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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.

Retail Politics!

Article first published as Retail Politics! on Technorati.


 The Indian parliament began its winter session on November 22, 2011 and so far it could not function even for one day. That is say the supreme constitutional body was not allowed to function by the opposition political parties.

First was the issue of the continuous price rise despite the fact the inflation rate had been showing a declining trend for the last three weeks. Then there were issues of bringing back the black money deposited in foreign banks and other regional tangles.

The first week was guillotined on these issues. Before the second week started the Indian Government announced a 51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) package thus opening up the very attractive multi-brand Indian retail market for international players like Wal-Mart and others. The opposition parties including coalition allies of the government got another sought-after excuse to go on disrupting the Parliament.

The opposition political parties always brand themselves as the eternal service providers of the masses or the common people and in everything they do they do mention this underlying justification.
Problem is they never want to engage in a fruitful debate. It is very clear that they know little of economics and less FDI related angles. They are ably supported by the equally ignorant masses on such issues. Learned opposition is blissfully absent in this country.

While announcing the FDI initiative the government described how this was going to help the small consumers and farmers; how this was going to create more employment opportunities; and that the interest of the local small retailers was also being taken into proper consideration.
Of course, there could be defects in the policy that might hurt the country’s interest badly. For this a healthy debate is necessary and definitely not the politics.

The so-called mass leaders are only focused on getting more and more votes to finally defeat the ruling party in the next general elections. Knowing fully well that crucial Bills have to be passed in the current session they still block the way. They support Team Anna on its fight against corruption, but do nothing to help Parliament pass it its Bill. Their political strategy is clear—block all the Bills including the anti-corruption one from being passed, extend support to Team Anna’s next agitation since the Bill will not be passed and target the government continuously cornering it from all possible sides.
The political leaders take on the ‘retail’ naturally because they always seem to miss the ‘whole’.


The Prime Minister of India chairs an all party meeting today to find a way out of the logjam. The opposition parties are adamant on total roll back. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cricket: The Truth About Yuvraj Singh!

Article first published as Cricket: The Truth About Yuvraj Singh! on Technorati.

  Finally the truth is out about the persistent fitness problems of Yuvraj Singh, the Indian cricket superstar, over the last few months. The truth was revealed to the media by his mother Shabnam Singh. Yuvraj has a golf ball sized tumor in his left lung and was first diagnosed as cancer.

Yuvraj Singh has been a consistent match winner for Team India since 2000 in One Day Internationals (ODI) and in tests since 2003. Whenever he happened to be in full flow scoring big and always quick India won invariably. He is best remembered for his incredible match winning partnership with Kaif in the Natwest Series Final against England in 2002; his six sixes in an over of Stuart Broad in a World Cup T20—2007 match against England again and his man-of-the-tournament performance in World Cup—2011 that India won.

After the World Cup—2011 Yuvraj Singh has been in and out of the Indian team due to fitness problems. He skipped the West Indies tour in June-July 2011 citing lung infection. He arrived in England for the July-September 2011 Test and ODI series, but his performance was not consistent. He was even ridiculed by some who knew nothing about his condition. Yuvraj played two tests for the West Indies tour of India and had forgettable scores. He was dropped from Team India for the ODI series against West Indies and for the Indian squad touring Australia from December 2011.

After a few weeks of the World Cup victory when celebrations were finally over Yuvraj was taken to a doctor due to his persistent coughing and vomiting problems. These problems which he suffered during the World Cup matches too were dismissed as due to allergy and stress. But when the problems continued he had to take medical advice. The verdict was lung cancer.

His family could not accept this and Yuvraj himself did not believe it since he said he felt fine and energetic as ever. Rigorous medical tests were done regularly for three months and the cricket superstar was in constant agony. His mother vouched for the excruciating pain that he used to suffer on a daily basis. Yuvraj never lost hope and spirit though.

And the good news now is that the tumor is benign and not malignant as believed earlier. The third biopsy confirmed it. We lost Malcom Marshall, one of the finest pacers of West Indies, in 1999 to cancer, but several others including veteran Geoffrey Boycott fought cancer bravely and successfully.

We need Yuvraj Singh to go on winning for India. We pray for his immediate recovery. A born winner cannot ever lose the battle against death.

