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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who Was The Choreographer!


There has been a huge controversy going on in India now regarding the midnight drama enacted in the upper house of the Indian Parliament on December 29, 2011. People belonging to different professional groups have been alleging that the drama was ‘choreographed’ by someone. There is no agreement though on who that someone could be. The main opposition party accuses the government of being the ‘choreographer’ while the government throws the same charge back at them. Besides, one Indian news channel reportedly predicted the ‘choreography’ right in the afternoon of that eventful day.

Now, choreography literally means ‘dance-writing’ and it has everything to do with motion and beauty. This cannot directly relate to what happened in Parliament, because there is no predetermined element here and ‘beauty’ cries to be treated with respect. In Wikipedia we come across one more description of Planned Choreography, ‘in which a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation’. This could fit the bill (the anti-corruption Bill?) if we describe the members as ‘dancers’ who ‘went on dancing’ totally controlled and maneuvered by someone.

But aesthetically, we find it most difficult to associate this with the midnight drama since ‘beauty’ and ‘dancing’ refer basically to artistes and definitely not to howlers. Even if we agree in principle it does not at all become clear who was dancing to whose tune! Considering the horrific nature of the spectacle some fertile brains have suggested other suitable terms like ‘Orchestration’ or ‘Match fixing’. Much better! 

Problems persist though. We have replaced ‘choreographer’ with other more appropriate terms okay, but we still have no clue about that ‘someone’ who choreographed or orchestrated or match-fixed. Maybe like in cricket we will have to wait for days or months or years for that piece of ‘breaking news’. Another confounding issue, if that news channel could predict hours in advance about the ‘fixing’ how come it still was looking for the elusive ‘fixer’! The celebrated anchor of that channel had been putting ‘My simple question tonight’ to almost everybody available and yet the answers were far from being simple.

Maybe the hired ‘someone’ was ruthlessly professional. With this we can conclude too. Professional choreographers would always give you the best and most experienced service. Why to bother about identities and names? Make it a New Year resolve! 


                                    Happy New Year 2012! 



Friday, December 30, 2011

The Other Side of Midnight!

Article first published as The Other Side of Midnight on Technorati.


War cries suddenly pierced the still and freezing midnight hour of December 29, 2011 in New Delhi—capital of India. The elected representatives of the upper house of Indian Parliament came out of the house shouting ‘Murder of democracy’ or ‘A black day’ or ‘The biggest fraud of the government’. Why? Not because the anti-corruption Bill could not get passed even after nearly 13 hours of debate, but because the Bill was not allowed to be defeated.


Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament, passed the Lokpal Bill (anti-corruption Ombudsmen Bill) just before 11 in the night of December 27 after nearly 12 hours of debate. The coalition government had a working majority in the house and with a few gives and takes in terms of amendments suggested by opposition parties the Bill could be passed finally. But it had to be passed in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament, too to become law.
The scenario was very clear. Everybody knew the coalition government was a minority in terms of numbers in the upper house. Relishing this fact the opposition political parties who supported the same Bill in the lower house decided to tear into it just to gear up for the most excite prospect of a number game. The parties were also gifted a day in-between, because the formalities could not be completed and so the Bill could not be presented on December 28 as planned. One or two allies of the coalition government too could not fend off the temptation of indulging themselves in the number game.
As the debate progressed as many as 187 amendments were submitted by the opposition parties. There was so much enthusiasm that they cited one clause and suggested amendment to another in a few illustrative cases. They also announced their willingness to sit out the full night to finish off with the Bill. The winter session was extended by three days for this debate and so technically the session was valid till 12 midnight of December 29 and not beyond that.

To its consternation, the coalition government realized that with its minority status it could hardly prevent the 187 amendments from getting passed and in that eventuality the final shape of the Bill would not be the one already passed in the lower house. So the government finally took resort to the technicality factor of the session not being possible to be extended beyond the zero hour and the house was adjourned sine die. Crying murder the disappointed opposition parties condemned the government that ‘ran away from the debate’ and demanded its resignation.
Team Anna had been demanding a strong Bill all the while and it was not at all clear at midnight that the 187 amendments would indeed ensure that. In a country where corruption has taken deep roots the ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ forms of the Bill will entirely depend on how ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ the vested interest groups are. It is no secret that every political party in India serves and protects at least one vested interest group.
The government had reiterated that the debate was not over and it would be taken up again in the budget session in about two months paving way for the passing of an effective and strong Lokpal Bill. At the moment this particular result seemed to have benefited all except, of course, the eagerly waiting right-minded citizens of India. The government has got more time to think about it; the opposition has got more time to ponder and to take the issue for forthcoming assembly elections campaign and Team Anna has got another boost to start the movement anew.
As far as India is concerned it’s the numbers that always count and matter.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cricket: Australia Crush India at Melbourne! Away Losses Continue!

Article first published as Cricket-Team India Mauled By Australia! on Technorati.

Australia defeated India by 122 runs in the Boxing Day First Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) today in India’s tour of Australia, 2011-12. The victory margin for Australia on the fourth day did not quite reflect the dramatic ups and downs of the match though.

This was India’s fifth consecutive test loss abroad after the 4-0 drubbing by England earlier. At MCG too India’s dismal record did not go any better with just two wins in all time cricket history. But prior to the start of the cricket series factors were predominantly in India’s favor.

