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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chill, Shahrukh, Cricket Etc...

Mumbai continues to chill this season. Two days back it was at 10 degree Celsius, lowest of the decade. Met office predicts Mumbai winter to continue throughout February. Great times for Mumbaikars--getting used to their woolens and warm suits. Plus having the luxury of bonfires. But, as we have said earlier here, some monumental challengers still refuse to admit the chill and go on defying it with their usual casual wear and the ceiling fan   syndrome. 

And some hot news from Bollywood. Shahrukh Khan or King Khan reportedly slapped the husband of his best friend for nearly twenty years, Farah Khan. Farah had been a choreographer of Bollywood guiding Shahrukh to dance since the early nineties. Their bond became more closer when Farah was given a break as a director of the King Khan movie 'Main Hu Na' in 2004 and then one more movie in 2007. Both of the movies did quite well in the box office and so Farah wanted to launch her own production house and start a movie naturally with Sharrukh. Accordingly a script was handed over to Shahrukh which he returned for some changes. But Farah went on to make the movie without her best friend. The first hurt for King Khan. Then Farah's husband reportedly criticized Shahrukh's dream movie 'Ra-One' via micro-blogging. Then in the party thrown by Sanjay Dutt to celebrate the success of his latest movie late Sunday night Farah's husband reportedly followed King Khan around putting some whispers in his ears. The third hurt and maybe Shahrukh was pained in drawing a blank in this year's Filmfare film awards that happened in the same night. So the not-so-cinematic slap followed. At the moment everybody is in denial mode except Farah who has been defending her husband stoutly. 

Meantime the shortest T20 cricket is starting between India and Australia tomorrow to be followed by the one-dayers involving Sri Lanka as the third team. The new specialists have come back into the team. The Test debacle is thus relegated to the back burner with the cricket Board maintaining its silence. The heated debate on 'Who should be the Captain' is still doing the rounds as if changing the captain will automatically solve and close the issue. For the cricket crazy millions of India the focus is again on Team India. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Horrid Truth About A Baby Girl!

A two-year old baby girl was admitted in a Delhi hospital on January 18, 2012. She was bruised and battered. She had serious head injuries and whole of her tiny body bore marks of torture and abuse. She had been fighting for life since then and as per the latest reports there were a few signs of recovery. The poor child had already suffered two cardiac arrests. Her name is Falak.

Her supposed mother, a minor of 14 years, brought the baby to the hospital herself and was detained by the police for interrogation. Later, she was handed over to the welfare department. Her name is Mahi.

The teenager ‘mother’ had also a horrid tale to tell. She reportedly confessed to the authorities that she herself abused the baby out of sheer frustration, but the head injury was caused by an accidental fall either from her bed or in the bathroom. Why she was so frustrated that made her abuse her ‘own’ baby?

Mahi’s tale went on. She was living with her father who physically tortured her on almost a daily basis. Sick of her miserable life she fled from her home, lived with her aunt for some time and was on the run again. Finally a twenty-something man spotted her and took her to his home. Again a saga of physical abuse followed.

To make matters worse, the man one day brought Falak out of nowhere and asked Mahi to take care of her. The minor girl already under tremendous stress could not come to terms with the added responsibility and her frustration started taking toll on the baby.

Mahi’s story seems to be only a part of the larger and murkier episode. Doctors say about Falak’s head injury that either a heavy object has been used to or her head has been smashed against a wall. There are also multiple fractures and wounds all over her body. Such brutalization cannot be caused by minor who claimed to be the ‘mother’ first.

Police investigations got some leads revealing that the man belonged to Mumbai and had a family there. But he was missing so far. Charges of kidnapping have been registered by the police against him and some other unknown people whose involvement seem pretty clear considering the enormity of  the brutal act.

The story is in a confused state, but its sordid details are real. In a country that celebrates the international year of the girl child and celebrated the birth of the seven-billionth baby only recently abuse and exploitation of the girl child continue unabated. Feudalistic pockets of the society still hate the birth of a girl child trying to prevent it by any means and the male-female ratio goes on decreasing further and further. Poverty makes millions of other homeless urchins. It’s only the dangerous streets and alleys of the country that strive to take care of the totally uncared lot.

Every Indian baby girl just cannot afford to get born to a celebrity family. But Falak now commands the nation’s attention as twenty doctors and thirty nurses are looking after her continuously. Shamed and concerned the nation prays for her recovery.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

India-Australia Test Cricket Series: So Kind of You Sir Clarke!

India did just everything humanely possible to help Australia rout them 4-0 in the current Test cricket series played in Australia. In the fourth and last Test in Adelaide too the India top order failed consistently and as usual. The top names in world cricket could not progress to even half centuries.

Only young Virat Kohli was allowed to achieve the first ever ton in this current series for India. Maybe as a return favor, for all the tons, double tons and triple tons blessed on Australia by India. This point has tremendous relevance for the title of this article. Through Kohli’s efforts India advanced from a traditional (in this series) 111 for 5 to 225 for 5 and at that stage they had a great opportunity to try mastering some respectability. But the new ball did it once again and India lost all five wickets for just 47 runs.

