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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Micromax Cup Cricket: India Win ODI Series Against Sri Lanka!

India have won the five-match one day international cricket series  defeating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the fourth match played in Colombo today. Taking an unassailable lead of 3-1 India is thus set to take home the Micromax Cup in Sri Lanka. The last match to be played in Pallekele on August 4, 2012 is reduced to a formality, but, of course, both teams would like to exit the series positively with a win. 

For the second time in Colombo Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. They made a solid start with openers Dilshan (42) and Tharanga (51) putting up 91 runs for the first wicket. The Indian pacers were not effective and went wicketless. Thiramanne chipped in well today made 47 runs with able support from Chandimal. Sri Lanka were poised for a huge total crossing 150 in the 31st over with the loss of only two wickets. But the slide happened just then.

Though Indian skipper Dhoni’s blue eyed boy Rohit Sharma was not dropped after two consecutive ducks Manoj Tiwary was brought in. Rahul Sharma who was found guilty in a Mumbai rev party case recently and whose selection in the second match was itself in question was dropped to make way for Tiwary. Basically an attacking batsman, Tiwary is also known for his useful leg break bowling. He was introduced in that crucial moment. He captured the wicket of Chandimal immediately and went on to capture 4 wickets engineering a Sri Lankan collapse. But for some rearguard action by Herath and Malinga Sri Lanka would not have reached a respectable score. The final score of 251/8 was competitive in Lankan home conditions. Ashwin supported Tiwary well with 2 wickets.

Set 252 for a series win India started badly losing Gambhir in the first over. But Sehwag and Kohli took command of the innings and took the score past 50 in the 10th over when Sehwag fell to a brilliant catch by substitute Senanayake for 34 runs. Rohit Sharma came in and failed again playing 14 balls doggedly for just 4 runs. Tiwary could not make a significant contribution with the bat and fell to Mendis for 21 runs. There was some amount of concern with India at 109/4 in the 24th over, but Kohli stood there like a wall and Suresh Raina was in his flourishing form. Kohli went on to score his 14th century (128 not out) and with Raina (58 not out) he made sure India win by 6 wickets with 46 ball remaining at the final score of 255/4.This was Virat Kohli's fifth century in last eight innings and now after Yuvraj Singh, he has got the tag--if Virat scores a century India win!

Sri Lanka was today without the services of wicketkeeper-batsman Sangakkara which was a dampener for then on a must-win match to keep alive in the series. Several lapses on the field added to their woes. Their bowlers also gave out listless performances. The Scorecard:

Virat Kohli was rightfully adjudged the man of the match.

Biggest Power Crisis: Half Of India In Darkness!

Three power grids in northern, eastern and north eastern India collapsed around noon today plunging 20 states and 2 Union Territories of India in darkness. The northern grid collapsed yesterday putting almost whole of north India into darkness. The situation instead of improving worsened today with all three grids linking 22 states collapsing. Six hundred million people, half of Indian population, had been affected. The astonishing part of this massive failure was that nobody knew exactly why it happened. Even those in 'power' did not know why half of the nation became powerless!

Some of the blame had been given to few states for overdrawing power from the affected grids. Putting a stop to a possible start of the blame game the new Minister of Power said that the power situation had to be managed better for development of the country. In fact, in a major cabinet reshuffle today P Chidambaram, the erstwhile Home Minister, was given the Finance portfolio; Sushil Kumar Shinde, the erstwhile Power Minister, was given the Home portfolio and the Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily was given additional charge of the Power portfolio. The reshuffle became necessary after the former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the new President of India.

As per latest reports power had been fully restored in the north eastern region and in the rest of the states it was likely to be restored within few hours. With drought fears looming large in several states due to scanty rains the present power disaster gains more significance. Rain deficit in Mumbai and in many parts of Maharashtra has got even bigger in the month of July, 2012. 

As a great relief all of the 200 miners trapped in four underground minefield of West Bengal due to the power failure had been rescued. Train services in many parts of the country had been in complete disarray, apart from the problems faced by more than half of Indian population.

Let there be Power to the nation and to the people!

Monday, July 30, 2012

London Olympics: India Win The First Medal!

In a land of over one billion people one single medal counts too, it's not necessary that it be a gold one. It is like just one droplet in a vast ocean, but it still creates ripples throughout. That is India! Basically, a land of happy people for whom even the slightest opportunity is good enough to rejoice and feel proud of their country. In such special moments people do not bother about their problems--ranging from poverty, illiteracy, social exploitation and horrific violence to stark inequalities. The people of this miraculous country had an occasion to rejoice today. 

On the third day of the London Olympics-2012 today one Indian won a medal. Gagan Narang did it in the10m Air Rifle shooting event, after Beijing Olympics-2008 gold medalist Indian hero Abhinav Bindra crashed out in the qualifying round. This achievement comes after a series of failures in various disciplines and only a few random cases where the competitors will have another chance to go further. 

Gagan Narang won only a Bronze medal placed in the third position. He could not win the Gold or the Silver. But the Indian media channels cried that Gagan had created history. Yes it is, because he gave India its very first medal of the London Olympics-2012. Yes it is, because this act is set to inspire all athletes in the coming days. Yes it is, because such achievers do not have godfathers or sponsors. 

The people of India are celebrating! And, we join in wholeheartedly too! The President, the Prime Minister, the Sports Minister and all people of position in India have flooded Gagan with greetings. A huge cash award has been declared by the state he belongs to. If you make a study in the diversity of India you will focus ultimately on Sports, cricket apart, as the single most powerful unifying agent. Just think, if there is all round promotion of general sports in the country what a happy and beaming lot this land and its people would be! 