India came to Australia after their thumping win over West Indies in both test and one-day formats and they had regrouped well with all the batting and bowling stalwarts coming back into the team except Yuvraj Singh who was getting fit to join the team perhaps for the one-day series. In contrast, Australia had been a little nervous with quite a few new faces particularly in the bowling department. Their recent record of losses against South Africa and New Zealand did not help much either. There was also a question mark over the inclusion of the old war horses—Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Besides, India won the last two test series against Australia played in India and Australia no longer enjoyed its monopoly status in world cricket. The circumstances and the built-up momentum gave India a great opportunity to register the first ever test series win against Australia in Australia.

India had their chances too. Australia batted first winning the toss and was reduced to 214 for 6 at one stage. Thanks to India’s persistent problems in removing tail-enders the hosts finally achieved a fighting total of 333 with Ponting silencing his critics by scoring a masterful 62. India replied well and was sitting pretty at 214 for 2 when at the closing minutes of the second day Sachin Tendulkar got out at 73 putting paid to hopes for his 100th hundred and also creating the beginnings of a looming disaster.


On the third day India lost 7 wickets for just 68 runs—getting all out for 282 and conceding a crucial lead of 51 runs to Australia. Indian bowlers brought the team back into contention reducing the hosts to a scary 26 for 4 at one stage. Then again, the old hand Ponting crafted a brilliant partnership with Hussey and took their team to relative safety. At the end of the third day the game was still evenly poised with the hosts at 179 for 8 and an overall lead of 230 runs.

India’s problem with tail-enders surfaced again on the fourth morning conceding 61 runs making the final target of 292 runs for win an imposing one considering the last innings chases at MCG. The famed Indian batting order collapsed in a most dismal manner and was bowled out for 169 runs giving Australia the victory margin of 122 runs. One writer pointed out that the victory margin exactly equaled the runs scored by Ponting in the test.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took shelter in the Indian jinx of never doing well in the starter of any series though he attributed the defeat to total batting failure. In fact, except for three half centuries by Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar there was absolutely nothing to mention of the Indian batting effort. Aussie skipper Michael Clark talked jubilantly of the positives gained from the match particular for his new bowlers.

An opportunity lost. And lots of worries for Dhoni. Apart from class batsmen failing Dhoni's string of failures with the bat continue too and his captaincy decisions are often found half cooked.

Team India must prepare well now to deliver in the remaining tests of the series.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lokpal Bill Passed in Lok Sabha! No History, Only Confusion!


After nearly twelve hour debate the lower house of the Indian Parliament, Lok Sabha, passed the Lokpal (anti-corruption Ombudsmen) Bill by a voice vote just before 11 pm yesterday. In the process ten amendments had been conceded by the ruling coalition owing to demands by opposition political parties.

Yet nobody rejoiced over this historic beginning. Only dirty politics lingered on and an ill Anna Hazare continued his fast making the common man the most bewildered one. Team Anna’s flop show in Mumbai with just 10000 supporters around was put in sharp contrast by heavy politicking on the floor throughout the day.

While Team Anna kept on blaming and thundering on the government, specifically the Congress party, for cheating the Indian people it was very clear in the lower house that no political party wanted a strong Bill. The main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who has been the mainstay support group for Team Anna, had in fact tried by all means to delay the Bill further and differed on the basic issue of establishing Lokpal counterpart in the states (Lokayukta) on the excuse of a threat to the federal system of governance in India. Its lobbying made it amply clear that in the states ruled by the party corruption was only a ‘state’ issue. At the end of it the Party had its victory cry defeating the Constitutional Amendment Bill for granting a constitutional status to Lokpal. Since this practical proposal was originally suggested by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi it was anathema for all.

Thanks to the series of scams in the last two years the BJP’s only focus had been to go on embarrassing the government for short-term and even long-term election gains. Yesterday, on a real people’s issue and on a movement for removing rampant corruption from the country the party still chose the same strategy finally proving its hollow support for Anna and its absolute lack of any meaningful policy.

Team Anna refuses still to realize the facts. In fact, Anna again declared his intention of opposing Congress in the forthcoming elections if five states and even in the general elections in 2014. So, he know at least the fact that nothing is going to happen till then which is always ensured by the BJP. Is Team Anna or has it always been a mouthpiece of this party? Facts are overpoweringly in favor of such a premise. To make the confusion confounded, Anna Hazare had reportedly invited the controversial yoga guru Baba Ramdev to join his fast. Why? For attracting more crowds or some other sinister political design? Team Anna seems to be learning the art of opportunism very fast thanks maybe to its mainstay political party or parties. 







Finally, the citizens of India must decide how and in what method the evil of corruption is to be eliminated from their country. 



Monday, December 26, 2011

From Tomorrow For Three Days: Parliament Debates in Delhi, Anna Fasts in Mumbai!

Article first published as The Fast Show Now In Mumbai! on Technorati.

 

Anna Hazare, the crusader against corruption in India, had recently shifted the venue for yet another fast of his from Delhi to Mumbai. Under the grip of acute cold wave conditions Delhi was considered to be too cold for not eating. Entertaining a negative thought maybe the response could have been too cold too!

Shifting of venue was not without the usual share of drama that Team Anna now commands. The ground on which Anna was to sit for fast belongs to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Authority takes a fee for such activities.

So, Team Anna was presented with a bill for a handsome 800,000 Indian rupees for booking the ground for the period December 26-27, 2011. Fighting corruption cannot be a commercial activity, thundered Anna supporters. So they filed a petition in the Mumbai High Court for concessions.
The High Court cited interesting observations while rejecting the petition.