 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cricket: An Extraordinary Test! And Fire Engulfs Mumbai On Terror Anniversary.

The third test between India and West Indies, in Mumbai 22-26 November, was nearly abandoned for a listless draw. It ended in a draw alright. But with what a nail-biting and edge-of-the-seat finish that nobody could even dream of. And, the end result was indeed a big boost for Test cricket plagued by frequent boring and drawn matches.  

When West Indies scored a massive 590 batting first the match was very much alive, depending on Indian batting it could have swung either way. But India replied well and ended the third day in a sound position. Then onward the only interest left in the match was Sachin Tendulkar's century of international centuries. The fourth day saw Tendulkar getting out just six runs short of that historic moment. After some hiccups India reached a safe 482 with Ashwin's century. The West Indies saw the day off at 89 for 2. 

The last day's play was anticipated by all to be another reminder of drawn test matches. But what a day it turned out to be with no less than 17 wickets falling in heaps and the flattest pitch suddenly getting a lot of turn. 

The West Indies scripted yet another chapter in their history of mindless batting collapses. From a fairly good position of 89 for 2 the team lost the remaining eight wickets for just 45 runs, getting all out for a mere 134 runs. Team India with a target of 243 runs in 64 overs smelt victory for a rare 3-0 series win over the once mighty West Indies. 

Team India with good contributions from Sehwag and Dravid were tantalizingly placed at 188 for 5 with just 55 runs to win in the last hour of the match. The crowds, though thin, started celebrating a great and an unexpected victory. 

But the test was never destined to be a smooth ride for any team on that fateful day. Skipper Dhoni could not do much in the second innings too getting out for 13 runs. But the young duo of Kohli and Ashwin took the score to just 19 runs short of the target with five overs left and at that point victory seemed a mere formality. In the first ball of the last five overs Kohli got out and the responsibility of winning was left entirely to the bowlers. 

Suspense, drama and agitation started to increase rapidly with run-getting becoming extremely difficult. But the course was still clear because even with occasional singles the target could be easily achieved. It was not to be. The match went to the very last ball with India still needing 2 runs for victory. Ashwin could manage only one and the incredible test ended in a draw with scores level. 

Ashwin won the man of the match and the man of the series too with his series haul of 22 wickets. The West Indies skipper Darren Sammy expressed happiness at being able to sign off with at least a draw. Losing after scoring a huge 590 in the first innings would have left a terrible feeling, he added. The Indian captain described it as a great victory for Test cricket. 

The Mumbai Test between India and West Indies will be remembered as one of the greatest matches in the history of Test cricket. And, why not! The last day turned the match on its head taking everybody--experts or fans--by total surprise. It provided the twists that you long to enjoy in a suspense movie! 

India win the home series 2-0. 

In other news the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attack has been observed with prayers and homage to the martyrs. Incidentally at dawn of this very day a huge fire engulfed Crawford Market, a most congested shopping complex of South-Central Mumbai and gutted hundreds of shops selling garments to electronic goods amounting to losses of millions of rupees. 





 After more than 15 hours the site is still smouldering. Fire fighters have been engaged continuously in a brave battle to control the fire. Sabotage has been ruled out and the cause is stated as short circuit.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar Misses Hundredth Ton, Ashwin Gets His First!

Since the Cricket World Cup in March-April, 2011 in every cricket international match Sachin Tendulkar features there has been a wild anticipation for his feat of the Century of International Centuries. He has already made 51 Test and 48 one day hundreds so far.

The third test between India and the West Indies played in Mumbai from November 22, 2011 was no exception; rather expectation reached the peak because he was playing in his home ground and on a batting beauty of a pitch. But the agonized wait was set to continue longer.
West Indies won the toss and elected to bat. They batted for more than two days on the flattest wicket of the tour and finally wound up for a massive 590. India finished the third day at 281 for 3 with Rahul Dravid completing 13000 runs in Test cricket. The match was set up not for an exciting finish but for Tendulkar’s hundredth hundred. He remained not out on 67 and needed just 33 more runs to complete the huge achievement...



Anti-Corrupt Fascists?

The point is not about your anti-corruption stance. The point is about you going out with knives and daggers to attack the corrupt . The trend is growing increasingly dangerous. The beginning of the species called anti-corrupt fascists?