What is the morale of the story? Well, if even small things can make you so happy you have hardly anything to worry about in life. Envy us? 

Let us hope India make the richest Gold harvest in history this time in London

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Micromax Cup Cricket: India Win A Thriller Against Sri Lanka!

India broke today Sri Lanka’s record of never losing a one day match at home after setting a 250+ target batting first against any team. And, the partnership that broke the record was the highest Indian sixth wicket partnership against SL in SL. Suresh Raina (65 off only 45 balls) and Irfan Pathan (34 off 31) crafted an exhilarating unbeaten partnership of 92 runs off 69 ball to romp India home in a thriller going down the wire.
For the third one day international of the Micromax Cup between India and Sri Lanka the venue shifted to Preamdasa Stadium in Colombo. Both the teams made one change each. India brought in pacer Dinda in place of expensive Yadav and SL replaced out-of-form Thirimanne with Jevan Mendis. And, SL won the toss this time electing to bat first.
Batting first on a pitch that offered both bounce and movement Sri Lanka was in trouble immediately. Relishing the conditions Indian star pacer Zaheer Khan found his best immediately and captured the wickets of both the openers, Dilshan and Tharanga, in quick time. Irfan Pathan who could swing the ball too in favorable conditions caught Chandimal leg before wicket and SL were reduced to 20/3 in the 6th over. But unlike India SL did not capitulate from then onwards.
Sangakkara (73) and skipper Mahela Jaywardene (65) showed their class and concentrated on building the innings, mixing aggression with care, taking Sri Lanka to a position of considerable safety at 141/4 in the 30th over when Mahela got out. The SL innings never lost momentum and a terrific unbroken partnership between Mathews (71) and newcomer Jevan Mendis (45) took the score to 286/5 in allotted 50 overs. It was a very competitive score and the match was tantalizingly set up for a tight finish.
Chasing a stiff target of 287 runs India did not start well with an uncertain Sehwag falling to Perera in the 2nd over. Gambhir who had been stroking the ball well from early on found an able partner in Virat Kohli and they batted on aggressively to create a launching pad to chase down the target. A run-rate of almost 6 runs per over was maintained throughout their entertaining partnership. Sri Lankan tactics to rush through the overs by their spinners proved successful as Herath captured an impatient Kohli caught and bowled in the 21st over with India at 113/2. Neither Rohit Sharma, Indian skipper Dhoni’s blue eyed boy, nor Suresh Raina came in; instead, Dhoni put himself in at that juncture surprising everyone. He could have played a masterstroke then and there. With Gambhir continuing from his good knock in the last match Dhoni succeeded in scripting a fruitful partnership. Dhoni opted for the batting powerplay in the 35th over.
But alas, the SL striker Malinga had still five over left. He was reintroduced the moment batting powerplay was taken and he produced two perfect yorkers. The first one cleaned bowled the skipper and the second one got his blue eyed boy lbw for a first ball duck. Malinga was on a hattrick and India were suddenly reduced to 180/4 in the 36th over needing 107 runs 88 balls. The ominous batting powerplay played spoilsport for India one more time! Raina played the hattrick ball for a single. The Sri Lanka crowds sensed a rout and started supporting their team with vigor. Tension built up for the Indian fans.
Gautam Gambhir completed a brilliant century of 102 runs off 101 balls, but immediately after fell run out to a direct throw by Udana with India still needing 91 runs in 69 balls. That was distinctly advantage Sri Lanka as the last recognized Indian batting pair was in. But Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan had other ideas. 
Mixing aggression with caution, subduing impulses with discretion the pair went on stoutly with the asking rate touching almost 9 per over and overcame all hurdles. Finally they made it 12 runs of 12 balls and from that position India could not afford to lose with five wickets still in hand. India reached 288/5 in the 4th ball of the last over and won by 5 wickets with 2 balls to spare. Sri Lankan crowds were disappointed, but they appreciated a match that was a real edge of the seat affair. Dashing Suresh Raina was the natural choice for the Man of the Match award.
India go up 2-1 in the Micromax Cup ODI cricket series against Sri Lanka with the fourth match coming up on July 31 in Colombo. The Scorecard:
A memorable treat of an absolute cricket cliffhanger that would perhaps lessen the disappointment of a bad Indian first day at the London Olympics today after a dazzling opening ceremony last night.

Friday, July 27, 2012

London Olympics-2012 Opening Tonight!

The much awaited London Olympics-2012  starts tonight, the 27th July with a grand opening ceremony planned in some amount of secrecy by the celebrated filmmaker Danny Boyle (famous in India for his controversial and yet Oscar winning movie The Slumdog Millionaire). But in India the Olympics would actually start in the wee hours tomorrow, the 28th of July. After a series of controversies concerning sponsorship, concerning India and concerning serious security issues the once-in-four-year mega World Event is finally going to unfold in all its grandeur.
India is very big country, but its presence in the Olympics has always been little—in terms of medals won particularly Gold medals. This is unfortunate and is mainly the result of a commercial approach to sports with sponsors coming  forward to put money in only money-spinning games like cricket. The government’s policy has been lukewarm too with a lot of former or promising athletes rotting in uninhabitable environs or in unthinkable jobs. This time India has sent the largest contingent ever (83 athletes) to London Olympics, but the medal hopes have not increased in a proportionate way. In all, 11,000 athletes from 204 nations will be competing for honors in 39 disciplines.
In London Olympics-2012 the Indian medal hopes mainly emanate from Archery, Shooting, Wrestling, Boxing and Badminton only, though India is participating in 13 disciplines. Narsingh Yadav is a gold medal hope in 74kg freestyle wrestling. He is the son of a milkman in Mumbai slums. He had already won gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in 2010. And, he continues to live in the slums, though people here want him to make Mumbai proud! As per the latest news the Government of Maharashtra had offered him an officer’s job in the state police services.
In India’s national game Hockey, it is yes-yes and no-no depending on the mercurial team’s  performances on the particular days. In Tennis, you never know. Indian Tennis stars had recently proved their expertise in petty egoistic fights only. Some people hope for medals from the Bhupathy-Bopanna pair in men’s doubles though they crashed out unceremoniously in the Wimbledon-2012. Some pin their hopes on the Leander-Sania pair in mixed doubles. 