Read more: 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas to all of you! May this blessed occasion fill your lives with loads of joy and boundless happiness. With New Year 2012 round the corner the celebrations are set to go on! And, we must celebrate to make ours and others' lives happy and meaningful.

With a note of grief we remember the terrible tragedy in Philippines a little more than a week ago. More than 2000 people lost their lives or were still missing  and more than 300,000 are still depending on emergency aid in the devastating flash floods that hit and swept away the southern island of Mindanao. There is no Christmas celebration for the victims there and in our celebrations we must think of them and wish them all the good in the coming times. There are in fact several huge human tragedies in the past two months and we must never get carried away with our celebrations.

I am sorry to say that I could not give condolence messages to the affected people including several friends from our blogging community in good time, because for over two weeks I had been extremely busy with a media coverage out of Mumbai. I had to focused on that and so I missed out on other important news during this period. Another problem was not having a laptop with me. You see, for an average Indian middle class family it's still a luxury to go for laptop when there is a desktop already. I had to manage with mobile posts-that too only now and then- mostly related to issues or incidents of the media event. I hope my readers and Philippines friends would excuse me for that.

Let us hope and look for better times in the New Year that would give us all genuine opportunities to celebrate, and celebrate together.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Crucial Time For Team Anna!

Anna Hazare and the key members of his team have been threatening, pointing fingers and gesticulating all the while as if they wanted to give justice to their followers overnight. Their deadline was December 27, 2011 for passing the Lokpal Bill (anti-corruption Ombudsman) in the Indian Parliament having all the features they wanted. Or else fast, agitation and God knows what more!
Maybe Team Anna never expected that to happen! And, more importantly almost in the way they demanded! So it's now of crucial importance what Team Anna does next!
The government of India presented the Lokpal Bill in the lower house of the Indian Parliament yesterday-22nd of December-as promised. Not only that! The session has been extended too by three days allowing fruitful debate. The Bill also has included almost all the features demanded by Team Anna-except for the issue of keeping Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI ) out of the ambit of the Bill. Some other features have been modified considering practicality implications.
Team Anna-hungry as ever for mass attention- immediately took the ruse and started to shout of fast, agitation and God knows what more!
Now to consider one aspect, despite criticism of government influence the CBI has been a very professional and efficient agency over the decades. Most states of India-even with ruling parties opposed to central government-do ask for CBI intervention for any complex and critical cases. Till date CBI remians the most respectable central investigative agency of the country.
So, Anna Hazare must decide first how much he understands of criminal cases, economic frauds and espionage cases. Before going on playing to his mass followers he must explain how well he is going to perform on anti-corruption litigation.
In the best interest of the country the Bill must be debated upon and eventually passed during the three-day extension period from 27th December. Team Anna must also shift their focus from only 'Target Congress' to the larger country. Their obsessed focus has been making opposition political parties their natural allies, but some of these parties are opposed to some very basic features of the Bill demanded by Anna. Team Anna must be non-political while at the same time they must understand the political games played by their 'natural allies'.
Let us hope India's anti-corruption movement create a historical beginning early next week! No more blackmail, only victory please!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Media Moments!

While the media discusses vehemently that Parliament and Assembly sessions in India are nowadays being reduced to mere political circus with no serious work happening, it's only the media that gets terribly bored when only work happens inside and nothing outside!
Outside yes! It's like an open colorful stage where charged performers do their antics with media waiting to relish and devour. Before the house begins performers come and demonstrate in this stage with peoples' problems inherited politically. When no such things happen media waits anyway for actors doing drama inside and announcing it outside moments later. But when only serious work continues inside continuously without noise or disruptions media is agitatedly bored.
Reporters and camera-persons get no options but only to compete for the limited chairs available outside and keep on visiting the canteens for umpteen cups of tea or coffee. Some get sick going on with their long standing 'standing' feats!
On one such 'boring' day of an Assembly session when work continued till late evening two cameramen were at their wits end. How long would they stand on with their cameras on for capturing nothing! One of them broke his frustration to the other, 'Damn it! Let somebody make some goddamned noise inside to disrupt the house so that we can do something here!'
Equally exasperated, the other exclaimed, 'Who will do it, man! There are hardly ten members inside!'

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surrogate Mother! Ethics, Business And All...

Recently Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan and his second wife had a baby through a surrogate mother. This is indeed a medically certified way to get a baby. But doubts and questions remain. Today a few more points emerge.
An opposition member of the Maharashtra Assebmly today at the Nagpur winter session presented an unofficial Bill demanding laws and regulations to control this delicate social issue. He informed the lower house that this Bill is first of its kind in the entire country. He had a few very thought provoking points:
*The nature of this practice makes it open only for women of the poorer sections, so exploitation is very much possible.
*Some websites advertise it as a viable career option which makes the exploitation angle more apparent.
*A lucrative buiness is evolving fast with no rulebook and Mumbai the headquarters. Foreign nationals also are coming for this and if they are looted nobody knows or cannot do anything about it.
*Some doctors in Mumbai are maintaining fleets of 5-10 women exclusively for this 'service' or 'business'.
Yes, these points are frightening. You may not question the medical+ scientific part of the issue, but you have to question the ethical side. The women, definitely not from the elite, may be paid handsomely in cash. Or maybe not, because of the inevitable layers of brokers and middlemen involved in the process.
Then comes the immensely relevant psychological angle. A mother develops a powerful emotional attachment after bearing a child for nine months. She may become a mental wreck after the baby is taken away, whatever be the accompanying cash remuneration.
Legislation seems to be the need of the hour. A lot of brainstorming a must. We thank Devendra Fadanvis for raising this socially crucial issue.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Now Spurious Liquor Tragedy in Kolkata!