Australia made 604/7 in the first innings and India replied with 272 conceding a lead of 332 runs. The scene was perfect for another follow-on, because anything above 200 runs lead the follow-on becomes due. But, Aussie skipper Michael Clarke did not enforce it and decided to bat again. Why?

Maybe he was sick and tired of the monotony of having innings victories, again and again. Maybe he wanted to have some batting practice as Australia hardly had the luxury of playing its second innings in the earlier matches. Maybe he wanted to test his team for setting an exciting target for India, because to get back to the No.1 position the team had to be expert in every kind of situation. Or maybe and most plausibly he wanted to make a return gesture for all the generosity showered on them by India. Anyway, we thank him with all our hearts for saving India from another ignominious innings defeat.

Batting second Australia lost three wickets for 50 runs enjoying an overall lead of 382 runs at the end of the third day’s play. Ponting and Clarke are again there after their double tons in the first innings. In the case of India if a top batman hits a century in the first innings he is just spared from doing anything commendable in the second. This has been the unwritten rule of Indian cricket. But when opposition is batting this rule gets easily and effortlessly broken. Let us see how the Clarke-Ponting pair builds on the lead tomorrow.

Meanwhile India is celebrating the 63rd Republic Day all over today and in tune with the patriotic fervor demonstrated on such days many expected a patriotic gesture form Sachin Tendulkar in achieving his hundredth ton. Time is running out for Tendulkar and in this perspective his decision to play in the ensuing triangular one-day cricket series seems to be just right where he has only 48 tons against 51 in tests. No Test match is scheduled for India till July this year and it seems extremely uncertain for Indian ageing superstars to retain their places in the Test squad. More significantly by that time the IPL extravaganza will be over  and the cricket Board can be in a position to dictate terms. 

Happy Republic Day to one and all of you, and to Michael Clarke in particular.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pune Mayhem—The Killer Bus!

People die in natural disasters, bomb blasts, madmen firings, accidents of all kinds including the weirdest ones, road rages and so on. They keep on dying almost on a daily routine. Yet, there is no end to the puzzle of ‘how they are going to die next’. What happened in Pune, a cultured, peaceful and lively city of Maharashtra, today is another example in continuing with that ominous puzzle.

One normal driver reported for duty in the morning at the state transport corporation terminus in Pune and was scheduled for a trip. Everything progressing normally, apparently with no hidden surprises. And suddenly…mayhem

The driver took hold of the empty bus and went berserk. He drove the bus into the street…on the wrong side. He went on hitting, crushing and maiming whatever came on the way…cars and other vehicles, auto-rickshaws, helpless pedestrians and so on. He seemed to be in spell or stupor and was absolutely unmindful of what was happening as a result of his mad act.

In the process he killed 9 people, injured about 30 some of them grievously and damaged about 40 vehicles. The police chased him for one hour through the city and finally arrested him. He was believed to be suffering from an attack of schizophrenia, but his mental imbalance was still not confirmed. Then, why he did what he did?

One overpowering reason could be modern-day stress from which some desperately seek releases. And, at time they opt for the wildest outlets. Two most stressed communities in our bursting country could easily be the police constables and the public bus drivers. These people never get enough rest and always get the worst pay packets with big families to support and wretched environs to live in. During festivals when they are supposed to enjoy togetherness with their families they get overburdened with duty 24 into 7. This modern-day stress factor could be a dormant volcano ready to erupt anytime.

And so, we never know what is going to happen and when and where. Even getting ready for any surprise we get surprised at the novelty of the surprise. Unfortunately in all such horrid situations people die and die and die… What solution and what help?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stop The Sick Killers--Another Eve Teasing Tragedy!

One more horrible eve teasing incident had been reported from Jind, a town in the northern state of Haryana, leading to deaths of two innocent girls. The sick mentality of the two-legged cannibals who prowl the streets of India anytime any day strikes one more time. Who will stop these cowards always preying on the weaker ones?

Two school girls around 16 years of age, Ankita and Shikha, were returning from their tuition classes in the evening on Thursday on a scooter. Two cannibals looking for easy flesh followed them on a motorcycle hailing the girls with lewd remarks and abuses.  The busy public street promised not even an iota of safety for the girls and knowing this fully well the cowards rode even closer trying to molest them on the move.

In a desperate attempt to get clear Ankita, who was driving, lost balance and their scooter veered off towards the wrong side of the street. A racing truck coming close behind crushed them.

The incident took place right in front of a major police station and the policemen preferred to watch it rather than taking immediate action. The two cowards sensing trouble now fled the spot and thanks to few bystanders the truck driver was caught and the girls taken to hospital. But they were announced brought dead. The devastated families of both the girls first took it as a case of accident, but were dismayed beyond consolation when they came to know the horrid details from a lone eyewitness.

Two more victims of eve teasing. Only about three months back two brave youths lost their lives trying to save their female companions from teasing. In the Jind case it was becoming almost clear that the two cannibals belonged to influential families and so, police action seemed to be an non-starter.