More Indian medals would certainly make the Indian fans happy, but the grand spectacle of the Olympics is set to regale one and all just for the sheer excellence of it. People across the country will be able to enjoy the London Olympics-2012 on the national channel of Doordarshan


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Assam Violence: The Dynamics Of Continuity!

Assam is burning. Widespread ethnic violence for the last three days has 38 people killed, over 200,000 people fleeing from homes to 150 relief camps and 500 villages abandoned. This is the inevitable outcome of a continuous process of neglect, political mismanagement and brutalization making such violence occur again and again in a land that was so serenely beautiful with peace loving simple and hospitable people. The root cause being the unchecked infiltration from Bangladesh since decades.
Assam has been like another India within India with its tremendous diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, language and religion. During British rule Assam was a bigger state along with the princely states of Manipur and Tripura to constitute the full North Eastern region of India. After independence states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram were formed out of Assam due to ethnic distinction and self assertion. But even the reduced Assam managed to still retain much of its diversity with numerous hill and plains tribes and the larger Assamese people of the Brahmaputra river valley.
The neglect syndrome started right after Independence with the central government of India failing to recognize the realities. Mismanagement at the local level by the state governments made the situation worse. The tribal chunks of population felt alienated and neglected. The first incident of tribal self assertion was by the Bodos—the largest plains tribe of Assam—who demanded a separate state as far back as in 1967.
The infiltration from Bangladesh had its origins during the British rule when that region was not a foreign country and therefore its people had been welcomed into Assam. They started living in areas and started doing jobs that were unthinkable for largely white collar Assamese community. The concept of large vote banks originated from that time.
With local governments firmly in power after Independence the influx of foreign nationals went on unabated thanks to a lack of foresight of the selfish politicians. They needed the illegal immigrants to vote them back to power again and again. Things came to a head when 45,000 names of illegal migrants were discovered in the voters’ list of a single assembly constituency in 1978. The Assam Agitation started in 1979 as a knee-jerk reaction by the larger Assamese community and it raged on till the Assam Accord was signed in 1985.
The varied ethnic groups now felt threatened on two counts—the unchecked infiltration already creating economic pressures, and the increasing domination of the agitating Assamese community. Almost every tribal group began asserting their right to self determination and existence. While the Assam agitation led to the growth of an extremist wing wanting Assam separated from India the tribal groups too started countering it with their terror outfits. The situation became volatile and extremely complex.
But one solution that could have helped all distinctive communities was stopping infiltration from Bangladesh. Despite promises made in the Assam Accord to deport post-1971 foreign nationals and sealing the border with fences nothing happened over the years. Even the students-led government that came to power in Assam in 1985 concentrated on making capital out of it and never tried hard enough to solve the crisis for which they started the agitation. So far only some parts of the India-Bangladesh border have been fenced, but the waterways remain as free as ever.
The full demography of a diverse Assam changed. One more irony was that the infiltrators belonged to main religions of Assam and they also spoke an Indian language. Therefore, the infiltrators freely mixed with local population and it became impossible to identify who was who. Suspicions on legal citizens created more insecurity and minority groups too started forming along with their extremist outfits.
During our studying days in Delhi University the Assam agitation was at its peak. We had an association of Assamese students there and used to carry out protest demonstrations and to meet prominent political leaders to make them understand the reality. Since those times we have been telling our fellow Indians that Assam is against only foreigners and not Indians, and that the agitation is never communal. Even today in our society in Assam there is perfect communal harmony and it is difficult to distinguish us by religion. 
Why Assam is burning now is not due to communal tension, it is due to economic pressures, land disputes, feelings of insecurity and even existential uncertainties. Like on earlier occasions a land dispute led to the riots that are raging even now. Vested interests like motivated politicians, local and cross border terror outfits and self-centered leaders could definitely be the other fueling agents.
The political, economic, social and cultural degeneration of Assam seems to be heading for the ultimate disaster. The future of Assam is at stake. Acton must be taken once and for all…now! Wisdom can no longer afford to be incident specific. One cannot just afford to wait for the next catastrophe.
Assam is burning, Assam is bleeding. Assam is cut off from the rest of India for the last two days. Save Assam. NOW!  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Micromax Cup Cricket: Sri Lanka Thrash India In Second ODI!

Indian cricket tour of Sri Lanka-2012. The same venue of Hambantota like in the first one day international that India won by 21 runs following a powerful batting display. Only the strip was different and Indian skipper Dhoni happened to see some more grass there, and that a strong wind was blowing. But Lankan skipper Mahela said it was dead grass, but, of course, wind was unusual in that venue. Again, a same day and night affair like in the first.

The same result in the toss—India winning. The same decision—to bat first. And, the same team, no changes. But for a change the Indian innings began well today. They had a brisk start scoring 31 runs under 4 overs with Gambhir and Sehwag going strong. Then, it was entirely a different tale to tell.  

