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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ricky Ponting Vs Sachin Tendulkar: A Historical Moment!

Ricky Ponting has been having a string of failures recently, particularly in the first two cricket Tests against South Africa at home. Sachin Tendulkar has been having a string of failures recently, particularly in the first two cricket Tests against England at home. Ponting is the highest run getter for Australia, Tendulkar is the world record holding living legend for India. Both are in late thirties, Tendulkar older by about two years, and the possible retirement of both has been speculated intensely. A historical moment in world cricket?

One has already made history today while the other is in a slightly different situation. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting announced his retirement from international cricket in a hastily called press conference today. He calls it a day after playing the third Test against South Africa starting tomorrow in Perth. He cited as reason his recent performance not being good enough, however he said he would continue playing for Tasmania in domestic cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar is set to play the third Test against England starting in Kolkata from December 5 as the BCCI pins hope on the master blaster coming good definitely. The Champion will bounce back as in his good old days for sure, the Indian cricket Board asserts. For all purpose for him too the third Test is going to be now or never.

In terms of Test centuries made Ponting is behind only Tendulkar. Ponting has had a glorious cricket career of 17 years while Tendulkar has just completed 23 years of incredible cricket.

As history is being made cricket lovers must gear up to watch and relish vintage cricket of these two great players. Ponting--for the last time in international cricket, and Tendulkar--till history is made either way. As a true lover of the game one cannot help but have a feeling of heaviness at this historical moment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Indian Cricket: Dhoni Is King And The Pitch Puzzle!

The humiliation at the turning pitch of Mumbai at the hands of England was not enough enough to make the Indian cricket Board (BCCI) wonder ponder and take action. India captain MS Dhoni is still the unquestioned King. He is having his way right royally.

Nothing has happened to any of the non-performers. Team India remained unchanged except for reserve pacer Ashok Dinda coming in place of injured Umesh Yadav. Chief selector of BCCI, Sandip Patil, had just one say--team selected only for the third Test in Kolkata and not for the rest of the India-England Series as expected.

Interestingly and most significantly Dhoni is still King for his 'pitch' demands too. The aborted and most slammed experiment in Mumbai Test was not enough enough either. The veteran curator at Eden Gardens pitch of Kolkata has been sidelined and BCCI has reportedly asked its East Zone curator to take charge urgently.

What the King is up to this time in Kolkata? Well, his larger subjects have a democratic right to know! Democracy is reeling already under pressure all around all round! Herr King...please!

Just an afterthought! Considering the walloping transparency of the overwhelming business done would it not be advisable for Team India to play only IPL or all T20 only?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mumbai Test: Masters Beaten In Their Own Game As England Crush India!

Next Prescription?
As agonizingly feared all over the nation England spin washed the masters India in the latter’s own courtyard Wankhede in Mumbai today winning the second cricket Test by 10 wickets with more than one and half days to spare. If yesterday Kevin Pietersen built on the lead in a one-day style the England openers today notched up the ridiculous target of 57 runs in T20 style. KP was rightfully selected the Player of the Match. 

England’s two spinners Panesar and Swann shared 19 wickets between them while India’s three spinners managed to get only 9 wickets in a losing proposal. In India’s  agonizing second innings effort Gambhir top scored with 65 followed by a second highest of 11 by Ashwin.

Indian skipper MS Dhoni’s demand for sharp turning pitches has boomeranged on him in the most telling manner making the remaining two Test matches acutely interesting in what the beleaguered captain might prescribe for next. He might very well have severe reprimands reserved for the Wankhede curator like ‘What kind of pitch have you provided despite my most sincerely patriotic demands? It has helped only the England spinners and made ours laughing stock! I’ll go to the top against you, just keep it in mind’! Would he now remain content with the traditional turners or demand much more for the next two crucial matches?

With the 4-match India-England Test Series up for grabs now the third Test starts at the majestic Eden Gardens of Kolkata from December 5, 2012. England would press for the kill with the new-found confidence in spin while India would introspect hard trying to regroup their ‘class’ batsmen and bowlers around. Significantly the last Test is scheduled in Nagpur where the track is known for its green edges and bounce and had earlier tormented several Indian captains. Therefore, at 1-1 level the series is looking most intriguingly exciting at the moment. The Scorecard:

Why not share a joke about cricket to cheer up all the depressed Indian fans. Our respected and the irrepressible Yazdi Enginner Saheb has forwarded it today with perfect timing!  Here it goes:  

A little known CRICKET fact....The first testicular guard was used in cricket in 1874…and the first helmet was used in 1974…It took 100 years for men to realize that their brains are also important!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mumbai Test Day 3: England Devastate India On Dhoni’s Turning Track!