Policemen cannot protect victims from eve teasing. It’s the society that must wake up to prevent it and take tough action. Men and women must be united in this fight against the cannibals. The men must kill the cowards within them and the women must learn self-defense tactics good enough to carry the fight to the ultimate triumph over the evil.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Salman Rushdie: A Test of Indian Tolerance?

Article first published as The Indian Rash Over Rushdie! on Technorati.

The celebrated author of Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to India as a keynote speaker in the famous Jaipur Literature Festival (JLT) supposed to start from today did not make the country happy. This was despite him being a Person of Indian Origin (PIO). What should have been a matter of pride for the largest democracy of the world turned into the old Indian rash surfacing again in all its sore features.

India being a pluralistic society with various linguistic, religious, cultural and ethnic communities the chances are very high for any particular section to get offended by creative works or plain statements made by a particular author or journalist or filmmaker or even politician. In majority of such cases none of the supposedly offended community happened to be even aware of the content of the cause of offense. The only result of this rash is that of a growing wave of intolerance which has been palpable in recent years. 

 Somebody writes a book parts of which are not liked by a particular section and so demands get raised for banning the book. Some journalist writes a column that allegedly offends some and again protests happen which may even lead to attacks on the journalist or his/her properties. One filmmaker makes a movie not liked again by a section and it may lead to protest marches or even vandalizing the cinema houses showing it. Sometimes the concerned creator is even hounded out of the country. This ugly trend asserts itself in all cases of creative works including by painters or poets.

Since India has a post-independence history of linguistic and religious riots in many regions such cases of dissent are taken as security threats or law and order problems making the authorities bow down to demands almost always. Apart from this the possible impact on voters are also viewed by ruling political parties. So, the motto of ‘playing it safe’ emerges as the overpowering mentality.
When Darul Uloom Deoband, the oldest and biggest Islamic seminary of India, appealed to the authorities to decline permission to Salman Rushdie’s visit it was viewed as a security concern and ‘playing it safe’ prevailed to put the visit in great uncertainty. The organizers of JLT were also influenced to fall in line. Accordingly the organizers announced a change in Rushdie’s travel schedule on January 20 while maintaining that it stood by its invitation which meant Rushdie could in fact visit later as the Festival would continue for four days. On the other hand a PIO cannot be prevented from visiting his/her own country and s/he does not need a visa for that. 

Salman Rushdie published his controversial novel The Satanic Verses in 1988 which hurt sentiments of Muslims all over the globe for its allegedly blasphemous content against Islam and the Prophet. Ayatollah Khomeini, the then supreme leader of Iran, issued a fatwa (death warrant) against Rushdie in 1989. But that was more than two decades ago and the Deoband has no history of ever protesting against Rushdie during these years. Another surprising fact is that though the JLT attract authors from all over the world hardly anyone decided to protest against or comment on the Rushdie issue.

It happened with M F Hussain, the legendary painter of India, too. Some sections did not like his movie and particularity a few of his paintings that were supposedly derogatory to the Indian deities. The great artiste was hounded continuously immersing him with litigations and threats to life and finally forcing him to leave the country. He lived in exile for five years and accepted citizenship from Qatar fearing that he would never be allowed to come back to India. The great artiste died in exile in 2011.

If a creative work is not liked or hated there should only be creative criticisms or reviews. One can get an apology in an educated, cultural and constructively creative way too.
But intolerant India thrives on its internal intricacies. And, who is bothered about it?
By the way, is Salman Rushdie coming to India tomorrow or day after or ever?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Death Of A Housemaid!

Almost all of the housemaids who come to your homes for work from the nearby slums of Mumbai have a similar tale to tell. They work very hard throughout the day in different homes to make some monthly pay package. But at the end of the month they get nothing for their comfort. They have to hand it over to their mom-in-laws or husbands. And, their husbands unfailingly spend their hard-earned money on drinks. Most of the husbands do not work at all, so they need the money all the more for their indulgence. The housemaids go on suffering silently and very soon it impacts their health.

A deathly pale and skinny maid worked in our place now and then for the last two years. She always looked tired and took a long time to finish her work. From others we knew that she was always sick and visited the government hospital daily to take some booster injections. We also came to know that her in-laws and her husband were very cruel people and not only took her money away but also deprived her of minimum needs like two meals a day. Her father-in-law and husband indulged in drinking sessions with her money and mother-in-law robbed the rest away.

We really cared for her and my wife Ragini often helped her with essentials like clothes and gave her tea and snacks everyday. But the problem was that she was horribly irregular apart from taking eternity to finish her work. It just did not match our schedule and so she was on and off with her work. Though we felt bad there was no other way to go about it. A month back she came again for work and we kept her. But the same problems followed. Ragini even offered her work and pay on a daily basis. She did not agree to this, maybe because she had to give a monthly lump sum to her family. So we let her go one more time.

