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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Humor: The Colors Of News!

The editor was at his wits end trying rather too hard to optimize his limited resources for an assignment that was as sudden as was demanding. He had to arrange several guests for a prestigious live newscast in the main circuit of the channel on a short notice. The guests were all big shots including top retired executives and professionals. As he proceeded on his assignment he began to learn to his dismay that super egos never cease to exist and become even more powerful after retirement or with age.

Two of the required panelists were the most nerve racking experiences he ever had. They lived very near to the studio of the channel and the editor expected they would just come down. When it was time for the arrival of the first guest the guy in the central office called telling him frantically that the eminent guest was waiting for office transport. The editor was completely taken aback because the guest did not tell him about the requirement and he could not arrange a car immediately now. So the called up the guest:

“Sir, sorry I was not aware you needed a transport. Sir…!”
“…How do you mean? Every other channel does that…I am not supposed to move on my own! This atrociously poor planning on your part!”
“…Sir, please understand I’m helpless at this moment. Sir, we offer a good honorarium that also includes a good conveyance amount for eminent guests. Please consider…!”
“You offer me money! Am I employed by your channel…am I on your duty? I’m not coming! ”
“No…no…Sir! Only for this time please consider!”
“…Okay! Who are the other guests participating?”
“Sir…Mr. X, Mr. Y and …!”
“Enough! I’m not coming!” he cut the line.
He did come down finally, refused the cup of coffee offered, but signed the honorarium contract.

While the first guest was finally inside the studio the editor got a call asking him to arrange another guest immediately. This time, he asked the guest after having him confirmed for the show if he required transport since he too lived almost adjacent to the studio. The second guest to the editor’s utter disbelief said yes—he needed office transport. He tried everything possible on earth to arrange a car, but failed due to the extremely short notice.  So he called up the guest:

“Sir…I’m very know our constraints through your long association with us. At this moment I’m helpless…Sir, please consider!”
“I do know your constraints…but it’s your duty always. I’m not coming! No other channel asks me to venture out on my own!”
“Sir, we offer a good honorarium that also includes a good conveyance amount for eminent guests. Please consider…!”
“I don’t want your bloody money! I’m not a beggar!”
“Sir…please! Honorariums are offered to eminent figures like you out of our deep appreciation and respect, and not to beggars…in fact alms are offered…!”
“This is most atrociously poor planning on your part! I’d look if my driver is available…don’t expect me to drive down on my own!”

He did come down finally. He turned away the coffee offered saying it was cold. After the discussion the editor ordered hot steaming coffee for him. Finally the second guest left smiling saying that his motive for coming to such shows was never money, but a social service. However, he did sign the honorarium contract.

Luckily it was the festival of colors or Holi Festival the next day, and therefore he could immerse his anger and frustrations into layers and layers of myriad colors! Happy Holi!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beaten Cop Gets Suspended, Suspended MLAs Get Bail!

It is precisely because of the unique title that this post is getting written. True, you can hope to find anything possible under the sun in India, but such titles only in a while. We have told you earlier about the increasing conflict between the politicians and policemen of this country. There we had mentioned the unprecedented nature of the incident—a cop getting beaten up inside the august institution of the Maharashtra Assembly by a group of elected representatives belonging to various political parties. Following the national outrage over the issue the constitutional body suspended five Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and over the next few days the Budget Session has been continuously disrupted. Infuriated by the suspension the MLAs have been demanding that the beaten up cop be suspended from service too for his alleged misbehavior with one of the accused MLAs on a case of over speeding. 

Maybe greatly concerned over the loss of working days the state Home Minister RR Patil today announced the decision to suspend the beaten up police sub-inspector. The Minister justified his decision by stating that he had reportedly examined a CD of the verbal duel between the MLA and the cop during that incident of over speeding, and reportedly found that the cop had indeed crossed his limits of decency. But of course, the Minister assured that there will be committees to probe into the incident and the policeman will continue to be under suspension till the inquiry is over. And by the way, the unprecedented cop-bashing is not to be forgotten as the Minister announced more committees to probe that too. 

Meanwhile, the two suspended MLAs were arrested after they surrendered to the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police and were remanded to judicial custody. Their bail plea was to be heard on Monday. Today, a local Mumbai court released them on bail with some conditions. Now, it seems that the next priority for the elected representatives would be to get the suspension order of five MLAs revoked. Till then, the pandemonium is likely to continue. To make matters worse, the Maharashtra Assembly this time is not only miffed with the policemen but also with the media. A kind of a mutually agreed boycott of the media has been going on for the last few days mainly due to a ‘sensational’ presentation of the cop-bashing incident by a news channel. Reporters of various other ‘responsible’ channels are honestly covering the proceedings everyday, but they are also deprived of bytes or interviews by the representatives of all political parties including the ruling combine. Call the shots as you always do, O’…politicians!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Test Cricket: India Win Delhi Thriller To Sweep Australia 4-0!

