people thrusting their mikes and trying to ask questions when the situation warranted otherwise. It reminded of an incident some years back when actor Govinda’s son was injured badly in an accident and some media person was trying to ask him how he was feeling when he was resting in his bed and not in a position to speak.

In an interview a month back, Mr Rajesh Talwar had stated in Hindi he might as well be hanged now that his bitiya( or guidya affectionately) is no more. Having been arrested almost immediately after her death and having had no time to mourn the loss of his daughter, it is hardly a matter of conjecture where his time should have gone after release- media or gudiya. How could the media justify its presence there? They could have waited for Mr Talwar to fully recover and no sensible person in the viewing public would have been interested in knowing Mr Talwar’s views on his jail stint at such a sensitive time.

The media clearly went overboard this time. In the NDTV program “We, the people”, prominent journalist Barkha Dutt probes the issue. Some main points from the program were:-

1. The media has to set its own Lakshman rekhas. Some time ago, in his Sunday column, Vir Sanghvi also spoke of self regulation. This is very true because if the govt has to intervene and regulate, it can severely curb the freedom of the press. One person in the audience said that in foreign countries, yellow cards were placed by the police at certain points beyond which the media could not go. If the media continues to behave the way it did with the Talwars, every citizen will also need to carry a yellow card.

2. A prominent lawyer suggested that the media should fully investigate systemic failures instead of moving to the next juicy story. This is very true. God alone knows what is the worth of talk shows if there is no follow up on any issue. The concerned people could follow up on discussion forums the net if possible.

3. One gentleman also pointed out that it is better to avoid sweeping generalizations and target only those media channels who wrongly sensationalized the whole thing. This is also correct but the problem is that after a few days, everyone will forget and it won’t be a surprise if there is a repetition in the future.

4. It was also pointed out that the term media trial is misleading. It should be media exposure and the media should confine its role to highlighting instead of also trying to be prosecutor and judge which is clearly exceeding its limits.

5. Someone suggested that there should be no political interference in the functioning of the police. The media and the judiciary have complete autonomy and if they can behave irresponsibly on occasions, one wonders what would happen if the police were to behave likewise. One has to have transparency in all matters so that misuse of powers is minimized irrespective of the profession.

6. Many youngsters pointed out that the media had no business in probing private SMS messages or whatever which is hardly debatable and which is why I mentioned the yellow card earlier.

7. One lady relative of Mr Talwar was shown crying on how he needed to be left alone with the family after release to mourn his daughter’s death. This was not discussed long enough or debated whether the media had any business to be there in the first place.

Rajesh Talwar’s elder brother Dinesh Talwar summed it up by saying that they all had to decide what kind of functioning of our democracy had to take place if such disasters had to be averted. Without any regular mechanism of follow up, not much change is likely to be effected. In India, we have more drama than karma.

The media went too far in its professional interest in this case. It is true that every person has his professional agenda which is most important to him or her and people going to any lengths to further their professional interest has become an all pervasive phenomenen. Agar society hoti badiya, na hota media ya Gudiya:-

Money makes the world go around- in this case beyond limits and out of bounds

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B.C.C.I OR B.T.T.I ?

June 2, 2008

The day after- After the IPL got over yesterday with Rajasthan Royals emerging as the clear winners, the Delhi times made an assessment of IPL in an article “Figuring out IPL”
It states “IPL will bring about Rs 12 billion every year in cricket. India’s total budget last year was Rs 4.9 million. BCCI will earn Rs 3.5 billion from the first year of IPL which is more than Rs 2.3 billion it earned in 2007. The forecasted profit of BCCI is a whopping Rs 43 billion for the next 10 years”. Almost seems that 20 overs cricket can support ofher forms of cricket just as cricket sometimes supports other sports in India. Other sports lack public support; the cricket administrators should see the writing on the wall and go for the form of cricket which the fans like the most- it is the public which makes cricket in Inida a popular sport and the cricketers demi-gods.