Putting to rest its so-called inability to tackle spin, particularly on Indian turning tracks, England on the third day of the second cricket Test match against India in Mumbai staged one of its most historic comebacks with a rollicking record breaking third wicket partnership of 206 runs putting the hosts India on the mat. Yesterday’s unbeaten duo English captain Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen carried the charge forward attacking and frustrating all the three Indian spinners. While Cook defended his end soundly KP played the aggressive shots with effortless sweeps and reverse sweeps scoring like in a one-day match. Both of them achieved their respective 22nd hundreds putting England in the lead. India had their first success of the day when Ashwin got Cook out for 122. KP proved what a valuable player he is for England by going great guns to progress to a brilliant 186 when  Ojha finally managed to get him out caught. Just think of it, England dared drop this great batsman against South Africa in a home series that England lost and later in the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka! A productive partnership between Prior and Patel put England firmly ahead. Finally England were all out for 413 taking a vital lead of 86 runs.

The greatest players of spin, you can say the Indian class batsmen, sweated and struggled and folded up weakly and listlessly against English spin in their own home ground made specially to suit their skipper’s needs. They were reduced to a humiliating 117 for 7 at the end of play on the third day with only opener Gambhir and spinner Ashwin managing to reach double figures. Like masters of spin and turn spirited England opened the attack with Monty Panesar who obliged immediately destroying a pathetic Sehwag and then going on to achieve another haul of five wickets at stumps. Every time you cannot put pressure on Pujara to deliver and this time he failed too along with the non-starters like Tendulkar, Kohli, Yuvraj and particularly Dhoni who could not do much as a keeper too. While it is high time Tendulkar considers his retirement the string of failures by Kohli so far is surprising.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni demanded a pitch that turns from the first day and he got it too at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium to try taking sweet and preferably one-sided revenge no.2 on England that white washed India on its green tops last year, but his team handed over the advantage squarely and helplessly to the opponent. Basically it is the negative mindset inspired by the captain himself by putting more importance on pitch conditions rather than playing and confronting spiritedly. How do you solve the puzzle otherwise—Indian specialist spinners failing to extract turn or bounce from home pitches and English bowlers and batsmen thriving spiritedly and succeeding? Indian bowlers sometimes did very well on green pitches abroad, but the Indian batsmen with their negative approach and cantankerous nature give up and surrender abjectly.

India is staring at a most humiliating defeat at home and England the worthy victors reasserting their claim for the top position in Test rankings one more time. Dhoni must reassess his priorities or leave the team. This is most tragic that one of the most positive and aggressive Indian captains has reduced himself to such pitiable lows. The Indian cricket Board must consider its team options too and sack Dhoni after the current series if he does not change his mindset.

Does not matter which team you support or cry patriotically for. Finally it is positive cricket played with truest of spirits that make the beautiful game come alive. Bullish and ever complaining silly school boys cannot make your national cricket team. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

India Vs England Mumbai Cricket Test: Pujara, Cook And KP Neutralize Dhoni’s Turn!

Pitch Report by MS Dhoni?
Unabashedly demanding a pitch that turns from the first day Indian captain MS Dhoni to direct question tried to justify his demand by saying just before the start of the second Test in Mumbai that he wanted the importance of the toss out of the equation. He meant that each team should suffer equally from spin irrespective of who won the toss or who would bat last. The skipper conveniently forgot that his team prides in having the best spin attack of the world and the best batsmen of spin. And he also seemed to forget that a pitch that is made to turn from the first day must necessarily crack up by the third or fourth day making the turn deadly and impossible to play and any team winning the toss would bat first anyway. Upholding his supposed benevolence he managed to win the toss again in the Mumbai Test and must have considered England batting in the fourth innings gleefully. Of course, Dhoni’s demands entailed a little amount of bounce too which combined with turn would test all batsmen definitely and help seam bowlers too.

Monty Panesar
Turn the pitch did indeed first thing in the morning of the first day of the second cricket Test between India and England that started in Mumbai yesterday, November 23, 2012. Pondering over the spinning obsession England immediately corrected its vital mistake in the first Test in Ahmedabad and brought into the team spinner Monty Panesar who bolstered the spin attack with Swann. And, Team India seemed to be falling in the trap set by its very own captain Dhoni with Panesar capturing prize scalps right away. Sehwag, playing his hundredth Test match and wanting to make it memorial, and Tendulkar, continuing with his string of failures, had no answer to Panesar’s bowling. Half of the team back in pavilion for a paltry 119 on the board India looked set for a big humiliation at home getting out under 200 or 250 at most.

It took the ‘new Wall’ Cheteshwar Pujara again to rescue his team from his captain’s trap and notched up the third century of his career and the second consecutive of the series. He remained unbeaten on 114 at stumps on the first day giving no clue to England how to get him out ever, he thus batted for over 15 hours unbeaten from the first Test making a double hundred, 41 and 114 not out. Spinner R Ashwin provided a strong rearguard action making an unbeaten 60 taking India to 266/6 at stumps.

