Archive for the ‘youth’ Category

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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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New media with/or New Idea

January 16, 2008

Delhi Bloggers and New Media Society had it first meet at a farm in Shivaji Marg on Saturday, 12/1/2008 . I had not heard the word New media before that.

Though new media may be the term for different types of internet enabled communications, the word also brings memories of the recent sledging controversy for which Harbhajan Singh has to face charges for calling Andrew Symonds a monkey. From all accounts, it seems that even if he said that, he must have been provoked by Symonds. Apart from cricket, Australia has been a force to reckon with in Tennis and even hosts one of the four grand slams this time of the year. If sledging were allowed in Tennis, it would create such a funny situation if players were to shout obscenities after every shot or whenever they feel like. In doubles it would be even funnier as the players at the net can really get intense in the exchange of words when they feel like it . It would be even more amusing in sports like wrestling, judo, golf etc. The only reason why the cricketers get away with sledging is that they are not audible; one report even suggested that they deliberately say nasty things when they are away from the stump mikes. If that is correct, another form of “New media” should be introduced; what is to stop the ICC from forcing the players to carry a small microphone(new media) on their person. If that is not embarrassing enough for the players, whoever abuses should be chucked out for ten games straightaway unless we want to permit sledging in the name of “gamesmanship”. This way it can be new society with new media at least on the cricket field. One must appreciate cricket writer Peter Reobock for using the term “ a bunch of wild dogs” for the Australian team and demanding Ricky Ponting’s resignation – that is the gutsy new media of a different kind.

New media also reminds of another issue. Recently, when Amitabh Bachchan’s mother died, both the Times of India and Hindustan Times flashed pictures of a distraught Abhishek and Aishwarya on their front page on the same day. It reminded me of what Mr Bachchan said in an interview some years back” Even if the color of my beard changes, it makes front page news. I don’t know what to do”. In the late seventies and early eighties when Mr Bachchan was the reigning superstar, he replied when asked about the desirability of performing certain roles, “If eight hundred million people want to watch this, what can I do? “ There maybe a point there but I don’t think that the readers of Times of India or Hindustan Times want to know about the personal occasions of filmstars on their front pages. I am sure that represents a tremendous opportunity cost and a tremendous opportunity lost. It would not be out of place to mention here that one journalist even made it to Mr Bachchan’s bedside when he was sick sometime back. Time for introspection, time for new media.

In general, it will be the day when new media follows up on an issue instead of following the policy of “loving them and leaving them” where news stories are concerned. There should be a pending issues section in newspapers where issues for which no solution has been found are continuously displayed. That apart, when any media, whether it is mainstream media or web media, is able to bring about the kind of transparency and accountability in politics that is there in both sports and films ,that would be new media indeed. New media is not just about new technologies but new ideas as well.

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Home Shanti Home

December 25, 2007

Though I should have written this post long back, it kept getting postponed for one reason or another. A week after “Om Shanti Om” was released, a Nigerian friend of mine who had left India way back in 1975 suddenly popped in front of my residence. For a while I thought it was a mistake since we are several families living in a flat system. When he muttered the word “Baba” and his residence number of the seventies, I was able to put two and two together and welcomed him in.

Imagine meeting him after 32 long years. When we had parted ways, I was taller than him and we were of the same built but now, he was much more taller and heftier than me. After the initial exchange of pleasantries , he tried to speak in hindi or whatever he remembered though in 1975, he spoke as well as any Indian. He would speak a few words here and there which sounded funny. He said that he was out of practice but had not forgotten “Zeenat Aman”, “Yaadon ki Baraat” and Amjad Khan of Sholay. Some things are beyond the domain of language. We also remembered how his elder brother, Nuhu would wear goggles and look like Clive Lloyd( West Indies captain on their tour off 1974) and we would run after him shouting “Lloyd”, “LLoyd”

When I took him around the colony and the local club, we remembered our childhood days in the early seventies when we had spent three years together. He was extremely naughty and that gleam in his eyes had not receded over the years. Though a year younger than me, it was he who gave me my first “Sex Education” lesson at the age of nine( He was eight at that time) . Though I did not ask him at that time, I could not help asking him where he had received his sex enlightenment from at such a young age. When he arrived at his old house, he showed me the tall wall between his and the house of an American couple who used to stay there. He said that he had a naughty chowkidaar who used to put him on his shoulders and show the American couple “doing it “ at a certain time in the evening. He said that he learnt both theory and practicals like that. With or without internet, those inclined to learn will learn. Imagine, him coming after a gap of 32 years and telling me all this.

