Monday, December 28, 2009

Travesty in Delhi ...

Nope, i amn't refering to the Delhi pitch ., though a lot of blame should go there  ...

...Nope, i amn't refering to Kumar Sangakkara gesticulating to this teammates to escalate a ridiculous delivery and use it as an excuse to stop the match ... i felt it was childish, but Sanga's loyalty is towards his players and rescuing them from a bad situation ...

... Nope, i am't refering to Arun Jaitley or any of the other politicians who don't have the moral responsibility of a fiasco ... no politician in the recent past across the world has ever realized his shortcoming and owed to it, why sacrifice only Jaitley for it?

... Nope, i am't refering to the 2 teams packing off to their hotels within an hour of leaving the field ... showcasing a lack of respect for paying public will catch up, but not today ...

... The target of my ire is Match Referee AG Hurst. How can he not realize the follies of the pitch before the start of the game? If he had as much knowledge as me on the behaviours of various pitches, he can stay home and i can be the globe-trotting match referee. The second charge against him, how can you allow 23.3 overs to be bowled before you deem the match dangerous? I don't think earlier matches lasted this long. Third, did you see the ball that triggered the complaint - it was pitched in the bowler's side of the wicket. Outside the subcontinent, you would have seen the same reaction. Foruth, please see the various replays (i have seen, thanks to Indian News Channels playing it endlessly) - most of the deliveries that kicked up were from short of the length deliveries and not from length. If the bowlers have to adjust to batting paradise tracks (400 runs tracks), why can't the batsmen fed with some questions? Most of the batsmen getting hit were playing forward to a short of length delivery, not on their backfoot. Fifth, This isn't your first series in India (second actually, the previous one was also the Ind-SL 2005 series), how does this pitch behave differently to a fifth day subcontinent wicket? Sixth, show me one wicket that was from an ackward delivery: Tharanga leaving the gate open, Dilshan fishing outside off, Sanga's lazy uppish drive, Jayasuriya outfoxed with a slider and the Samaraweera's running indecision - none of them can be attributed to the pitch conditions

As like your predecessors, you will hide your imcompetent decision behind ICC's opaqueness. This match shouldn't have been called off. You should asked Sanga & Dhoni to quit whining and asked them to continue with the match. You should have told the captains that the pitches in India & the subcontinent in the 1990s weren't any different and matches were conducted fine, thank you very much.

27th December 2009 should go down in history as  a watershed event in Indian cricket. It is the day when ICC rubber-stamped BCCI's move to create batting pitches. ICC & BCCI have sent clear signal to the next generation cricketers. Please become batsmen, don't contemplate about being a bowler. Matches will be called off if we don't see 300+ run ODI wickets ...

The pitch and the various players aren't blameless. However, the match should have gone on. 

Friday, October 02, 2009

Was South Africa robbed in the ICC Awards?

I believed in the afirmative and checked if the cold, hard facts supports the contention.

World Test XI: Gautam Gambhir (India), Andrew Strauss (England), AB de Villiers (South Africa), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), Michael Clarke (Australia), MS Dhoni (India, capt & wk), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Stuart Broad (England), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Harbhajan Singh (India, 12th man)

I used Cricinfo Statsguru with the following conditions - 600+ runs, 50+ average, 3 or more hundreds. The list shows: Clarke (17/1440/53/5), Strauss (14/1323/60/6), Gambhir (8/1269/84/5), Samaraweera (8/1067/60/3), Tendulkar (9/896/55/3), Dilshan (8/848/71/4), Jayawardena (8/802/57/3), Sarwan (9/782/60/4), Gayle (9/698/53/3), AB de Villiers (8/603/60/3)

That clears the air about South African batsmen not making to this list. Only 1 managed to sneak in from a stats perspective. So, if there were test batsmen who could complain, it should be the Sri Lankans who managed only 1 entry though they had 3 folks in the above said shortlist. The reason is that they played Pakistan (away, 2 matches), Bangladesh (2 matches), Pakistan (home, 3), NZ (home, 1) - not strong opposition. 

Test Team Wicketkeeper:
My pick would need at least 300 runs, 40+ average, 10 dismissals, at least 2 50+ scores. I shortlisted 4 candidates after eliminating players who had too many matches & too few dismissals (Matt Prior) or too few matches (Pak, SL & WI WKs). McCullum (10/555/34.68/2h,3f/38-35c+3s), Brad Haddin (16/1028/41/2h,3f/55-54c+1s), Mark Boucher (8/316/28/1h,1f/26-24c+2s), Dhoni (8/554/0h,7f,28-24c+4s). 

Once again we can eliminate any claims of anti-SA bias. Dhoni got the vote because he led India to series win in NZ and he displayed some consistent batting. However, i feel for Haddin. He got robbed. Dhoni won on star power than stats power!

