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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finally The BCCI In Shackles Courtesy Bombay High Court!

Following the national outrage over the IPL Spot Fixing Scandal and the dubious role played by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the shady unfolding we constantly wondered why nobody could control this mega-rich Board enough to cleanse the most popular game of the land. We saw aghast as the uncontrollable cricket masters arrived at compromises that suited them most. We felt despondent as most of the cricket conspirators started getting scot-free thanks to the limitations of the law of the land. We almost lost hope as SrinIndia (read BCCI Boss N Srinivasan) got ready to come back to his previously held seat of immense power. But today Bombay High Court showed the first signs that the BCCI could indeed be shackled. Sometimes in India rays of hope do really pierce the corrupt.

As a part of the stupendous BCCI compromise formula the richest cricket board of the world appointed a two-member committee to probe the IPL Spot Fixing Scandal and two days back the committee, as expected, gave a clean chit to almost all accused including the son-in-law of the BCCI Boss N Srinivasan Gurunath Meiyappan, the much implicated CSK franchise—again a team effectively owned by the BCCI Boss, and thus set the stage for a Srini comeback. Maybe the righteously minded members inside the BCCI or the righteous members who refused to be a part of the compromise, howsoever tiny, were not sleeping soundly over the mess.

The Bombay High Court in Mumbai today heard a petition filed by the Bihar Cricket Association against the BCCI and ruled that the two-member probe committee was illegal and unconstitutional thus making the probe findings invalid. The Mumbai Police that had been investigating the IPL scam earlier refused to share its evidence with the BCCI probe committee and has reiterated today that it had enough evidence to charge Meiyappan and others. The Indian Sports Ministry has also asked the BCCI to wait for the police investigations to get over before arriving at any conclusion. SrinIndia and his Board have finally found someone who could control the uncontrollable. Now it is to be seen what more tricks the corrupt cricket in India pulls out of its dirty bag to stick on to the compromise or absolute power or status quo.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Killing Meals: Food Insecurity And Corruption!

A close relative who is a teacher in a high school told me recently that he gave up the responsibility of looking after the free midday meal scheme implemented in his school due to rampant corruption. He lamented that the quality provisions supplied to the school found their way to the homes and kitchens of various members of the staff almost regularly and the leftovers were left for providing meals to the students—many of whom are poor and needy. This has been the universal picture in the largest ‘dysfunctional democracy called India. Here the corrupt human hyenas are not satisfied with the leftovers, but devour away the main chunks. We have seen in this country how the fodder for animals gets siphoned off for the quick buck. The corrupt ‘human’ hyenas do not even spare the ‘human’ kids who have done them no harm at all. Right, in this great country there has never been any dearth of good and suitably targeted schemes, but at the implementation level always the hyenas muck it up in a stinking mess of corruption.

At a time when the Government of India promulgated an ordinance to implement its most ambitious Food Security Bill providing staple grains to the poorest of the poor at nominal rates of 1-2-3 rupees per kilo the free lunches provided to the school children throughout India under the Midday Meal Scheme killed 23 primary school kids in Bihar—the same northern state that got famous for the fodder scam. Thanks to the corrupt human hyenas it was the abysmal quality of the meals and the presence of pesticides in the soybean curry that started killing the kids in the most ruthless manner—some on the spot, some on the way to hospital and some in hospital. More than fifty kids took days of horrible sufferings to escape death. And, the great common-man-obsessed political leaders of this great country hardly cared.

The blame game started in right earnest as the common people of Bihar and the rest of the country looked aghast and distressed. The ruling JD-U government of Bihar indicated a conspiracy of deliberate poisoning while its coalition partner just a month ago—the BJP—announced that it knew about sorry implementation of the midday meal scheme for years. National coalition politics prevented several other parties including the Congress from shouting too much anguish into it. This gives a horrific similarity to the politics in Buddhist Shrine Terror recently. This is very understandable since all the political parties are really busy gearing up for the General Elections-2014 or even earlier in their unique ways of uplifting the common man only. That common man has kids too does not seem to matter for our leaders, obviously because the school kids are not voters.