Today she died. We were shocked to hear the news from her neighborhood maid in the evening. She came back home from the hospital around noon and collapsed dying instantly. We offered to help with some money, but her friend said that the money would again be spent on drinks. ‘Don’t help her family people, they are very bad. They tortured her everyday.’ She said.

We had no option but to feel very sad and dejected. Maybe we could have helped her in some way. But even today we did not know how. What to do? This is reality and reality is very stark most of the time.

We just prayed for the eternal bliss of her soul. At least she got released from her miserable existence. How many more and how to help them?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Mystery of The Black Ink!

Article first published as The Mystery Of The Black Ink! on Technorati.

Someone threw black ink on the face of the Indian Yoga Guru Ramdev Baba at a press conference held in the national capital Delhi recently. The famous up-market guru was speaking about his future moves on corruption and black money when the black incident happened.
The thrower was immediately caught and given a strong beating by the Baba supporters. Then the police came and arrested the offender thereby rescuing him from further beating of the third degree.
Ramdev Baba was magnanimous in dismissing the incident as mere nothing, but later on he alleged the involvement of the ruling Congress party in the incident. No surprise in that. Because, he could hardly forget his unceremonious midnight ousting from the fasting ground in Delhi by the government of India in June, 2011.

Ramdev Baba saw the showering of media and mass attention on Anna Hazare during the peak of the movement against corruption. Therefore he too decided to join the anti-corruption bandwagon to have a share and launched a fast against the menace of black money. But due to a conglomeration of right-wing elements in his audience the government came down heavily and ended the fast hard and quick.

Political parties condemned the black incident as it had to be, but there was an underlay of charges and counter charges for possible involvement of rivals. As a natural corollary to this a group of Ramdev supporters threw black ink on an election poster of the Congress President at the Congress headquarters in the national capital just a day after. And this time the throwers were given a sound beating by the party workers.

And the mystery only deepens further...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cricket: The Worst Phase For Team India?

The Perth massacre of the Indian cricket team by Australia marked the third consecutive loss in the present India-Australia Test Cricket Series and the seventh consecutive overseas Test loss in the past seven months for India.  Such defeats that make a mockery of a cricket test match. No fights, no resistance, no determination—only abject surrender mindless and lacking any application.

Just imagine! A team that only recently occupied the No.1 position in Test rankings suffers an innings defeat when the opposite team scored only 369 in the first innings—not exactly a mammoth total by test standards. But India is immensely capable of doing the impossible! They make 161 and 171 respectively to offer a series-clinching win to Australia on a platter. No surprise then that Aussie skipper Michael Clarke want many more astounding victories to make a meaningful assault for the No.1 position.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, rated as the most positive and winning captain India have ever produced, now holds the overpoweringly generous record of conceding six innings defeats—more than any other Indian captain. Meantime he earns a ban for the fourth test starting in Adelaide on January 24 due to slow over rate. The divine hand? This frees him from playing test matches for at least seven months.

For a change everyone is taking the blame for the debacle. Dhoni says he is responsible, the Indian cricket Board Chief Selector says the Board takes the responsibility! The only thing that is always above ‘blame’ is the magnificent IPL (Indian Premiere League T20)—extravagant cricket tournament in the shortest format of the game. This is the reason why nobody can pass on the buck to anybody as everybody needs everybody for the big bucks to roll in from the IPL. So better get consolation with ‘You see! This can be called the worst phase of Indian cricket. But it happens to every team sometime or the other. So, don’t blame IPL. Corrective measures will be taken.’

More questions come out of such assurances. Is this the worst phase only so far? What corrective measures? If you finally decide to drop the seniors—you cannot do that till IPL is over—how do you go about replacing them? Do you have cricketers who can fit the real cricket format—test cricket?  Do you call all top batsmen in top gear suddenly falling and continuing falling in heaps a natural phenomenon that affects every team? How do you define a team as ‘good, competitive and aggressive’? If you can have flat and lifeless pitches a home in the interests of the big bucks why don’t you then apply your money power to have the same specially made for India overseas instead of the juicy, green and bouncy pitches?

Ad Rating points for Indian cricket show a declining trend at the moment. The ratings should crash so that cricket is brought to the level of any other game played in India. Till then, nobody will be able to take the correct decisions or measures for the game of cricket in its truest form.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Bhogali Bihu!

Bhogali or Magh Bihu—the harvest festival of Assam is celebrated in mid January that is the month of Magh about to begin. Bhogali means ‘aplenty’. And it’s winter when people are more energetic. Bhogali Bihu belongs to the farmers who harvest the ripe golden paddy crops after long and hard work and have a well deserved community feast of new rice, fish, meat and other delicacies. Plus celebrations. In some villages of Assam buffalo fights are still a rage. 

Magh Bihu falls normally on 13th-14th January as per the timing of Makar Sankranti. Sankranti means changing of direction. The time when the sun changes direction from one constellation (of the zodiac) to another is known as Sankranti. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (Uttarayana) is known as Makar sankranti. Only this year, a leap year, Bhogali Bihu is being celebrated on 14th and 15th of January, 2012.

