February 9, 2011

People come and go, talking about Michelangelo

After reading a friend's status message, "While everyone is going crazy for Talwars' reputation, what about the dignity of those three servants who never got justice in the first place, and the last?" i was wondering does she actually care about Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal or is it another self-righteous rant that we, the Indian middle class, are so good at.

Was busy inflicting my haughty opinion in the comments section when i realised that it is getting too big to fit in, so re-routed the rant on my almost dead blog. So here you go:

The fact is media has robbed "those three servants" of their identity, here also she mentions their generic occupation (servants), not names! Almost everyone who has followed the case knows about Aarushi, Nupur & Rajesh Talwar (heck, few people might even know names of extended Talwar family as well) but how many remember about these three who do not even have names! They are 'accused' inside the court, and 'servants' outside it.
Our fiercely "independent" media shouts the names aloud, people repeat after them.

TS Eliot wrote a long time back,
"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!" -- that's what bharat ki janta is, group of scarecrows standing in a queue, waiting for their respective turns in front of the telly as the Barkhas, Rajdeeps & Goswamis of the world tell them what it is to be an Indian, and a patriot at the same time.

Rant over.

March 10, 2010

Mr Modi, don't take fans for granted!

The way Mr Lalit Modi/BCCI decided to call off the bidding process for the buying new IPL franchises for 2011 season speaks volumes about the unprofessional and haughty mindset that Indian cricket administrators, without any exception, carry.
It's pretty pissing off that at the end of the day, this in-fighting ends up short changing all the stakeholders of the game, more often than not the passionate flag waving fans, and in this case the millionaire investors who would have pumped more money in a game already regarded as "filthy rich".
The BCCI as a body is an assortment of contradictions, held together by few charismatic players who keep on producing magic on the field. Sachin, Dravid, Laxman,Viru are seemingly last of this breed.
None of the batsmen from the "youngistan" brigade have excited me and people like Rohit Sharma keep sending my BP to stratosphere by losing their wicket to more and more supremely idiotic shots. Throughout the 1980s, the West Indies team dominated world cricket like anything and look at them now. They just lost to school boys from Zimbabwe (at home!) and got derided by their captain for "being crap".
This Indian team is nowhere close to what the WI team, led by Clive Lloyd and later Viv Richards, was. The law of averages will catch up with it pretty soon and as one cricket fan sums up at the cricinfo message board, tamashas like IPL will be over:

"Unprofessional and unethical behavior on display again and again. First, was Manohar asleep at the wheel all along and suddenly woke up so that he could throw his weight around? Or did they wake up when they realized that Sahara (from Dalmiya's backyard) was going to be a successful bidder? Having advised Fortune 100 companies in the US on business strategy, I am unsure who is better organized, the BCCI or monkeys in captivity in a zoo - the latter at least adapt to live with each other. And lest we forget, the IPL is an idea and concept borrowed from the ICL who was then hounded out. Indians can do better than throw more money on a sport that will soon turn into a yawn - the day SRT retires, each franchise will lose at least half its value. Modi's contempt for a local fan base is evident from the manner in which he airlifted the IPL to SA - in short, TV revenue is what gets this going not the fans, and that too will fall when SRT retires - we can then watch grown men cry."

February 7, 2010

Where did this Pathan go?

In the just concluded Duleep Trophy final, Yusuf Pathan kicked some serious butt that helped West Zone trounce South! In the same match, Yusuf's half brother Irfan took a laborious five-wicket haul in the first innings and with that he claimed the 300th wicket of his first class career in front of empty stands in Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International stadium.
To me, it was rather sad to see the guy who was hailed as the next Kapil Dev not too long ago, toiling away on a dead wicket, far away from the gaze of national selectors and in this case spectators as well. After all, here is a guy who has been in the public eye for long, has performed when it mattered the most (Man of the match awards in 2007 T20 World Cup final & the Perth Test in the aftermath of ‘Monkeygate’) and has the figures to show that he is better than his nearest competitors.
Irfan Pathan’s batting average (31.57) isn’t too far from that of England’s talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (31.77), while his bowling average (32.26) is a shade better than Freddie’s average of 32.78. Irfan has claimed seven 5-wicket hauls in 22 Tests to Flintoff’s three fivers in 79 Tests. When the British media speaks about Andrew Flintoff it almost borders on reverence but Irfan, somehow, has gone off the radar from India’s cricket crazy fans’ collective consciousness. India has desperately looked for an all-rounder and when on song, Irfan has seemed like an answer to the prayers of a billion strong nation. Yes, he has lost his pace but on ‘helpful’ tracks he can trouble the best in business through his movement whereas when compared to the likes of Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Sudip Tyagi among others, his batting ability is light years ahead.
Irfan needs to be persisted with, especially in longer form of the game where perseverance is as important as ability and pace and bar Zaheer Khan, all of India’s quick bowlers fail the test of patience. Son of a poor Muzzein from Vadodara, Irfan came up till the U-19 circuit the hard way and from then onwards he took the highway before making this unscheduled halt. Irfan last played for India in February 2009, while his last Test appearance was in April 2008 (vs South Africa); he is just 25 and has time on the hand, all he needs is an opportunity. It’s time we look beyond the usual suspects.