Since there is a lot of breast beating over the commercialization of the game, Sachin Tendulkar’s views on the issue are worth noting “ “I don’t personally feel that, you know, (IPL is) dumbing down the game. It’s just another version of cricket. Test cricket is there and then they started One-day cricket many years ago and One-day cricket has been a tremendous success and if the game is gonna get globalised in the form of IPL, then why not? It’s better for cricket,” he added in defence of the league that has been criticized for being too glamorous and money-centric.The criticism of money centric is as silly as our obsession with Nehruvian socialism once upon a time which liberalization has proved time and again.

A few days ago, Mr Lalit modi had mooted the suggestion that IPL should be held twice a year which the President of BCCI, Mr Sharad Pawar deemed impractical because of the tight cricket schedules. This like missing the wood for the trees. The so called commercialization of the game has become possible only because of its public support. Look at the advantages of 20/20 match- gets over in 3 hours with thrilling results as against 5 days of boring cricket with impending draws, can be played at night throughout the year(except winters) as against day time which is office going time, is assured of public support again and the possibility of going international as Tendulkar pointed out, grooms captains among players like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan singh etc.

One wonders why anybody would like to watch Test or even one day cricket anymore which in any case used to be watched only when it became interesting(Tests). The TRP ratings say it all- it was a mind boggling 8.2 in the first two weeks, 8 at others and has always been above 5. Shahrukh Khan’s Paanchvi Pass has TRP’s of 4 and serials like Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi TRPs averaged at 5. By all accounts , the IPL is Paanchvi Pass(Five star success) and the way it is going, it won’t be long before it replaces traditional forms of cricket and in the future, we shall say- Kyunki T20 bhi kabhi test/one day thi. Prominent journalists have written about how cheerleaders should be left alone and the moral police should not act as spoilsports; actually it is Test cricket which requires these cheerleaders and I doubt they shall be able to save that form of the game even if they choose to go all the way with their act.

Lalit Modi had also compared an IPL match to an entertaining Bollywood film which is bang on target because it does make a good substitute and is a good alternative. The public support for IPL reminds of the song from one of yesteryear’s greatest Director of Hindi films, the late Mr Manmohan Desai. A song from his film, Roti goes something like this “Yeh tau public hai yeh sab jaanti hai, public hai” . The cricket Administrators should read Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” where there are several examples of company failures(bankruptcy) who fail to read and follow the market forces. That apart, management is about leverage- getting more for less which a 20 over match represents. I don’t think anybody can watch even the best of Bollywood films for five days; Test cricket is basically impractical and outdated.

Though too many matches can sometimes be a case of “Familiarity breeds contempt”, on the whole 20/20 are more practical and enjoyable and should be spaced evenly throughout the year and preferably with countries playing one another. 20/20 should be the rule and not the exception. So much so that the B.C.C.I should stand now for Boring Cricket Curbing Initiatives and convert its name to B.T.T.I- Board for Twenty Twenty in India.
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After writing the above, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in the Times of India that while playing Ranji Trohy, he was used to empty stands but 20/20 had the kind of crowds that could prepare a player for the big picture occasion. Another article stated how families who watched matches in groups are going to miss 20/20. Cricket Adminsitrators should drop other forms of cricket the way Australians drop their cricketers ruthlessly– Saare Niyam tod dau, Test cricket khelna chod do.

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Heart over head;democracy is dead

May 14, 2008

In the Sunday Hindustan Times of May 11,2008, Vir Sanghvi has written in is article “The American President” that whatever be the merit of Barack Obama, Americans are likely to choose republican John McCain as he fits more into the mould of White Anglo sexan protestant which, historically in the recent past, a majority of American Presidents have tended to be. Sanghvi is so sure of this assertion that in his own words he is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

I had read somewhere that Democracy has meaning only in a literate society and in the same vein, American and British democracies were more vibrant. There is some merit in this as we have evidenced how in Bihar Lalloo Yadav ruled Bihar by person and proxy over a period of 15 years without commensurate merit. One can imagine poor, illiterate people casting their vote parochially in favor of their caste or religion without giving a damn to merit but if educated people also allow themselves to follow heart over head, one wonders what is in store in the long run?