Days prior to the Bihu get really hectic in a typical Assamese village. Stacks of harvested golden paddy crops collected in the backyard are taken to the inner courtyard, opened and spread in a circular shape. More and more stacks are added and it becomes a rustling circular bed. Then two bullocks are brought in and made to do a merry-go-round thrashing out the grains from the paddy branches by continuously treading on it. The separated grains are then packed in long bags and deposited in the barn or bharal-ghar. Bagfuls of paddy are then taken to the rice mills as per requirements of daily meals and making of a rich variety of rice cakes.
 The first day of the two day festival is Uruka when people get together in specially made bamboo-frame pavilion called bhela-ghar--thatch-roofed and walled by dry banana leaves for a feast with the new rice and fish, meat and other delicacies. This pavilion is lit and burnt up at dawn next day and people worship the fire god with various offerings. Apart from the community feast folks also make a haystack with bamboo and firewood added called meji and burn it up in the morning. During the uruka night people get warm with endless bonfires and hardly sleep.

The second day it’s a bonanza of rice cakes, laddoos of various types and other eatables at all homes with relatives visiting throughout the day. As it’s an auspicious day of Sankranti people do not take cooked rice and non-vegetarian items during daytime.
For Magh Bihu 2012 there is just one major problem in Assam--very high prices of fish and other items. On the other hand a very severe winter going on and people have really been enjoying the warmth of bonfires.
Assamese people all over the globe cannot help but observe this joyful festival though they may not get the right kind environment and climatic boosters.

The rounded balls made from fried coconut paste and sugar are as tasty as they are attractive! People living outside Assam or even abroad never forget to make such traditional delicacies and take pains to get those ready for the morning of the second day.

Happy Bhogali or Magh Bihu to All of You! Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cricket:Australia Massacre India in Perth!

Australia massacred India on the very first day of the third test in Perth today. The famed Indian batting strength is no more. Not even on paper! The celebrated cricket stars of Team India have failed again and again, and yet again! Not even one scored even a half century. The likes of Sehwag, Dravid and Dhoni were utter flops again. Very Very Special Laxman did nothing but ordinary once more. Only the finger-pointing Virat Kohli struggled to reach an individual score of 44.

India were bowled out for just 161, in similar manner as in Sydney or even in Melbourne. The demolition squad of Australia—Siddle and Hilfenhaus—was amongst the wickets today too. If Pattinson was there in action maybe the Indian innings could have folded up for less than hundred runs! His replacement, Harris, was also helped by magnanimous Indian batsmen to get into top form. 

Worse followed. In the Australian innings a lackluster Indian skipper Dhoni did not even think of giving the ball to Ishant Sharma who featured prominently in the historic Indian win at the same venue in 2007-08.  Australia scored freely and merrily at the incredible run-rate of nearly 6.5 an over reaching 149 for no loss in 23 overs at the end of the day’s play. While Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s witch-hunt for the hundredth hundred continued pitifully David Warner scored a quickfire century for Australia. India lost the third test too in the very first day.

Now what? The seniors must leave immediately. But how to fill in the blanks? All the newcomers or most of them are selected only on the basis of their IPL (Indian Premiere League T20) performance where they sparkle for few minutes and make it to the one-day format. If they play one solid innings in one-day matches they get selected for the national Test team. But in what way they can be termed as ‘test players’?

Forget pointing fingers. Just try to follow the example set by Aussie skipper Michael Clarke who wants to be remembered as only a good test player and who has shielded himself from the possible damage of T20 format of the game. Is there any Indian cricketer who can do that—can he say ‘I’ll not play IPL anymore and be a good test player who can make the country proud’? Hello, any takers?

Else, there are just two options for the commerce driven Indian cricket board—scrap IPL or ban Test Cricket in India and for India.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

India-Australia Cricket Test Series: The Case of Pointing Fingers!

Article first published as India vs Australia: The Case of Pointing Fingers on Technorati.

Indian batsman Virat Kohli showed a finger at the crowds during the second cricket test between India and Australia in Sydney recently. Since he showed his middle finger it was taken as obscene and accordingly he was penalized.

Indian pacer Ishant Sharma followed the gesture and also showed a finger. But there was a huge controversy regarding which finger he showed. Officially it was not the middle finger and so he was not penalized.

Both players alleged that the abuses thrown at them by the crowds were gross and at times indescribable. They seemed to have only retaliated in ways they thought to be tit for tat. The incidents led to a big debate in Australia on good manners and particularly the Indian traditional ones. But the peculiar case of pointing fingers has a deeper significance and typical ramifications.

The team that prided in having the best batting side of the world failed miserably so far in the Australian tour and fell in heaps in the first two cricket tests in Melbourne and Sydney that they lost by huge margins. So, basically they invited wrath from Indian fans and naughtily gleeful satisfaction from the Australian media.
Apart from the mind-games that Australia played so often the Australian media consciously focused its attention on the hapless team and attacked it from all sides. Essentially, therefore, they were the first to point fingers at Team India. India’s session of go-carting instead of doing practice was covered lavishly and since some of them including batsman Sehwag did not follow captain Dhoni for the session preferring net practice a rift within the team was suspected. Allegations and denials were still continuing till the reports last came in.