Thanks to the brilliant 111 run partnership between Pujara (135) and Ashwin (68) Team India finally got itself practically out of the woods at 327 all out on the second day today considering the still turning pitch and that England had to bat last. The England spinner duo captured 9 wickets with Panesar taking 5 and Swann 4.

After lunch today the pitch stopped looking dangerous and England batsmen progressed well defending the turn stoutly despite the threesome spin attack in action with Harbhajan inducted in place of injured medium pacer Umesh Yadav. Ojha who struck two quick blows removing Compton (29) and Trott (0) reaffirmed the existence of turn. But a fighting English captain Alistair Cook (87 not out) continued to take command picking up his 30th half century. He found solid support in Kevin Pietersen (62 not out) who raced to his 26th half century building an unbroken partnership of 110 runs. Overcoming a volley of leg before appeals and half chances the duo took England to 178/2 at stumps Day-2, still trailing by 149 runs.

At the moment the Mumbai Test is very absorbing and looking for an exciting finish barring deadly pitch behavior tomorrow or on the fourth day.

Maybe in the end Dhoni could be right as rank turners with some bounce could be better than the ones with slow turn and no bounce in terms of producing exciting Test results. But this does not give him any excuse for not trying to make his team dexterous in all types of pitches and conditions and particularly grooming pace bowlers within by providing genuine green tops. He may have his way at home, but teams like Australia and England who always nourish the hope of conquering the ‘final frontier’ are definitely not going to provide first-day turners when India visits them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Politics: Right-Left Combine To Throttle Center And Merciless Mamata!

The Indian political forces that are only focused upon cornering and if possible ousting the ruling coalition from power have got another democracy-send opportunity to revel in what they are best at. What is the current economic status of the country, what are required for pushing up growth, what the citizens of the country want---are factors farthest removed from their agenda at the moment. They are hardly against corruption, because they cover it up within their house while attacking others. They can hardly be called opposition political parties, because their politics is rudderless at the moment. With the winter session of the Indian Parliament starting from today their ‘parliamentary’ behavior is rampantly visible as both houses get adjourned for the day.

They had been preparing for the most wanted ‘democratic’ moment to garner their forces against the Government’s reform push in terms of allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Retail and diesel price hike. The modern-day ‘economists’ know more than anybody that retail FDI is very bad for the country and fuel prices must be kept at the same level or even lowered so that the ‘common’ man continues voting for them. On this issue the inimitable Mamata Bannerji, Chief Minister of West Bengal, took her party out of the ruling coalition and was waiting for this ‘democratic’ moment to wreak vengeance for the alleged colossal neglect shown to her by the Government.

Mamata wanted to bring in a no-confidence motion right at the start of the session. She had been trying very hard for this end for the past few days. She appealed to the Left parties of her state whom she overthrew last year to come to power and who she had been crying murder and conspiracy against all the time to join her to prop up the required number to qualify for bringing in the motion in Parliament. For this she also approached the BJP whom she did not take into confidence earlier while deciding about her presidential nominee, because at that time she was an opposing ally of the Government of India. Such was her anti-country…sorry.. anti-Government of India obsession! As expected, she found no takers for her no-confidence motion and had a flop show in the Parliament today as her motion was rejected failing to get the requisite number of supporters. She slammed the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ right and left in righteous frustration. The moot point that comes to our gullible minds—is she an ally or opposition or anti-opposition or anti-right or anti-left or just Merciless? Sigh!

Meanwhile the ‘right’ (read BJP) and the ‘left’ (read Marxist-Leninist political parties) have decided to force out an unholy alliance to oppose the reforms by demanding a discussion on the floor of the lower house on retail FDI and fuel price hike followed by voting.  Other political entities of Parliament irrespective of being right, left or wrong have been busy trying how and where exactly to place the center. All these manipulations essentially aimed at ousting the Government and making way for fresh elections have raised enough steam to stall the Indian Parliament right from the start today. After all, the important issue is the numbers, and not the country.

The mega political mess-up is hardly giving us, the gullible bystanders or voters if you may say so, any chance to decide who is right or left or center or wrong, who is against whom, who is less corrupt or more corrupt, who is the alternative if the present one is not positive, with whom to side with and basically how to define parliamentary or unparliamentary behavior—the distinction between the two getting fuggy, muggy and groggy all the time.

The myriad anti-corruption saviors, multiplying by the minute, are expected to join in the mess again anytime with more gunpowder. Hark, behold and, do not decide!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Terrorist Ajmal Kasab Hanged: India Send Out A Strong Message!