A stalwart of Indian politics, the present Agriculture Minister and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and an octogenarian, Sharad Pawar was attacked at a public place in the national capital, New Delhi. The youthful unemployed attacker was supposedly angry at corrupt politicians and was the same person who attacked the sentenced former minister Sukh Ram a few days back.

From the highest level of the nation to the masses, everybody wholeheartedly condemned the assault and expressed shock at this incident happening in a democratic nation. The opposition parties also condemned and Team Anna condemned it too, but with a difference that was too obvious.

There was a ‘but’ in their condemnation. The largest national opposition party said while condemning the incident that the people of India were restless and angry with the continuous inflation. Anna Hazare, the crusader against corruption, was reported to have reacted initially as ‘…Only one slap?’ and then going on hastily to condemn all such physical attacks. Another member of Team Anna, Kiran Bedi also seemed to justify the action even though condemning it and she went on to say that politicians would be targeted if the Bill was not passed soon. .

At various points of the national movement against corruption Anna Hazare and his members uttered veiled threats like ‘face the consequences if the anti-corruption Bill is not passed’ or ‘people will no longer tolerate delays’.

In a democracy the people have the right to protest and Mahatma Gandhi had taught just that with astounding victories. But the person who was fondly called the Second Gandhi of India has been indirectly inspiring the masses particularly the youths to violence.

Politics abounds both in corruption practices and in anti-corruption movements. And, both ways politics finally makes the people intolerant and angry.

But the solution for venting the anger is definitely not through guns, knives and daggers. The largest democracy of the world is at deadly turn to a dead-end. Fascists are fascists, they have no ideals-either pro or against.

Meanwhile protests in Maharashtra are spreading far and wide with the call for Pune bandh today. Effigies of Anna Hazare had also been burnt in a place not far away from his native village.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

BC Bloggers--Round 2! Join Now!

BC Bloggers have done a tremendous job linking up and creating numerous blog mates in the initial round. They have successfully established a three-way link between participating blogs.

Now it's Round 2. You know the importance of quality Backlinks and the more you try on this the better for your site. Go on participating and building backlinks. BC Bloggers have already told you 'not to beg for links' and  'to be a great tool in spreading the word and putting your blogs on the “map” so to speak'.


So then, BC Bloggers is back again to help us in a Big way! We must join together and reap the benefits. 

Hello Reader! If you are blogger too please join HERE...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Eventful Day! Winter Session and Third Cricket Test Begin!

The much awaited winter session of the Indian Parliament began today, but to no avail thanks to the opposition parties. One wanted to boycott the home minister for charges not proven yet while others stuck to the issues of inflation. This winter session has been awaited for passing the much sought after anti-corruption Lokpal Bill, not to speak about other important Bills like the long pending Women's Reservation Bill. Both houses of Parliament adjourned for the day within hours. With this trend set to continue the question arises here 'Who wants anti-corruption Bill to be passed'.

Only the ruling party seems to be focused at the moment. Corruption cases are being pursued vigorously with another big decision today to shift the trial of the 2G Spectrum scam to Tihar Jail itself, because all the accused are lodged there only. Secondly, inflation rate has been falling for the past two weeks, no doubt marginally, but falling. Thirdly, the recent petrol hike has been neutralized by the fall in prices, more than the hike, due to the free market mechanism initiated last year. So, why do the opposition parties cry hoarse still knowing fully well the importance of this session!

In the third and last cricket Test between India and West Indies at Mumbai the visitors had a great day with 267 for 2 at close. Fans are waiting eagerly for Tendulkar to come in and achieve the hundred ton feat at his home ground. Some skeptics must be worried now, because they had already berated the West Indies as a weak team due to the big Indian wins. This is a peculiar psychology. When Team India suffer heavy losses they face the music, these skeptics do not ever say that the rival team played better. When India win big the same people say the rival is weak and not that India played better!

And finally I had a very busy day in office without having a few minutes to spare. After reaching home late and having my supper only I am at it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Mercy For The Corrupt!

Article first published as Now A Granddad In Indian Jails on Technorati.


     Thanks to Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement the Indian investigative agencies and the judiciary had been showing no mercy for political criminals in particular. A zero tolerance for the corrupt seems to be the norm now. And so, you should not look concerned if a granddad lands up in jail!