Om shanti Om was a tribute to a movie called Karz which was released sometime in the seventies. In the seventies, there used to be a great commercial movie director,”Manmohan Desai” who used to make films on long lost brothers who would separate as children and unite as adults. The best among them was the Amitabh staarer “Amar, Akbar Anthony”. You may enjoy such films as children but one tends to outgrow these things. Never in my wildest imagination I would have thought that Baba would return after 32 years. As far as I was concerned, he was out of sight, out of mind. I could not have traced him on google as I did not know his real name. He would not have been able to trace me had I not been staying in the same colony at a different place. Brothers or friends, it feels great to be reunited after such a long time. Hindi movies have a logic after all and I should say “Home shanti home”

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Test Cricket or Hit Wicket ?

October 21, 2007

Yesterday(20/10/2007), 20/20 World Champions India won the solitary 20/20 match against one day World Champions Australia which prompted Skipper M.S.Dhoni to declare with an air of conviction, “This proves that the World Cup victory was no fluke”. Considering that India did practically everything right and dominated throughout the match and that too against Australia, one cannot but agree with the captain.

The world cup and this victory should pave the way for a 20/20 revolution in India. Even before the world cup victory, Indian Media baron Subhash Chandra of Zee Telefilms knew what he was doing when, while introducing his India cricket league, he was focusing only on the 20/20 format. He had probably foreseen the potential and the popularity of these kind of matches which were earlier played only in South Africa and England. Even in a typical one day match, the real fireworks begin only in the last one- one and a half hours in most matches. Why not focus only on that? Management is more about leveraging which implies getting more for less and it is high time that the cricketing authorities woke up to popular demand. In a market economy, that is the ultimate arbiter. It is a good thing that the BCCI has announced the Indian premier league and I hope that it proves a death knell for test matches.

Frankly, after watching the 20/20 world cup, the one day matches appeared to be more like Test matches which test the spectator’s patience more than anything else. The first one day international between India and Australia was washed out after the first innings got over. Had it been a 20/20 match, both the innings could have got over and the spectators could have got their money and time’s worth in the first three and a half hours itself. Even from the vagaries of nature point of view, it is better.

One strange complaint often repeated about cricket that it brings the whole country to a standstill and people don’t work which is also shown in the recent, wonderful movie on cricket, “Iqbal”. If a 20-20 match beings at 6 pm, it can still finish around 10 pm and resolve any such complaints. It would then be like watching a movie which would prove to be a very good alternative form of entertainment apart from taking care of work-life balance.
Much before India started playing 20/20 in the world cup, I had suggested in another forum in an article on “Lateral thinking in cricket” that since one-day cricket was far more popular( which is why the current Australia-India test series has no test), there could be a best of five or best of three one day matches at each playing centre instead of test matches. Now I feel that only 20/20 should reign. It may seem now but one can even have two matches in one day which would be so much better than boring test matches which tend to put people off to sleep. It is quality and not quantity that matters.

Though cricketers are of the view that Test match is the real cricket, the contest between the bat and the ball, the contest of both mind and body, I have always believed that one day cricket is another type of test. In test cricket, stamina and endurance are tested but here temperament, quick thinking and pure stroke play is tested, which, like alacrity in fielding, may not be every cricketer’s cup of tea. In one interview, Dhoni admitted that 20/20 drains both the mind and the body because of its intensity. It is like an exam where one has to finish the paper within a given timeframe and therefore cricketers have to be on their toes all the time.

Only genuinely good cricketers can do well in both forms of the game- Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar have scored 34 and 37 centuries respectively in Test cricket but in one day cricket, Gavaskar has only one century against Tendulkar’s 40 centuries. The difference in class is obvious. Even considering the fact that Gavaskar played only 108 one day matches, considering his stature, he should have scored at least 10 in one dayers. That apart, since he is an opening batsman, there is no excuse for not performing well in the one dayers which to my mind is equally real cricket on different parameters and considering the fact that the world cup is played in one dayers and now 20/20. What is real can change with the times and preferences of people..