Just four days before the 4th anniversary of the horrific 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attack that led to killings of 166 innocent citizens people of the nation woke up this morning to the welcome news of lone captured LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab hanged to death.  In a secret operation by the Government of India Ajmal Kasab was hanged at 7.20am today in the high security Yerawada Jail in Pune, three hours drive from Mumbai. The dreaded terrorist lodged in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai for nearly three years was shifted to Yerawada jail in the wee hours of the 19th November, 2012. The government maintained utmost secrecy considering the sensitive nature of the operation and the eager-to-sensationalize private news channels got no whiff about it. Overzealous media coverage of the 3-day long 26/11 Attack nearly compromised the military operation and this time the news channels had no chance of going on a crazy countdown or taking the execution live. The Government of India has thus sent out a strong message across the world that India is not going to tolerate anybody trying to attack its sovereignty or to hamper its growth with dastardly terror activities.

Ajmal Kasab was directly responsible for killing scores of innocent passengers in a railway terminus and three top police officers along with three constables. He killed one more police sub inspector while being captured. His scary image with sophisticated guns captured by CCTV cameras went viral across the traumatized nation.   Relatives of the victims, the survivors and the people at large wanted the murderer of innocents punished immediately.

The opposition political parties too have been assailing the Government for the delay in the execution of the terrorist and the costs incurred thereby. But in the largest democracy of the world there are legal remedies that every accused can take resort to and Ajaml Kasab could not be treated as an exception. A lower session court in Mumbai convicted him and awarded the death sentence in 2010. Resorting to the next option Kasab appealed to Bombay High Court which upheld the verdict in 2011. Then appeal went to the Supreme Court of India which confirmed the sentence in 2012. The final mercy petition to the President still remained open and Kasab sent his petition to the President of India on September 18, 2012 for mercy.

It was thanks to the tremendous resolve of the new President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, that the mercy petition was rejected most immediately on 5th November whereas at least 12 other mercy petitions including that of the dreaded attacker of Indian Parliament Afzal Guru (in 2001) have been pending since almost a decade. The President’s clearance was sent to the Government of Maharashtra on 8th November and the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan signed it on the 13th and accordingly the execution date of 21st November was decided upon. As per arrangements Kasab was shifted to Yerawada.

The people of India, particularly of Mumbai, have welcomed and rejoiced over the final justice done to the offender of India and humanity. They do not bother too much at the moment about the topic of capital punishment being justified or not, because at the moment they want to see one worst criminal of mankind punished.

The Indian Home Minister has said that Pakistan and relatives of Kasab had been informed in advance about the execution. But Pakistan, as usual, denied about receiving or acknowledging any communication from India in this regard. The Indian authorities also waited for burial request, but since none came the body of Ajmal Kasab was buried in the Yerawada Prison campus. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cricket: India Beat England In Ahmedabad Test!

Cheteshwar Pujara
Billed as a Revenge Series the India-England 4-Match Cricket Test Series played in India started on the right note at least for an Indian television news channel who while breaking the news hoarsely cried that Ahmedabad Test becomes Revenge No.1 for Team India. The ‘patriotic’ reason being that England whitewashed India most humiliatingly in the 4-Match Cricket Test Series played in England in 2011. The so-called revenge drama basically gets reduced to the battle of the extremes between spin and pace—India having the spin quality providing turners at home and England having pace providing green tops at home. In fact, each team does not mind demanding ‘conditioned’ pitches at home whenever the opponent visits there. As the battle goes on no single team ever tries mastering both of the arts.

Alistair Cook
Each team is right in their battle, essentially. England knows India’s weakness against seam and swing, therefore demolishes them on green-top pitches. India knows England’s weakness against spin bowling, and therefore plans revenge on slow and cracking pitches. Right from the sixties when India prided in having four deadly and specialized spinners this has been the Test scenario. No effort has been made by any cricket board in providing uniform sporting pitches or making their respective players to learn to bowl both pace and spin well and learn to play both pace and spin dexterously. Surprisingly, no takers for the simple fact that this is just not right for the interests of the Test genre for which crowd support has already been dwindling.

Given this, India were rightfully expected to crush England in the first Test in Ahmedabad to ‘avenge’ and indeed England would have obliged by crashing to an innings defeat within four days but for some splendid resistance by England captain Alistair Cook (176) and wicket keeper Matt Prior (91). These two players showed that England players are capable of playing spin well if only the right approach is adopted. On the fourth day yesterday the duo remained unbeaten with the team’s second innings score at 340/5 leading by 10 runs and the possibility of a draw was becoming a reality. But on the last day today England lost all five wickets by lunch giving India just 77 run target to win. India eagerly notched it up in under 16 overs losing just the wicket of Sehwag (25) and Cheteshwar Pujara remaining unbeaten again with 41. Thus India beat England by 9 wickets in the first Test in Ahmedabad leading the series 1-0.  For India predictably spinners Ashwin and Ojha captured 15 wickets between them. For England predictably too the pacers cut a sorry figure. The Scorecard:

The biggest plus of the test for India was the sterling double century by Cheteshwar Pujara (206 not out in nearly two days of batting, 1st innings) whose classicist orthodoxy and perfect temperament has already earned the tag of the ‘new Wall’ for him with many cricket experts relishing similarities with the elegant VVS Laxman too. Virender Sehwag scoring a brilliant century after two years and the Indian opener duo coming good after a long time was also among other positives for Team India. Finally, Yuvraj Singh (74 in first innings) has completed this return to cricket successfully and has effectively silenced all of the skeptics including his captain about his fitness.

The second Test starts in Mumbai from 23rd November and with probably another cracker of a turning pitch here the predictability factor of ‘revenge’ seems obvious.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Historic Farewell To Balasaheb Thackeray! Unprecedented And Spontaneous!

Undoubtedly the biggest congregation ever in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and maybe one of the biggest funeral gatherings the world over. For me, an Assamese, it reminds me most emotionally and vibrantly of the unprecedented crowds that came out in the streets of Guwahati to pay last respects to their legendary singer-lyricist-writer-filmmaker Bhupen Hazarika. The reasons for the upsurge seem to be almost similar. Both of these personalities inspired their respective communities to feel pride in being themselves, to try overcoming the darkness of identity or existence and both of them came to their support whenever needed to sail them out of any crisis. 

More than two million people came out in the streets of Mumbai today to give a loving respectful farewell to their most beloved leader. Politicians need to make special arrangements or even bribe their ‘supporters’ to come throng their public meetings. But for this spontaneous leader it had been a spontaneous upsurge right from last night to late evening today. The last journey scheduled to start at 7.30am got delayed by several hours due to the huge congregation at Matoshree in Bandra. It had been a three kilometer long procession heading for Shivaji Park in central Mumbai where another huge gathering waited for a darshan of their leader and to pay their last respects. Apart from the filled streets people crowded the house balconies, the terraces, the skywalks and every possible vantage points for a last view of the cult figure of Maharashtra.  

The last rites of Bal Keshav Thackeray, fondly called Balasaheb, had been performed with full state honors at Shivaji Park around 6pm today. The funeral pyre was lit by his son Uddhav Thackeray helped by his close relatives and Shiv Sena leaders and workers. As the flames of the funeral pyre broke through the gathering dusk emotionally charged chants and slogans in praise of Balasaheb pierced the atmosphere. It was a never-before spectacle in Mumbai, and maybe never again. 

The other parts of the normally bustling city remained deserted with all shops closed, no taxis or autos on the roads, all cinema houses canceling the screenings, all petrol pumps closed and hardly any traffic. Only the public city buses plied and in more numbers for helping people wanting to have a last view of their beloved leader. Many other parts in Maharashtra too observed spontaneous shutdowns. 

Tomorrow is going to be another shutdown of shops and all businesses, schools and movie theaters in Mumbai as one more spontaneous demonstration of respect to the departed leader. Most importantly, the spectacular mass upsurge had been absolutely peaceful. The crowds behaved in an orderly and disciplined manner adhering to the rules set by the administration and police. Finally, hats off to Mumbai Police for managing an occasion of such huge proportions so efficiently, so dexterously and with utmost devotion to duty. All national and regional TV new channels covered the last journey live and with painstaking details. Journalists and reporters worked tirelessly for the last four days particularly since yesterday evening and kept on the whole day today literally with no food or even no water due to the total shutdown of the city.

You may love him or hate him, but Balasaheb Thackeray had all the ingredients of a true and dedicated leader. Whatever he did or spoke or thundered about had been straight from the heart and with conviction without being shrouded in hypocrisy and selfish goals or interests. His words and actions were grounded to reality, but the interpretations that followed endlessly created most of the controversies. Well, that is our reading, you many have yours. We salute him for his originality and motivated leadership.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Balasaheb Thackeray Passes Away: The Tiger To Roar No More!

The most spontaneous leader of Marathi manoos (people) fought for his people till the last moments of his life. Despite being engaged in a death defying struggle for days and months he never weakened away from the issues that concerned his people and his land. A series of most complicated medical problems that continuously eroded his body could not stop him from carrying on writing in his newspaper Saamna for his beloved Marathi people. His life has been of committed leadership, not of politics or political commitments. He never indulged in caste politics or vote bank politics as he said in an interview that only two castes existed for him—the rich and the poor. In his career of active leadership for over 45 years his party Shiv Sena ruled Maharashtra for only five years, but the Leader ruled the minds of Marathi people—always. The roaring Tiger of Maharashtra fell silent today.