Sukh Ram, 86 year-old and former telecom minister of India, was convicted on November 18, 2011 for accepting a bribe of over 300,000 rupees in awarding a 300 million rupees contract to a firm in his home state Haryana in 1996. He was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment.

Such Ram had two other graft cases of causing loss to the government in awarding a contract to another firm and disproportionate property with millions of rupees recovered from his residence. In 2002 he was sentenced to three years in jail for the first case and in 2009 the same punishment was given for the second case. But he never went to jail though he resigned in 1996. Now in the changed and charged scenario the granddad had no escape route.

On November 19 the grand old man appealed for leniency in view of his age and many age related problems. But the trial court rejected his appeal and ordered him to be lodged in Tihar Jail, New Delhi. If fact, just after the order he was attacked outside the court by an young man who said he was inspired by Anna Hazare and that he considered the punishment too little for a chronic offender. There was a general concept that the old man already reaped the dividends of his corrupt deals.

Now, the granddad joined the august company of another ex-telecom minister and his aides, political leaders, sports administrators, top bureaucrats and top executives in the famed confines of Tihar Jail. But in view of his age jail-to-hospital attempts may orchestrate very soon.

Hopefully the movement against corruption will ultimately lead to creation of many more jails in India!

1996 is turning out to be a benchmark year for India getting into action mode 15 years down the timeline. While Sukh Ram finally landed up in jail Vinod Kambli cried out ‘fixed’ tears of a lost World Cup Cricket Semifinal match.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cricket Comics: How Much Truth in Kambli Crying?

Kolkata, March 13, 1996. The Cricket World Cup-1996 Semi Final match between India and Sri Lanka. More than hundred thousand restive spectators were expecting a great Indian victory.  Excitement was more because India beat archrivals Pakistan in an emotionally drenched quarterfinal just prior to the match. It was a day and night match.

India won the toss and elected to field first. A decision that irked the whole nation including the surging ones at the majestic Eden Garden grounds. The Eden Gardens pitch had been a slow turner always, particularly in those years and so, team batting first seemed to be favored.

But Sri Lanka did not go off to a good start losing two wickets for one run and finally managing to score 251 for 8 which seemed a good score, but quite within reach of the famed Indian batting strength. Though India lost Sidhu early Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar put the team a commanding 98 for 1. And then all hell broke loose.

From that position of strength India lost seven wickets to reach a tottering 120 for 8. The already irked huge crowd could accept it no longer. They started a mini riot with throw-ins and bonfires. After a twenty minute break the match was restarted, but to no avail. The match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka.

The significant facts so far: Decision to field first, sudden collapse, skipper Azharuddin scoring zero and Vinod Kambli remaining not out on 10 and returning to the pavilion crying inconsolably. The Indian team management justified that the decision to field first as a collective one and that the Eden pitch crumbled suddenly. Another significant fact coming out here was that the best spinner of the world Murlitharan got just one wicket.

But fifteen years had passed after that. And, the crying Vinod Kambli made allegations now that the match was fixed. He cried more in the act of doing so on a private TV channel. The significant facts here are that Kambli had always been a undisciplined and inconsistent player; despite being the classmate of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar he failed in cricket; he tried everything from politics to movie acting and failed everywhere; and he was famous a crier and dramatist.

MuhammadAzharuddin, the then captain, refused as strongly as expected. He gave the same reasons for the debacle and made a mockery of Kambli waking up after fifteen years. More significant facts about one of the most elegant strikers of the ball are: Azharudding lost his place in the team in 2000 due to match fixing allegations; Indian bookers linked him to former South African captain late Hansie Kronje who was also the main accused in late nineties; and though Azharuddin was cleared of all charges in 2006 he could not come back to the team.

The Indian sports minister made a statement asking the richest cricket board of the globe, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to probe the Kamli’s claims and  on its failure to do so his ministry would step in. The significant fact here is that the minister had been trying very hard to make the BCCI accountable and bring it under right to information. Vested interests of the highest order had been preventing him from getting his policy sanctioned.

All the significant facts about this cricket comic may just make it a little more worthy of attention. With the convicted Pakistani players for match fixing in backdrop, this episode may just make the fight against fixing a little stronger.

But Indian cricket deals in huge money. And, huge money inevitably invites fixers, bookers, betters and all dirty minded agents to have a share in the loot!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ceremonial Eating!