Since I grew up on Gavaskar, I was a great fan of his but in the context of instant cricket, one can only say that while one can appreciate his phenomenal powers of concentration or the Wall Rarhul Dravid’s longevity on the wicket, would one want to spend one’s time and money to see all that? Tennis star Martina Navratilova had once said in the context of concentrating “ I just concentrate on concentrating” and that is what happens in a test match which is more like an art movie and one has to have good concentration to appreciate Gavaskar’s concentration. On the other hand, in a 20/20 match, concentration is spontaneous and is there straight from the word go when one is assured of Dhoni or Yuvraj’s blitzkrieg by one cricketer or another While comparing, former captain Kapil Dev correctly pointed out “Who would want to see a one day match when one can get more from three and a half hours than what one gets in eight?”.

I would extend the same philosophy to test matches which are no match for 20/20 where return on time and money is concerned. I read in an article that one of the persons instrumental in starting test cricket was a man of wealth who did not have to work for a living. No wonder they are so long. Contrast that with today’s world where even a genuine connoisseur of the game cannot sit through the whole test match unless he is retired. Consider the opportunity cost. If there is even a best of three 20/20 matches at each centre, it will not only ensure more cash collections for the BCCI, but ensure adequate return on time and money for the spectators. If it rains, the rest days in between can be utilized to fill up the gap rather than watching boring test matches being washed out which can be even more irritating. Considering their disadvantages, they are bound to die a natural death anyway.

I read somewhere that since around 60 countries play hockey and around 160 play chess(recently Vishwanathan Anand also became world champion), as only 20 countries play cricket, being world champions in cricket is not that great an achievement. While I do not entirely agree with that, I do feel that the 20/20 format because of the time element and excitement is more suited to getting other countries interested in cricket and who knows, in the era of globalization, cricket may prove to be a prime example. Who better to promote all that than India, current champions and a nation where cricket is passionately followed. Even from an international perspective, it is better.

One can always have one test match instead of three to satisfy the puritans just the way there is a critics award and a popular award. As for job satisfaction of the cricketers, 20/20 could be made tougher to make it commensurate with a test match. Some cricketers even say that if one has a good technique, one can do well in any form of the game. If true, they should not crib about 20/20. The most ridiculous argument that I have heard against 20/20 is that sixes will lose their novelty if they are hit so frequently. I don’t think that “familiarity breeds contempt” applies here’ Yuvraj hitting six sixes in an over is a case in point. Sixes have improved in degree(they are really huge now) and frequency and one can never have enough of them. The cricketers can be encouraged to play with technique and could be given special recognition so that both them and the “cricket buffs” among the spectators are satisfied. It could be a win-win situation for all.

Another criticism leveled against 20/20 is that it is too much against tradition; it is too unorthodox. In my view, that is what makes it appealing and successful and coincidentally happens to be the reason behind Reliance’s phenomenal corporate success- ‘Being unconventional is the biggest convention in Reliance.'(For those interested in details, my published article- Thinking out of the box). It would not be out of place to mention here that there used to be a Bollywood movie in the late seventies called “Khubsoorat” which had actress Rekha singing a song “Saare Niyam tod do(Break all the rules), Niyam pe Chalna Chod do( Forget convention)”. That is what 20/20 represents and that is what makes it new and appealing(lkhubsoorat)

There are some people who will argue just for the sake of argument but the fact remains that continuing to play more tests when the same time could be used for 20/20 is a huge opportunity cost and opportunity lost especially when we are proving to be so good at it. Test matches should played the way art films are made- more an exception than the rule. Now, it seems that the one day matches strike the right balance.

Former England Captain Nasir Hussain had said before we won the world cup “Cricket being so popular in India, with millions playing gully cricket, India is bound to do well in 20/20 ”. Every person plays to his strengths. So should every nation, especially one in which Cricket is deemed a religion and which has a spiritual legacy. Spirituality implies impermanence and non-attachment which now needs to be practiced with Test cricket. Not doing so would be like shooting oneself in the foot or in cricketing parlance, getting out hit wicket, a situation which does not augur well for Wold Champions. Arriving can prove tougher than striving and we should try and sustain our success instead of it being a one time “flash in the pan” affair. We ned to focus where we excel and towards test matches, we must adopt the attitude of “chuck(leave)de, India”

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Who watches the watchdog?