July 25, 2009

India Unbound: A review

This blog hasn’t been updated for ages and I was really feeling guilty for not being able to update as frequently as I’d like to. To me, it almost felt as if I’m hoarding precious web space! So this post is more of an outcome of guilt pangs than anything else.
Recently read Gurucharan Das’ ‘India Unbound’ to help a friend in distress with his presentation.
After I was finished I told myself, I really don’t agree with the dude’s out and out capitalistic ideas but as a story teller, that too of a non-fiction tale, this guy is just brilliant.
So here is the review (sort of!)

In ‘Midnight’s Children’, Rushdie wove the story of his main character Salim Sinai with the fortune of the Indian sub-continent and presented a fascinating picture of the region with the help of ‘magical’ characters. Gurcharan Das scales down his canvas and sticks to India but by weaving his biography with the ‘growth story’ of India, Das makes ‘India Unbound’ a great tale of personal memoirs coupled with economic analysis and political scrutiny of a nation.
It’s an honest guide for those who don’t know India and for those who do, Das’s analysis tries to answer the countless dinner table/coffee house debates and arguments they might have had with their peers or family. Why the phenomenon called India never took off? Why we were rich then (before the Europeans came calling), but poor now? Das provides an insight into India’s many successes and its innumerable failures. This is the tale of a self confessed capitalist, a crusader for free markets and anyone who tends to veer towards the left might find this to be ‘pro-America’.
Gurcharan dismisses the economic policies of Government of India before the liberalization of 1991 as some sort of ‘Nehruvian socialism’ which slowed down the ‘Indian elephant’ and helped practices such as licence raj and militant trade unionism thrive. He might be sympathetic to Nehru for sticking on to socialism just after independence but is scathingly critical of Indira, firstly for undoing the farmer reforms brought on by Lal Bahadur Shastri and later for her ‘nationalisation’ drive that covered mines, banks etc.
But he stops shot of being over critical. Das points out that despite being badly governed, India has done well to reach where it is today and for that a host of factors have clicked in India’s favour and that’s where he celebrates India. Political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav are subject of ridicule of most of the Indian bourgeoisie, but Gurcharan points out that it was their ‘caste based polity’ that gave confidence to the ‘backward castes’ to move ahead in the 21st century with the rest of India. He also points out their secular credentials, as to how Lalu never allowed the post-Babri riots, which burned down rest of the country, to spread into Bihar. This however does not vindicate the leaders from the charges of mis-governance, corruption and fallible industrial policies. (Since this book came before Lalu turned around the Railways, it pretty much damns him, and rightly so, for what he has done to Bihar.)
For Gurcharan Das, the opening up of Indian markets in 1991 by the then Finance Minister, now PM, Dr Manmohan Singh is nothing short of an epiphanic moment. The new policies included opening for international trade and investment, deregulation, initiation of privatization, tax reforms, and inflation-controlling measures. The sporadic cases of rags to riches story were expected to become the norm. Stories of Zee Telefilms, Jet Airways, Dr Reddy’s Lab, Ranbaxy are of incredible success, but every success story there is a boom-to-bust story of R Subramanium of Maxforth Orchards infamy, whose entrepreneurial spirit ‘thrilled’ Das when the former’s salesman asked him to invest in the venture (which Das did not!) but whose over-ambitious plans couldn’t withstand the liquidity crunch of the late nineties.
But in India’s context we can claim that more things change, more they remain the same. Despite Gurcharan Das’s optimism that ‘economic liberalisation’ is the solution that will sort out everything that is pulling us back may not be entirely correct. Take for example our literacy levels. Even if we go by the absurd definition followed by the government (ability to sign your name), India’s literacy rate is hovering around the 65% mark [UNICEF data updated till 2007] and which, effectively means that more than three fourths of the country’s male population and above half of the female population is literate. Rest can’t even sign their names.
It’s been 18 years since India ‘opened’ up its markets, and as Das mentions in the updated afterword, between 2002 and 2006 India’s economy grew at an astonishing 8% and he projects that by the year 2025, India’s world product will rise from 6% to 13%making India world’s third largest economy.
But despite so much promise and Das’ lofty projections can we be sure that the growth will be ‘inclusive’. Can we say in that by the year 2025 there will be no more starvation deaths in Orissa’s Kalahandi or anywhere else in India. Das desists from saying so. He says poverty will be reduced to ‘manageable proportions’ and concedes that our weak ‘middle step’ of ‘industrialisation’ while jumping from agrarian economy to a services based one might be a cause of concern.
But despite all that the book is a about celebration of what India was, what is became during era of ‘socialist policies and licence raj regime’ and how it has changed since the liberalisation kicked in. Das informs us [the Generation X/Y, whatever!] that annual revenue of Aurangzeb was “more than ten times” that of his contemporary in France, Louis XIV. He quotes economic historian Angus Maddison to say that, riding on the might of its handloom textile and handicrafts market, India had 22.6% share in World’s GDP and 25% share in global trade in textiles.
In the near future, Das predicts that the ‘Indian elephant’ and the Chinese dragon will dominate global economic in a manner quite similar to how it was before the imperial age. But for that India’s first concern should be to concentrate on basic infrastructure like building highways and setting up local health centre and schools at the grassroots. India cannot fulfil its potential and promise if these basic necessities are neglected. For history to repeat itself a collective effort is required. We cannot break into a sprint with a weak ‘middle step’.