Article first published as Ceremonial Eating! on Technorati.

Eating has been and is vital to the Indian way of life. If religious eating is a little subdued, ceremonial eating is extensive and expansive. Indians just do not need an excuse to eat!

Main ceremonies are the weddings where eating arrangements are always huge. In earlier days there used to be snacks and teas, but now a belly filling, rich and full meal is the norm. There are various functions or rituals spreading over a maximum of five days within a marriage ceremony and each of these are never complete without sumptuous meals. Even two days after the formal wedding the bridegroom’s family hosts a feast for near and dear ones in some sections of the Hindu. Eight days later the party is repeated at the bride’s place, though with limited invitations.

Other ceremonies where eating is central include birthdays, anniversaries, initiating at least six months old babies to staple diet, sacred thread function for Hindu Brahman boys and so on. Such occasions, ceremonies and functions keep people’s expectations for good eating prospects rising and rising, so much so that they expect to have a grub on all other formal occasions too like professional concerts, book releases, open discussion forums, literary meets and just anything. The hosts or organizers now look on this part as a ‘must’ or they fear no eaters…err sorry…no audience will turn up!

The funerals are also no exceptions. In normal Hindu families funerals range from 11 to 13 days of rituals and formalities. On the fourth day near and dear ones outside the concerned family are served food. On the eleventh day a public reception is held along with the main religious ritual. On the thirteenth day there a big feast again when the members of the mourning family come back to normal food habits.

The never ending eating spree often puts people in great difficulty and health hazards. During particular seasons they get numerous invitations on every single day and they are socially obliged to attend and …to eat. Health conscious and discreet people exercise their own methods of eating management. About all the disorganized ones…well…it’s always advisable not to make any comment!

Eat, eat and be merry!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cricket: India Rout West Indies, Clinch Test Series!

At the majestic Eden Gardens, Kolkata Team India scripted a huge win by defeating West Indies by an innings and 15 runs just before tea on the fourth day of the second cricket Test today. Thus India takes an invincible 2-0 lead in the three test series. Reeling after the drubbing by England in England and rolling down the ICC Test rankings India started climbing upwards to the second spot with this win.

It was nice to see the Indian batting maestros giving a vintage treat from the first day onwards with three brilliant centuries. Rahul Dravid the Wall hit 119 falling just 21 runs short of another landmark of 13000 test runs—only the second player after Sachin Tendulkar coming close to achieve it. He also made the highest 952 runs in this calendar year scoring five centuries so far.

VVS Laxman showed his class building the innings immaculately and remaining not out on a commanding 176. He went on to bag the man of the match award. Skipper MS Dhoni gave him able support and scored the third century of the innings remaining unbeaten too on 144. India posted a mammoth total of 631 for 7 declared. Now it was up to the visitors to fight on.



Maybe tired after nearly two days of fielding the West Indies team folded up for just 153 runs in the first innings. Following on they gave a much better reply taking the fight onto the fourth day maybe this time India were tired after fielding for nearly two days. A brilliant century by Darren Bravo and good contributions from Samuels (84), Chanderpaul (47) and a quickfire 32  by skipper Sammy helped West Indies score 463 runs, falling 15 runs short of the deficit.

Indian captain Dhoni credited the great victory specially to his new bowling attack saying it was exciting to see them attacking like a hunting pack. Umesh Yadav showed lot of promise with a match haul of 7 wickets. The spinner duo, Ojha and Ashwin, kept on consistently by taking 6 and 4 wickets respectively.

A big and deserving win for Team India. West Indies managed to avoid their biggest loss record by fighting hard in the second innings. Now the teams are coming to Mumbai for the last Test from November 22.  

Big B Gets His Cutest B!

Article first published as Now Showing the Celebrity Baby! on Technorati.

Yesterday early morning Aishwarya Rai went into labor and delivered a baby girl just before 10am. There was no maddening breaking news everywhere in the media. The Bachchan family wanted it to happen personally and it eventually went like that only with the news personally given in the internet. Today morning Amitabh Bachchan thanked the media for the restraint and understanding shown. 

The  proud father, Abhishek Bachchan informed all the baby was fine and doing very well. Big B who has become granddad now described the celebrity baby as the cutest one. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Politics of the Beg Word!