Death toll in Kolkata country liquor is likely to cross 150 and even more. The people who take country liquor are mostly daily labourers, rikshaw pullers and other poor ones. After manual hard work these people just want to forget the stark reality of their existence and take liquor they can afford. The 'business' of such liquor does not allow them even this necessary 'luxury'! The owners of country liquor shops mix poison with the drinks to make money from the poorest of the poor!
The state of West Bengal was ruled by the so-called communists who talk of the interests of the proletariat, but in reality they allow the misery of rikshaw pullers who run with bare feet to hand-drive their loads on the cruel streets of Kolkata to go on! Such deprived souls normally die of TB in young age. A little comfort in their horribly short lives is robbed by the 'business' of spurious liquor. Hand pulled rikshaws still exist only in West Bengal.
The new Chief Minister of the state is only happy with the new-found political power and just not interested enough to try changing or improving the inhuman conditions. She has seen deaths of babies, deaths of suffocated patients and now deaths of solace seeking poor. God knows what more she would like to witness before saying enough is enough. Maybe even God does not know!
Such tragedies are reflections of the abject Indian poverty. Politics thrive on these and allows more and more to unfold. Some say nothing new in such 'incidents'. So true! Why bother about lousy drinkers! Wonders of India never seem to cease! Some liquor owners are arrested, but again some say they will go on doing the same next! O' poor folks, don't eat and don't drink and don't be merry. Your masters forbid you that!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dousing A Political Fire!

The fire was real; the smoke was real. Only the cause was political or so to say the political motive reflected the pathetic conditions of the cultivators in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. And, the 'fire' was doused indeed, literally.
The winter session of Maharashtra Assembly started on a stormy note yesterday in Nagpur, the winter capital of the state also called the Orange city due to extensive prduction of the fruit in this region. The opposition parties were in an attacking mood demanding immediate announcement of increased support prices for cooton, paddy and soyabean. The issue has been long pending and so they rejected the ruling coalition's appeal for discussion leading to the lower house adjourned for the day.
Today leaders representing the cultivators and belonging to the main opposition party held demonstrations in front of the house. Demanding higher support prices for paddy they put fire to a branch of paddy they carried with them. As flames leapt up and smoke spreading a fire tender promptly turned up there to the absolute glee of scores of media perdonnel. They literally devoured the dramatic visuals of the 'fire' being doused by water pipes.
One of the two leaders behind the 'fire' got suspended from the Assembly for one full year. This decision led to the lower house being adjourned for the day making it two days of no work so far.
The opposition leader of the House while maintaining that they did not support the burning act said that the government must consider the anguish behind the act and declare increased support prices tomorrow.
While the 'fire' was indeed political the 'anguish' of the farmers of Vidarbha are real. Farmers' suicides take place here on a regular basis. Someone must dissociate politics from this real issue and take appropriate steps in the farmers' interest.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cricket: India Make It 4-1! Pollard Shines!

India already clinching the one day cricket series against West Indies did experiment today at the last match in Chennai. Though they have been saying all the time that winning is the main focus and  want to finish on a confident note for the coming Australian tour they included several new players including Irfan and Tiwary and rested Sehwag who created history in the fourth match. Luckily the newbies did well with Tiwary getting a century and Irfan two wickets. Under the second stand-in skipper Gambhir India managed to post a target of 267 runs which was gettable despite the pitch being slow and ball keeping low.

Except for an incredible hundred by Pollard that included huge lusty shots the West Indies innings was not much of an effort. Pollard boost made the fifth match exciting and close like all the other four. At the end India won comfortably by 34 run. Coming good again Jadeja captured 3 wickets.

Tiwary was chosen man of the match and Rohit Sharma deservedly got the man of the series award.

Meanwhile Indian skipper MS Dhoni said that key players of Team India have been well rested and they will be fully on-the-go for the Australian tour. At the moment all eyes are focused on the excitement of this starting end of December.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Conversations!

The anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill was finally adopted and presented in the upper house of the Indian Parliament yesterday by the Standing Committee. It  reportedly had agreement on 13 major issues and dissents on more than 20 other issues. The committee said that a few crucial issues have been left for debate in the Parliament and that these issues need to be debated over a long period of time. Nothing wrong in that because nobody can expect such a crucial Bill to be passed overnight and corruption eliminated next day!

Anna Hazare, as expected and in tremendous anticipation (knowingly?), is going ahead with his one-day strike in the Indian capital tomorrow. The opposition parties would again join gleefully to continue opposing the Government for an issue they only never allowed to be discussed and debated upon.

I am privileged to overhear a discussion between two commoners today at a public place. One of them middle-aged and the other in prime youth. First the elder one commented on Anna Hazare traveling in luxurious cars. He said,'Why at all? Why should he go for all the comforts while attacking others for corruption and opulence?' Then he made such an epic comparison that I was taken aback. That was so real and revealing! "You see, nowadays you should never ask for comforts. If I ask my wife or my younger brother to give me a glass of water she or he says, ' You get it yourself, man! You know it's there only!'"

Vigorously nodding agreement the young man commented on a related issue, 'That day have you heard Pranab Mukherjee's speech in Parliament? ...He talked so much sense and hard economics. But still the opposition parties kept on shouting. These opposition parties just go on opposing for the sake of opposing!'