Virender Sehwag started the slide giving a fierce Perera his first wicket. It was a downhill journey then onwards. Classy Virat Kohli fell to Perera for just 1 in the sixth over. Rohit Sharma who failed in the first ODI too was the third to go in the 7th over bowled by Matthews for a duck. Raina joined in the hara-kiri by getting out to Perera in the 8th over. India were reduced to 41/4 with Perera capturing three wickets for just 15 runs in six overs.

Skipper Dhoni was expected to try steadying the innings as Gautam Gambhir was holding fort in the other end. But that was not to be. Dhoni was removed by Matthews pretty soon. With some rearguard action by R Ashwin (21 run out) Gambhir managed to take the score to 138 when he was the last man out for 65—the highest score of the innings. India were bowled out for 138 in 33.3 overs. It was one of the numerous unpredictable batting collapses for a team supposedly having the strongest batting lineup of the world. For Sri Lanka Perera and Matthews took three wickets each while Malinga chipped in late with two wickets including that of Gambhir. Ominously for India, the last wicket fell in the first over of the batting powerplay—an area of constant concern.

A target of 139 runs in full quota of fifty overs for a strong team like Sri Lanka at home was farthest from a respectable one. It was not a good target even for a T20 game! The Sri Lankan innings started after the usual 10 minute break as it was early days for dinner. They started confidently and headed for a professional finish. The Indian bowlers had a task cut out for them.

The agony for India was mercifully over as early as in the 20th over. The Indian bowlers seemed to have just completed the formality of delivering the balls, giving away as many as 24 extras. Openers Tharanga (59 not out) and Dilshan (50) almost did the job and Sri Lanka won by 9 wickets. TC Perera was adjudged the man of the match. It was a magnificent victory for Sri Lanka who outplayed India in all departments of the game. India suffered a humiliation today and questions are likely to be raised again on Dhoni’s persistence with Rohit Sharma with Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary sitting in the reserves. India cannot hope to regain the No.1 position in ICC rankings in this series either, because for that they needed to win 5-0. The Scorecard:

The scores are level at 1-1 in the five match ODI series and the competition is set to get keener. The third one day international is coming up on July 28 in Colombo

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Indian Presidential Elections-2012: Pranab Mukherjee New President!

The Republic of India has got a new President elected today, July 22, 2012. Pranab Mukherjee, the former Finance Minister and the chief trouble shooter for the coalition government of India, has been declared elected for the top office. The poll for the post took place on 19th July and counting of votes was taken up from today.

As expected, Pranab Mukherjee swept the elections winning nearly 70 percent of total votes cast. He got astounding support from the members of the Indian Parliament irrespective of party lines. The votes in the Indian states split up depending on which political party the particular state government belonged to, but there were surprises too in some of them in favor of Pranab. The fact that Pranab Mukherjee was a candidate no political party could possibly object got vindicated in the results.

It had been a straight contest between the UPA-2 (United Progressive Alliance—the ruling coalition) nominated Pranab Mukherjee and the largely self-styled candidate PA Sangma who was proposed by two regional parties initially and got nominated in the last minute by the NDA (National Democratic Alliance—the opposition of India), of course, with quite a few differences within it.

The Indian Presidential Election is not a direct poll with the people of the country voting while it is a direct election in the US. The system of Indian Presidential Poll is based on proportionate voting—the voters being the Members of both houses of Parliament (MP) and the Members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLA) and the Legislative councils of the states and union territories of the country. The value of the vote of An MLA is arrived at by dividing the total population of the state by the number of MLAs of that state multiplied by 1000. The vote value of an MP is arrived at by dividing the total of MLAs’ vote value by the number of MPs. Then both of the vote values are added to arrive at the grand total votes of the country. To get elected a Presidential candidate has to cross the halfway benchmark of total vote value.

In the Indian Presidential Elections-2012 Pranab Mukherjee secured 7, 13,763 votes crossing the halfway mark of 5, 25,140 votes with quite a few members abstaining. PA Sangma could secure only 3, 15,987 votes. Messages of greeting poured in for Pranab and the Prime Minister, the Congress President and other dignitaries visited him at his residence. The defeated candidate PA Sangma congratulated Pranab too, but at the same time he announced his resolve to go to the court alleging bias and partisanship in the process of the Presidential Elections-2012.

After a lot of twists and turns, and bouts of acrimony in the race to the Presidential Elections, India has finally got a worthy personality for the top post. Congratulations to Pranab Mukherjee! He is the 13th President of India to be elected and will be sworn in on July 25, 2012. The outgoing President Pratibha Patil is scheduled to deliver a farewell address to the nation on the evening of July 24.

Now it is over to the people of USA for electing their President.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Micromax Cup Cricket: India Win The First ODI Against Sri Lanka!

