Here, I intend to write what comes to my mind about India. This could be about anything, politics, religion, movies or remote happenings. Feel free to check this blog for updates, who knows some could be of some interest to you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

India vs India

I couldn't think of any other title when I write about the war between the cricket leagues(Indian Cricket League-ICL and Professional Cricket League-PCL) being formed in India and they cannot have better leaders to lead the battle (Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar). This will be interesting to watch than any of the matches played by the team.

I am happy about the formation of these:

  • The false association of patriotism with the game will fade away and hopefully it will be seen as just a game. It will set the importance of the game's position amongs other games right.It is sad that now the common man, next to the Indian Army, considers the Indian cricket team as the pride of the nation and as the ones who hold the Indian flag high.
  • This will bring to light more talents and stars which earlier used to fade out before being noticed
  • Break the monopolistic behaviour of the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI)
  • Bring more opportunities to retired cricketers and reduce the involvement of people who are miles away from the game.
  • Make the cricketers millionaires to billionaires
  • Popularize 20/20 form of the game and thus saving a lot of viewers time that is SPENT in watching either 8 hours or 40 hours versions of the game.
  • Roll-in MORE money into the game. In fact, the whole chain of events is all nothing but a media-war. The root-cause lies in the tussle of broadcast rights between Zee network and BCCI.

And every coin has a flip side. There could be a few risks:

  • Our dear politicians could pounce on the opportunity and completely colour the field with party poilitics
  • Betting and match-fixing could increase as more money is involved
  • Cricketers could easily be manipulated to speak and work against the interest of the game
  • Use of performance enhancing drugs could creep in to meet the competiotion

Indian cricket is getting more interesting off the field than on the field which in the past few years is nothing unusual.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

(In)tolerance of expression

The physical attack on Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad made me think about the deteriorating tolerance amongst Indians for the expression of others. Or is it so...? Let me consider a small list of recent incidents :

  • Andhra MLAs, 20 MIM(Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen)activists manhandle Taslima Nasreen.

  • Neeraj Jain of VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), barged into the fine arts department of Vadodara's Maharaja Sayajirao University, vandalised paintings that weren't even up for public exhibition but meant for internal assessment.

  • M F Husain's gallery in Ahmedabad was vandalised by the VHP and Bajrang Dal, part of a chain of events that forced one of India's greatest living artists to live abroad in exile.

  • Information and broadcasting ministry issues periodic bans on TV channels like AXN and FTV.

Can you spot one common thing in all the above incidents which I've picked at random at different points in time? Each of these news item is attached to some political faction. We don't see any news either in television or the dailies where the general public has initiated a protest against some form of art. This is truly encouraging.
We know that all (no exceptions here) political parties and extremists group live on and wait for such opportunities to gain popularity. The sincerity of these protests are understood by us without any specific mention. Truly, these are entertainment and mere entertainment to me a momentary highlight on these groups and we forget them soon.

On the other side, I have seen that these incidents has benefited the victims on a long term. Salmaan Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, MF Hussein, Mallika Sherawat and FTV just to quote a few would have been less popular without such incidents in their career.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Vishy - The unsung Indian emperor of the 8 X 8 matrix

For 20 years the growth curve is upwards, no points to guess that it's not about the performance of the Indian cricket team. Oh! it could be true for the growth of the assets of the cricketers but I am talking about the performance of Viswanathan Anand the super achiever who has silently conquered the world of chess. As I write this blog, he is holding the FIDE (World Chess Federation) Rank#1.

How many of his wins have appeared on the front page of the Indian dailies? How many of the Indian cricket losses have not appeared on the front pages?Of course, I understand that there is a difference between a team game and an individual's brilliance. We must accept the fact that the cricket TEAM is also a group of brilliant individuals who fail to work together.