The Midday Meal Scheme that was adopted by most Indian states after 2001 contributed largely for the spread of education too apart from nutritious meals. Poor families do want to send their kids to primary and high schools as this would take at least one major meal out of their tiny daily budget. But the corrupt human hyenas that rot the system from top to bottom eat up the kids’ food and frighteningly eat up the kids themselves.

Why not make this largest democracy of the world still larger? Why not give voting right to all babies from the day of birth, to all kids at all levels and to all school children? Let us see then if our noble national leaders take up their cause too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nation Pays Homage to Pran: The Beloved Villain Of Bollywood!

Veteran actor and the most beloved villain of Bollywood (read Hindi Cinema) passed away at 93 in a Mumbai hospital on the evening of July 12, 2013. He had not been keeping well for a long time and could not attend the National Awards Ceremony held in New Delhi on May 3, 2013. In an emotionally charged function at Pran's Residence in Mumbai on May 10, 2013 the Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewary accompanied by top officers presented the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award to the ailing legend. 

The legendary actor and the classic villain of Bollywood had been cremated with full honors at Shivaji Park in Mumbai around noon yesterday. His body already in a deteriorating state could not be taken home and therefore directly transported to the crematorium in a symbolic last journey. Apart from thousands of fans cutting across the age barrier top stars of Bollywood including Amitabh Bachchan offered their tearful tributes. The national TV channels have been offering their homage stories to Pran round the clock since Thursday night when the 'pran' (life) of India breathed his last. A mourning and grateful nation joined the media showering plaudits on the actor--the bad guy of reel life and a most humble, ever helpful and a perfect gentleman in real life. 

Pran—a name that terrorized us as little kids; a name that we loved to adore as we grew older and a name that has remained with us till now and forever. We were struck with awe by his villainous portrayals and yet we could not stop liking him—his gait, his style of talking, his looks, his smart dress code and the eternal cigarette in his hands. That time we were not capable of judging him as an actor, but the way he kept us spellbound was only due to his intensely powerful and effective performances.  Read More...

Friday, July 12, 2013

WI Tri-Series Cricket: India Win The Celkon Mobile Cup!

The Dhoni Assault!
The World Champions, the Champions of Champions Trophy India have added one more tournament win to their bag of achievements by defeating Sri Lanka in the final of the West Indies Tri-Nation ODI Cricket Series on Thursday and taking home the Celkon Mobile Cup. Captain Cool MS Dhoni who with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the Series came back to play this match only and in a low-scoring thriller hit Sri Lanka’s almost unplayable bowler of the match Eranga for 16 runs needed to win in four balls of the last over of the match. With 45 not out Dhoni became the worthy player of the match while seamer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was adjudged the player of the Series. Just imagine Kumar was dropped or rested or whatever in a crucial match against Sri Lanka that put India almost out of the tournament. Anyway, the Champions came back from the brink of elimination, won two matches with bonus points and finally won the Cup.

The track was a tricky and treacherous one helping both seam and spin and also having uneven bounce. The ball often tended to keep low too. These factors probably influenced Dhoni to field first after winning the toss. Kumar delivered two vital blows eliminating the openers who tormented India with a double hundred partnership in a match earlier. But Sri Lanka came back into the match and at 171 for 2 in the 38th over they were cruising. Maybe Dhoni’s decision to under bowl his three seamers made things a little easier for Sri Lanka.  However, thanks to Ravindra Jadeja’s lethal spin (4 for 23) Sri Lanka uncharacteristically collapsed for 201 all out with their 8 wickets falling for just 30 runs. It seemed to an easy target for a powerful batting side.