The point finally is that when you play badly and horribly you are bound to have all the fingers pointed at you. It’s up to you to decide which fingers they were—the middle or index and definitely not the thumb! Skipper Dhoni further accentuated the finger-pointing episode by indicating that he might retire from Test Cricket in 2013 if he is to play the World Cup-2015.

With the Perth test starting tomorrow where the pitch will be the bounciest Team India would need to concentrate all their fingers combined round the cricket bat handle or the seams of the cricket ball. If they lose it again they will be out of the series with 3-0 deficit and more fingers will be pointing at them. When they come back to India the finger-game will continue with more gravity.

For Indian traditional greeting of ‘Namaskar’ all fingers of both hands fold up and combine. Not any particular finger! One should understand essentially.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Political Comics!

Article first published as India's Comical Political Antics on Technorati.

The struggle for votes becomes acute at the time of elections. Pursuing this severe urge for amassing maximum possible votes political parties are pushed to the extremes of antics. The common onlooker gets maximum entertainment in the bargain.

India’s Election Commission recently ordered covering up of the statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in light of the forthcoming assembly elections in this most politically strategic state of India. There were around ten statues of Mayawati and more than hundred statues of her party symbol—the elephant--in the state capital of Lucknow apart from numerous ones in other parts of the state. The logic for this order was fully justified since the statues might indeed impact the voters who could either be motivated or irritated to vote or not to vote for her. With a set deadline the work began in great haste and the statues began to be draped in tarpaulin sheets of the pink color. Pink was said to be Mayawati’s favorite, but it was okay since it did not represent any other political party. One regional party from the state reportedly demanded the cost of covering up be borne by the ruling party only. It was tantamount to saying;’ If you are spendthrift megalomaniacs you must bear the cost of undoing your aspirations too!’ To give a more jocular twist to the episode someone filed a public interest litigation contesting the Election Commission’s decision since the elephant represented one Indian deity Lord Ganesha!
The main national opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that had been reeling under tremendous pressure from both within and outside due to its recent decision to induct a tainted and expelled ex-minister of the Uttar Pradesh government finally decided to put the decision on hold. Why and how? Because in the first place, it never wanted to reverse its decision maybe due to the unavoidable interplay of big egos or maybe fearing a possible loss of votes. The tainted member himself turned magnanimous! He wrote a letter to the party high command requesting to put his membership on hold till he was cleared of all charges and allegations. In a classic case of clutching for a straw in time of emergency the BJP accepted his request!

And, at the time of too much preoccupied politicking the time could have been just right to push in some economics. So, the government of India, on January 10, 2012, notified rules to allow 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian single-brand retail sector paving the way for big international brands like IKEA to enter Asia’s third largest market and also allowing tie-up players like Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to have full ownership. To give a boost to Indian industry a condition was kept for the players to source 30% of the goods from Indian small and village industry.
This FDI move was said to be less controversial and maybe due to this the preoccupied opposition parties were yet to give their reactions. This was interesting in light of the tremendous political opposition to the Government’s earlier decision to allow 51% FDI in Indian multi-brand or supermarket sector. The opposition forced the Government to put the put the decision on hold. Though there were genuine concerns regarding the roles of supermarket giants like Wal-Mart farmers’ communities from different parts of India had in fact welcomed the policy.
Political comics are set to entertain you more till the counting takes place on March 6, 2012. Meanwhile the cover-up was completed by 5pm today--the deadline set by the Election Commission. The public interest litigation was also dismissed as 'withdrawn' due to technical faults. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mumbai Winter—Chilly Monday!

Mumbai shivered on Monday yesterday and its genuine winter after 2008 is continuing. The mercury had reached 11 degree Celsius yesterday—at least 4-5 degrees below normal—and the met office forecasts further decline in temperatures. In the coldest city of Maharashtra, Nashik, the mercury went down below five degrees. With the sun coming out strong cold breeze at daytime gets neutralized and you feel comfortable with your normal attire. But if you go out late in the night you feel the biting cold and you wake up to chilly mornings. For a change Mumbai nights are being decorated with bonfires with the most vulnerable people like watchmen, guards and night-duty staff enjoying the warmth.

 Mumbai gets such an occasional winter thanks to severe cold wave conditions in North India. From mid-December, 2011 till now acute cold wave conditions have been gripping and sweeping across the region. For the past five days it has been snowing in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh—the northernmost states. There is no respite expected al least for the next few days. 

Most Mumbaikars (inhabitants of Mumbai) are not used to winters and woollens. So they are in a sort of a dilemma the moment a rare winter hits them. They feel the pinch while going out in the mornings or returning at night, but as the day progresses things get back to near normal. So, if you decide to wear warm cloths you start sweating at noon and if you don’t then you shiver in the odd hours. You face the dilemma at home too. Going to bed with the thick blanket is fraught with grave dangers though you crave for its warmth, because very soon you feel like throwing it off. Wise people keep the ceiling fans on and balance it out cozily under the blanket. In this uncertain process of adjusting to winter many catch a sore throat or a fever or an infection keeping the doctors busy.