India defeated Sri Lanka by 21 runs in the first one day international cricket match at Hambantota in Sri Lanka today.
India won the toss and elected to bat first. The start was a little shaky with Gautam Gambhir getting out early and Sehwag, joining the team after a break, was living dangerously. But with the ever dependable Virat Kohli the duo steadied the innings and very soon anchored the team for a big total. Settling down to his attacking best Sehwag looked good for a century, but was unfortunately run out for 96. Kohli showed his class by notching up his fourth hundred in five matches scoring 106 runs off 113 balls. With a sound knock of 54 by Suresh Raina and a cameo by skipper Dhoni Team India reached an imposing total of 314/6 in allotted fifty overs. For Sri Lanka all their bowlers proved to be expensive and only Perera managed to capture three Indian wickets.
Set a daunting target of 315 runs Sri Lanka too started shakily losing Dilshan early to Irfan Pathan. They kept on losing wickets at regular intervals with only Sangakkara solidly defending one end. Skipper Mahela Jaywardene too fell for a low score. At 191/6 in 38 overs the job looked to be almost done for India, but Sangakkara went on to score a brilliant century and laid a challenging partnership with Perera--the most successful bowler in the Indian innings. The duo threatened to take the match away from India.  
Irfan Pathan and R Ashwin bowled economically for India. Coming back into the team Zaheer Khan conceded 63 run in his 10 overs capturing only one Sri Lankan wicket. Pathan, Yadav and Ashwin took two wickets each.
Finally the target proved to be too tall for Sri Lanka to overhaul. Sangakkara’s wicket in the 48th over was the final blow. He made 133 runs, but failed to see his team through. Their innings folded up for 293 falling short by 21 runs.
India has made a good beginning winning the first one day international, a feat they normally fail to accomplish on most foreign tours. Virat Kohli was the natural choice for the man of the match. India go up 1-0 against Sri Lanka in the five match series with the second one day international coming up on July 24. The Scorecard: 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Micromax Cup Cricket: India Vs Sri Lanka ODI Series From Tomorrow!

Team India is set to kick off the new cricket season. They meet their traditional rivals Sri Lanka in the first one-day international tomorrow at Hambantota, in Sri Lanka. The India-Sri Lanka bilateral cricket series hosted by Sri Lanka is part of the Future Cricket Tour Programs (FTP) prepared by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

India Tour of Sri Lanka-2012 consists of five one day internationals to be played during July 21-August 4 and just one Twenty20 international on August 7. Most members of Team India attended a two-day warm up camp in Chennai before coming to Sri Lanka. While Sachin Tendulkar opted for rest Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan have come back into the team.

India skipper MS Dhoni is under pressure to perform after the disappointments of the Australia Tri-Series and the Asia Cup, and the slide in ICC rankings. Seemingly refreshed by a hard-earned rest of about two months Dhoni had said during the camp that their performance would show what improvement the team had made in the meantime. Dhoni would take heart from the fact that he has a good record in Sri Lanka winning 10 out of 17 ODIs played there. Differences apart, Team India got a boost with the return of Sehwag who can now partner Gambhir again. Zaheer’s return is also going to strengthen the team’s bowling attack. The presence of Ajinkya Rahane in the team is also a plus, but his inclusion in the final eleven is uncertain.

This series is important due to several reasons. First, the T20 World Cup is going to be played in Sri Lanka in September, 2012. Second, Team India faces up to a very hectic season hosting tours of New Zealand, England, Pakistan and Australia in the coming months. And not the least, India is going to play all of these in sub-continental conditions and is not scheduled to set foot abroad till late 2013.

Let us brace up for an exciting cricket series! The Schedule!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rajesh Khanna: The First Indian Superstar Passes Away!

A small town of Assam—long time ago. The town had only one movie theatre and every Friday there was a change of movies. As small kids we were always focused on the movies being screened there. On Fridays, a cycle-rickshaw covered with huge posters and fitted with a loud speaker used to roam the town streets announcing the new movie. It came to our area too and we used to wait eagerly for the spectacle.                     
On a particular Friday the spectacle arrived and it announced the release of a new film called ‘Aradhana’ (Worship-1969) with a brand new hero named Rajesh Khanna. We never heard about him before. Songs of the movie were also being played and we got instantly attracted. We decided to watch the movie pretty soon. But rumors of a particular song (we came to know much later that the sexy song was captured in one camera take) prevented our parents giving the green signal. They watched it first and then fortunately for us thought it prudent to allow us to go for it. 
And we came to know Rajesh Khanna. We were never able to take our eyes off him ever. We desperately waited to watch one and every of his movies—as a classic romantic hero, as an action hero, as a comedy hero, as a tragedy hero and to the character roles in later years. His style of acting, his gait, his dialogue delivery, his facial contortions, his unique singing and dancing flair, his mannerisms and gestures and every detail about him got embedded in our mind since those childhood days. If his ‘Haathi Mere Sathi’ (Elephant My Partner-1971) fascinated us with the spectacle of a child being brought up by a pack of wild elephants, unheard of in those days in our parts, his family drama ‘Bawarchi’ (The Chef-1972) made us long for the movie again and again to cherish its heavenly goodness.
We started growing up with the Phenomenon of India Cinema. ‘Aradhana’ gave him instant nationwide fame that was incredible in those times when there were no television channels. Due to ill health of Mohammad Rafi who was signed to sing the songs Kishore Kumar was brought in and his voice became a made-for-each-other for Rajesh Khanna giving rise to the eternal controversy about who helped whom to rise to fame. Within the next three years from 1969 Rajesh Khanna gave as many as 16 super hits. The first superstar of Indian Cinema was thus born and we were the proud beholders of history being made—Rajesh Khanna becoming an integral part of Indian folklore. 
The greatest Bollywood hero had been unwell for the last few days with complaints of fatigue and exhaustion. He was moving in and out of a local Mumbai hospital. It had been a very painful experience for his millions of fans to see the superstar, the Phenomenon, the Indian actor legend reduced to a skeleton. But that is reality and it is always hard.
Rajesh Khanna was shifted back home yesterday and he passed away at his home in Mumbai today—the 18th of July, 2012 at the age of 69. A date that is going to remain with us forever. Bollywood has been stunned today and thousands of his fans are thronging his home here in Mumbai. The police and security personnel are having a real tough time controlling the surging crowds.
The mortal remains of Rajesh Khannal will be assigned to flames tomorrow—the 19th of July—at 11am. We pray for the eternal bliss of the departed soul.
Rajesh Khanna is here to stay to go on entertaining and enthralling his fans all around the globe. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Indian Presidential Elections-2012: Finally Mamata U-Turns To Support Pranab!