India started uncharacteristically too with Dhawan and Rohit struggling for runs. Maybe the over defensive approach backfired with wickets falling. The painful proceedings continued as Karthick took 11 balls to get of the mark and still could not last long. Rohit labored on  in a determined way and his partnership with Raina--the fastest one of the innings--got India to 139 in the 32nd over and at that point India looked to be cruising. Rohit completed his 17th ODI half century, but could not last long as one unplayable low or almost grassing ball from Herath (4 for 20 runs) bowled him. From 139/3 India were reduced to 167/8 in the 42ndover and Sri Lanka stormed back into the match. Dhoni still refused to take quick singles obviously due to his injury and grimly kept his end going. Perhaps he planned a final assault on a Sri Lankan bowler he would finally face to settle the match that already seemed to be over for India. That happened in the last over with Eranga being the bowler. And India won by 1 wicket with just two balls to spare.
The Scorecard:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Celkon Tri-Series ‘Rain’ Cup: India In Final, West Indies Out!

This is incredible cricket mixed lethally with persistent rains. After the first round in Kingston the West Indies Tri-Series ODI Cricket Celkon Mobile Cup tournament was in a most intriguing stage with all the three teams having a chance to play in the final. India yet to open their account had the hardest chance having to win both remaining matches ideally with bonus points to stay alive and sail into the finals as the venue shifted to Port of Spain where the rain became a sort of the ‘fourth umpire’. The hosts, West Indies were sitting pretty with 9 points from two wins in the first round having just to stave off big defeats if not win. Incredibly enough, India did win both matches with bonus points and ensured their place in the final yesterday crushing Sri Lanka by 81 runs in a match reduced by rains to 26 overs and the D/L method setting a target of 178 for Sri Lanka. Thanks to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s scintillating bowling (4 wickets for just 8 runs) Sri Lanka was shot out for only 96 yielding India the much wanted bonus point. West Indies lost both their matches in Round-2 with big margins and got edged out on better net run-rate of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it’s again India Vs Sri Lanka Final Tomorrow in Port of Spain and the buzz is that injured Indian captain MS Dhoni might as well play. 

The rains interfered in every match in Port of Spain and yet the chasing team suffered every time losing the match with big margins. Yet, the toss winning team kept on choosing to field first, so powerful might have been the uncertainty or fear of batting first on a damp or moist wicket with some green patches. Finally, all factors including a spirited performance, the rains and the D/L method helped India to get geared up for one more tournament win.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Terror Targets Buddhist Shrine In India!

Serial bomb blasts shattered the serene atmosphere of the Mahabodhi shrine in Bodh Gaya in the north Indian state of Bihar in the early hours today. In all there were nine blasts inside and outside of the holiest of holy Buddhist pilgrimage site that left two monks injured. Fortunately all the blasts were low intensity and could not damage the main temple. Bodh Gaya is the historic place where Lord Buddha got his enlightenment and pilgrims from across the globe visit the Mahabodhi shrine here regularly. The blasts were carried out in a well coordinated manner within half an hour between 5.50 and 6am. The Indian Home ministry had confirmed the strike as a terrorist attack, though no terrorist group has claimed responsibility so far. In the background of the large-scale ethnic classes between Rohingya Muslims and the Buddhists in Myanmar the Government of India has taken the attack in all seriousness and has issued advisory to all Indian states to ensure security for all Buddhist shrines and Tibetan settlements. This could very well be the first instance of issuance of advisory for possible violence in view of the Myanmar clashes.

The President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of India have condemned this cowardly attack on a religious place vouching for a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism. But the ugly head of terror keeps on appearing again and again concentrating nowadays on soft targets while trying to demonstrate the fact that it can choose and strike place anywhere at its will. Recently it had returned to America too and the targets in India seem to be growing by the day.

Thee are reports of intelligence alerts issued by the central agencies to Bihar government over a period of at least six months and apparently these were either ignored or not taken seriously. These lapses have drawn public attention and a national debate has already begun. The opposition parties got another opportunity to indulge in politics of terror and attack the Government. Interestingly, the national opposition BJP blamed the Bihar government squarely for the intelligence lapse forgetting conveniently that they were also part of the government till last month when the split between BJP and JD-U happened following the Modi factor. Let us propagate zero tolerance for politics too! 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WI Tri-Series Cricket: Virat Ton Helps India Beat West Indies With A Bonus Point!