Article first published as Politics of the Beg Word on Technorati.


Politics has  myriad shades and colors. Just now in India it has achieved another unique dimension—the politics of begging!

Rahul Gandhi, the youthful general secretary of the Congress party who has commanded tremendous youth following all over the country of late, was in Uttar Pradesh to kickstart the party’s campaign for the forthcoming assembly elections of the state. He lambasted the ruling party there for total lack of economic development and for resembling almost a mafia rule. He went on with his diatribe by saying that had there been some developmental progress the people there would not have been forced to migrate to other states and beg for work.

There was an inherent truth in what he said about the state and it had to be analyzed in the context of an opposition party leader addressing an election rally. But all hell broke loose because of just one word ‘beg’! Rahul Gandhi must have said it with bitter sarcasm and sentiments, but ‘beg’ created a chain effect of self-righteous protests and self-dignified ejaculations. Just how dare he call the people of the biggest state of India beggars!
Now, the word ‘beg’ has a deeper significance too. Maharashtra, a state in western India, was prominently included as the other ‘states’ due to the fact that regional parties there made it very clear that north Indian migrants were not at all welcome there. There had been disturbances, arguments, mini riots and running court cases over the issue in the last two years.

Because of the political significance of the ‘beg’ word the Congress party had been caught in a dilemma how to go about defending its leader while at the same time getting concerned for its north Indian votes. The main opposition party of the country held protests and effigy burnings in many parts defending the dignity of the north Indians. Even the regional leaders in Maharashtra who oppose north Indian migrants advised Rahul to take home all such beggars and feed them well so that they did not have to come to their state to ‘beg’ for work.

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, cried hoarse for her hard working and self respecting people while on the very next day announcing a proposal for dividing the state into four parts or states to be placed in the coming assembly session. If this latest politicking is linked to the ‘beg’ and how one only time will tell.
Meanwhile rejoice O’ Indian beggars! Politics has finally caught up with you too!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Baby Disaster!

Article first published as The Baby Disaster! on Technorati.

In the last week of October, 2011 more than forty infants died in different government hospitals of West Bengal, a state in eastern India. Despite the media outrage the deaths continued and the state government decided to look the other way.

While the world celebrated the birth of the 7 billionth baby in Manila, Philippines on October 31st India too decided to join in by claiming a baby born in a northern state as the 7 billionth one. The terrible apathy was too strong to ignore.

Of the seven billion global inhabitants India account for nearly 18 per cent which hardly makes any excuse for celebrations. Add to it the fact that the northern state, Uttar Pradesh, is the most populous one of India and a feudalistic oppressor of women. The concerned NGO there who made the claims for the unique occasion was quick to point out that they wanted to pass on a message since the 7 billionth baby was a girl child. That particular state also boasts of the worst sex ratio at 899 girls per 1000 men. 

Indian villages, cities and the overall infrastructure are at a bursting point due to the tremendous and unabated population pressure. The facilities at government hospitals are abysmal and private hospitals are out of reach of poor people. Here the right cause for celebration would be when there is a drop in population growth rate.

The priorities must be set right. There has to be a concerted effort to better the conditions that human beings need for a minimum standard of living. But the explosive population growth has been slowing down progress at all levels.

No wonder that the West Bengal government found nothing abnormal in the infants deaths with the Chief Minister who recently dislodged the long ruling Marxist government ordering only an audit after a fortnight.

Or is it the other way round? Do they welcome more infant deaths to directly control population growth? So mean, yes! But what exactly are we supposed to understand?

PS:  Recently one doctor was found drunk on duty in another Kolkata hospital. The saga of baby deaths have also continued with the report of 6 more deaths yesterday in Malda hospital.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shahrukh Khan’s Ra. One: A Hit or Just Break Even?

Ra.One—Shahrukh Khan’s most ambitious project called a vision written and directed by Anubhav Sinha, the most expensive Hindi movie ever (a budget of over US $30 million), the first Hindi movie at par with Hollywood special effects blockbusters, the first Hindi movie to release in over 4000 screens globally, the first Hindi movie to create all-time overseas box office collection records and top grosser in weekend collections—released on the Diwali day (October 26, Wednesday) all over. It lost out to Salman Khan’s Bodyguard in first day collection, but went on to overcome on the second day and the five-day weekend collections. 