I remember it (the news snippets) so well like yesterday when he landed in India after becoming the World Champion, it was just about 50 people in the airport. About a couple of dozens cheering him the next day or when there was a celebration procession in Chennai with him in an open horse drawn charriot. I don't have to remind anyone of the crowd and security that throngs cricketers whether they win or loose.

I would like to highlight A FEW of his achievements which just went past in time even without many of us even realizing:

  • 1984-85 - Asian Junior (under 19) Championships - Earned the title of International Master at 15, the youngest Asian to achieve this distinction

  • 1987 - World Junior Chess Championship - First Asian to win the World Junior Title

  • 1987- Became India’s first Grandmaster and the Youngest Grandmaster in the World at that time

  • 1989 - 4th International Games Festival, France (Veterans vs. Youth Tournament) - A special triumph in beating 2 former World Champions, Mikhail Tal and Boris Spassky

  • 1990 - Manila Chess Interzonal, Manila - Placed 3rd and became 1st Indian to qualify for Candidates Matches leading up to the World Championships

  • 1991 - Beat Alexey Dreev to be the first Asian to qualify for the Quarter Finals of the World Championship

  • 1992 - Alekhine Memorial (Category 18), Moscow - Won the tournament ahead of Karpov. Attained a 2700 rating, only the 8th person ever to do so in the World

  • 1994 - Melody Amber Tournament, Monaco - Won ahead of stalwarts like Karpov, Kramnik, Ivanchuk

  • 1994 - PCA Grand Prix, Moscow - Won ahead of Kasparov

  • 1995 - World Championship, World Trade Center, New York - Lost the match after a see-saw 3rd week. First Asian to play the World Championship. Attained the World No. 2 position in the PCA Ranking list

  • 1996 - Credit Swiss Rapid Chess Grand Prix, Geneva - Beat World Champion Garry Kasparov in the final.

  • 1997 - 6th Melody Amber Tournament, Monaco - Finished overall first, and individually first in blindfold and rapid. . The first player in the history of the tournament to do so.

  • 1997 - Exhibition against 6 computers at the Aegon Man Vs Computers chess event. - Won 4-2 - One of the few players to play 6 computers simultaneously and win.

  • 1998 - Torneo International De Ajedrez, Linares - Won the strongest tournament ever, in the history of chess.

  • 1998 - Viswanathan Anand wins the Chess 'Oscar' for 1997 !

  • 1998 - "Siemens Nixdorf Duell",Frankfurt - Won the strongest rapid tournament of all time

  • 1999 - Anand wins the coveted Chess Oscar for the second straight year!

  • 2000 - FIDE World Championships, Teheran and New Delhi - Beat Alexei Shirov in the Final (3.5 - 0.5) to add the Crown Jewel to a glittering career and ascend the very pinnacle of game.

  • 2003 - 12th Amber Chess Tournament, Monte Carlo - Became the first player ever, to win 3 unshared titles beating Kramnik's record of 2 unshared and 2 shared titles.

  • 2004 - Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Won his 2 major titles on successive Sundays by beating Alexei Shirov 4.5 - 2.5, to don the Black Jacket for the 4th straight year. Anand has now been Champion at Mainz an amazing 7 times in total.

  • 2005 - Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Took the title for the 5th year in a row, by beating Alexander Grischuk 5-2 in the Final, in an utterly dominant and professional display

  • 2006 - Corus Chess Tournament, Wijk Aan Zee - Made history by becoming the only player ever to win this tournament a record 5 times! Anand beat Boris Gelfand in his final round game to share top honours with Veselin Topalov. Anand was however awarded the trophy for having won more games with the black pieces. This win also gave Anand a vital 13 ELO points taking his ELO rating to 2805, thereby crossing the magic 2800 ELO point marker, a summit achieved before by only Kasparov, Kramnik and Topalov

  • 2006 - Grenkeleasing World Rapid Championship, Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Beat Radjabov twice on the final day to win his 6th Title in a row at Mainz, his 7th in succession and his 9th Classic win overall, setting a record that is unlikely to be surpassed.