But some others are excitedly digging out their sweaters, jackets, overcoats, mufflers and so on from their closets and are having a great time. There is no reason why you should not enjoy. You get it only once in a while. It’s set to dip below 10! You are set to have the most biting winter in decades! Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Husband And Wife—The Law of Equality!

At the start of the New Year a good friend of mine sent me a joke on the husband-wife syndrome. While talking about a certain ‘Law of Equality’ it says,” The time taken by a wife  when she says to her waiting husband ‘I’ll get ready in five minutes’ is exactly equal to the time taken by a husband when he tells his wife from office ‘I’ll call you back in five minutes!’”

This reminds me of an old joke about couples where the law of equality seems to be maintained in some measure. “A couple quarreled bitterly and they were not on talking terms. It was night and the logjam continued. Now, the hubby had to go for an urgent appointment early in the morning and he did not believe in the alarm clock because he used to shut it up on the very first ring. He needed his wife’s help, but how? So he left a note by her pillow-side that said ‘Please wake me up at 7am’. He overslept and finally waking up found the clock striking 8. He jumped up and as he began cursing the institution of marriage he saw the note by his pillow-side. His wife’s note said ‘It’s 7! Please wake up!’

In another very crucial segment of marital existence namely ‘the division of labor’, this particular law gets a little weaker. Normally the wife is very concerned about the burden of work she is being subjected to and the burden her husband takes on or pretends to take on. If she fully manages the kitchen the husband has to take care of setting the dinner table, filling the water jars and doing the beds. But the law ultimately gets very biased and partisan. Hubby returns home after a hard day’s work looking for a warm cup of tea from his darling wife, but he faces the music instantly. His ‘over-burdened’ partner exclaims, ‘What do you do in office? Just relax in air-conditioned comfort and gossip with your friends and pretty secretaries the whole goddamned day! You make the tea for you and me too now! Else you are not going to get your supper!’ 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Corruption Remix!

Article first published as Your Liability, Our Asset! on Technorati.

Recently the main opposition party of India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), inducted into its party fold an expelled minister of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh—the largest northern state of India. The former minister, Babu Singh Kushwaha, was expelled by the Chief Minister of the state Mayawati due to his involvement in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.

Under the NRHM scheme the Government of India had released around 100,000 million Indian rupees to the state to be utilized for rural health expenditures. Following murders of two Chief Medical Officers and one death under suspicious circumstances the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took up the case about two months back. Mayawati suspected Kushwaha’s involvement in the murders too apart from the gross misuse of the funds.

The BJP’s inspiration for this act was obvious. It wanted to garner more votes since assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh were round the corner. The expelled minister belonged to a particular caste and in this feudalistic state caste-politics had been the accepted norm. If the ruling party dismissed him for corruption another party would still expect to get the votes for him from the community he belonged to.  

The problem was that the BJP had been capitalizing on the anti-corruption movement all the while and had been making maximum gains by giving support to Team Anna. So now the party found itself under tremendous pressure from within the party and from all other political parties including the ruling coalition of India. To make matters worse the CBI as part of their investigations of the NRHM scam raided many places including the residence of Kushwaha just the day after his induction and an FIR was lodged against him. Rumors were doing the rounds about his impending arrest.

In an effort of damage control the BJP cried of conspiracy on the immaculate timing of the raids, but there were not many listeners. The party spokespersons hurriedly announced that the tainted inductee would not be given a ticket for fighting elections and that he would also not be used as a star campaigner.  The party still did not reverse its decision despite a palpable rift within the party. Instead, it preferred to send a huge delegation to the President of India requesting for a special session of Parliament to pass the deadlocked Lokpal Bill trying to emphasize its continued commitment to the fight against corruption. Even though it was still not clear who really sabotaged the passing of the Bill in the upper house on that night of December 29, 2011. The BJP embarrassment made Team Anna clueless about what to do in the forthcoming assembly elections. They finally announced that they would not any campaigning for the assembly elections.

For Indian politicians getting votes is such a tremendous urge that it makes them compromise on issues so often. They try to make amends the moment they feel the compromise is going to erode another vote bank.

Fight against corruption is finally subject to politics of vote.  Meanwhile CBI has made more arrests under the NRHM scam.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


We have purchased the domain name 'ours-funarena' from Blogger and so the site name has changed from '' to ''. Our Respected Readers are also hereby notified, though anyone clicking the old URL will be redirected to the new one.

For Technorati:  NSNE8ZQF8VST

Alexa: 3tyqT6QrA5LTn-Ml1QNc9-q_YYM

Thanks all! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cricket: Sidney Blockbuster Turns Into India-Crusher!

Team India lost a great opportunity with history behind and history-to-be-made ahead. They won the toss and elected to bat first—a tremendous advantage in a match they wanted to do well. The so-called best batting line-up of the world flopped miserably. If 13 wickets fell in the first day of the second cricket test between India and Australia in Sidney it was due to Indian batting failure and if only one wicket fell on the second day today it was Australian supremacy.