Well, even Anna recently opposed the retail Foreign Direct Investment! How much of economics he understands is anybody's guess!

One this becomes clear from such conversations--the common man should not be taken for granted. Let it be Team Anna, the opposition political parties or the governments.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Massive Human Tragedy in Kolkata! Who Is Responsible?


While the deaths of babies in Kolkata and West Bengal hospitals still haunt us another massive human tragedy happened early morning today. A big fire broke out reportedly around 1am in a seven-storied private hospital in Kolkata which so far killed 89 helpless patients. Casualties expected to rise as there were 160 patients in the hospital.

Desperate, grief-stricken and angry relatives had been crowding the AMRI hospital complex since morning asking questions on public safety and responsibilities. There were allegations that though the fire reportedly started at 1 am help came nearly three hours later and that the hospital staff ran away leaving the patients to their fate. First help came from the slum dwellers around the area, but no outsiders were allowed to come in to evacuate the crying and gesticulating patients.

Heart-breaking stories told by eye-witnesses and distraught family members. Helplessly trapped patients calling up their families, but their phones falling dead moments later. Help being so near, yet so far. 

And what’s the state government doing? Hospital license cancelled, six board members arrested and compensation packages announce. A blame game also in full motion. The government supposedly warned the hospital about fire threats and asked it vacate by July this year. But what then? Maybe apathetic authorities took bribes and the matter was settled. A grass-root level political worker turned Chief Minister could speak volumes against Foreign Direct Investment, but could not dare fight the horrific civic conditions in her own city and state that she snatched from the long ruling Left government just months ago. How anyone dare counter the vested interests in this wonderful country!

Cause of fire still not known, but it started in the basement which was meant for car parking and was conveniently converted into a storehouse. Such abject violation of rules and regulations are routine everywhere in India. This creates the frightening reality of numerous death traps that the authorities know about, the citizens know about; but still nothing gets done. No action. Vested interests rule supreme in democratic India.

We condemn it. All right minded people should indeed do the same. Defeat the vested interests and all political parties that support them. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cricket: Virender Sehwag Creates World Record! India Post Highest Ever Total and Clinch ODI Series in Style!


Team India's top order clicked today and clicked in a magnificent way. Stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag created world record in the forty year old history one day international (ODI) cricket by scoring the highest ever individual score. He made an incredible 219 surpassing the world record of 200 not out by Sachin Tendulkar in a home ODI series against South Africa on February 24, 2010. Sehwag also scored his double in just 140 balls against Tendulkar's 147-ball innings. He also became only the second batsman to score a one-day double ton. Sehwag's 219 consisted of 25 fours and 7 huge sixes. 

India won the toss for the fourth time in the fourth ODI at Indore too, but made two significant changes this time. They elected to bat first considering the fact that in all the previous matches their chases were not comfortable and in fact lost the chase in the third encounter. Secondly the opening pair reverted to the most dependable Sehwag-Gambhir relegating Parthiv Patel to lower down the order. This was done perhaps in the context of India's forthcoming tour of Australia which promises to be an electric one. In the team Irfan Pathan, the replacement for Umesh Yadav after the third match, was not finally included in the eleven, but long sitting reserve Rahul Sharma got his first chance to play. 

On a perfect batting pitch supported by a very quick outfield the Indian innings just raced on and not even an iota of respect paid to any of the hapless West Indies bowlers. The visitors’ fielding made things worse with both Sehwag and Gambhir getting a life each early on. No bowler could apply control and runs flowed easily and mostly in fours and sixes. All top three Indian batsmen raced to their half centuries and the first two wickets fell only to run outs. With cameos from Rohit Sharma, Jadeja and Virat Kohli India posted a mammoth total of 418 runs for 5, their highest ever in ODIs. 

Facing a daunting and almost impossible target of 419 runs the West Innings was an anti-climax. Only once in history South Africa could surpass a 400 plus total set by Australia in memorable match. So, it was presumed that the West Indies team without top players losing in-for Darren Bravo too to a last minute injury would ever be able to come close to winning. And that's what happened eventually. West Indies kept on losing wickets at regular intervals with the debutante Rahul Sharma getting three scalps followed by Jadeja to with three more. At one stage they were reeling at 168 for 8 in 32 overs and required run rate at almost 14 runs per over. Barring a last wicket blitzkrieg between D Ramdin and spinner SP Narine for 64 runs the West Indies innings folded up for 265 with an awesome inevitability. Highest scorer Ramdin could not complete his century being the last man out at 96 giving India a 153-runs victory margin. 

Team India won in style and clinched the ODI series at 3-1. The man of the match? Well, it had to be Sehwag, the one and only. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Retail FDI Suspended to Let Parliament Work!


Finally Indian industrial and agricultural interests lost out to the political ones today. Cornered and forced by opposition political parties including lobbies in the ruling coalition the government of India had to suspend its decision of allowing 51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian retail sector.

The winter session of the Indian Parliament had been stalled for nine days out of which fives days were lost because of the FDI decision. Today morning the government called for an all party meeting on the burning issue and decided to suspend it on reaching consensus. The opposition parties called it victory for democracy. And, the Indian Parliament was allowed to function normally from today. Very forceful democracy indeed!

Ironically, the industrial and agricultural experts welcomed the government’s decision of allowing retail FDI pointing out the benefits of more employment, availability of goods at cheaper rates for the consumers and the long run favorable impact on the inflation rate. Farmers of different parts of the country had also extended support to the policy because of the inherent benefit of selling their produce directly to the multinational buyers. Some of them also gave a healthy condition that at least 75% of farmers’ produce must be bought directly by the firms.If such people are not part of the 'democracy' then who are?