After ushering in the most bizarre twist to the Indian Presidential Elections-2012 and after maintaining the most unmitigated suspense over her party's support Mamata Bannerji, finally, decided to vote for Pranab Mukherjee--the Presidential candidate nominated by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA-2). The unstoppable Chief Minister of West Bengal had earlier said that her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), would declare its decision 72 hours before the polling date on July 19, 2012. And today, with less than 48 hours to go, she informed the press in Kolkata that her party had no other option but to support Pranab and that she was doing it to uphold democratic traditions as abstaining from voting would've amounted to betrayal of the people. If fact, after her Kalam drama Mamata became helpless as her partner-of-the-day Mulayam Singh Yadav dumped her the moment Pranab Mukherjee’s name was officially announced. But the firebrand leader maintained even today that Pranab was a poor choice and Kalam had been the ideal one.
Anyway, the  'dear sister' had finally come out in favor of her ‘elder brother' perhaps thus ending the dilemma of the people of West Bengal in being able now to freely rejoice over the prospect of having the first ever Bengali President of the country. In the preceding days Mamata had been continuously approached by both Pranab Mukherjee and the self-styled Presidential candidate PA Sangma for her precious support. Now, the road for Pranab's landslide victory is almost clear while PA Sangma would be feeling utterly disappointed and maybe even let down. The Presidential Poll had become a contest thanks to the last minute decision of the main national opposition party (BJP) to nominate PA Sangma. 
Meanwhile, the process of electing India's Vice-President had also begun with UPA-2 nominating the present VP Hamid Ansari for a second term and the opposition's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominating veteran BJP leader, Jaswant Singh, for the post. The Vice-Presidential Elections-2012 is also poised for a straight contest between the two with odds in favor of Hamid Ansari as all of UPA-2 partners and the Left alliance had decided to support him. While several NDA partners who shied away to vote for Pranab Mukherjee had come back into the alliance to vote for Jaswant Singh the latter's chances were still considered dim. The ‘democratic’ contests for the prestigious posts of the country have come about thanks to a 'committed' opposition who does not believe in 'consensus' in the nation's interest and desperately want a mid-term poll to further aggravate the inflationary trends for which it always condemns the ruling coalition! 
'Pained' Mamata reiterated again her 'commitment' to oppose the ruling coalition from within on economic reforms that she did not believe in and true to her nature she kept the suspense on regarding her support for the Vice-Presidential candidate. For a change she did not mention the mandatory hours, but only said there was still enough time! Reports suggest she is most likely to support Ansari too as the Prime Minister had already requested her.
All set now for the 14th Indian Presidential Elections-2012 on 19th July and the results to be declared on July 22, 2012. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cricket: India To Host ODI Series With Pakistan In December!

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed to host a One-Day International Cricket Series with Pakistan in India this December. The decision was taken at meeting held in New Delhi today. The series will consist of three one-day internationals (ODI) and two T20 matches. The ODIs are likely to be held in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai while the shortest games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The landmark decision means the two greatest rivals in cricket lore will be having a bilateral cricket series after a gap of five years. The last bilateral series was hosted by India too in 2007 when India won both the one-day and the Test series. The decision comes after persistent requests by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in recent months. The PCB wanted bilateral cricket series to be played either in Pakistan or in neutral territories, but the BCCI was not in favor of playing Team India in Pakistan. The cricket link between the two countries snapped after the horrific Mumbai terror attack in 2008 and Pakistan’s consistent policy of denial and contradictions.

The landmark decision means the people of the two countries now need not wait for either the World Cup or the Asia Cup to relish the classic encounters between their favorite teams. This means a new beginning in opening up cricket ties between the two neighboring and yet strife-torn countries.

The landmark decision has also started the politics of the game of cricket. While the PCB welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly the Congress of the Indian ruling coalition and the opposition alliance partners, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, had opposed the BCCI decision. The Congress in Maharashtra requested for considering people’s sentiments while the Shiv Sena has continued with its traditional anti-Pakistan stand, though in IPL-5 when ex-Pakistan cricketer Azhar Mahmood was playing in the party’s headquarters, Mumbai, it preferred to remain silent. The main opposition party BJP too decided to oppose while it’s most prominent veteran and the leader of the opposition in the upper house of Indian Parliament was very much a part of the BCCI decision. Surprisingly, the legendary little master of Indian cricket, Sunil Gavaskar, had criticized BCCI for the initiative. He held that as a person belonging to Mumbai he could not support reviving Indo-Pak cricket ties in view of Pakistan’s obstinate non-cooperation in the Mumbai terror attack investigations.

Politics and critique apart, the cricket lovers of both countries would definitely rejoice at the prospect of the titanic clashes about to unfold. Of course, one cannot wish away national interest and the dangers to it, but cricket between the two countries is sure to strengthen the national spirit in both which in turn is expected to strengthen strained relations. Pakistan would do much better by coming out boldly on anti-terror initiative and ending its eternal mode of denial.

Cheers for cricket and better neighborly relations!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Crimes Against Women: India Back In Medieval Times!