Cheteshwar Pujara (82 not out) and Virat Kohli (41) made the tricky Delhi pitch look easy as they helped India romp home crushing Australia by 6 wickets in the fourth Test match today and India swept the Series 4-0—for the first time against mighty Australia.  They lifted the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2013 after throwing it away in Australia exactly in the reverse manner of a 0-4 drubbing. It was a great moment when the legends Alan Border and Sunil Gavaskar presented the Trophy to the winning captain MS Dhoni.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Justifying his tag as the new ‘wall’ of India Mr. Consistent Pujara played an outstanding unbeaten innings seeing through the end. Virat Kohli who was expected to play a crucial role today gave him perfect company and nearly achieved the target of 155 runs between themselves. The most positive aspect of these two youngsters was that they did not play in fear or in anticipation of the tricky pitch and just batted naturally facing Lyon and Maxwell with authority. They hit boundaries regularly and stole singles at every opportunity racing to 50 in the ninth over and 100 in the twentieth over. The highest run-scorer of the Series Murali Vijay (430 runs) fell to an awkward shot early on and there were a few hiccups when Tendulkar and Rahane followed Kohli in quick succession as if not to rob the suspense out of a genuine thriller. And it was all over within three days. 

Jadeja and Ashwin
On the bowling front, man-of-the-match Ravindra Jadeja delivered a five-wicket haul with some superlative spin bowling foxing the batsmen all the time and nearly achieving a hattrick. Man-of-the-Series Ravichandran Ashwin captured two wickets today taking his tally to an astonishing 29 wickets—the highest of the Series followed by Jadeja with 24 and Nathan Lyon with 15.

Earlier, Lyon got the remaining two Indian wickets out quickly and Australia conceded just 10 lead to India. At that moment the Delhi Test was still anybody’s game. However, Australia failed to live up to the highs achieved yesterday and their batsmen fell in heaps thanks more to the mindset and the fear of the conditions than to batting prowess and application. Fast bowler Peter Siddle again emerged as the only Australian batsman of substance making his second half century of the match. This is enough to prove that the pitch was not exactly a demon that could devour a full batting line-up within two sessions for a paltry 164. At that point too, 12 wickets had fallen for just 170 runs and all the anxiety and tension of the Indian fans was focused on how India would go about it. When they just about relaxed with Pujara and Kohli taking the match away from Australia, wickets started falling. The best Indian captain ever MS Dhoni thought enough was enough and ensured the absolute victory with the resolute Pujara. The Scorecard:

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test Series in India will be remembered for a host of healthy and positive reasons. Team India achieved this whitewash with a lot of promising youngsters and without the greats of Dravid, Laxman, Gambhir and Sehwag; the super comeback of the Indian captain Dhoni with a wonderful double hundred in the Chennai Test; Cheteshwar Pujara double hundred and his record 370 run partnership with Murali Vijay for the second wicket in the Hyderabad Test; the dream debut of Shikhar Dhawan with the fastest debut hundred and his record 289 run opening partnership with Vijay in the Mohlai Test; the Jadeja avatar of a Test all-rounder and a class act of specialist spin bowling by Ashwin and Jadeja. For Australia it’d be better if they forget this Series fast—forget particularly the unprecedented episode of axing key players for team indiscipline—and try coming back to their usual tough and competitive cricket. Australia never had a 0-4 whitewash since 1970 when they suffered this humiliation against South Africa in South Africa.

A long domestic season ends for India that started with a Series win against New Zealand, a shock loss against England and a huge triumph against Australia.  Genuine cricket is over for the moment, the revelers of the game may get ready for IPL-6 that unfolds from 3rd April.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cricket India Vs Australia: Intense Struggle In Delhi Test!

Nathan Lyon
At last when the Series is a foregone conclusion Australia showed today why they were considered the best in cricket not very long ago. With Aussie skipper Michael Clarke having left for home following his back problems, and Shane Watson returning from the disciplinary action plus reaction to take up the leadership, Australia still managed to regroup tremendously and showed intensity both in bowling and in fielding as they have been used to, and they seemed to be back at their aggressive best attacking the Indians in more ways other than strictly cricketing so characteristic with the Australian cricket teams. Call these mind games, sledging, or whatever. The most important thing being they managed to put India on the mat leaving the match wide open on a tricky Delhi pitch.