This leads to the vested interests that dominate Indian politics all the time every time. The extensive networks of middlemen who buy farmers’ produce at ridiculously cheap rates and sell those in multiples of that to the consumers just cannot afford to lose out. The call for a Bharat Bandh was basically a reflection of these vested interests. Nobody wanted to understand the economics of it and about how their ‘democratic’ country’s future development could get a boost.

Okay, let us thank the opposition political parties for their kindness to allow Parliament to function on its tenth day of the session! How they relish and savor their sweet democracy!  Hats off to them! But wait a minute, this is indeed a plus considering the fact that the anti-corruption Bill was to be presented in this session only.

Now the clock ticks for the presentation of the Bill on December 9, 2011. Let us hope politics does not dominate the process again to work it out in favor of the eternal vested interests.

Politics+Sports: The Dow Controversy!

Article first published as The Dow Controversy! on Technorati.

The Dow Chemical Company is a multinational corporation of United States. It is the second largest chemical manufacturer of the world going by revenue turnover. The official partner of the 2012 London Olympics finds itself in a big controversy due its link to Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) which was held responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

In the night of December 3rd 1984 world’s worst industrial catastrophe hit the city of Bhopal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. A leak of methyl isocyanine and other chemical gases occurred from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) and ravaged the city for days after resulting in a massive loss of human lives. Estimates vary on the actual casualties. Official sources put the immediate toll at more than 3000 due to gas-related problems and the figure continued to increase to 15000 over the years. The number of injured has been put at about half a million so far.

The Union Carbide plant was held responsible for its alleged negligence and the legal battles involving the Indian Government, the US and UCIL raged over the years for adequate compensation for the gas leak victims...

Read more:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cricket: Another Thriller! This Time West Indies Win!


The third one day cricket match between India and West Indies played at Ahmedabad was another edge-of –the-seat affair with fortunes fluctuating both ways. But finally today the Ravi Rampaul boost galvanized his team to a thrilling win by 16 runs.

West Indies could not win even after Rampaul’s world record making effort for the last wicket in the second one-day international at Visakhapatnam. Today Rampaul took the vital wickets of skipper Sehwag and top order pillar Gambhir for ducks in his very first two balls of the match. At a crucial juncture again he got rid of another mainstay batsman Suresh Raina and finished off the match with the wicket of Mithun who replaced Varun Aaron for this match. But the win was not a cakewalk till the last four overs.

India at 105 for 6 the match seemed to be over. But the tremendously consistent Rohit Sharma completed his third half century of the series and evolved yet another partnership of 91 runs with Ashwin who was confident after his first test century. When Ashwin was the seventh out at 196 the match was far from over.  Varun got out cheaply and made it 200 for 8. But as long as Rohit was out there victory was in sight. Fans gave up with Rohit run out to a direct throw by Indies skipper Sammy at the score of 216 for 9. But the match was still not over. Debutant Mithun was producing huge sixes out of nowhere and Umesh Yadav was beginning to join in for an incredible victory. But finally the man of the match Ravi Rampaul sealed a win for his team at 244 all out for India.

Earlier for the third time Sehwag won the toss and put the West Indies in. It was a steadily built innings with a finishing touch provided by skipper Sammy and all rounder Russel who scored 93 runs in the last 7 overs giving India  a challenging target of 261 (for 5 wickets) runs on a ground not India’s favorite by the records. Bowling inexperience showed for Team India and their fielding too was not much to write home about.

Though millions of Indian fans wanted their team to clinch the one-day cricket series they were not unhappy either with the final result. With all top ranking batsmen falling in heaps you cannot really expect your team to win, but still they go home getting their money’s worth. The only tragedy of the match could be Rohit not carrying on till his well deserved century and being a match winner for the third time around in as many matches.  

West Indies keep their hopes alive in the series poised at 2-1 in favor of India. Considering the visitors’ charged all-round performance today the remaining two matches are bound to be very exciting and keenly contested.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dev Anand: The Indian Actor Legend No More!

He was loved for his handsome appearance, he was loved for his stylish acting, he was loved for his rapid-fire style dialogue delivery, he was loved for his typical gait and he was loved for his unique dress code invariably consisting of a hat and a scarf wrapped around his neck. Dev Anand—the legendary actor of Indian cinema—passed away early morning today in London due to a cardiac arrest. He was ever young at 88 and was in London for a medical check up for the past few days. End of an era.
He was born in 1923 and till 1989 he continued to be the hero of Hindi movies beating in the race Raj Kapur and Dilip Kumar with whom the formed the famed trio ‘Raj-Dilip-Dev’ in the early fifties. He debuted as an actor in the Prabhat Talkies movie ‘Hum Ek Hain’ in 1946 and his active career spanned an incredible 65 years till his demise. His lasting image as a beloved romantic superhero started growing since the early fifties.

A romantic song sung by Mohd. Rafi for Dev Anand.





He established his very own and dear movie company called ‘Navketan Films’ in 1949 and went on to make more than 30 movies discovering new talents all the time till his last production ‘Chargesheet’ in 2011. As he continued to be the hero for his productions his search was always for talented heroines to fit the theme, the presentation style and of course, him. Zeenat Aman was one of his finest discoveries who was chosen for a hippie style girl for his ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’(1971) which along with his color film ‘Guide’ (1964) are regarded as cult films and major landmarks in Hindi cinema.