Bowlers:
For the bowlers, my criteria was 40 wickets, less than 3.5 RPO, less than 65 SR. 5 made the cut - Johnson (17/80/27/3.12), Siddle (12/49/29/3), Swann (12/48/30/3), Shakib Al Hassan (8/45/23/2.67), Broad (13/40/31/3.3).
Of this list, Hasan, Broad and Johnson made the list. While i understand Johnson & Hasan, i don't get Broad. Steyn missed the list because he had a higher RPO - 3.62 while his remaining stats look good (8/42/27). Bhajji missed the earlier cut because he had 39 wickets (8/39/27/2.5). 
Broad should consider himself very lucky. Not only did Swann have better bowling figures, his batting figures weren't bad either - 12/354/35/0h,3f compared to Broad's 13/395/26/0h,2f. I would have had put Bhajji in the team and have Siddle/Swann be the 12th man.

World ODI XI Team: Virender Sehwag (Ind), Chris Gayle (WI), Kevin Pietersen (Eng), Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL), Yuvraj Singh (Ind), Martin Guptill (NZ), MS Dhoni (Ind, captain, WK), Andrew Flintoff (Eng), Nuwan Kulasekara (SL), Ajantha Mendis (SL), Umar Gul (Pak), 12th man: Thilan Thushara (SL)

ODI Batsmen criteria: 400 runs, 40+ ave, 80+ SR, 4 or more fifties. Dhoni (24/967/60/9f/86SR), Yuvraj (24/949/48/4h,3f/106), Gayle (21/942/50/4h,2f,110) and Sehwag (14/782/60/2h,6f,128) are a cut above competition and invited themselves to the party. Guptill (12/448/56/1h,3f/87) made it on superior average. No idea why Dilshan (12/473/47/1h,3f/88) made it over  Hussey (18/699/54/0h,7f/87) and Amla (13/549/50/1h,3f/88) - both of them should consider themselves unlucky. The luckiest person on the list isn't Dilshan but Pieterson (16/440/44/1h,2f/93) who wasn't even the best player on the English team. That honor should go to Owain Shah (18/535/44.5/0h,5f/86). These records compare to Taylor (18/591/45.5/1h,4f/81) and AB de Villiers (18/614/44/oh,5f/88). Slight anti-SA bias but not too much for the huge uproar that we can expect.

ODI All-rounder criteria: 200 runs, 10 wickets. 17 players qualify but 3 folks seperated themselves by having Batting Ave above 35 & Bowling ave below 26. Flintoff (14m/304r/38ba.av/23w/20ba.av) seperates himself in this group that includes Duminy (19/476/37/10/25.4) and Shakib Al Hasan (22/665/37/30/25.6) though Hasan would have won any other year.

ODI Bowler's criteria: 25 wickets, Bow Ave less than 35, RPO less than 6. 12 players made the cut. Mendis (22/46/16/4.15), Kulasekara (24/43/19/4.33), Umar Gul (12/26/20/5) blow the opposition away. Outside this batch, there is a lot of close competition between Thushara (22/34/21/4.7), Steyn (16/28/24/5), Muralitharan (22/36/21.6/4.5), Johnson (16/28/24/5). The 12th man spot was a toss-up and i think the panel made a tough choice. I don't think anyone can make a case one way or the other on the 12th man.

In summary - there doesn't seem to be anti-SA bias. SA didn't have a few people contributing while others suffered slumps. Everyone in the team contributed their bit and hence their rise in Team rankings (the other explanation is that the Aussies slipped and hence elevating SA to the top spot!). They shouldn't show outrage for not having more players because they didn't play a lot of tests and there weren't standouts in the tests that they played. In the ODIs, there is a case for inclusion of Amla, but that's about the amount of under-representation from SA in the World teams.

My changes: 
  • Test Team: Haddin replaces Dhoni as WK. Bhajji replaces Broad who goes out completely. Siddle becomes the 12th man. Captaincy to Shakib.
  • ODI Team: Amla & Hussey replace Dilshan & Pieterson.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Unsolicited advise to Jaganmohan Reddy

Hi.,

My condolonces to you & your family for this huge loss. While the state has lost it's CM, the loss for your family is huge. In these trying times, i apologize that i need to talk about politics when it might be the farthest in your mind.

The reason why i had to interrupt your mourning is the increasing clamour to make you CM. Believe me, most of them are following the true traditions of the Congress party or trying to take advantage of the situation. A novice CM who is out of place in regional politics isn't their nightmare but their dream come true. It need not be said that your CMship will be one of the most corrupt in state history, not because you want it that way, but because you would have no control over these ravaging lunatics.

You entered politics about 6 months ago. You have been elected MP. Can you state five things you have accomplished in these 4-5 months? Politics, unfortunately, is easier spoken than acted upon. I am not denying your way to the CM post, but asking you to mature beforing seeking it. Remember that this is the last time you will get the CM post handed on a platter, you need to earn it going forward. Are you ready & prepared for it?

Putting myself into your shoes, i would do the following. If you are keen on the CM post, consult with Sonia & Rahul on the path leading to the CM post. Consult Rahul on how he got educated on people's issues. Get a mandate from Sonia that you will succeed Rosiah whenever he is ready to give up the CM post. Ideally, he should occupy the chair for 2 years and hand over to you at mid term. Take these 2 years to tour the state, tracing the same steps as your father. Learn the issues of the farmers, traders, businessmen, salaried class, working women, housewives and all. Once you attain maturity, the post is as good as yours. Remember, politics is like a bank account, you can only draw what you put in. Frankly, my dear, you haven't put in much to date. Start investing and then encash at a latter stage. 