At stumps on the second day of the fourth cricket Test match between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2013 in Delhi today India had to struggle every inch of the way to finally take a slender lead of 4 runs losing as many as 8 wickets. The dry and turning pitch offered uneven bounce with the odd ball keeping low and the Australian bowlers, Nathan Lyon who took a five haul, Siddle and Mitchell Johnson in particular, bowled their heart out never allowing India to build a partnership except for the opening one between Vijay (57) and Pujara (52). Tendulkar (32), Dhoni (24) and Jadeja (43) had good starts, but could not build on those. Virat Kohli and Rahane, replacement for injured Shikhar Dhawan, flopped miserably to add to the Indian woes. At 266/8, India have no genuine batsman left on the crease to hope rather optimistically for a big lead. Australian spinner Lyon finally mustered the tricks of bowling on Indian turners and his effort had come a little too late.

Australia struggled too on the first day yesterday and at 136/7, the match looked set to get over in three days. However, as in the Mohali Test the eight wicket partnership rescued Australia again with Smith (46) and Siddle (51) fighting it out. The ninth wicket partnership too yielded more than fifty runs thanks to a stubborn 30 by pacer Pattinson. Interestingly, a fast bowler made the only half century of the innings. Australia progressed to a respectable 262 and those runs by the tailenders could prove crucial. Traling 0-3 in the Series Australia consistently won the toss every time though and this toss in Delhi could also prove crucial considering the behavior of the pitch only on the second day. For India Ravichandran Ashwin achieved a five-wicket haul yet again. The Scorecard:

Cricket fans today could not take their eyes off their television sets. This is only to get keener and edgier tomorrow and maybe the day after. Get ready for a Sunday treat. Just anything could happen. Be wise and do not try predicting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Headlines Of The Day!

Justice Delivered After Twenty Years: The Supreme Court today delivered the final verdict on the convicts for the 1993 Mumbai Serial Blasts (March 12, 1993) case. It upheld the death penalty for the main accused Yakub Memon, converted death into life for a few others and sentenced Bollywood actor of Munnabhai fame Sanjay Dutt to five years of imprisonment. Mumbai reacted in a mixed way--a sense of sadness combined with a feeling of assurance that everybody is equal before the law. Fondly called Sanju Baba, Dutt is to spend about three and half years in prison as he had already served 18 months of imprisonment and will have to surrender withing a month. After twenty long years final justice has been done for a brutal terror act that killed 257 people and changed Mumbai forever transforming it into a permanent terror target.

Anti-Rape Bill Becomes A Law: The upper house of the Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha today passed the anti-rape Bill and as it was already passed by the Lok Sabha the Bill has become a criminal Law replacing the Ordinance. The Government of India kept its promise and the elected members voted for the much needed change though in poor attendance. Anyway, a new chapter opens today for women safety. 

CBI Raids On DMK Leader: As a huge embarrassment for the ruling coalition the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today raided the residence of a prominent leader of the DMK, the party in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu that withdrew support from the Government on March 19. The timing of the raid raised a political storm with DMK alleging that CBI was being used to 'punish' the party for deserting the coalition. The Prime Minister expressed his unhappiness over the incident and vowed to find out who was behind it. Finance Minister P Chidamabaram too expressed his total disapproval of the raid. 

Elected Representatives In Police Custody: Two of the the 15 elected members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly who beat up a police officer inside the Assembly on March 19 surrendered to Mumbai Police today. They were put in police custody for a day and are likely to be produced before a court tomorrow. 

India Vs Australia Fourth Test Starts In Delhi: The fourth and the last Test match between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy starts in Delhi tomorrow. India already pocketing the Trophy with a historic 3-0 lead looks to wrap up a brown-wash of 4-0. While it would be a toss between troubled Clarke and returning Watson for the Australian captaincy India would be without the services of the Mohali hero, Shikhar Dhawan.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Politics: Women Safety Vs Cop Safety!

In the revolutionary follow-up to the horrific Delhi gangrape women safety has been dominating the think-tank of the nation with brainstorming, measures, judiciary commissions, ordinances and laws-in-making coming up in quick time thanks to the concern finally shown even by politicians towards this societal issue. The police have come up as the immediate authority who could practically contribute immensely towards this cause with interactive or proactive or cooperative efforts. But as a total jerk and a terrible contrast the safety of the police itself has suddenly confronted this clueless nation called India or rather the largest democracy of the world.

Recently a cop had been killed in broad daylight in a town of the famously feudal Uttar Pradesh—beaten up badly first and then shot. A notorious politician, currently a minister in the state government led by a most ‘promising’ young educated Chief Minister, had been implicated in the murder. A FIR had been filed against him, but no arrest till date. This is only to show how indispensable that minister or political leader is to any political party in power thanks to his ‘proven’ powers and ‘muscular’ politics. Suddenly then, the national outrage in media circles turned to ‘how safe are cops in India’! Pray, what about women safety?