In the Middle Ages India was utterly divided along dynastic states and those of the invaders apart from the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, caste and religious divisions already inherent. There was tremendous infighting too and therefore security in a particular locality or fief was a great concern. So the feudal lords decided what was best for them, set the harshest rules for the society and enforced those with vigor.
The feudal lords were predominantly the land owners and they commanded most of other wealth like livestock and natural resources of the fief. Women too were considered as part of their property and that defined the larger relationship issues for the society.
The feudal lords of the 21st century India continue to remain as reactionary and as powerful as in those times. They still decide what is best for them and accordingly for the society. The 21st century India remains utterly divided too despite the formation of a republic after Independence in 1947. India of the medieval ages and India of the 21st century stand united though only on one front—dominating, suppressing, oppressing, torturing and exploiting women.
They consider women as commodities of the use and throw kind and user friendliness is always a must condition. At best, they consider women as reproductive machines and here too if they find the machines starting to wear off they go for new and newer ones. They just cannot tolerate any spark of individuality in women. They want them for all the services from cooking onwards…and of course with the utmost loyalty at all times. They commit all the crimes and ridicule the idea of punishment for themselves. But if a woman dares committing even an innocuous mistake, forget crimes, her fate gets sealed as per the set rules of their society.
This sickening male domination infects all spheres of life of medieval India or modern India—the administration from the village onwards, the police, the military, the judiciary and the government. If a wronged woman approaches any of these authorities the first suspicion will be on her character—what exactly she did to invite the atrocity, what exactly she wore and what exactly she ate or drank. The victim of malevolent male atrocity becomes the accused very fast as per set patterns.
Forget about what the sick and malignant male component does with the female fetus and the girl child, because you need to concentrate more on the larger issue of crimes against women that continue to hit you with ruthless regularity and from all parts of the country.
Yes, it has to be Uttar Pradesh, as always. The council of elders known as the Khap Panchyat in a particular village there passed the following diktats only recently.
Women up to the age of forty cannot:
  • Go to the market or go out of home after evening if not escorted by a male.
  • Own a mobile phone.
  • Fall in love or have a love marriage.
  • Go out without covering even her head fully.
They know nobody would dare oppose their diktats. For the simple reasons that malevolent males like them only form the higher authorities and the government too would be heavily dependent on their votes. As per latest reports the central Khap has said that female feoticide is a crime. Maybe be they are afraid of the very adverse male-female ratio in their region, because if females cease to exist who will service them!
But as we have indicated earlier it is not just Uttar Pradesh, it is the entire country that is fast making a regressive journey into the middle ages. Heart wrenchingly, my home state of Assam and my home city Guwahati too.  A state known for the simple folks, warmest hospitality, endearing sincerity, a time tested thread of social and religious tolerance thanks to our great saints and liberated intellectuals, festivals devoid of caste or religious barriers and happy-go-lucky attitude. The lush green and serenely peaceful land we grew up in. A tranquil balance of man and nature to be felt and relished all the time. But the malignant male disease has threatened to devour up that piece of land too.
Of course, the danger signals were there for all to feel and realize. First the terror strife and rising levels of unemployment and frustrations among the youth. Then, a palpable and continuous decay of cultural values with people craving for consumerism and superficial tastes. The bad and the ugly were looming large as two back-to-back incidents happened that showed human depravity at the lowest and exploded the myth of a contented society. 
The first incident is not about a common and a vulnerable woman, but about a sitting lady member of the legislative assembly of Assam.  We do not exactly know if the lady was happy with her ‘male’ husband—an elected member too. But we know for sure that she fell in love with a boy much younger to her and belonging to a different religion. Eventually the lady representative decided to take the plunge and eloped with the boy. She converted to the other religion and married the boy without divorcing her first husband. The first husband feigned total ignorance and lodged a missing complaint with the police.
Meantime the loyal media followed the couple everywhere and continued to air spicy stories so that the people know all the details. Now, by the standards of medieval India the woman committed crimes of the most grievous nature. The feudal lords geared up for ‘corrective’ action or punishment for such unpardonable crimes.
So, when the couple happened to visit the constituency from which the lady got elected and was staying in a hotel for the night a huge crowd of over 200‘reformers’ gathered in front of the hotel in the dead of the night. They ransacked the hotel and forcibly entered her room starting to beat up the couple mercilessly. They pulled, stripped and kicked the lady gleefully video-graphed by some media person who perhaps wanted the whole world to know about it. The hooligans would have gone on to kill her if the police did not arrive finally.   The video was instantly around in all media channels and the net. Outrage, demands for strict action…but hardly any action so far. 
The second incident happened right in the middle of the city of Guwahati late evening. One 17 year old girl attended a birthday party in a bar and came out alone maybe due to some technicality or a brawl with her friends as reported by some news agencies. The feudal lords were waiting for her. How could she dare enter a bar and possibly drink liquor, the lords justified. That was crime enough for the ‘protectors’ of society.
A group of them cornered the girl just outside the bar and in full public view. They started touching her, stripping her and molesting her. More ‘male’ components joined the fun instantly attracted to the ‘reformist’ action and it grew into a 40 something strong mob. Passersby too stopped in their tracks and nobody had any thought of trying to rescue the helpless girl. The spot was very near to a prominent news channel and its reporter was present maybe from the beginning or even earlier.
The inhuman and indefinably cruel torture continued for 30 long minutes and the channel cameraman continued to record the incident with great details and a creative finish. ‘He’ was reportedly even directed by the rampaging perverts to take particular pictures from particular angles. Perhaps ‘he’ too wanted the whole world to know about it. Finally the police managed to arrive there and rescued the girl. But as the ‘male’ components were very dominant in the police too questions were asked more about the girl’s character and habits. After a national outrage broke out the police had to show some progress by arresting four lords. The other lords including a government employee could perhaps be planning for the next ‘reformist’ action. Some say the reporter was part of the mob instigating the whole incident.
The news channel defended its reporter saying it wanted action for that shameful act and therefore recorded the video as solid proof for identifying the culprits. But vital questions need to be answered. Why the video recording continued for half an hour? Why did not they record for two minutes for identification purpose and then try to rescue the girl? Why the video was loaded into the YouTube? Was it for creating a public opinion or for just giving vicarious pleasure to the eternal net voyeurs? After the video was supplied to everyone possible the news channel vowed not to show it as it would make the girl’s trauma endless! Kill all the birds with a single bullet? Give out a social message while earning massive revenues?
We recently cried for redefining SHAME in India! But it is hardly necessary. It is written large and in bold all over everywhere and anywhere. If AL Basham wrote ‘The Wonder That Was India’, now it should be rewritten as ‘The SHAME That Is India’! 