  • 2006 - Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament, Moscow - Anand scored a whopping 23 points out of a possible 34 and won 11 out of 17 mini-matches to claim the strongest Blitz tournament in the history of the game, beating his nearest rival, Levon Aronian of Armenia by a comprehensive 2 point margin.

  • 2007 - Morelia-Linares Super Grandmaster Chess Tournament, Linares - Took and early lead and hung onto it right upto a final draw with Vassily Ivanchuk, to not only take the Title at Linares for the first time since 1998 but also to take the FIDE World No.1 Ranking for the very first time ever!
While the media was busy chasing the money machines Indian Government did recognized his mastery early and did not miss to honour him.

Vishy is a great example of silent success, a person who believes in performance and not publicity. I am sure his records will set the bar high for the game and also inspire the younger generations. His story is of a normal Indian middle class school kid achieving the sky just through hard work, parental support and encouragement of close ones.

Looks like he is just in the middle of his career and will not stop until he tests the limits of limits.

Good Luck Vishy !!


Wah Taj...

No wonder it's a wonder. No one can dispute the fact that its a moon on earth...

I am getting poetical, why not, the very sight of this marvel can turn a dud like me to Wordsworth. I had visited the Taj a couple of years back, a dream I had since childhood.

By now, you must be wondering why I titled this post as 'NO VOTE...' ? It's just to make sure that I have the Taj to visit after a few decades too, to make sure that we have the Taj for coming generations too to admire.

We have seen terrorist threats to the Taj in the recent past and earlier too. The threats are because its a world wonder. A sore in the eye of destructive minds. The moment it enters the list of 7 wonders, the threat will increase. Am I scared of terrorists, no, I am scared of losing the fragile beauty. No technology can re-construct it. As Navjot Sidhu would say, 'It's better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent'.

This is just one of the reasons, the second is because I think we(Indians) are not as keen and serious in taking care of the monument as much as we are keen on winning the race to enter into the top-7 wonders. Yamuna on which's banks the Taj glows is now almost an industrial drainage. Not many know how important the health of the river is for the survival of Taj Mahal not aesthetically but scientifically. There are some architectural reasons behind it. I have seen permanent inscriptions by our modern Shah Jahans who visit the Taj expressing their love on the floor/walls (I am sure and hope long back and not anymore) of Taj Mahal.

Finally, VOTE, I think we must learn to vote right at the right moment to the right people than just participate and jump into the bandwagon of 'yes' votes. I am pointing to the current government that is ruling the state of Uttar Pradesh where Taj Mahal is. The CM, Mayawati was accused and almost proved guilty on the Rs.175 crore Taj corridor case, which like all other high profile accusations died a natural death.

All these made me decide not to vote to make our beloved Taj as one of the 7 wonders.

Let us all make sure we preserve and protect it so that the world for a long time to come have an opportunity to say......वाह ताज (wah Taj!)....

India's next president

March this year, I wrote that Narayan Murthy of Infosys as my favourite as next president. Subsequently, his response to the question on why he did not play the national anthem in Infosys made me change my mind. I would never vote for a person who wants to downplay his national anthem for the convenineance (perceived) of foreign guests. In whichevere country this happens, its not good. Though my Utopian earth is a single nation without any boundaries dividing it; until then, every one must respect their own nation and others too.

Coming to the contest between Prathiba, Bairon and Kalam.

In the same blog post mentioned above I wrote that Kalam's potential must not be wasted by staying in the post for the second term. Today, he has bailed out of the fray which I am happy about. Long back, he came up with suggestions for a few states to improve and a vision 2020. I think he must work on it and try to take it forward. With the admiration and respect he has won, the whole nation will back him for any such effort.

I had heard of Bairon Singh Shekawat as the VP and a little before that and Prathiba was someone whom I had not heard of until 3 weeks back. I know it's not popularity which is needed for presidentship else it'll be Amitabh or Shah Rukh Khan who'll occupy the chair without any doubt.