But after the weekend the movie’s box office collections started to fall drastically and the trend continued with shows heavily cut down in the second week. The fall continued in the second weekend and the third weekend is tough competition due to the release of  the Ranbir Kapoor starred Rockstar. Ra.One is still far behind all recent blockbusters of Salman Khan and Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots. The significant fact is that all these movies have been made at almost one-third of Ra. One’s budget. Is this mega-movie a hit or just break even? 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cricket: Australia and South Africa At It Again!

Australia and South Africa have the habit of pulling one extraordinary cricket match out of the mundane now ant then. You may well remember the incredible one day international between the two teams played at New Wanderers on 12th March, 2006 which broke all the records of team innings score and chasing scores. Winning the toss and batting first Australia posted an insane score of 434 for 4. And. South Africa matching the insanity with zeal went on to win it! They did it by putting up 438 for 9 with one ball to spare. The greatest one day cricket match ever played!
Now at Cape Town, they have done it again in the first Test—equally insane unpredictable and topsy-turvy. The first day was normal with Australia batting first and scoring 214 for 8. It continued to be normal till lunch on the second day with Aussies folding up for 284 and South Africa at 49 for 1. Then, the madness descended.

South Africa was shot out for just 96 giving the Aussies a healthy lead of 188 runs and the match was almost a foregone conclusion. But then the climax! Australia was reduced to 21 for 9 and finally all out for 47—the 4th lowest and the lowest since 1902!

Twenty three wickets fell on a single day. In India we are used to 17-18 wickets falling on a day mostly between 3rd to 5th days, but the Cape Town caper was just beyond rational explanations!

South Africa, needing a reasonable 236 to win, put things back to normal losing only one wicket more on that eventful day. And on the third day before lunch they won by 8 wickets! Smith and Amla throwing their might with brilliant centuries.

Just imagine Australia being brutalized in two and half days! The two teams should go on repeating such acts so that we get more cricket treats!

Friday, November 11, 2011

River Brahmaputra and Bhupen Hazarika!

River Brahmaputra flows through almost the entire length of Assam, a state in North East India, from the far east of Arunachal Pradesh down to the west and out of Assam. It’s called by different names in different regions. In Assamese it’s also referred to Lohit or Luit.

The peoples’ singer-poet-composer Bhupen Hazarika accepts River Brahmaputra as the symbol of vitality and strength of Assam. Very much in the tradition of Ol’ Man River of Paul Robeson fame he always sings in eulogy and devotion to the great river:
                         
                        “O’ mighty Brahmaputra…you are the pilgrimage of reunion…
                            For ages and ages…you have been preaching…
                            The message of assimilation…integration…unity…”

But when the sensitive poet sees people in both the banks of the river suffering and leading miserable lives he cries out in anger at the same symbol of devotion:

                           “Even after witnessing the sufferings of countless people in…
                             Your valley so vast…O’ you Burha Luit (Old Luit)…
                         Why do you just flow on…so indifferently…so dumbly…”    



When there is a time of severe crisis faced by the state or the region the poet addresses the river identifying it with the people’s agony and asking for total support:

                           


                             “Today…river Brahmaputra is afire…blazing…
                     The horizon of the peoples’ mind shrouded with smoke…darkness…
                     The sky is peppered with blackened and falling stars…
                           Whom do they think they dare insult again and again…”     

Apart from such classic period songs Bhupen Hazarika had sung many other exquisite compositions describing the natural beauty of the river, its majestic presence; and other patriotic songs on the river and the people in its valley—particularly the youths whom he always described as most courageous and ready to die defending the honor of the Baba Brahmaputra. 




Tributes to the Bard of Brahmaputra...         





Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Auto-rickshaw Song of Bhupen Hazarika!