Dev Anand had two celebrity brothers—elder brother Chetan Anand and younger brother Vijay Anand—both of whom were distinguished filmmakers and award winning directors. In the early years of Navketan Films Chetan used to direct the Dev Anand starrers and later moving away to form his own film production company. Younger brother Vijay Anand then took up the reasonability of directing Navketan productions out of which the most memorable mega hits were ‘Kala Bazaar’ (1960), ‘Jewel Thief’ (1967) and ‘Johny Mera Naam’ (1970). He also directed ‘Guide’ which was his most critically acclaimed movie. Unfortunately both of Dev Anand’s brothers preceded him in death. 


A restlessly energetic and creative soul, Dev Anand took to direction too in the early seventies and went on to direct 17 movies till the end. Some of his movies were disasters in the box office, but that never dissuaded him from his constant search for newer themes and fresh talents.  Gregory Peck of Hollywood had been his idol and comparisons were always made calling him Gregory Peck of India. 
We saw this hero from our birth and grew up with his movies loving him for his stylishly different acting, dresses and get-ups and his singing sweet and delicate dancing around with his leading ladies. We witnessed this superhero comfortably crossing over from black-and-white to color frames and always adopting with the changing times, values and perceptions. And yet retaining his true-to-heart charms and frolicking antics. We called him ‘Devanand’ ignoring the separation between first and surname.


The legend leaves us now. But the legend remains forever in the silver screen and in our hearts. Tributes and prayers to Dev Anand. As he sings out ‘I’ve always gone ahead happily with life…’ (Song by Mohd. Rafi) 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Bura Mat Suno...Bura Mat Dekho..."!


Long back Mahatma Gandhi advised us ‘Do not listen to bad, do not see bad and do not speak bad’ ("Bura Mat Suno..Bura Mat Dekho...Bura Mat Kaho"!). Now in modern hyper competitive times we are helpless about the first two don’ts. And persistent exposure to the first two makes us lose the third too!

We cannot help but listen to or watch an endless stream of ‘bad’—all around us from home to the streets, in the newspapers and news channels, in the television serials and in the movies and at every act we have to do like walking praying jogging or driving—everyday and every step of our existence.

Such continuous barrage of ‘bad’ is fast making us speak and utter a lot of ‘bad’ too. We are becoming doubtful and suspicious of everything around us and we are learning to blurt it out freely and openly.

The main ‘bad’ drive comes from politics. We are hounded constantly by all sorts of stories being hammered into us forcing us to form our opinions or go on changing these and finally give vent to it by expressing which often borders on the ‘bad’. We better take one or two illustrative examples here.

We supported the anti-corruption fight by Anna Hazare in India wholeheartedly and in huge numbers. Then slowly seeing the politics building around it we started speaking badly about it, but still supported the cause which was ‘good’ and this ‘good’ was to be solemnized into a Bill in the winter session of the Indian Parliament. The winter session came, but could not function for a single day in the first two weeks thanks to politics being made out of issues like inflation, black money and lately the issue of Foreign Direct Investment in the Indian retail sector. So, some of us are already saying that the political parties have joined forces deliberately to stop the Parliament from passing the anti-corruption Bill!

Cricket—the craze of India—is another hotbed of politicking and the fixing phenomena. We have been so fed up with reports of match fixing over the years that now we cannot accept any cricketing result without being suspicious of the ‘fixed’ kind! We smell a rat in anything our team or ‘their’ team does. So, some of us used to say that the full World Cup-2011 tournament was fixed to help Pakistan come victorious, because terror-torn Pakistan needed some solace! But when India defeated Pakistan in the semifinal stage only those of us were not at all disheartened. They started uttering now that the whole tournament was fixed to favor India, because of big money! Normally, whenever we see India winning big we say the other team fixed it and whenever we see India lose big we say Team India fixed it!

We cannot blame ourselves. The alarmingly enlarging ‘bad’ of modern times has almost forced us to lead paranoid existences smelling a rat at every step. What is the solution? Well, we must still try to follow the great Gandhian dictates. We like it or not!

Cricket: Team India Supreme! Rampaul Creates History!


The second One Day International (ODI) match between India and West Indies was nicely poised to be another humdinger, but Team India finally won quite comfortably by five wickets with 11 balls to spare. Following the first ODI this match also had its twists and turns.

Rains threatening to be spoilsport the toss was delayed by half an hour and Indian skipper Virender Sehwag elected to field after winning it. Pacers Umesh Yadav and Vinay Kumar exploited the cloudy and rare Indian seam-bowling conditions on a bouncy pitch and reduced West Indies to a tottering 149 for 8. Ravi Rampaul walked in at that moment and had altogether different ideas. At 170 for 9 the West Indies innings seemed to be over.

Rampaul started then a charged bout of powerful batting hitting half a dozen sixes and as many fours and blazed away to 86 not out of just 66 balls. He made history by becoming the first highest scoring No.10 batsman in one-day cricket. His partnership of 99 with Kemar Roach became the third highest for the last wicket. The final target of 270 for India was a challenging one considering the conditions.

India did start well losing Parthiv Patel at the score of 1 and Gautam Gambhir cheaply. Sehwag could not capitalize on his dropped chance and was out for 26. At 84 for 3 the match could have gone either way. But another brilliant partnership evolved between Virat Kohli and in-form Rohit Sharma. Kohli scored his eighth ton with a flowing and brilliant batting display with Rohit achieving his tenth half century.  India were cruising to victory at 247 for 3. A brief scare happened then with Kohli and Raina getting out in the same Roach over. But Rohit and Jadeja ensured a comfortable victory in the 49th over. Rohit remained unbeaten at 90.