September 7, 2007

Today it came in the papers how Sachin Tendulkar had to repeatedly clarify that he was not contemplating retirement because of the controversy sparked by his one statement ,” At 34, it is difficult to recover after a one day match” . The report said that how some Marathi newspaper stated he was contemplating requirement and then how he, the manager Rajiv Shukla and Rahul Dravid described the report as completely false. What a waste of energy!. About a couple of months ago, it happened with Saurav Ganguly. I don’t remember what the issue was but in the end Mr Ganguly was telling the journos ,”I can understand that there is tremendous competition in the media but at least you should have checked with me. I was just a phone call away”

In recent times, the Jessica lall case is one case where one can really be proud of the media. One wonders why it has to resort to all this. I was in Rajkot about a month and a half back where I asked a very reliable source about the case of Pooja Chauhan who had roamed the streets of that town half clad to protest against dowry. While there is some element of truth in the story, we learnt that someone from the media encouraged her to do that. That’s being really proactive.

When I read Hindustan times editor MR Vir Sanghvi’s lucid articles and a lot that is written in newspapers and magazines, one really wonders whether the so called communication revolution can bring about a change for the common man or is it all a sham or intellectual fun.? There were so many articles about the common people favoring Abdul Kalam continuing as President and even the fact that had there been a direct contest, Mr Kalam would have won hands down. Yet, the elected representatives were able to thwart democracy or the voice of the people. How is then, the common man any better off than his ancestors with all the communication hullabaloo ? Even Internationally, Mr Bush went ahead with the Iraq war with practically the whole world against him.

Now, the Times of India has started a leadership lead India campaign. They are encouraging young people who “have it in them” to apply. One of the surveys says that a majority of people believe in honesty as a trait. That is obvious but if I shout from the rooftops how I honest I am, after the way Satyameva Jayate failed, is it going to make a difference?. How does one monitor honesty while the person is in office. Going by the old saying “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” and the fact that the future is not always an extension of the present, how can one ensure that somebody continues to be honest. How does one judge the honesty and competence of politicians ?.

Instead of running after Sachin and Saurav, the media should also report why the board President is not appointing a CEO to run cricket affairs as promised. It is strange that Sachin is accountable to Mr Pawar and the nation for a poor world cup performance but nobody bothers about how the board or its President performs. That is why we have only symbolic presidents (Pratibha means talent in Hindi) instead of performing Presidents( Mr Abdul Kalam)

A day after(8/9/2007) writing this post, it came in the papers that the sting operation on Delhi govt school teacher Uma Khurana maybe a fraud. This only vindicates what is written in the post above. Then during the last one day international between India and England, Sachin Tendulkar was again given out when he did not seem to be so. What is use of technology and the third umpire then? That is also kind of media and one is not proactive when one supposed to be.

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Stop harrasing Hussain, it is high time; Artists should be prudent whether they paint or rhyme.

August 3, 2007

This is in reference to Mr Shashi Tharoor’s article “It’s time to stop harassing M F Hussain” in the Sunday times of India on 29/7/2007. I think this is his third article on the subject where he keeps defending Mr Hussain’s independent right as an artist to keep portraying Hindu gods and goddesses in a naked form. Recently, we also had some controversy where some artist from a design college in Gujarat was also condemned for the same reason in sculpting.
Sometime ago, Mr Vir Sanghvi, the editor of Hindustan times had expressed the view that freedom of expression was all very well but it entailed a sense of responsibility. One may express himself artistically on touchy issues but did it have to be there for public consumption?

I can’t help but agree more with Mr Sanghvi. The first prime minister of India, Mr Jawaharlal Nehru had expressed his displeasure on religion because of the kind of violence that had taken place in the past in the name or organized religions and the fact that it was contrary to what they preached. When there are so many things to choose from, why choose something that is bound to arouse controversy unless it was started with some ulterior motive in mind. From a practical perspective, it is deemed that no publicity is bad publicity.