May 17, 2009

Jai Ho Democracy

As predicted the prat has won (after being exonerated by the SC from the NSA charge) with a whopping margin of more than 2 lakh votes! But then his party, BJP, has failed to get a majority which means that India will have a PM for two consecuative terms of 5 yrs for the first time since Pt Nehru.
And wait, despite being a Cong-man the guy ain't from the Nehru-Gandhi family! Am I the only one surprised? But anyway the people of India have givene a mandate and I think like everytime they have got it right. Jai ho democracy!

PS: Can anyone guess what portfolio will Rahul Gandhi get? I'm betting on Rural Development!

March 29, 2009

Nobody can stop Varun Gandhi from winning in Pilibhit

The fact is if somehow Varun is able to creep out of the jail, he will win the Pilibhit seat hands down and that's where saddest part of out democratic system gets highlighted.
Voting right is a powerful tool for the poor and marginalised but what happens when the voter is not educated enough to actually figure out what's right and what's wrong! They make choices that are implicitly forced on them or just done on the basis of instant gratification they receive after ‘Netaji’ trudge down to their house for a quick bite.
The malaise of poverty coupled with illiteracy has made our political set up impotent and has allowed insidious politicians like Lalu, Mulayam, Mayawati and Paswan to create their 'votebanks', a political situation that is milked in India more that anywhere else in the world.
Yes black people voted for Obama because he was from their community and they related to him…but that wasn’t the ONLY reason! Here Lalu is cocky about his MY [Muslim-Yadav] combination while Paswan says if you want a Dalit PM then why not me! I ask, ass look at yourself…you are the only fucker in India who has been a minister with the United Front Govt, the NDA and now the UPA. God forbid but if the Third Front comes to power this time around, you can jot down at least one name who will be in that cabinet.
In this era of coalitions people like Paswan, PMK and Lalu will continue to call the shots with 10-20 odd seats, while people with 30 seats (SP or BSP whoseoever gets lucky in UP) will continue to wield enough power to threaten the Govt at the centre. In the meanwhile rabble rousers like Varun Gandhi, Abu Azmi and Raj Thackeray will continue to win elections by invoking and stoking the hatred for ‘other’ that resides in the hearts of those who haven’t been able to exorcise the ghosts of partition, Babri and Godhra.