If rested skipper Dhoni was watching he could be thinking about how a team could give away 99 runs after getting the opposition nearly out. Team India has a tendency to do it again and again. But standing skipper Sehwag defended by saying that when a batsman enters a spell of clean hitting nothing could possibly stop him. He tried all the tricks under the sun and failed. Normally consistent spinner Ashwin too gave away 74 runs without taking a single wicket. But this remains a point to ponder upon.

India lead the series now 2-0. 



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bharat Bandh Today! But What About Retail FDI?

Article first published as The Indian Retail Not For Sale on Technorati.

The government of India’s decision to allow 51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian multi-brand retail sector has led to a virtual ‘no sales’ politically for eight days on a trot and for the real markets today.

The much awaited winter session of Parliament could not function for eight consecutive days four of which have gone to the FDI implosion. The political protests inspired more than fifty million Indian traders go for a Bharat Bandh (a general strike call to shut down markets all over India). The major trade unions as well as the opposition political parties extended support to this protest closure.

The din of politics is not letting anyone to listen to the economics. Like in the India-US 123 Nuclear Deal outrage three years back when hardly anybody read the content of the deal document, this time around too ‘no sale’ ignorance rules the roost.

Like the FDI puzzle the Bandh call has got a mixed response...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Double Tragedy Hits Assam!

 The first to dissolve into eternity was the


legendary singer-poet-lyricist-writer-journalist-filmmaker 
Dr. Bhupen Hazarika  who passed away at a Mumbai Hospital on November 5, 2011. And now, the celebrated author-social reformer-academician Prof. Indira Goswami, better known by her pen name Mamoni Raisom Goswami, passed away at a Guwahati hospital on November 29, 2011.

Two noted personalities of Assam who have been rooted to the soil and totally committed to the people and the land they belonged to. They have been the torchbearers for Assam carrying themselves with numerous awards and recognitions at the national and international levels. Assam has been identified with their laurels and as their home state. While one got the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest honor in Cinema in India, the other got the Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honor of the country. One is dearest ‘Da’ (elder brother) and the other is beloved ‘Baideo’ (elder sister) for all of the Assamese people. Losing them both now is proving to be one of the most painful moments of history for Assam.

Indira Goswami’s novels always focus on the downtrodden and women in particular. She delves deep into the problems society creates for them and rants out her thoughts through most powerful words that ushered in a new chapter in literature of Assam. Her novel on the conditions of widows has been acclaimed as an all time classic. Mamoni Baideo had herself suffered in her life—fighting with depression and suicidal tendencies since her childhood days and then fighting with life losing her husband after just 18 months of marriage. But she never accepted defeat and fought on to reach the peak of success.

Indira Goswami, with her tremendous love for her motherland, tried to structure a society based on peace by becoming a mediator between the extremists of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA—people in Assam pronounce it as ‘Aalfa’) and the Government of India. Thanks to her efforts a peace committee had been formed, but she preferred to call herself an observer rather than a mediator.

Mamoni Baideo’s last rites have been performed in Guwahati today with full state honors. A sense of tremendous pride can only be some consolation in this hour of grief and pain for the Assamese.  



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

India-West Indies One-Day Cricket Series: Start With A Thriller!

 The first match of the One-Day Cricket Series between India and West Indies at Cuttack today proved to be a genuine thriller with ups and downs for both the sides. It was a classic low-scoring match on a supposedly flat hatting pitch. Both sides lost nine wickets each and India finally managing win by 1 wicket with 7 balls to spare! 

India won the toss and elected to field first. No surprise considering the dew factor that influences results in matches played this season in India. Team India was without the services of Dhoni, Tendulkar, and Yuvraj Singh with Pravin Kumar too left out due to a last minute injury. 

Indian pacers Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Vinay Kumar kept the visitors on a tight leash not giving runs easily and taking wickets at regular intervals. The spinners also contributed with part-timer Suresh Raina taking the vital wicket of Darren Bravo who top scored with 60 for the West Indies. The visitors were finally restricted to 211 for 9 and the target of 212 seemed an easy one for India. 

But the chase was not at all easy. Though off to brisk start India lost five quick wickets for just 22 runs between 37 to 59. Roach and Russel chipped in with 3 and 2 wickets respectively for West Indies to make the World Champions nearly bite the dust. Only Rohit Sharma took full charge from then onward and first evolved a fruitful partnerships with Jadeja who was the sixth out at 142.  At 159 for 7 the match headed for a nail biting finish and could have gone either way. 


The thriller went down the wire to the last man standing. Just when Team India seemed to be on safer ground needing just 11 runs to win Rohit Sharma, top scorer at 72, got out at 201 for 8. His partner Vinay Kumar at 18 got out too at the same score making it 201 for 9. With the two newbie pacers Umesh and  Varun left now to see through it was the edge of the seat classic suspense thriller till they notched up the required 11 runs with 7 balls remaining. Rohit was deservedly declared the man of the match. 

In hindsight it could be a case of overconfidence for the World Champions who found the target too easy and aimed to blaze away to victory. 

One day cricket has brought the crowds back and the very first match was a treat for the thousands of fans. Team India continues to assert its supremacy in this format of the game. After 5-0 victory over England Team India lead the five match series against West Indies 1-0.
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