Doubtful starter for the series Ricky Ponting went from strength to strength—scoring two half centuries in the two innings of the first test in Melbourne and scoring his 40th ton here in Sidney. He scored this ton after two years. Well, there is a saying about Team India’s proverbial generosity—if someone or a team is hopelessly out of form, play with India because India would restore the confidence lost in overflowing measure! Australia looked to be a team in disarray prior to the start of the series and now, they look set to dominate world cricket once again.

It’s really inexplicable how seasoned batsmen like Gambhir, Laxman and Kohli could go on doing absolutely nothing for the team. Sachin Tendulkar looked good and set for a historical performance, but finally it was a far cry from what the whole of cricket world wanted of him. And, for an ominous change, Indian bowlers lacked penetration with at least three strike bowlers in action. Australia scored 366 runs today—at the rate of over four runs per over like in one day affairs. They finished the second day at a mammoth 482 for 4.

There is already a lead of 291 runs and Australia look poised to take it beyond 500 with 6 wicket in still intact. Now, only calculations that are possible would be the margin of defeat for India. Get ready to read the headline, ‘Australia crush India by an innings and __ runs!’ You need just to fill in the blank assuming of course India stick to its time tested policy of generosity. It could very well be over on the third day tomorrow itself or the agony may prolong to the fourth day too.

A miracle? Certainly not plausible at the present state of things. India skipper Dhoni has no answers or excuses to offer though he got an unbeaten fifty. Australian captain Michael Clarke is oozing confidence leading from the front and achieving his first double ton, still unbeaten at 250 plus. A repeat of the England drubbing seems to be the final result.  

The tigers on flat and slow pitches at home are just running away from the prey while out of home environs. Again and again. Very disappointing indeed. Not that we are obsessed with Indian win only. But, at least give a brave fight and make the matches interesting. 

Remembering Kamalananda Bhattacharyya--the Poet-Composer-Freedom Fighter of Assam!

Today is the 62nd Death Anniversary of Poet-Composer-Singer-Playwright-Actor-Freedom Fighter Bauli Kavi Kamalananda Bhattacharyya. 

On behalf of Shrutinaad, music lovers and our most respected readers we offer glowing tributes to the legendary Poet-Artiste of Assam. 


Monday, January 2, 2012

Cricket: Sidney’s 100th Test! Sachin’s Hundredth 100 Too?

The second cricket Test between India and Australia will be played from tomorrow at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). All eyes are obsessively focused at the moment on this much awaited duel between the two giants of test cricket.

Apart from the classic cricket rivalries the Test is of great interest for two reasons. First the celebrated Australian cricket ground in Sydney is going to hold its hundredth test match. Second Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has not yet achieved his hundredth feat—a century of international centuries. The batting maestro has a great record in Sydney with two tons and one double ton  during his four series outings in Australia. In 1992 he became the youngest ever test cricketer to score a ton in Australia.

Australians fans are happy for the hundredth test at their favorite venue. They will be elated if Australia defeats India to take an invincible lead in the four-match series. Indian fans will be crazy with joy and pride if Team India win and level the series. And, all cricket lovers of the world will definitely relish the historic moment if Sachin Tendulkar achieves the epic milestone. 

Indian skipper Dhoni has been down, but not out. He has to make a point or two while leading his team. The famed batting line-up must deliver for any chance of winning. Apart from Sachin SCG has been a favorite hunting ground for VVS Laxman too. The pitch here too is friendlier than Melbourne or Perth and historically it favors spin bowlers. The curator of SCG promises that the pitch would favor both the teams equally.

 Meantime, Australia had been back at its usual mind games. Considering Indian batsmen’s eternal weakness to rising balls outside the off stump, witnessed in the Melbourne test too, the Kangaroos had been floating reports about taking an all pace attack or at least four pacers—one more than at Melbourne. True to their aggressive competitiveness skipper Michael Clarke’s comment on Sachin’s expected hundredth hundred is interesting, ‘We will be very happy if he accomplishes the feat, but we will not allow it here. Let him achieve that in some other series?’

A big match indeed it’s going to be—a blockbuster so to say! Considering the fact that the two teams have come to Sydney after the most controversial test played in 2007-08 series here. That was also the second test starting 2-6 January with India being drubbed as usual in the first test. This test witnessed 11 huge umpiring errors—10 going against India. Steve Bucknor who delivered most of the blunders never umpired again. Then, there was the racist bout between Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh. One Australian newspaper reportedly wrote that it would not support for Sachin’s feat, because Sachin favored Harbhajan in that black abusive duel! That test would never be forgotten thanks also to the twist in the last day when India crumbled in just two sessions turning a to-be-drawn match on its head. One more interesting fact--Australia won that test by 122 runs! Remember Melbourne?

Dare miss the Blockbuster? The Test starts at 5am Indian time. Go to sleep early tonight and get ready!

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