If India wants to claim to have a woman president before the mighty US had one, then it's an opportunity. Again, is this what we look for? Are we in a race to set records with the post of a president? Do we have any eligibility criteria otherwise? What is the roles and responsibilities of a President? It's the country's supreme seat, the emperor throne. I think a lot must go into it.

I am not comfortable with the pattern being followed for filling the position.

1. KR Narayanan - dalit minority*
2. Abdul Kalam - Muslim minority*
3. Prathiba (probable so far)- woman*

* I hold my opinion about the reservation system, I might blog about it later.

Is the post being politicized ? Next, will it be rotated amongst each caste, religion, state or any other classification in the country? Is it healthy?

Have we lost the ability to identify the likes of great statesmen who occupied the seat earlier?

Have we changed our minds?

Are we in the right path?

A sensation called Sivaji

Honestly, I don't know of one south Indian who doesn't like Rajni(kanth), some may not be a fan of his but they don't hate him too. It's mainly becaus most of his movies are simple, entertaining, which has good action, comedy, drama ending with a 'good over evil'.

As everyone says, this must be the maximum publicized, highest budgeted movie so far in India.

It was a kind of frenzy here in Bangalore for a week after the release of this movie. I did not seeany other discussion happening in public places and in office water cooler points other than about this movie.

It must be a scary month to the people who've invested in the movie. They definitely would have done their home-work but the Indian box-office is just like the Indian cricket team, you never know... If it succeeds it's a jackpot if it flops you are on the streets. Biggest bet ever for most or all of them, maybe for both Rajni and Shankar too.

Couple of first hand comments I got from people who watched the movie are:


'Good one for Rajni's fans'

'Good to watch once'

I am yet to hear what I expected.

I have not watched it yet, and I will post my comments once I watch it.

I leave a few stats I found on the web to mull upon for now:

Releasing worldwide in 27 countries on same day with about 2900 theatres. (Earlier Record-- Krrish in 14 countries in 1200 theatres).

India -2200 theatres China-211 theatres Japan-130 theatres Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong-100 theatres Saudi Countries-100 theatres USA-80 theatres UK-70 theatres And this release is only behind Casino Royale which is released in 36 countries in 3200 theatres.

Rajnikant's Remuneration in his last 3 movies: Baba----20 crores Chandramukhi-----25+ crores Shivaji-----40+ crores Rajnikant is only behind Jackie Chan in terms of remuneration in Asia.

This movie is planend to be dubbed in local language of Turkey, Gonga(tribal language of South Africa) and Kshinola( Tribal language of Argentina)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Beating a dead snake (Indian cricket team)


India had a shameful exit from the cricket world cup in just the first round. The media is full of criticism of the team, the individuals (ex-heroes) of the team, the coach, selection process and what not. Some of the cricketers' private property were damaged. The same properties were seen as temples just a couple of weeks earlier. Poojas performed for the success of the 11 gods (Indian team).

In the country, cricket is news and money, good or bad. Its like, as they say 'Love it or hate it but you cannot ignore it'.

This team had lost even before they started from India. There's nothing surprising about it. Just because it's our national team doesn't mean that it must win the cup. The championship is for champions and we all know that we don't have a champion team, so why do we beat this snake now when it had died long back. In past several months the Indian team occupied the headlines for every reason other than the game.

Spare the players, they are just a part of a bigger conspiracy. Ad campaign, selection committee, betting racket are the major players. It's difficult to digest the fact that we exited so soon losing against much inexperienced teams like Bagaladesh. There are lessons to learn, never take your opponent lightly. Everyday is a new day, be sensitive to the regional beliefs while imposing forign tactics (Chappell), be yourself and don't try to mimic others (Dravid) and much more...