Cut to the financial capital, cinema capital, richest capital and spirited capital of India, Mumbai. The Budget session of the Legislature of Maharashtra had been going on since March 11, 2013 in Mumbai and it was yesterday on the eve of presenting the state Budget that cop safety issue had taken another atrocious turn. An inspector of Mumbai Police was asked to attend the Legislative Assembly session yesterday, because a breach of privilege notice against him was going to be discussed. The inspector allegedly misbehaved with a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA­) when the latter was stopped for over speeding on a sea-link bridge—a must sightseeing for tourists in Mumbai. While the discussion was going on a group of MLAs suddenly marched towards the visitors’ gallery and beat up the inspector unawares. The MLAs belonged to various rival political parties meaning they could always unite for ‘just’ reasons!  The poor cop had to be taken to a hospital later. This unprecedented incident in an august constitutional body outraged the nation again and brought the focus fully on cop safety. Normally, citizens complain against the highhandedness of policemen and condemn their proximity to politicians. In fact, Delhi police was severely criticized for its inept handling of crimes against women in the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape. Now, the equation has been changed irrevocably. Pray, what about women safety?

Incidentally, the anti-rape Bill got passed by Lok Sabha—the lower house of the Indian Parliament—last evening as planned and now it has to be passed by the upper house to make it a law, preferably by 22nd March when the Parliament goes into recess a month and the Ordinance on anti-rape lapses on 4th April. Ironically, attendance was visibly poor in Lok Sabha, maybe because while no political party member could afford to oppose the much-needed law their ‘maleness’ did not allow them to do it in public! The only bone of contention got resolved nicely—the age for consensual sex remains at 18.

Meanwhile, the coalition government plunged into a crisis following the withdrawal of support by a key and an outstandingly unreliable ally on the fateful day of 19th March, 2013. Five ministers of that party resigned today. Their demands over the conditions of Tamils of Sri Lanka wanted the Government of India to officially interfere in the internal matters or the sovereignty of Sri Lanka—the kind that Pakistan has been used to doing to India. But the pangs of survival are unfortunately making the government find ways of succumbing to it respectfully. Saner minds of the country want mid-term elections rather than going on with survival and blackmail politics. The situation is pathetic as from now on the coalition government will have to cater to the likes of two most lethally feudal forces of Uttar Pradesh—Mayawati and Mulayam for utter survival.

Pray, what about women safety? Who will ensure safety for whom? Answer is INDIA!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cricket India Vs Australia: India Seal Test Series 3-0, Create History!

India defeated Australia by 6 wickets in the Mohali Test today clinching the Series 3-0 and regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after they lost it 0-4 in Australia. They have indeed created history by the effort. Never before in Test cricket history against Australia have India won more than two Tests in a series and never with a zero margin. Now they have a very good chance of making it 4-0, an exact revenge delivered, in Delhi where the last Test starts from 22nd March, 2013. India also never won three Tests in a series since 1993-94 when they swept Sri Lanka under the leadership of Mohammad Azharuddin. For Australia they have never lost three Tests in a series since 1988-89 under the leadership of Alan Border. The most positive aspect of the Mohali Test of swinging fortunes is that the match had a nail biting finish in the last moments of the last day converting it into a one-day thriller.

Aussie captain Michael Clarke did come in at No. 6 to bat, but he never looked at ease due to his troubling back falling yet again to the guiles of more spinner than an all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. At 179 for 9 it looked to be all over for Australia with India chasing a very gettable target. But the near centurion of the first innings Mitchell Starc (35) with the robust company offered by Xavier Doherty (18 not out) decided to fight off an Indian victory at all costs struggling for more than 18 overs for 44 runs. Time was running out for India and the total threatened to get bigger and bigger. When Australia folded up finally for 223 runs India had a target of 133 to win in possible 40 overs. On the last day pitch of a Test it was never easy and the Australian bowling attack made India huff for every run, but the absence of Shane Watson and James Pattinson came handy for India though they were also without the man of the match Shikhar Dhawan who got a hand injury while fielding. Australians in the final analysis must blame themselves for a consistent poor show and not being able to at least save this match.

Cheteshwar Pujara who opened in place of Dhawan and Murli Vijay progressed comfortably, but with the fall of regular wickets pressure started building up and Tendulkar succumbed to it by falling run out. It was nearly getting to a run-a-ball suspense when a few lusty hits by captain Dhoni and Jadeja saw Team India through to a historic win. More positively all the Indian batsmen contributed this time for the win.

The Indian spinners held sway on the last day with Jadeja getting three scalps while Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha got two each. Pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar did the real damage yesterday by mopping off three top order batsmen. The Scorecard:

Mohali Test will be remembered for its ups and downs, a real tight finish and glorious batting by Dhawan and Vijay. Cricket Australia will have a real dilemma of team selection for the Delhi Test with an unfit captain and a possible return of vice-captain Shane Watson. For the Indian fans it’s time to celebrate.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cricket India Vs Australia: Mohali Test Could Still Go India’s Way!

Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay
The third cricket Test between India and Australia in Mohali for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2013 has been interesting for all possible reasons. First day washed out due to rains that really came out of the blue. Second day saw Australia starting a grim battle with their batsmen trying more to stick on to the job rather than launching themselves for a victory, because in the back of their mind they were probably aware of the fact that a full strength team is likely to be fielded for the fourth and last Test and therefore if they manage a draw here in Mohali they could still try all guns to make a respectable defeat margin of 2-1. Third day yesterday was a classic by all standards as Australia recovered from 273/5 to 408 all out thanks to a dogged partnership of 97 runs between Smith (92) and Starc (99) for the eighth wicket and the job for a draw was almost done. Famed Indian spinners succeeded in only depriving the duo of their deserving centuries, but could not capitalize. But then, the brand new Indian opening pair, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, had revolutionary ideas and they translated the ideas into action in the most spectacular way possible.

Shikhar Dhawan, technically he could have been out in the very first ball and was saved thanks to a rare act of generosity by the Kangaroos, went about his job in a most flamboyant manner with his bat masterfully combining aggression and precision. Shikhar waited ages to be selected for Team India in Tests and he wasted away a few chances in the one day internationals for Team India earlier. Now he capitalized on this Sehwag-send opportunity and played only cricket unmindful of the shortest, short or longer formats. He raced to his century in just 85 balls and finished the day remaining unbeaten at 185 in 168 balls with 33 fours and 2 sixes and a strike rate of 110. A debut that could happen only in the wildest of dream did happen—the fastest Test debut ever, the second highest world score by a left-handed debutant in Tests and also the second highest by an opener on Test debut ever. Shikahr brought India back to a winning position within four days neutralizing the Australian tactics. The overall scoring rate for India was nearly five an over for the day—so rare in the Test genre. His partner Vijay continued his defense-aggression balance perfectly like in the Hyderabad Test looking for loose balls to punish and remained not out on 83. With India at 283/0 at stumps on the third day an incredible 418 runs were scored.

Fourth day today was more similar to what normally happens to India with wickets falling in heaps. The debut-wonder boy could not last long and fell for 187 and in the very next over the new ‘wall’ and the star of the second Test Pujara was given out for LBW despite the inside edge. But Sachin Tendulkar took control of the proceedings and gave most valuable support to Murali Vijay who became the fifth Indian to score two back-to-back 150+ centuries. His partnership of 289 runs with Shikhar is the highest opening partnership involving a debutant in World Test cricket. Unfortunately after looking set for a long innings Tendulkar got out just before lunch with India at 384/3, still on for a huge first innings lead. Mitchell Starc with the new ball then struck two vital blows removing Vijay (153) and captain Dhoni (4) and the all familiar India collapse started. But for a determined Virat Kohli (67 not out) and a fighting Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (18) India could not have managed even the 91-run lead. Siddle doing the finishing off job with five for 71 India were all out for 499 runs—missing a great opportunity given by Vijay-Shikhar to build on the lead and finally it was again a story of individual brilliance and not total team effort. The depleted Australian bowling attack did a much better job today finding a lot of seam and swing. 

Michael Clarke Bogged Down!
Poor batting by Australia again revived the winning chance for the hosts. Warner, Cowan and Smith all fell to the seam and swing this time of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. To make things further worrisome for the visitors captain Michael Clarke aggravated his back that has been troubling him for years in the warm up practice this morning and was on and off the field during the day. He did not come out to bat today and luckily for Australia Hughes, up in the order, managed a half century to remain not out on 53 with night watchman Lyon on 4 giving him company. At 75/3 still trailing by 16 and Clarke not sure to bat tomorrow Australia could very well make it 3-0 for India. The Scorecard:

An interesting finish tomorrow would be a befitting finale for an absorbing and swinging four-day Test in Mohali.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Politics Of Terror: Pakistan Vs India!

The Pakistan government has been steadfastly honest about its skewed international diplomacy in relation to its neighbor India—keeps offering the bait of peace and talks, and reciprocates with military attacks and terror strikes the moment the offers take shape. When a round of bilateral talks starts or ends positively it gets invariably neutralized by some kind of ridiculous and controversial statements or actions on the Pakistan front. When a Pakistan President or Prime Minister or Minister visits India in a most amiable atmosphere Pakistan sponsored terrorists deliver a strike or the Pakistan army does something nasty on the Line of Control (LoC). Cricket has always been an integral part of Pak diplomacy too. Banking on the cricket crazy millions in both countries this politics works faster and more effectively. After a long gap since 2008 the Pak cricket team came to India in December-Jan, 2012-13 for a short ODI Series and fans were delighted. But on January 6, the day of the last match, Pakistan army masterminded a brutal attack on the Indian side of the LoC.