Apart from Americans, the emotional element is very much evident in British society where monarchy persists though in this day and age, it is clearly our of vogue. Though South Indians are perceived to be down to earth, it is not too tough for a filmstar to become a prominent politician without any commensurate merit. Heart predominates also because the head does not decide the merit parameters of politicians.

In his Article “to woo UP, Rahul should tie the Dalit knot” of 5/5/2008 , journalist Jug Suraiya says “The proclaimed Yuvraj of the congress party, Rahul should emulate kings and emperors the world over who have used marriage as an instrument with which to forge links with other principalities and powers to help them extend their own domains. “
That’s a new one but may not be a bad idea while the going is good. Had India been a completely literate society, dynasties would never have lasted for four or five generations where American and Russian Presidents cannot stay in power for more than two terms.

It is really strange that people like President Putin of Russia who has given a superb performance in terms of turning around Russia has to think of abdicating power even if technically whereas other politicians can continue without merit on the strength of heart alone. God alone knows when genuine democracy will arise on sheer merit. Democracy seems more dead unless we use more of head.

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Shit to remain fit.

March 8, 2008

I am reasonably sure that many of you are going to think that this is going to be an amusing post. I have to try to make it amusing actually. Many years ago , someone had asked me that the body could function well with some of the body systems not working but which was the one system the malfunctioning of which could start a whole negative spiral which in turn could bring the functioning of the body to a halt. The answer was the excretory system. So, amusment apart, it requires serious introspection.

Some four five years back, my yoga teacher apprised me of a yogic kriya that I was unaware of. It is called laghu shankh prakshalan. He told me that just as a car required servicing twice a year, one was better off with internal cleansing twice a year- at the beginning of winter and summer season. He further stated what I had read in one of Dale Carnegie’s books years back “You get diseases not from what you eat but what is eating you”. The yoga teacher said that in today’s world it was psychosomatic;
could be both ways supplementing each other. Stress could be causing digestion problems and even vice-versa. Reminded me of the percussion instrument dholak which is banged from both sides. Though done through the excretory system, the basic objective is to clean the digestive system. It is also supposed to be very good for a glowing skin. Well as they say in management, one has to go southwards to go northwards

It was quite ardous when I did it for the first time four years back. On an empty stomach, I drank two glases of like warm water with four sets of stretching exercises(10 times each)which were supposed to have a direct effect on the stomach.. One was supposed to repeat this at least three times till one got the call of nature. After the nature’s call, one had to keep repeating this- drinking water, the exercises and the call of nature till the entire system was clean and in the words of the yoga teacher, the final objective was that while flushing the toilet, what was before and after should look the same- clear of all yellowness or whatever.

Now, the amusing part. The yoga teacher told me that for people whose passages were not blocked, the whole exercise could take about a hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at the most. . However this year when I did it, it took almost two hours. This was perhaps the shit’s way of getting back at me. Everyday while playing Tennis, I would say “shit” if my shot was blocked at the net or went out. The shit had perhaps decided to teach me a lesson and took its own sweet time to clear my system. It was perhaps fitting that my shitting was getting back at my hitting(the shots). The half an hour was so tortous that I was thinking of all kinds of things to keep me going- shahrukh and Saif ali Khan’s jokes the previous filmfare awards night to the gorgeous Vidya Balan to balance this strange Vidya. It even reminded me of the words of the brilliant Intellectual J.krishnamurthy “To divide anything into what should be and what is, is the most deceptive way of dealing with life.What is what you are doing, thinking and feeling from moment to moment. One must not go into the opposite or any opposite ideological action as that would be a fictitous desire other than what is. “ While I generally agree with him, I suppose there are exceptions to most rules in life.

Well, finally the moment arrived when cleared of all that was yellow, I was a happy fellow the expression of which was far from mellow. I shouted at my servant in delight to get the khichdi which one is supposed to have after an hour ready. Though the feeling is nowhere near to what one experiences in Vipasana meditation which clams to be a deep surgical operation of the mind and one actually feels dry cleaned from inside, this feels you wet-cleaned from inside. One feels like a new person all right.

How’s that for “From shit to fit” ? For those seriously inclined, one of the best links to this yogic kriya is

Happy shitting

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