It is obvious that the support you have today will dwindle drastically as time flies, but you will be left with your core supporters and that's going to be your first lesson.

Regards

Monday, September 07, 2009

Prakashraj - He deserves it!

I just read in Rediff that Prakash Raj has won the National Award for Best Actor for his performance in Kanjeevaram. While i didn't see the movie, i don't think there is one actor in the southern states in current times who can challenge PR for his acting skills. 

Kudos, sir. I like it that you do a variety of roles - stereotype villans (Anthapuram, Okkadu, Pokiri); side actor sharing/stealing hero's thunder (Athadu); father roles (Bommarilu etc) and in a few rare cases, the role of hero. For those who haven't heard of this actor, he is a gold medalist at National Film Institute and is the Amol Palekar-Nanna Patekar-Amrish Puri mix. 

No wonder, famour Southern stars like Chiranjeevi, Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan have praised him often! Enjoy your hour of glory, some lesser talented actor will steal the thunder soon!

PS: To the Rediff Editor. Please check the dictionary for the meaning of "sweep". 

Google Maps - Beats Nokia maps hands down!

My wife recently gifted me a high end Nokia mobile phone. Rest assured, we did quite a bit of research on the available options before settling on our final choice (my wife wanted to buy a blackberry but it didn't make sense for me to pay 800 rs for their GPRS+ services while i could pay only 200 rs for unlimited internet from my TSP).

The phone came installed with a Nokia maps application and 3 month free subscription of GPS service. We wanted to test out and took the phone for our visit to Tirumala (more on it in the next blog!), opening it and making some installations the previous night. Sadly, i missed one major application! Nokia maps is pretty good when it comes to the metros. It has mapped all major Indian cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai amongst others. However it has ZERO details of other areas. Some NHs show up in the application but it's coverage is pretty weak. I was surprised (sadly!) that Nokia maps didn't even add a high level map of Tirupati in their application.

I got time to install Google maps after my trip to Tirumala and i was so surprised at their map coverage. It recommended the same path that we took. More so, it has detailed a lot of Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities in India and shows major roads in all these places.

Thumbs down on Nokia maps and astounding thumbs up for Google Maps. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chennai to Tirumala: A Prime

Tirumala is about 15o to 180 kms from Chennai. There are many a routes that one can take for this journey.

  • Chennai-Naidupet-Kalahasti-Tirupati (196 kms): Longest route but one of the fastest as you stay on a 4 lane, seperated highway where average speeds of 100-120 isn't unheard of. The only glitch is that once you get on NH205, you need to be acutely aware of speed breakers that pop up without warning. I advise first time travelers with limited experience in 'real' Indian road experience to take this road. Better RoI on your BP than fuel!
  • Chennai-Tiruvallur-Thiruttani-Nagari-Puttur-Tirupati (173 kms): The cab driver's favorite route as you spend most of the journey in Tamil nadu rather than in AP. It is also one of the worst road to take as it is riddled with potholes, clumpy bitumen chunks and uneven road. It is any gamer's paradise for 3 hours of driving - just real conditions instead of sitting in front of a PS3! I don't recommend this road at all!
  • Chennai-Sulurpet-Kalahasti-Tirupati (177 kms): Took this route only once, on the way back from Tirupati. NH5 is a bonus while the rest of the route is quite ordinary
  • Chennai-Tada-Kalahasti-Tirupati (174 kms): Of all options, i haven't taken this road at all.
  • Chennai-Red Hills-Periyapalayam-Surutupalli-Puttur-Tirupati: The road that i have been taking quite often these days and carries my recommendation. You stay a lot in AP State Highways than in TN State Highways and that means better road experience. Also, if you are not too anxious to get to Tirumala, there are a lot of not-so-famous but very important & beautiful TTD run temples on the way that falls in this route:
    • Nagalapuram (Lord worshiped as Matysa avatar - has fins instead of legs and is called Vedanarayana Swamy)
    • Narayanavanam where it is said that Lord met Ammavaru. The lord is called Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy here.
    • Tiruchanur (more popularly called Alamelumangapuram’) which has TTD’s second most important temple – the Temple of Padmavati Amavaru. Any trip to Tirumala should include a trip to Tiruchanur. For travelers from Chennai, it is best to organize a trip on the way back.
    • Srinivasa Mangapuram: While one needs to see Lord as equally beautiful anywhere, I find him at Srinivasamangapuram to be quite special. Only decked in flowers (and without any gold, diamond or any other precious metals & stones!), it is said that the Lord stayed here before he got married.
    • Tirupati Kodandaramaswamy Temple: Haven’t been there in a long time. Will go there next time.
    • Tirupati Govindarajaswamy Temple: When you align from your bus or train in Tirupati, this is the closest temple – it is right in the middle of town; yet this isn’t visited often. Pilgrims are in a rush to go to Tirumala and once they are back, too tired to go to this huge temple. Did I say that this temple, consecrated by Ramajunacharya himself, is HUGE? I haven’t visited it in a decade but plan to do so in the next visit.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

All-Time India's Test XI

Cricinfo has started a country specific All-Time Test XI starting with Australia's All-Time Test XI. The process for England's All-Time Test XI is under way. I decided to jumpstart India's All-Time Test XI.