Virat In Full Flow
Team India kept its chances alive for a place in the final of the West Indies Tri-Nation ODI Cricket Series-2013 by crushing West Indies by 102 runs in the last league match between the two in Port of Spain, Trinidad yesterday. West Indies won the toss again and following the Kingston ‘trend’ elected to field first. But this time Team India was ready and did not bother about the ‘trend’ already demolished by Sri Lanka at their cost only the other day, though there were the usual scares and hiccups before stand-in captain Virat Kohli unleashed a breathtaking batting display. The opening duo Shikhar Dhawan (69) and Rohit Sharma (46) staged a rollicking partnership of 123 runs and after Dhawan was the first out wickets fell in regular intervals letting WI come back into the game with India at 168/4. This was a crucial juncture as India had to win the game possibly with a bonus point to stay afloat.

Virat Kohli proved to be the inspiration behind a regrouped India as he led from the front. Starting cautiously Virat opened out with a brilliant array of effortless shot all around the ground and got out only in the last ball bowled notching up his 14th ODI century in just 81 balls. He made exactly 102 runs—exactly the margin of victory for India finally. Team India finally set a mammoth target of 312 in fifty overs for the hosts amassing more than 80 runs in the last seven overs. 

Correcting the mistake made in the encounter with Sri Lanka Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was taken back to open the Indian attack and the seameer immediately justified his place by capturing 3 crucial wickets. West Indies started their batting shakily and just when they achieved a postion of relative strength at 56/2 a heavy downpour disrupted the proceedings. Duckworth and Lewis rules came into play thereafter setting a target of 274 runs in 39 overs for WI. The hosts suffered their usual habit of losing wickets in heaps maybe due to rain interruption or the D/L or an inspired Indian attack. They got all out for 171 in the 34th over rewarding India with a desperately needed bonus point. Although costly at first Umesh Yadav chipped in with 3 wickets too, and Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja evenly shared the others wickets to fall. 

If Sri Lanka win their match against the hosts tomorrow they will have 9 points (10 with a bonus point) and will sail into the final provided they defeat India in the last league match on Tuesday. If they lose tomorrow Sri Lanka would still remain in contention on an Indian defeat and be eliminated otherwise. With 9 points WI will the top team to qualify on a victory over Sri Lanka and on a defeat all three teams will be in with a chance. A short tournament deadlocked in a big way! 

In a virtual final before the Final India with 5 points have to beat Sri Lanka on Tuesday, bonus point or not, to be in with a chance to qualify. Back with a vibrant team spirit and winning ways the ICC Champions Trophy winner Team India is set to be a huge challenge for Sri Lanka to overcome. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

West Indies Tri-Series Cricket: India On The Brink!

Sri Lanka on Tuesday achieved the unique feat of losing just one wicket to post a huge 300+ total while put into bat and India suffered one of its worst defeats in one-day cricket while chasing. Sri Lanka outplayed the ICC Champions Trophy-2013 winner in all departments of the game to win by whopping 161 runs in the third match of the West Indies Tri-Nation ODI Cricket Series being played in Jamaica and Trinidad. It was a rank bad day for India with nothing clicking for them including the changes done in the team. Shami Ahmed coming into the team out of nowhere and replacing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar—consistently the main strike bowler for India in recent matches—was a huge surprise as it was illogical. With captain MS Dhoni out of the Series due to injury selection of specialist opener Murali Vijay was another surprise because the hit Shikhar-Rohit opening duo could not at all be disturbed. As it turned out these changes in a crucial match like this contributed profusely for the Indian humiliation. For a change stand-in Captain Virat Kohli won the toss and easily succumbing to the Kingston ‘trend’ put Sri Lanka in.