On March 9, 2013 Prime Minister of Pakistan paid a personal visit to a Muslim shrine in Jaipur and had lunch with the Indian Foreign Minister. Just four days later Pakistan militants launched a major terror attack on a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) camp in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir—a state ravaged by politics of terror over the decades. The tortured state where democracy is never allowed to bloom continued to reel under violence with regular murders of political leaders and in recent times murders of village headmen who dared to talk about democratic norms. But for three years the state was spared of major terror attacks. After the hanging of Afzal Guru another round of terror politics began taking advantage of the tension created due only to the rule of the militants there. Pakistan link to the attack was proved again with the arrest of two more terrorists.Ironically, the terrorists came dressed as cricketers with their sports kits.

The very next day, that is 14th March, Pakistan did the unthinkable taking full advantage of the terror politics. The Pakistan Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the hanging of Guru and asking for the body of the hanged terrorist for proper burial there. The political storm that ensued in India was only to be expected as opposition political parties demanded to know when the Government of India would assert itself and how long it was going to be tolerant and silent. The immediate casualty was the cancellation of the forthcoming bilateral Hockey Test Series between the two neighbors as the Government of India had to take some action. Yes, sports relations always suffer first due to politics.

The vested interests in Pakistan never want normal relations established between the two neighbors and whenever some positive signs emerge they promptly crush it off. These vested interests are represented by the militants of various hues and colors including the Taliban. Problem is they have taken a vicious hold on Pakistan with its ‘democratic’ government too weak to get out of it and the army becoming indistinguishable from the militants. Some very solid hopes surfaced in 2011 when Pakistan decided to give Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India, but as usual, the implementation part is yet to happen. A false sense of hope prevails over the people who want peace and good neighborly relations. 

India Vs Pakistan—a malignant match that never ends. Does the future hold the key? Maybe…maybe not.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crimes Against Women: Death For Rapist-Murderer Now Official!

After a lot of differences and brainstorming over the past four days finally the Union Cabinet approved the Anti-Rape Bill last evening in New Delhi. The Government of India thus wants to replace the Criminal Offenses (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated in February 2013 with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013. Now the challenge before the government would be to make the Bill into a Law by getting it passed in the Indian Parliament by 22nd March 2013, because Parliament goes into a recess for a month then and by the time it resumes the session the Ordinance would lapse, that is, on April 4. Before that the government will have to overcome the opposition storm in an all-party meet on Monday.

The approved Bill recommends death penalty for rapist-murderers and also in cases where the rapist leaves the victim in a persistent vegetative state. The Bill also revises the earlier proposal of life imprisonment to rapists and mandates that the rapist will now have to spend the ‘rest of his natural life’ in jail.  Acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism and inappropriate touch or gestures or remarks will all become criminal offenses. While acid attacks would attract punishment of not less than 10 years imprisonment sustained stalking and repeated offenses of voyeurism or inappropriate touch or gestures or remarks would be made non-bailable.

The Ordinance replaced ‘rape’ with ‘sexual assault’, but thanks to protesting women activist groups the Bill dropped this proposal thus retaining ‘rape’ and making it gender specific crime instead of the proposed gender neutrality. Crime against women is the all-pervasive social malady and this is most gender specific and most gender sensitive where the perpetrator is always the male and the victim is always woman. Therefore this step of the Bill is very welcome. Of course, child abuse in another big concern that is gender neutral, but this problem has to be addressed separately.

One of the very positive and most needed provisions in the Bill is to make it mandatory to all government and private hospitals to provide free medical care to all women victims of any form of sexual attacks. The hospitals would not have to wait for police verification and their refusal to give free treatment would be a criminal offense too attracting at least one year imprisonment. This step could be termed revolutionary considering the practical difficulties experienced in such cases in India.

The most debated provision of the Bill is that of reducing the age for consensual sex from 18 to 16, the basic objective being to avoid calling all teen sex under 18 as ‘statutory rape’ and maybe also to take into account the changing times. But this provision is set to attract vehement opposition as several political parties, mostly in the feudal north, have already voiced their concern and objections. The Bill also promises to consider reducing the age for juvenile criminals from 18 to 16 which would be most welcome and timely. However the Bill prefers to be silent on the issues of marital rape. 

For a country dominated by males over the centuries what is happening is really unique, and all the credit goes to the Young India Movement for Change that shook India after the horrific Delhi Gangrape. It is now up to the political will of the country for making history in the Indian Parliament.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cricket: Australian Woes Washed Away For A Day In Mohali Test!