To whittle from the list of 260, i decided to have a minimum stats critieria
  • Wickets (Min): 150 (Post-1950s); 100 (Pre-1950s) 
  • Runs (Min): 2000 @ Ave (Min): 40 (30% leeway for Pre-1950s)
  • WK: 100 Dismissals
  • All Rounder: 75% of Min. Wickets & Runs
There are 6 categories - Openers (2), Middle Order (3), All-Rounder (1), Wicketkeeper (1), Pace (2) & Spin (2)

The following is the list of shortlisted candidates:
  • Openers: V Merchant, P Roy, S Gavaskar, NS Sidhu, V Sehwag, G Gambhir
  • Middle-order: V Hazare, P Umrigar, V Manjrekar, C Borde, D Sardesai, MAK Pataudi, G Viswanath, M Amarnath, D Vengsarkar, M Azharuddin, S Tendulkar, R Dravid, SC Ganguly, VVS Laxman, 
  • Wicketkeeper: S Kirmani, F Engineer, K More, MS Dhoni
  • All-rounder: Vinoo Mankad, Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri,  
  • Pace: Srinath, Kapil Dev, Z Khan, 
  • Spin: Subhash Gupte, B Chandrasekhar, BS Bedi, A Kumble, H Singh, EAS Prasanna, S Venkataraghavan
The reasons for leaving out some folks - K Srikkanth (Average below 30; Only 2 Test Centuries); CK Nayadu (no Test Centuries), Lala Amarnath (Average below 25), N Contractor (only 1 century), Jaisimha (Average around 30), C Chauhan (no century)

Some folks don't pass the stats but are in the list: Vijay Merchant (brilliant batsman but played only 10 Tests, 7 as opener), P Roy (Pre-Sunny best Opener?)

Analysis & Selection:

Openers: Only 2 stand out as outstanding. Sunny & Sehwag. Roy & Merchant played in an era where India wasn't dominant and known for brilliant individual but inconsistent overall performances. Sidhu was good but weak against pace attack. Gambhir has the potential to challenge Sunny & Sehwag but has a long way to go.
Verdict: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag 

Middle-order: Look how packed the middle-order is! There are 14 contenders and from them we get it all - class (Ganguly), grace (Laxman, Azhar), endurance (Dravid), technique (Viswanath). In this list, i think only Laxman & Amarnath never captained the side. As tough as the choice seems, the cream has a way of finding itself seperated from the remaining greats. 
Verdict: Tendulkar (no reasons required), Dravid (stellar record, match winning performances) and G Viswanath (IMHO, Tendulkar in the pre-Tendulkar era!)

All-Rounders: Indian Test cricket has had only 2 great groups - Middle order batsmen, Spinners. But the all-rounder class is the most barren. Ravi Shastri was good but not great. Pajji was the best we ever had and Mankad has stats pretty similar to Kapil Dev. Mankad was a bit better with the bat & Kapil with the ball.
Verdict: Vinoo Mankad, Kapil Dev (Kapil selected as All-Rounder/Pacer)

Wicketkeeper: While Dhoni might look the parts of the winner, i don't think this is as easy a selection. Primarily because Dhoni hasn't achieved his potential in Test cricket. Otherwise, what explains the fact that Dhoni has only 1 century in 37 test matches. Farookh Engineer has the advantage of being an opening batsman while Kirmani was the best pure Wicketkeeper we had. Dhoni has the potential to take this spot down the road.
Verdict: Farookh Engineer

Pacers: The less said, the better. There are just 3 Indian paces with more than 100 Test wickets - Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath & Zaheer Khan. I will go with Srinath for now. Khan has the potential to take this spot in a few years.
Verdict: Javagal Srinath

Spinners: Rich crop here as well. Kumble is a shoo-in because of the fact that he won the most matches for India. The fight amongst the rest is pretty intense. My vote for the present is for Bishen Singh Bedi but Bhajji is already on the rear-view mirror. If Bhajji can perform at the highest level over the next 3-5 years, the spot will be his.
Verdict: Anil Kumble, Bishen Singh Bedi

India's Test XI: Sunny, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Vishwanath, Mankad, Kapil, Engineer, Srinath, Kumble, Bedi.

Just Missed: Dhoni, Kirmani, EAS Prasanna, B Chandrasekhar, Bhajji, Gupte, Vengsarkar!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why are we living in 12th Century BC?

Please tell me why rules like - Women cannot wear trousers, belong to the 21st Century?

Honestly! Do Muslims think that their God has no other work than create dress codes that he approves and doesn't approve for women? If fanatical Muslim men spent 10% of their time that they spend on moral policing, they are sure to find their way to their God.

Shame on you both, Musharaff & Indian Media!

Recently, Ruler-of-the-Alternate-Universe & I-am-Mr-Right Pervez Musharraf appeared on Karan Thapar's show The Devil's Advocate and talked nonsense about Kargil being a military & diplomatic victory. Nothing better can be expected of this hypocrite. But his response shown how low he can stoop to, a remarkable 'achievement' for him.