Man of the Match Upul Tharanga
The Kingston ‘trend’ was set by the fact that the pitch normally remained damp helping the quickies and then easing out in the afternoon. In the first match West Indies won the toss and invited Sri Lanka to bat first. Sri Lanka got all out for 208 in less than fifty overs and West Indies won with tremendous ease in the 38th over. In the second match too toss winning West Indies put India in and restricted them to 229/7 in fifty overs. But for a flash of West Indian harakiri tendency they would’ve won the match with tremendous ease again rather than the thrilling one wicket margin. What Kohli perhaps missed was the fact that in both matches the ‘trend’ helped only the West Indies quickies who are naturally enjoying the home advantage too. It took a spectacular batting display from Sri Lanka with Upul Tharanga (174 not out) in full flow to thoroughly demolish this myth. Opening with captain Mahela  Jayawardene (107)  Tharanga had a double century partnership and then a century partnership with Angelo Mathews (44) coming in to bat at No.3. The mammoth target of 249 was beyond India as they huffed and puffed to 187 all out. The best fielding side in the Champions Trophy got totally disoriented on the field this time with various lapses crowning their defeat.

Now for a berth in the final India must win its both remaining matches and yet hope West Indies defeat Sri Lanka. Assuming India win next two matches, a Sri Lanka victory over West Indies would still allow both Sri Lanka and West Indies go into the final thanks to one bonus point earned by each. It is highly optimistic at this moment to hope India earn two bonus points too which would increase their chances in case Sri Lanka defeat West Indies but fail to earn a bonus point.

Points Table As Of Now
Net RR
West Indies
Sri Lanka
 0  2

India meet West Indies tomorrow in a do or die encounter as the action shifts from Kingston, Jamaica to Port of Spain, Trinidad. Fortunately there will be no ‘trend’ or ‘myths’ to haunt Virat Kohli this time and the toss might be relatively less significant.

Monday, July 1, 2013

India: Corruption Loses, Suresh Kalmadi Ousted From AAA!

If you are following the political turmoil basically over the issue of corruption in India for the last two years rather seriously you cannot help but suffer from frequent spells of pessimism. You tend to feel that in 99.9 percent of cases corruption finally emerges victorious thanks primarily to the politics of corruption fought so shamelessly and without any sort of ideologies. So powerful are the lobbies of vested interests, so powerful are the people in power, so powerful are the chains of mutual interests and so toothless and ineffectual are the legal and judicial systems that the corrupt finally escape even after being charged or jailed or whatever. As you can righteously feel pessimistic in the recent IPL Spot Fixing Scandal after all the big stories of corruption almost every accused is currently out on bail and things do not at all augur well for justice being done in near future. The premier investigative agencies pursuing cases howsoever diligently are always targeted for allegedly favoring particular ‘party’ individuals or groups or whatever. Nobody cares for the truth anyway. But today, we witness a definitive case of corruption losing and the truth prevailing.

Suresh Kalmadi, the main accused of Delhi Commonwealth Games-2010 corruption case, continued to pull the ‘mutual’ power strings to remain in contention and power even after being jailed for ten months. The brazen corruption kingpin wanted to attend the London Olympics as the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) right after coming out of jail on bail. One court even allowed him to do so, but fortunately one higher court barred him citing national embarrassment. Banking on the ‘mutually corrupt benefit scheme’ and on his ever loyal ‘partners-in-corruption’ Kalmadi still did not want to lose his home-ground Pune in Maharashtra seeking re-election as the President of the Asian Athletic Association (AAA) for the fourth time in view of the 20th Asian Athletic Championship starting in Pune from 2nd July, 2013. Kalmadi might have drawn tremendous inspiration too from N Srinivason, the classic case of the adamantly corrupt.

But today, in the AAA poll held in Pune Suresh Kalmadi lost by 18 votes to 20 votes and was ousted from the AAA. The Athletic Championship that got overshadowed and dampened by the Kalmadi factor could finally start in full glory. Indian sports legends who have been lambasting Kalmadi in helpless rage for his shameless quest for power and position now welcome the verdict with open and free hearts.

At least in one case Corruption loses in India. We must hail this event as very significant and possibly as the catalyst for cleansing our great country of corruption—be it in the realm of sports or anywhere.  
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