Balasaheb Thackeray (1926-2012) passed away at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra locality of Mumbai today at around 3.30pm. The most painful declaration was officially made just after 5pm by his main doctor surrounded by emotional and weeping Shiv Sena leaders and workers. At the moment thousands of his supporters and followers and admirers are descending on Matoshree to share the grief and sorrow with the shattered Thackeray family. And tomorrow, hundreds of thousands are expected to come to pay their last respects at the historic Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai where his mortal remains will kept from 7am in the morning and the last rites will be performed there in the evening.

Here I must seek your permission to allow me to be a little personal, because it is very important to convey the feelings of a non-Marathi person living in Mumbai for many years about this unique cult personality who formed a political party too. While in Assam we had always been impressed by the heroes of Hindi cinema since our childhood days. We clapped for their bold dialogues, for their fights against the villains and for their straight forward honesty. We used to get emotional and inspired.

Coming to Mumbai on an official transfer I slowly took in the new environment and the new culture. Gradually I became familiar with what Balasaheb Thackeray spoke or commanded or did. And, I found all the heroes of Hindi cinema rolled into one whole of Balasaheb Thackeray. I had no doubts in my mind that this great leader who led from instincts, talked straight from the heart with brutal honesty and fearlessness had in fact inspired all the reel-life heroes. I also understood that some realities of Mumbai always got reflected in the movies made in this Indian film headquarters—be it a serious or a crass commercial movie.. I was thrilled to find a real life hero here and to discover for the first time in my life a political leader with such spontaneity. 

As the whole nation pays tributes to Bal Thackeray the politics part is almost thrown out of the window. Such spontaneity creates a mass leader independent of political affiliations, and therefore creates such unprecedented impact just at the thought of losing him. We had discussed this impact already in these pages. In a natural return act of spontaneity normal life in the city has closed down with deserted roads and shops and businesses downing the shutters. Mumbai now prepares for the mass upsurge expected tomorrow. No estimate seems to be practical enough at the moment.

We extend our condolences to the bereaved Thackeray family and the inconsolable Marathi people, not only in Maharashtra but the world over. We pray for the eternal bliss of the noble soul of this phenomenal mass leader.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Maharashtra Prays For Balasaheb Thackeray!

The night bus arrived almost two hours in advance and deposited us at a particular junction of Mumbai at 2.30am today. The moment we alighted with our baggage two auto-rickshaw drivers approached us hoping for long distance passengers. Since we lived at a nearby locality they promptly informed us that there was no chance of getting a taxi for the night or even later. I asked why.  

Balasaheb off ho gaya! (Balasaheb has passed away).” We were rudely shocked and dumbfounded, though we knew that he had not been keeping well since the last few days was in very serious condition last week. But it was hard to believe anyway. “When?”  “Just a little while ago. All taxis and autos have gone home fearing problems.”

Feeling sad and heavy we trudged along and suddenly a taxi preparing to wind up for the night came up alongside and offered to take us home. As we were proceeding with the ride gratefully the taxi driver informed us that tomorrow was going to be a total closure in the city. He did not know till what time or date. We already felt an eerie quiet descending on a city that normally never goes to sleep.

I switched on the news channels as soon as we reached our home. It came as a huge relief that Balasaheb was still not giving up the fight and he continued to be in a critical condition. Even before the huge catastrophe of his possible passing away the city and probably the whole state of Maharashtra were close to being paralyzed.

Such is the profound impact at only the hint of him passing away. Such is the influence he commands on people of all walks of life. Because, Bal Thackeray is not just a politician, he has been a leader of immense quality who lives in almost every home of Maharashtra. For a plethora of compulsive reasons like absolute worshiping, spellbound admiration and inspiration, abject fascination, unquestioned following and even fear.

Bal or respectfully called Balasaheb Thackeray is the founding Chief of Maharashtra’s main regional political party, Shiv Sena. His early stint as a cartoonist and later as a journalist-writer helped him find out the hard realities of his state. He founded this party in 1966 to fight for the interests of the local Marathi people who felt threatened by proliferating outside Indian communities settling down in Mumbai and other parts of the state. He also founded this party on the ideology of Hinduism and thus Bal Thackeray became the most controversial leader of Maharashtra as he began to be criticized for following an allegedly communalist line. His outbursts against terrorism and allegedly Pakistan sponsored terrorist attacks have been as ferocious as being consistent. But the people he fought for started loving and adoring him and the communities he allegedly fought against started fearing him almost to a point of surrender. He also earned the tag of a Godfather due to his Robin Hood tactics and measures.