The following response caught my attention:
"Because if you are talking about India-Pakistan, Indians had moved all their forces against Kargil and there was as a result weakness elsewhere. So, we knew what the Indian forces are capable of and what we are capable of. The situation was very favourable in Kargil, in Kashmir and on the entire border. We were capable of responding to any Indian action," The Nation quoted Musharraf,as saying

That's quite troubling. What does Musharraf imply here:
  1. Kargil was the bait that he planned to lure India to a larger war?
  2. Since India shifted focus to Kargil, he planned to attack other parts of India?
  3. As Pakistan hadn't developed a nuclear weapon (as admitted by Musharraf himself), the mere rhetoric of using nuclear weapon would send India into a dizzy and make it employ nuclear weapon against Pakistan? He can then go around the world showcasing himself as victim rather than the agressor?
  4. He had disregard for human lives when he was trying to take the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear war?
  5. After Kargil escalates to India-Pak war, China & US will come in support of Pakistan and Russia supporting India could trigger WW III?
Not only does Musharraf prove that he is an idiot but also a dangerous one at that! He has neither statesmanship nor intelligence, neither takes advise nor is humble. He is the stereotype of all dictators - stupid, rigid, grandiose, pompous and did i mention evil?

Blame should also go to Indian Media. They just have to stop cuddling up to the evil idiot. Media attention is like oxygen to Musharraf. He cannot live without it. Ignoring him will destroy him. The second issue with Indian media was no one was willing to analyze his statements and take him & Pakistan to task. How about calling a few Defense experts and quiz them on these lines and showcase to the whole world, esp Pakistan, how evil they have become? Indian media, experts in sensationalizing news, is really poor when it comes to analysis. And that's why it is a shame ...

Monday, July 06, 2009

The biggest myth about the Budget

Ok, it isn't a myth. 

It's more like people's aversion to accept plain truth.

The budget is more a mechanism of rewarding the supporters than anything else. That's one reason why the budget was more focused on the poor than on business. What else can we expect when India's business capital didn't even have time to vote in the recent election?

And to see the kind of bizzare predictions made by respected media outlet - Interest Payment on Home loans increased from Rs 150,000 to 250,000 (Business Standard), a figure that jumped to Rs 300,000 (The Economic Times). Slashing Personal Income Tax from peak 33.99% to 25% (The Hindu) or increasing the Income Tax Exemption from 150,000 for common 'man' (Woman have limit of Rs 180,000) to 200,000 (CII Wish List) or 300,000 (Assocham).

So, lesson to the Rich, Upper-middle class, middle class: Next time you want the Finance Minister to do you favors, go to the voting booth.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Educational Reforms in India - Are they headed the right direction (?)

Yesterday was a day for Educational news in India.
If Manniya Mayawatiji behenji had her way, you only need to pass 5 subjects to be declared succesful. No doubt, other chief ministers will try and outdo her to gain politicial mileage:
  • Karunanidhi will declare that the pass mark for OC, BC, MBC, SC and ST in Tamil Nadu has been revised from uniform 35% for all categories to 98%, 30%, 25%, 20% and 10% respectively. To provide equal platform for all, the pass mark for OC will increase by 0.5% every year for the next 3 years while the pass mark for other categories will decrease by 2% every year for the next 3 years.
  • Laloo & Sharad Yadav will join hands and raise voice to insist that OBCs, SCs and STs be given special status in examinations. They will be given question paper one hour before the exam start.
  • Muslim leaders will insist that as an oppressed class, they be considered given the SC status and hence be eligible for 10 - 20% quota of SUCCESFUL candidates irrespective of whether the candidates pass or fail.
  • Christian leaders will insist that they be provided a 20% quota on the total number of schools in the country. 
  • Karnataka & AP politicians will insist that parents be allowed to pay money in lieu of marks for their children. The formula suggested is that the parents pay Rs. 10,000 (OC) per mark in each paper while the amount for BCs, SCs, STs, Muslims and Christians are Rs. 100, Rs. 10, Rs. 1, Rs. 50, Rs. 75 respectively
Okay, joke apart - i want to discuss the Anna University results to showcase how Mayawati & Sibal are headed the wrong direction. In the Tamil Nadu engineering admissions, 125000 students have been declared eligible for approx. 110,000 seats. 
Bottomline: If you don't get 98% and above, you shouldn't dream of studying in a mainstream course in leading Engineeing colleges in Tamil Nadu. And Ms. Mayawati & Mr. Sibal and stating that they want to de-stress kids from the rigors of exam. What is more impossible? Having only one exam in 12th (10th is scrapped) based on which your life ahead is decided or having multiple exams (2 or preferably more!) to ensure that kids gets acclimatized to the enivornment of competition. 

Even today, students of Andhra Pradesh state board appear for 3 public exams - 7th Standard, 10th Standard and 12th Standard (called INTER). I think that's a better path than scrapping exams. Have multiple public exams but maybe grade system in 7th & 10th and mark system in 12th. One of the strengths of Indian students seen globally is their basics taught in middle & high school. Where our system lacks is the ability to provide free thinking to the kids and this method isn't going to encourage folks in free thinking. It will only ensure that kids join coaching institute in their 8/9th standard to target 12th  exams and thereby missing on the basics. Mr. Sibal - I don't have too much hopes on Behenji. However, i can appeal to your senses. Don't Scrap 10th. Retain it, better still, introduce graded public exams in 7th Standard. 