Incessant rains washed out the entire first day’s play of the third Test match between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Mohali today. For the depleted Australian team thanks to the unprecedented decision of the team management to punish four players for indiscipline the rains seemed to have wiped off their woes—for a day at least. But at the same time trailing 0-2 they needed to win this contest desperately to stay alive in the Series and losing one full day makes it all the difficult for them to press for a favorable result within four days or even three depending on the pitch and field conditions. For victorious India too the loss of a day means they have to try harder to seal the Series with an all-time record of winning against Australia by 3-0 or even 4-0.

Brad Haddin was flown in on Monday to replace the injured keeper Wade and that made a team of 12 giving them an option to make one change. And they took the option by dropping all-rounder Glen Maxwell despite a good Test debut to utilize their all available specialist bowlers—the pace trio of Siddle, Starc and Henriques with two specialist spinners, Lyon and Doherty. Sort of optimizing the best available resources to hope for a favorable result.   Tough going indeed for a team that occupied the top spot in world cricket for so many years. For India, it will be a new opening pair in years and all the youngsters in Team India must be praying for play to begin tomorrow.

For the moment it is wait and watch.

Turbulent Times! 

Meanwhile too many things happening on the political, economic and other fronts in India. The Indian Parliament presented the Railway Budget and the General Budget for 2013-14 where the opposition political parties failed to find enough populist measures for making more than enough noise. But then, all the skeletons rolled out of the cupboard to make the goings-on as difficult as usual. Things got harder with Italy ignoring India on the marines issue, terror coming back to Jammu and Kashmir after three years in the wake of the hanging of Afzal Guru, Pakistan today passing a resolution in Parliament to condemn the hanging and demanding the body back, the male-dominated India struggling to draft an anti-rape bill that will ensure safety of the females and at the local level the Maharashtra Assembly budget session had also begun on Monday with the worst drought in 40 years ravaging the state. It has been an engulfing potpourri of crisis and commotion, and this poor writer being in the media has been caught in the accompanying hard work hardly finding any time to do justice in these pages!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Test Cricket India Vs Australia: Four Australian Players Axed!

After playing some of their worst cricket in recent times and trailing India 0-2 in the current Test Series hosted by India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2013 Australia seems headed for more serious trouble. As the third cricket Test, a must win for Australia, begins in Mohali from 14th of March four players of the Australian team including two key playing ones Shane Watson and James Pattinson were axed by Team Management. Earlier, dashing Indian opener Virender Sehwag had been dropped from Team India for the last two Tests and this piece of act had been generating a lot of politicking over the past few days. However, in the Australian case it is not politics, but protocol that means the four axed cricketers did not complete their homework as desired under rules. 

Why politics in the Virender Sehwag case? He has been a non-performer for at least the last five Tests and scored his last century two years ago. His steadier partner Gautam Gambhir was dropped at the beginning of the India Vs Australia Test Series. In the first two tests against Australia that India won convincingly Sehwag contributed just 27 runs in three innings. But…yes... there is a ‘but’.
First, Sehwag had been dropped for the ODI Series against England recently which in a way means he had been recalled for the first two Tests against Australia. If you recall a former great you normally give him enough time for a glorious comeback. Second, India won the both the Tests so far and you normally do not disturb a winning combination. Third, Harbhajan Singh had also been recalled and despite similar non-performance he is still retained. This means Sehwag is the lone player to be axed. Fourth, cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and skipper MS Dhoni himself sailed through without being axed after consistent non-performance. And not the least, Sehwag got dropped from the ODI team on earlier occasions too largely due to his growing differences with Dhoni. When the whole team gets demoralized for all alleged reasons and fails totally you cannot pick and axe individual players. Naturally then, politicking rages when you drop a veteran from a winning team coming good at last.

For the Australian players it is strictly ‘punishment’ and it is unprecedented in Australian cricket. They did not comply with the team orders that asked all team members to make a fact finding report on the team’s disastrous performance and suggestions for possible improvement. There are more disturbing reports that Australian Vice-Captain Shane Watson had already left for home after being axed which is of coursed denied by Cricket Australia. With Kangaroo keeper Matthew Wade also injured the Australian team practically gets reduced to 11 to choose 11 from. Brad Haddin is reportedly being called in to replace Wade. The axed players will be allowed to play in the last Test, but that could very well be after losing the Test Series.

The contrasts of politics and protocol make the Mohali prospect a markedly attractive one. As some solace for the troubled Australians the ground staff of Mohali had reportedly stated that the pitch there would retain its greenness promising a lot of pace and bounce.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Humor: Mumbai Retail Of The Sleepy Kind!