His perfect command over his mother tongue Marathi and also in Hindi and English, and his tremendous power of articulation laced with customary humor and satire won instant admirers all over.    People craved to sit long hours just to hear him speak. He has been a hard, straight and no-holds-barred speaker. He spells it out in hard hitting words—let it be about anything. Thoughts or doubts or unpleasant facts of life that linger in most minds but nobody wanting to mouth these into words get delivered unambiguously and effortlessly by Balasaheb Thackeray. He would not care a dime how somebody or other would feel about it. 
Thousands of Shiv Sena workers have been camping in front of his house Matoshree in Mumbai since last night praying and chanting for the speedy recovery their beloved leader. His son Uddhav Thackeray addressed the workers last night saying that his father has tremendous willpower and a miracle is always possible. His nephew Raj Thackeray who formed a separate political party out of family friction never lost his respect and devotion for his mentor and has been visiting Matoshree for weeks. Prominent Shiv Sena leaders have been insisting since morning today that Balasaheb is taken off from life support system and is responding positively to treatment. No medical bulletin has been released with the team of doctors saying that oxygen is still being administered to the 86 year old cult figure of Maharashtra. 

The stream of visitors to his home is continuing unabated. Top regional and national political leaders irrespective of party affiliations, Bollywood superstars including Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan, top industrialists, and common people are calling on him endlessly. The city of Mumbai today wore a deserted look with most shops and businesses downing shutters and traffic at an unnatural low.A high alert in Mumbai is also sounded and all leave to policemen cancelled despite the Diwali festival. All precautions taken for possibly the biggest news of Maharashtra in recent times.

At the moment people of Maharashtra are praying for a miracle. Maybe hoping against hope. They just cannot afford to be without Balasaheb Thackeray.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Festival Of Lights Here Again!


Wish You All a very Prosperous and Enlightening Diwali—The Festival Of Lights! Different rituals of lighting diyas have started since yesterday. The main Diwali days though fall on November 13th and 14th for 2012 across the country. MORE OF TOGETHERNESS AND LESS OF FIRE CRACKERS PLEASE.

And Enjoy! MORE from last year!

The Indian Political IQ!

Indian politics has entered the most bizarre stage on show since the last two years thanks mainly to two crucial factors. First, a series of unprecedented scams terribly undermined the ruling coalition government and the opposition political parties saw a godsend opportunity in this to corner the government for lucrative gains or power in the next General Elections in 2014. Second, the anti-corruption movement by Anna Hazare and party that made the skeletons cascade out of the cupboard affecting one and all in politics irrespective of ideologies or party affiliations. Politicians and upstarts created out of the anti-corruption fight made the scenario worse.

Endless allegations, charges and counter-charges, litigation and mushrooming court cases, character assassinations, personal banalities and a gleefully indulgent media ushered India into its most sordid era of politics. Maybe the nip of uncertainty in the atmosphere and a haunting apprehension made the politicians psychic and unbalanced. They uttered what they should never have, did what they should never have and kept or left companies that they should never have.

Finally it had to boil down to the IQ levels on display all around. None other than the President of the main national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nitin Gadkari, found himself neck-deep in an IQ controversy. Finding another opportunity in the anti-corruption movement to corner the government Gadkari and his party initially shared the ideology and the platforms with Anna Hazare and other anti-corruption activists. But he and his party reeled when some activists-turned-politicians pounced on him and his party for corrupt practices. The BJP had hardly any option but to defend its President stoutly.

Still under attack and investigations Gadkari created another huge controversy when he wanted to show his eloquent and scholarly articulation so unnecessarily. In a public function he compared the IQ levels of Swami Vivekananda and underworld fugitive Don Dawood Ibrahim. Assuming the role of an astute psychologist Nitin Gadkari said that basically the IQ levels of these persons could have been the same, but one used it for noble and spiritual reasons and the other used it for criminal and destructive purposes. It was a nationwide rage.

His party defended him again overcoming friction within with key party functionaries either resigning or criticizing bitterly. Charges and denials chased each other endlessly. Gadkari insisted he meant only a basic point that people with similar intelligence or brains do not necessarily follow the same noble way.

Now to the moot point. If the Indian politicians are so concerned about IQ levels and their uses why not they themselves use theirs for the right cause? Why they do not see good reasons in simple good reasons? Why their IQ levels or brains or intelligence always fail to determine what is right for the country? Why even the ‘Left’ part of the brains so hopelessly clueless?

India stands to benefit immensely if its politicians strike the right IQ level!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Black Money In Swiss Bank Accounts: The Fourth Kejriwal Expose Installment!

New Delhi, November 09, 2012, 1.30 PM. Time for anti-corruption campaigner cum politician Arvind Kejriwal to release the fourth expose installment. And dot on time the India Against Corruption (IAC) functionary  added one more to the land of allegations…call it India. This time it was against black money allegedly stashed in alleged Swiss bank accounts owned allegedly by over 700 Indians with the Government allegedly helped by HSBC, industrialists and ministers allegedly not allowing it come into the country.