PS: I cannot but take a dig at Reservation system in Tamilnadu. The news release from Tamil Nadu shows that 8 of the 10 Toppers in Engineering Admissions come from "Backward Class". And this isn't an exception. Look back at 2008 & earlier data and you will see that folks from BC community usually have done well. Isn't it time to decrease the quota for BC community and re-classify them as Forward Class. Or is it too much to ask from a political system that works towards taking our society backward everyday?

PPS: Globally, yesterday will be remembered as the day when we lost 2 great artists - Michael Jackson & Farrah Fawcett (Charlie's Angel). For all his flaws, Jackson is the King of Pop and inspiring folks worldwide (hello, Prabhudeva and Lawrence Rahavendra)

Monday, June 22, 2009

MS Gill - Be our Sports Minister, not Cricket Minister

Dear Mr. Gill.,

A few years back, you retired as Cheif Election Commissioner of India (CEC). Having reached that post, i hope that i can deduct that you are good in beauracratic activities. Lesson 101 of beauracracy states that you need to identify the boundaries of your role. 

Saina Nehwal reached heights that no Indian has ever reached. She became the first Indian to win a Super Series Badminton tournament. And i see no congratulation statement from you when you took time to praise Pakistan's T20 World Championship victory

Pray, Mr. Minister - Can you stop being India's Minister for Cricket Affairs and become India's minister for Sports & Youth Affairs. (and practice what you preach to others - Encourage sports other than cricket)

And by the way, i find it an insult that Saina received a cash prize of Rs 200,000 when each member of the 2007 T20 Championship victory earned Rs. 8,000,000 (apart from Porsche & Mercedes Benz cars), that's 120,000,000 for the 15 member squad - apparently, Cricket is worth 600 times more than Badminton in India.

Will the Minister take some action

Your's Sincerly
A True Sports Fan

Friday, June 12, 2009

Primer: How to transport $130 billion

The WTF News of the day:
Two Japanese nationals were detained by Italian financial police last week after trying to enter Switzerland with $134 billion worth of undeclared U.S. bonds, mostly Treasury bonds, an Italian daily said Wednesday. According to the report in il Giornale, two unidentified Japanese in their 50s concealed the bonds, including 249 U.S. Treasury bonds each worth $500 million, in a suitcase with a false bottom that was searched by the Italian authorities June 3 when they were in Chiasso, at the border with Switzerland, about 50 kilometers north of Milan. 
Wow! They were caught transporting $134 billion ... not 134 billion yen - which would still be a mind boggling $1.37 billion! Would they have been caught if they were using the Gulfstream IV or Gulfstream V? instead of a car? 

Folks, $135 billion is so much money that it will wipe most of India's External debt ($140 billion). Only 29 countries in the world have more external debt than the amount captured in the raid. Also, i am wondering if this amount is legal or black money. Does it belong to any bank or does it belong to some mafia gang? Why am i thinking that this news will suddenly die down & we will never hear more about this incident?

Another aspect of the news that surprised me - Italian Financial Police. Do these folks go around Financial institutes dressed in coats & ties? I bet India can do well with one such special force dedicated to fight black money? Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, i hope you are listening.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Casteism & Political play ...

For long, affirmative activists & apologists have cited the caste system as the bane of Hinduism and the need for reservation for SCs, STs and increasingly for OBCs. Some of the arguments are validated by facts with a lot more, steeped in nothing more than rhetoric. One such instance is the Reservation for Muslims which will remain as one of the most "very-funny-if-it-wasn't-sad" moment in Indian history. Did someone forget that these folks ruled India for over 700 years? Did we forget that these folks murdered millions of Indians, plundered crores of property, forced conversion, all in the name of religion? And tell me again, why does this group needs reservation?

My point isn't not just against reservation for Muslims. My point is highlighting the fact that we now have reservation for BC Muslims. I hope that folks are familiar with the fact that Islam by principle is against castes; Islam states that all men are born equal and there isn't distinction any group of followers. However, that was not how it was followed in India. So, Tamil Nadu government has implemented a 5% reservation for BC Muslims. If this isn't a WTF moment, i don't know what is. Next on the agenda for right-wing Muslims is to get SC status while the politicians are looking for a 5% reservation for BC Christians (an ordinance was passed in 2007 in TN for 3.5% reservation for BC Christians but revoked and sent to National Minorities Commission for it's recommendation a.k.a rubber stamp!)

In one more not-so-funny incident, Encyclop√¶dia Britannica blames Hindus for caste system in South Asian Muslims. Reservation in India is the (politician's) gift that keeps on taking from us ... 

Note: I am not against affirmative action. I am against affirmative action for political reasons; economically progressive groups; rewarding backward social measures; States deciding BC communities. I support affirmative action - at primary education level; for SCs & STs; timed-out & measured system with objectives and goals; monitored under the Supreme Court

Friday, May 29, 2009

Unmodernized JEE system...

I was amazed to find that JEE counselling is an archiac system whose only place in modern India is a museum.