It's time Indians put Cricket at it's right place, ignore it for a while and see it as just another game. It is a good time to promote games like football, hockey, tennis and athletics and grab public-interest and the money enjoyed by cricket all these years.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Narayan Murthy as President of India

Today I read in a news paper if I am not wrong it's Shoba De's column where she had suggested of Infosys chief mentor Narayanmurthy as next president.

I think it's a good idea. I have a few reasons:

1. Abdul Kalam's potential as a scientific research leader can be tapped still, as a President for the second term I think his knowledge will not be used efficiently later he will be quite old to be more effective.

2. I don't support the idea of the Big B occupying the first citizen's seat. I admire him for his talent, his perseverence and the way he bounced-back and is considered the face of India. But still I don't see him clean enough for a President.

3. Narayanmurthy is known to be frank, clean and at times a little blunt with his articulation. Now that he is retiring and his instincts will not, its good to put that to a better use. His neutral (or cat on the wall) stand on politics will also help him as he is still not alligned to any party. All the more, when IT has made India the beacon on the world map, his contribution was not small. He deserves a Bharath Ratna too for it.

Unless I see a better candidate he will be the next able President according to me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dog killing spree in Bangalore

Just to set the context: Bangalore had a few cases of children mauled to death by stray dogs. Based on the reports (facts), the corporation has increased and is working day and night to capture and put to sleep as many dogs as possible. They are also working on closing down butcher shops without permits which act as fast foods for the stray dogs.

I was wondering if this is a long term soultion? Not at all. This is a quick fix.

1. Assembly elections are close by and long term plans never impressed(understood) by masses.
2. When it is a debate on human vs other species our decisions are always biased - naturally.

Bangalore has always lived with a great number of dogs for dog years. Its my strange observation that its just in this city that I see that dogs live and move in packs. Average-5, I can say. I have seen groups of 12 to 15 dogs and another peculiarity they had (not much anymore) is the dogs here climb walls and prefer to walk on it than on the roads.

Few years ago the corporation stopped (credit goes to various NGOs) killing them andinstead sterilized. The population still is growing, thanks to our efficient garbage disposal planning and hygenic food services available in every street corners. Free food, in abundance good climate lots of chics around, even I would multiply like rabbits/cockroaches.

Reading my comments will depict me as tilted towards anti killing. Yes, I am. I hate to see dogs being caught and killed but I will support if there is an epidemic of some sort (say bird-flu/rabies, etc) but this is not so. The law written for human in this country says that 'everyone is innocent until proven guilty' and even proven cases of terrorists and homicides walks away without capital punishment. The same country is trying to target and execute all the members of a species where there were isolated incidents.

This is the same mentality that causes incidents like Godhra and other community targetted violences.

We must step back and think of a long term solution to this problem than quick-fixes. I see:

1. Eductation
2. Good garbage management
3. Strict food inspection and permit system
4. Sterilization of dogs

as some good workable (difficultly enforcable) solutions but no pain no gain. If we are not ready to sweat let's stop dreaming of greater Bangalore, shanghai plans, singapore tidiness, etc. They are just fiction for us.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

TATA Corus takeover

Fantastic TATA camp, congratulations India.

This takeover is generally seen as the second geat steel takeover by India in this financial year. People miss out the fact that Mittal Steel is not an Indian company though Lakshmi Mittal is a proud Indian (we are proud of him too). So the real biggest takeover is this, the Corus by TATA.

It is really a proud moment for the nation to have won a stiff competition in an international market. There's a doubt if TATA paid a bit more than the worth but knowing the management efficiency and undoubtable track record of TATAs we can be assured of this to be a success.

It is also a moment for India to think why we exapnd and such acquisitions happen. TATA could as well have invested the money in India and expanded. This would have increased employment and overall money circulation.

A few questions for understanding such acquisitions...

Is it because the work force is too complicated in India?
Is it because the necessary skills is not available here?
Is it because we have a long entangled red-tape blocking fast impementation of any plan that people look out?
Is it because India does not have enough infrastructure to support such an expansion?
Is it because they are looking out for just another location in the world with adequate capacity to serve the market?