The issue of black money has been doing rounds in this country since time immemorial. Various political parties when not in power raised this issue in various times asking questions while the political parties in power did the answering. The anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare started the movement on the general issue and Yoga guru Baba Ramdev was quick to join in attacking the specific issue of black money. But it always needs Arvind Kejriwal to bring it out in the open for the hungry media and for the affected parties to deny or the unaffected to demand probes.

Kejriwal is clever enough to keep the suspense on by equally distributing his expose installments between various politicians of various affiliations with their presumed partners so that nobody knows who he is going to expose next. And, each time, he leaves it at the allegations level only never trying hard enough for providing real proof so that each installment drama continues till the next.

As usual, the BJP, cornered in the last installment and still sweating from it, has already rejoiced since the affected party was the government along with its paraphernalia this time. The main national opposition party slammed the government demanding serious probes into the Kejriwal allegations. As usual, the affected parties have started crying denials counter alleging that all these are false allegations. The 4th installment drama is set to last for a long time since Kejriwal made very serious allegations about the country’s economic sovereignty being threatened by the black money cover-up corroborated by his six major demands including disbanding operations of the international bank, HSBC, in India.

We are all acquainted with the EMI syndrome in our loan liabilities. Now we can rightfully create another syndrome called the EKI meaning Equated Kejriwal Installment. I think we are justified in using ‘equated’, because as we have already explained that Kejriwal has been equating and evenly distributing his installments among the corrupt parties…sorry allegedly corrupt parties.


The nationwide wait begins now for the 5th EKI. Who is the next beneficiary…sorry the victim? Right, allegedly! The land of allegations needs some more! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 7th Gas Cylinder: More Intricacies In The Curious Story!

Determined to end the policy paralysis engineered by the opposition political parties the Government of India ushered in a spate of reforms, first opening up the Indian multi-brand retail market for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and then hiking the heavily subsidized diesel prices and putting a cap on subsidized cooking gas (LPG) cylinders per household per year. Hiking LPG cylinder prices was considered too risky.

Every household in India thus could get only three more cylinders from September to March this financial year, because the cap of subsidized cylinders was fixed at 6 per household per year. The 7th cylinder at market price became the most expensive proposition thereafter and as the Indian families focused on their kitchens the opposition parties got another excuse to ‘safeguard’ the interests of the common man.

The Government was also determined not to bow down to pressure and refused any rollback. The growing fiscal deficit had to be reduced for the long term interest of the country and the Government was also sure that the poor families and most of the middle class households do not in fact need to go for the 7th cylinder. With calculations in place the Government did not mind giving in a concession to the effect that state governments of the India could, if they prefer, consider increasing the cap of subsidized cylinders to 9 for below poverty line citizens. Naturally the clamor increased for implementing this provision to again help the common man. 

The Government of Maharashtra state finally decided in principle to increase the cap to 9 cylinders yesterday in Mumbai, but it came with two interesting conditions. First, only households with annual income of 100,000 rupees or less can get this concession. The cut-off point for annual income decided upon not exactly below poverty neither above poverty. Second, if such a household ends up using 7 cylinders in this financial year (April’12 to March’13) it will get only 7 cylinders next year and will get 9 only if they end up using 9 or more. The kitchen calculations get more exciting and intricate. With two months given for implementation the gas agencies run by the oil companies can find themselves in a web of intricacies too.

But no harm done to the Government of India’s financial resolve and at the same time opposition or even coalition partners get effectively silenced as the ‘common man’ stands to benefit, no matter who finally gets or does not get what benefit.  

The 7th gas cylinder has somewhat become a symbol of the country’s struggle for economic stability! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Welcome Back, President Obama! Great Victory!

Barack Hussein Obama, the first African-American to hold the office of President of USA, became the first Democrat to win a second term since the second World War. The closest and the tightest Presidential Elections held in US history gave a sweeping verdict in the end to Obama today, still Tuesday night in the US. President Obama  campaigned for over two years and spent more than $2 Billion for this moment of victory. 

He won despite the slowdown in the economy and unemployment. Some say his good management of Hurricane Sandy that threatened the US Presidential Elections-2012 finally tilted the scales in Obama's favor.  He also managed to win in several Republican strongholds. 

Whatever be the justifications offered, the Americans have voted for a good man with the most positive vibes, a down-to-earth personality and a disarming smile. Indians here are happy too as Obama has been good and respectful to India and he has been helping India by fighting terror too with a strong hand. 

The continuing economic pressures and the promises made during the campaigns are set to define the policies to be undertaken by President Obama. In fact, in the case of Mitt Romney's win too the compulsions  would have been the same. Only future can tell where USA goes from here. 

Welcome back, President Obama! Congratulations for a most exciting victory! 
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