Highlights of their 2009 rules for counselling:
  •  The main purpose of asking the qualified candidates to appear in person for the counselling is to verify their identity
  • After checking their identity and documents, the candidates will be asked to submit their choice sheets of courses and institutes.
  • After the qualified candidates have exercised their choices as per the counselling schedule, seat allocation will be done centrally, at a later date on the basis of the AIR-cum-choices exercised by the candidates.
Why is it so difficult to implement an online seat allocation system for JEE? For AIEEE, it might get difficult, but JEE with 15 colleges & 8000 seats, it should be much easier. Let me take a stab at creating a system.
  • At the time of result announcement, succesful candidates will get the link to register to a website where they can provide their preference institute & course.
  • The candidate can change his data any number of time till 5 days before commencement of counselling.
  • 3 days before commencement of counselling, the data on candidate preference is published to all succesful candidates, thus enabling them to gain an idea of which course & institute they might get.
  • On the day of counselling, candidates will gather 2 hours before their allocated time to the center. Their documents are checked and allowed within the "green room"
  • The "green room" is the location where the allocation is made. The green room will display real time vacancy positions across all open colleges to candidates.
  • 15 minutes each is allocated for every batch of 100 to make their decision and confirm their seat preference. Each candidate will be allowed to bring in 2 people to help him make his decision. 
  • Each candidate will be seated in the green room for at least 30 mins before he has to make the decision. Since he gets visibility of the information for at least 30 mins, he gets adequate time to make the correct decision. Also, the mock excercise before the start of counselling would also enable him to picture a close enough view on his allocation. 
I am sure there are much brighter ideas than mine for real-time seat allocation in JEE. The time has come for the JEE committee to open up to the 21st century reality rather than remain in the time wrapped cocoons of seat counselling.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

IPL 2009 - Glory to the oldies ...

As i posted earlier (closer to the midway mark), i made a quick framework to measure batting & bowling success in the IPL. 
  • For batting, i considered: Runs, Average, Strike rate 
  • For bowling, i considered: Wickets, Average, Run per over, Strike rate
I worked around the formulas and finally came across a measure that i felt gave equal weightage to batting & bowling and applied it across IPL 2008 & 2009. I didn't take fielding stats into consideration. Also, i didn't give weightages to 50s, 100s, 4Ws, 5Ws. I shall try and work something out later.

But as it stands today, IPL 2009's best batsmen & bowlers don't play any cricket outside IPL & probably backyard cricket - M Hayden & Anil Kumble. The contrast with which they reached the pinnacle is huge: Hayden, post match 4/5 dominated batting in IPL 2009. Kumble had a great first match and then lagged in the ratings (never dropping out of Top 10 though) and his final performance enabled him to pip RP Singh (who was Top 2 from the time i started tracking)

Some notes:
  • To me, 40 is the score of a good performer. There were 24 in 2008 & 21 in 2009 with scores above 40. There are six players who scored 40+ in both IPLs: Rohit Sharma, Gilly, Irfan Pathan (that surprised me!), Symonds, Raina, Amit Mishra (another supriser). MS Dhoni just missed it for this year (38.8 compared to 59.4 last year) and Hayden played too few matches (4, i think) last year to get to 40 (he finished with 36 still!)
  • Last year's top 10 included 5 batsmen, 2 all-rounders (Watson & Yusuf) and 3 bowlers. This year, the tide shifted to the bowlers - 7 bowlers, 1 all-rounder (Rohit Sharma) and 2 batsmen (Hayden & de Villiers)
2009 Top performers:

2008 Top performers:

Monday, May 25, 2009

No country for young men ...

31% of Indian population is below 15 years. Another 30% is below 40 years. While the representation of the former is not expected in the Union Cabinet, the lack of representation of the latter is really surprising. After the hundreds of hours spent by media and Congress leaders talking about youth, there isn't a single representative below 40 in the list of Cabinet ministers announced on 22nd May. In fact, there isn't one below 50!
  • Gang of 70s: 77 - SM Krishna, 76 - Manmohan Singh, 74 - BK Handique, 73 - Pranab Mukherjee, 72 - Murli Deora, 71 - Vayalar Ravi
  • Early retirees (60s): 69 - Veerappa Moily, 68 - Sharad Pawar, AK Anthony, 67 - Jaipal Reddy, Sushilkumar Shinde, 65 - Ambika Soni, 64 - P Chidambaram, Meira Kumar, 62 - Kamal Nath, 60 - Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal
  • "Young Blood" (50s): 58 - CP Joshi, 56 - Anand Sharma, 54 - Mamta Banerjee
That's a grand total of 3 folks below 60; 11 in the 60s and 6 in the 70s. Congress really needs to search and understand the meaning of youth in the dictionary. 

Another interesting analysis reveals the ministry by states and the actual no. of seats received by Congress in these states (LS only): AP - 1 of 33; Assam - 1 of 7; Bihar - 1 of 2; Delhi - 1 of 7; Karnataka - 1 of 6; MP - 1 of 12; Rajasthan - 1 of 20; Tamil Nadu - 1 of 8; WB - 1 of 6. Rest - 0 of 106 including UP (21), Maharastra (17), Kerala (13) and Gujarat (11). In fact, of the 18 Congress ministers (incl PM), 9 come from Rajya Sabha and were not elected by the people in the recent polls. Dr. Singh, Deora, V Ravi, Anthony, Shinde, Soni, Azad, Anand Sharma and Krishna. 