What happened was unbelievable for me—living in Mumbai for years. A sense of business or a drive for business is always palpable almost everywhere in this mega city that never goes to sleep—from the slum hutments to the luxurious high-rise enclaves. One has to be business minded here not only to survive, but also to earn the extra bucks to survive better or to amass millions to figure among the dirty rich. The business atmosphere is so friendly that at your local market you can shop even without having money in the pocket. The seller or vendor just fills your bag with the stock response ‘You won’t run away, would you!’ Therefore, what happened was just beyond me.

Today being Maha Shivratri apart from being a Sunday too, my wife had a sudden requirement for few things around 4.30 pm. I decided to visit the nearby society grocery store to save time. The residential credit society had a tough time finding a suitable business partner to run the store for them, and finally they found a business family who agreed to the terms and conditions. The society also agreed allowing them to live, eat and sleep in the store apart from doing business. Such an arrangement proved to be beneficial to the residents as the store remained open for long hours.

I found a kid guarding the shop and when I asked him to weigh the required things displayed outside he only smiled—maybe with a sense of helplessness, but I was sure about some amount of mischief too in that smile. I gathered that the elders were sleeping and the kid was not authorized to sell. As I tried to enter the store I found one of the elders sprawled up in the main doorway sleeping blissfully. Refusing to accept the situation I hollered over him to accomplish my ‘business’. He squeezed open his eyes and muttered without getting up, ‘All are sleeping, no business now please!’

‘Then why don’t you down your shutters?’ I demanded.

He ignored his ‘customer’ and just rolled over on his sides enjoying the bliss. I seethed out ‘Sweet dreams!’ and walked all the way to the main market area.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Humor Or Not: Exams, Students And Questions!

In a school certificate examination in a certain language in a certain place in Maharashtra something very unusual happened. The exam hall was filled with bright and expectant students waiting in suspense for the question papers to be distributed. When the suspense ended and they had their papers in hand they hardly expected what they encountered.

Thee was a question that left them all shell shocked. Some of them got emotional, some of them broke down and some of them protested vehemently. Even most of the teachers on duty became very angry and supported the students. The exam schedule got disturbed and absolute confusion prevailed. Finally the authorities canceled the question papers on that particular subject and gave assurances for rescheduling. The authorities also promised to take stern action against the setters of that question paper.

The question was ‘how would you write a letter to your younger brother on your father’s sudden death’. They came prepared for the exams, but definitely not for this.


On the lighter side one student in a particular exam in a particular place somewhere in India found one particular question very intriguing and perplexing. Like all students of today he was also more familiar with the modern times and modern things like iPods, iPhones and laptops, and not of the ancient times. But he was smart enough to put in a very short and precise answer after pondering over it for a while.

The question was ‘Why did Lord Ram banish his dear wife Sita to the forests’.
(Ref.Epic Ramayana)

The one-line answer was ‘He must have had some solid good reasons to do so’.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Test Cricket: And India Crush Australia, Take Unbeatable 2-0 Lead!

The end came much sooner than expected to cause a lot of embarrassment for the Michael Clarke led Australian cricket team. Powered by the Indian spinners Ravindran Ashwin (another five wicket haul) and Ravindra Jadeja (three wickets) Australia never gave a worthy fight and folded up for a miserable 131 in 67 overs with more than one and half days to spare. India crushed Australia by an innings and 135 runs in the second Test in Hyderabad taking an unbeatable lead of 2-0 in the four-match cricket Test Series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy being played in India. It was indeed sweet revenge for the absolute drubbing India received at the hands of Australia in Australia. While England spinners denied India a similar revenge in 2012  Australia has failed to deliver in batting and in pace or spin bowling so far and thus face a looming Series defeat in the last frontier they always wanted to conquer. 

It was also a huge relief for the troubled Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who delivered all cylinders firing in this Series and became the most successful India captain ever with 22 Test wins as against 21 of the most aggressive Sourav Ganguly. Cheteshwar Pujara was the deserving man of the match. Though limited to only a few 'individuals' Indian batsmen showed tremendous determination, patience and application in this Series so far. Such was the balance between Pujara and Vijay in their classic 370-run partnership that the natural aggressor Vijay exercised defensive tactics waiting for the right balls to hit and the new 'Wall' for India Pujara became the real aggressor.  The Scorecard:

The third Test between India and Australia starts in Mohali on March 14, 2013. Normally Mohali has a lively pitch with some touch of green, but seeing Australia's spinning woes authorities there may work overtime to convert it into a 'first day turner' as always demanded by Dhoni. In fact, Australia is not just vulnerable to spin only as their performance shows that they need to improve all-round to give themselves a fighting chance to draw level with hosts. At the moment Team India led by MS Dhoni looks a neatly woven together unit. They look formidable, invincible and triumphant. Michael Clarke would need to pull all possible and impossible tricks out of his sleeve to stop India. 
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