We have said earlier about Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s songs have a strong social commitment reflecting the joyful or sorrowful times of not only Assam, but the whole of the North East India. Here is one song that aims at the total common man—the unemployed youths. After auto-rickshaws  were introduced in the streets of Assam Bhupen Hazarika wrote, composed and sang this song with his younger brother late Jayanta Hazarika in probably the late sixties to inspire the unemployed local youths not to hesitate but to go for it.
The lyrics of the evergreen song go like this in English:
                             
                             “Driving our auto-rickshaw, we two brothers…

                              Storming through the streets of Guwahati…
     Me the elder brother having a doctorate…my younger brother a post graduate…
                              Having to repay a big bank loan….
                        From the refinery in the fat east to the University in the far west…
                              All localities in between… from north to south…
                        Working hard…sweating…will repay the remaining bank loan…    
                               Permit in my brother’s name…I too drive it often…
                    As my brother says,’younger brother of an educated unemployed…
                                We have no complex…..’
      My brother has only one weakness…Jalukbari University his favorite…
                             Sometimes he would take away the auto from me…saying….
                             ‘My love will be my passenger today…’
         I ask would she marry you…you not being a professor…he would reply...    
                               With pride, ‘My love understands the dignity of labor…’
                      I praise him for the decision…good that you did not run after a job…
    Or you would’ve remained unemployed for life…blessings from my sister-in-law…
                                             Driving our auto…we two brothers…”

The song is inspiring even now! Tributes to Bhupenda…


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cricket: India Beat West Indies, Tendulkar Misses Century of Centuries Again!

Coming good after the drubbing in England Team India managed to win the first Test at Firoz Shah Kotla ground, Delhi beating West Indies by five wickets just after lunch on the fourth day today. Incidentally this was the second highest run chase in the last innings in Indian soil. The highest successful chase of 387 runs was by India only in Chennai against England in 2008-09. No wonder, Indian slow spinning tracks always make the last innings a most difficult one for any team, particularly if Indian spinners are in action.


But the win was not without a lot of drama and suspense. The Indian batting collapse in the first innings (209 runs) created a lot of uncertainties and the match was delicate balance depending heavily on a powerful batting performance by West Indies in the second innings with a useful lead of 95 runs. But thanks to the total nine wicket haul of the man of the match R Ashwin (six wickets in the second innings) the match finally turned in favor of India. The West Indies second innings folded up for just 180 runs yielding a fighting score of 276 runs for India.

The batting stars of Team India came good to take the score to 152 for 2 at stumps on the third day yesterday, Sehwag coming back to form and scoring a good half century. With Sachin Tendulkar not out on the third day with 33 runs and another 124 runs needed for win the scenario looked tantalizing for his dream century of international centuries awaited so eagerly by the Indian fans.

Tendulkar scored a masterful 76 and missed the golden opportunity yet again. With Team India winning you should not complain too much about it, because the cricket legend has lot of time left to get to the landmark. Meanwhile he did get another world record of 15000 runs in Test Cricket. Laxman with a half century and Yuvraj nearly saw India through but for the latter bowled out through the gate with just one run for victory.

Indian skipper Dhoni, true to his nature, is not fully satisfied with the way victory was achieved; the batting collapse of the first innings is definitely not to his liking. India lead the three-test series against West Indies 1-0. The next Test is coming up on 14th at Kolkata.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

‘…We are Third Class Passengers in the Train of Life!’—Bhupen Hazarika

‘Not first, not second…we are third class passengers in a bogey of the Train of life!
  The train cries out our deprivation…the sadness oozes out in sparks of fire…!
 The big packages in the train contain our tears…we pave our way with the steam of our tears!
  We have all our companions traveling with us…hoping to be delivered finally at the Destination!’

The humble singer cried out in anguish! The peoples’ singer who represented the poor, the downtrodden, the exploited, the tribals of the hills, the plains…inspiring everyone from the illiterate villager to the erudite urbanites.  He sang their sadness, distress, frustrations, joys and ecstasies all his life.

And truly, tearfully and gratefully…the millions are surging and surging…in an unending stream…to pay homage to their dearest artiste Bhupen Hazarika. Queues of people stretching more than five kilometers to get to the Judges Field in Guwahati, Assam and pay their last respects. Crowds pouring from everywhere—all parts of the North East and the East. The unprecedented crowd stream made the authorities to postpone the last rites to tomorrow morning scheduled to be held today afternoon. The peoples’ artiste will continue to meet his ardent admirers full day today and till morning tomorrow. Then the millions will follow him for his final journey. 
This could be one of the biggest attended funerals in world history. The first in Guinness Book of Records is that of Aannadurai—the Tamil scholar and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who died in 1969. The second biggest in India was the funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi. The peoples’ artiste could figure in the second or third spot in India and definitely in the first ten world over.

Long Live The Legend! 
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