 The invasion of cultural Taliban-ism in India is in full swing. Unless the ‘male’ mindset is changed there seems to be no way out of it.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dara Singh: We Salute The Legendary Hero!

Article first published as Tributes To Dara Singh: The Legendary Wrestler-Actor Of India! on Technorati.

He had 500 professional wrestling bouts to his credit and remained undefeated in all them. His opponents included the names of the greatest international wrestlers of that time like King Kong from Australia, George Gordenko from Canada and John Desilva from New Zealand. He was the first ever sportsperson to be nominated to the upper house of the Indian Parliament.

Towering over six feet with eight-pack abs and a strikingly handsome appearance he was the first he-man of Indian movies. He was also the first Indian movie hero to take off the shirt! He acted in nearly 200 Hindi and Punjabi films since the early sixties till 2007 as the main leads and character roles. 
Dara Singh, born in 1928 in the state of Indian Punjab, was encouraged to take up the wrestling profession thanks to his physical assets. After achieving mastery over the art he was mostly invited by the kings of Indian princely states to fight duels with established stalwarts of the profession. Gradually Dara started to take part in various national and international tournaments. He became the Champion of Malaysia in 1947 and he was crowned the undefeated National Champion of India in 1954. He continued to participate in tournaments till about 1983. 
His tremendous popularity in the fighting ring added glamor to the Indian profession of wrestling for the first time. Naturally, this glamor quotient brought him into the Indian movies—the Hindi film industry or Bollywood of modern times. His first movie King Kong (1962) made him a household name in India. Other popular action extravaganzas like Tarzan (1965) and others followed, and there was no looking back with Dara Singh coming to don the roles of Producer and Director of movies too. He also established a studio in his home state of Punjab.
Dara Singh was immortalized in the Indian television industry through his role of Hanuman—the eternally divine, powerful and dedicated monkey-God—in the Indian epic of Ramayana. He came to be known as the favorite screen Hanuman of India and acted in that role in a few movies too. He also played character roles in many other television serials.
As primary school kids in the sixties we had been fascinated by the heroics of Dara Singh epitomizing him with the eternal Good. We were told about a very famous strategy of Dara Singh called ‘deadlock’ applying which he made his opponents helpless, about how he lifted 230kg King Kong with his hands and threw him out of the ring, and that he never lost. We had absolutely no chance of watching him in the ring and therefore his movies where he showed his wrestling prowess were not-be-missed affairs for us. In fact, parents of those times sent their children willingly to watch his movies and get inspired.
Dara Singh was hospitalized in Mumbai on July 7, 2012 following a cardiac arrest and doctors put him on life support system due to extensive brain damage. As the chances of recovery were bleak his family shifted him home on July 11 to fulfill the hero’s last wishes. And, on the morning of July 12, 2012 the perfect gentleman wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh breathed his last. Fans, sports personalities and Bollywood celebrities flocked on to pay their homage to this legendary hero who was also known for his modesty, kindness, straightforwardness and honesty. 

We salute the great Indian national hero.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Political Disorder Of The Psychological Kind!

Wife: You think you are the most righteous person of the world! Always wise, considerate and honest!... I think you are just dumb!
Husband: What do you mean ‘dumb’?
Wife: ‘Dumb’ means dumb. You can never spell it out loudly and clearly in times of need. People go on doing the wrong things on you and you think God will set it right.
Husband: I beg your pardon! You never heard me talking bold or shouting?
Wife: Oh…right! You can indeed shout like hell…but only at me! To the outside world you are just dumb.
Husband: You mean to say I got my degrees, got my job and have been doing my office assignments efficiently enough…by just being dumb!
Wife: That is why you’ve progressed only this far. If you were not dumb maybe you could have been the CEO! You know what Mr. X told about you…?
Husband: Oh…shut it up! Any outside fellow saying something about me is bible for you!
Husband happened to have a high-decibel brawl just down in the campus with a few residents and the watchman on some vexing housing society issues a few days later. He enters home afterwards exuding pride and victory.
Wife: Are you crazy? Why were you howling like a madman? You just didn’t listen to anyone! …
Husband: Goddamn it! Confound it! Bullshit it! What's wrong with you? You will pick only on me when I don’t do it and you will pick on me more even when I do it!
The Government and the opposition behave similarly, if we may say so! The opposition would go on castigating the Government for not initiating the essential reforms in light of the global economic crisis for example. And, when the Government proposes hard measures or an economic reform the opposition starts castigating again citing harm to local, regional and national interests. The disorder concerning ‘doing’ and ‘not doing’ goes on…!
If an esteemed foreign source maybe the Time magazine passes a political judgment the cascading confusing madness loses all methods…!
But like in the Biggest Tennis Fight the puzzle remains as to who is acting the wife and who the husband! No gender bias please!
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