Though not much of a poet, I started my poetic career in making silly limericks on issues and things. Then I gradually graduated to poetry on other people’s wives apart from my own ( one has to lose the battle to win the war.). Just as bunking school which was more stringent gave more thrill than bunking college, writing poems on forbidden fruit was more challenging This is an example of my “artistic expression”:-

When your husband goes abroad

I happen to be quite good at spur of the moment Hindi limericks. Needless to mention, initially the ladies were delighted and my thrill knew no bounds on receiving handsome compliments. However, for all their spontaneous responses, I never got a request for an encore after the first two or three narrations. For a while I was perplexed but it soon dawned on me that sooner or later, the husbands( hasna band) were bound to intervene. I could understand their plight because for all practical purposes, I was one myself. All good things have to come to an end and my poetic initiative could not but have a premature end

Mr Tharoor, in his previous articles had expounded on the virtues of what is called “reasoned argument” but one only needs vested interest and a good imagination to circumvent that. In my case :-

1) My friends knew that most of my poetry on their wives was frivolous and there was not anything remotely romantic in them.

2) My friends also knew that I wrote “serious serious” articles on intellectual matters in spiritual/ intellectual/ HRD magazines and was therefore “safe”.

3) Dale Carnegie had mentioned once how one’s spouse and one’s occupation were the two most important decisions of one’s life. Since I have already written almost 15, articles on the latter( links on my blog – http://mypyp.wordpress.com/ ) and practically nothing on the former( I am glad my wife has not read Dale Carnegie), one can assume that for me, spouse/spouses were on the backburner.

4) One Punjabi gentlemen had once asked me “ Do you Gujarati men address your wives also as “ben”. I refuted that strongly and after spouting a spur of the moment limerick on his wife told him “ We may not call them “ben” but this is just to show you how can we can address the real ben(other people’s wives) if we choose to. Then, I resolved to improve this absurd “ben” image of Gujaratis and set out to narrate poetry on other people’s wives with a vengeance.

5) By a process of serendipity, I discovered that my silly rhyming was acceptable when, once in a blue moon, I managed to write somewhat “classy” poems on spirituality, cricket etc accepted by some reputed
websites. One sample:-

The legacy of September 11,2001

Since practicing rhyming on the ladies had led to all this “achievement”, I could argue that it was all for a noble cause.

6)It is said that “God punishes the intention, not the action”. Apart from the above, I give vent to my artistic expression on all sorts of subjects- from the ball boys on the Tennis court to the delicious cooking. I may make poetry on someone who I may not attractive enough but whose name rhymes well and vice versa.It is not difficult to prove that it is the love of poetry or more specifically, the delight of rhyming and as long as the motives are noble, nobody has any business getting perturbed.

In my view, not even a lawyer can refute these “reasoned arguments” though they sound more like the devil quoting the scriptures for his purpose.. The fact remains that no matter how “civilized” we get, in our heart of hearts “A human being is still a creature of emotion, not logic”; The ladies expression of spontaneous delight did me in because sooner or later, the husband’s ego was bound to be hurt. One of them did try to give me a dose on my own medicine and would have succeeded but for the fact that god did not deem it fit to confer the art of even lousy poetry on every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Being a writer, Mr Tharoor would do well to heed Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “

“A writer almost always presents one aspect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than seven points of view, all of which are probably correct by themselves, but not correct at the same time and in the same circumstances. “ Though this is written in the context of motives of people who write books, it is generally true as well. Talking in the context of looking at a thing from a different standpoint in different circumstances, Gandhiji adds “All my life though, the very insistence on truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise.”. He even described this spirit as an essential part of Satyagraha.

The liberals can go on arguing in the name of freedom of expression but the fact remains that when one can move on to greener pastures(women, children, nature), why restrict oneself to touchy issues? In a country of a billion people, there are plenty of anonymous Greek gods and goddesses who could do with some limelight. Just as Mr Hussain had an obsession with Madhuri Dixit once upon a time, he would probably get more money and job satisfaction on revealing unknown talent. The twenty first century is as it is expected to be stress prone and there is no point in being provocative on sensitive issues. If you put your hand on top of a candle, won’t you get burnt?

Mr Tharoor is bang on target on one issue though. He says towards the end of the article that in his old age, Hussain is forced to live in exile and not allowed to return to the land of his birth because of the threats to his life. For a religion that prides itself on tolerance, this is despicable. He is not a naughty young poet after all.