Who's going to answer these...?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shilpa - Celebrity Big brother

If I see it just as a competiton which was finally won by a fellow citizen, I must congratulate Shilpa for it. But, what is the competition all about? What is the skill/talent that was tested in this competition? Some of the questions I couldn't answer myself. If I get it right, its about celebrities living completely under the camera for 3 weeks and sharing living space. It's funny to note that this concept has become so populor. I am very sure that with Shilpa's victory this will inspire similar programs both at regional and national level TV channels, one of them I guess is the Big Boss recently won by a one-movie star Rahul Roy.

The racist row - Jade Goody's behaviour and other things that followed greatly helped Shilpa's chances. I am sure it wouldn't have been easy to be there facing the situation all alone for Shilpa afterthe celebrity life-style that she's used to back in India. Though a few days it must've been a good experience for her to remember for a life time.

Whatever the reason, its celebration time for Shilpa and I hope her experience will help in improving her acting skills.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Republic Day & telecast

Our republic day is a spectacle that I always don't miss. It's a great display of India's ability to organize such an event every year consistently. This is not as easy a job as it sees on TV for acouple of hours. It almost takes a year long planning and execution added to it is the security concerns.

Every year when I see the tabs and different regiments march it makes me feel good and proud. I was lucky enought to be there as a spectator twice. Watching the parade live despite the weather and security checks the amplification of pride and thrill in being there is manyfold.

The DD coverage is generally criticized and this year I watched the telecast by CNN-IBN and NDTV. It made me consider DD the best when it comes to commentory. In fact I didn't like the NDTV's interview running parallel to the parade commentory as most of the things discussed were disappointing, pessimistic negative thoughts. It could be genuine as they are thoughts from distinguished achievers but I don't think RD parade is a place for it. The media must understand the intellect level of the audience of any program while they plan for it.

CNN-IBN had an innovative way, they ran a parallel quiz for scholl children on India which was both interesting and informative.

It's good to have private players taking on the telecast of the parade as consumers benefit out of their technological superiority and it will also force DD to improve their standards. I am sure the viewership will also increase and thus getting more sponsors and money. If I let my imagination wander, someday we can even have a ticker at the bottom of the screen saying 'This regiment is sponsored by XXX' and hope it will not go to the extent of the marching troops pinning the labels of sponspors on their sleeves and the tabs, tanks and Sukhois painted with the sponsors brands.

There were a few disturbing observations on the regional celebrations. It's sad to know that it was just 150 people in Srinagar's parade and Gauwhati had less than 100 including the officials. It's not a good sign at all. We cannot accept it as a celebration when the security guards are more than the participants in any place. The state must take it as serious as I feel and try to improve the conditions immediately.

Though many countries are richer and powerful than India, I don't think there is any one country that can match our diversity and variety in culture which we MUST show case at least once a year to the world.

Ever proud to be an Indian...Jai Hind

Monday, January 22, 2007

KBC with Shah Rukh

I watched the first episode of Kaun Banega karodpathi hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. It was as per my expectation, good. I like Shah Rukh for the energy he radiates and intelligence though I don't consider him to be a great actor. He's back to small screen after decades to where he started. Such quiz shows circulate big money in the economy and it's also good that it makes people think for an hour of General Knowledge unlike the Saas bahu soaps.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Come back of the Prince

Though I am not a cricket fanataic it's been interesting to watch Sourav Ganguly's come back. His efforts needs due credit. He went out of the national team with shame but he had the grit to perform in domestic cricket and get back to the national team. With the stiff competition and the abundance of talents available to choose from, it's a great feat to be in again. Today he again proved his worth by scoring 98 runs against WI, a match that India ultimately won. Its too late to say this, but I always had a feeling that he will get back to the team. I put him in the bowl of fight-backers where I hold legends like Monica Seles, J.Jayalalitha and Andre Agassi.