So, can the Congress stop harping about "Youth" and "People's mandate". Political parties have very little respect with the general public because of deceptions like this.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

The real analysis on Indian Elections 2009

The TV talking heads have cooled off a bit on their instant analysis of Elections 2009. Several winners were announced by the TV heads and several losers. I intend to spend some time over the next month to analyze if the TV folks got it right or wrong.

But, one person whom they got it all wrong was Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar, and God knows how much i like him, didn't lead the NDA in Bihar because of good governance. He swept Bihar because of the split between Congress(I) and RJD. I analyzed the results of each of the 40 seats and this the summary table:


So, if you see this simple analysis - INC & RJD are losers because the monkey ate the cake while the cats fought over it. Even when you take only 80% of translation of INC votes to the RJD combine, the results is at least 2.5 times better than today. There's a lesson for Congress in this result table. Ignore Laloo if you want to write-off any chance of becoming big in Bihar.

Another trend that i noticed and that isn't obvious here, is the fact that BSP is nearing the 50,000 votes in 9 constituencies. That should worry the Congree, RJD and LJP.

In short, what do i recommend for the Congress in Bihar? I ask them to give Laloo a chance of joining Congress and becoming it's party chief in Bihar as well a cabinet minister in the current government. And why shouldn't that happen? Ideology-wise, there isn't a lot that seperates the Congress and RJD and Congress needs to spend more than a decade to become relevant again in Bihar. The easier route is to leverage the current result and add weight in states where it isn't strong. Also, inviting RJD to merge with Congress will also result in reverse-regionalization of political parties. Post-Congress, NCP and SP are the other candidates that will see a clear writing on the wall and they might want to join the re-join Congress. The public has clearly given it's mandate - national parties over regional parties and Congress has the golden opportunity of using this leverage. My sincere advise to Sonia & team - ask Laloo to join Congress before the feel-good feeling from election success evaporates! You won't regret taking my advise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The dying breed of Television journalist

Mahesh Vijapurkar, former Deputy Editor of The Hindu wrote a brilliant article; hit the bull's eye with his piece.
The anchor, anyway, is going to have the last word because it is his show. The talking heads alias the spokespersons are merely actors of the moment, seeking to drive the network's TRPs.
While his article was focused on the spokespersons of various political parties, i saw a well-deserved criticism on Television anchors. I have long stopped watching TV channels like CNN-IBN and Headlines Today as they engage in sensationalism.

NDTV had been my favorite channels since my childhood. I remember the days when i used to awake late on weekends to catch, The World this Week by Prannoy and his team. How the mighty have fallen! I was watching a show hosted by Vikram Chandra (CEO of NDTV Networks and one of their main anchors  He was also one of my favorites) and was disgusted with the way he carried himself.

Rule no. 1 in journalism is to cover the News and not become the News themselves. And here was Vikram Chandra who was taking pot-shots at Varun Gandhi not once in a while, but every minute of the 40 minutes that i watched. Even Narendra Modi, who is treated by NDTV as Satan himself, did not get as much venom yesterday as Varun did. Varun Gandhi's name was incited & connected to everything on this good earth save Global Warming. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not a fan of Varun Gandhi & haven't heard his hate-speech. But, isn't that for the courts to decide if he did something wrong. Who is Vikram to judge the actions of Varun Gandhi? Isn't he erring by his actions?

The curious case against Varun Gandhi isn't an exception in NDTV. It is the rule. God have mercy on you, if you fall in the bad books of Prannoy & team. They will indulge in character assasination and won't rest till they wreak the amount of havoc they have decided in punishment. Sad, that Prannoy, one of the best TV journalist India ever produced, has to resort to these unethical, cheap tricks in the name of TRPs. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SRK - Enough fooling around ...

Hi SRK.,

I know it is your money that you plonked on the table for the Kolkata team. However, what is happening with KKR is of concern to the entire cricketing fraternity. While you have the choice of appointing a candidate of your choice for coach, your current coach has no excuses for his excesses or his behavior. If i said that he has turned your team into Page 2 material, it is charitable at best.

And now, allegations of racism. Will you constitute an enquiry? How can someone say that against your fellow countryman and you remain silent in word and action? Have you forgotten that our independence is less than 62 years old? 

Tell me something, why does this team need more coaches that Indian national team. Since you claim that you don't know a lot about Cricket, let me tell you something. Ganguly was not only the best captain India ever had, he is also renowned for his eye for talent & grooming youngsters. Evidence include Zaheer, Yuvraj, Bhajji, Dhoni and M Vijay. In short, he is someone you aspire to have as coach - not Buchanan. Have you heard anything controversial from Gary Kirsten? Have you heard off-the-record comments from him ever? That's the sign of a good coach. Buchanan is repulsed by media as fish is repulsed from water.

Do us a favor and fire Buchanan & his team of 9 coaches. For crying out loud, there are just 11 Indians filling the 7 spots in the team. Don't you think 9 coaches is overkill. You would have heard of this - Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Make the changes today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why can't we have events like this in India?

Obama attended the Whitehouse Correspondent's dinner and gave a wonderful speech - full of self-deprecating humor lines and pulling the legs of his friends and foes alike. However, the star of the day wasn't Obama. The honor goes to Wanda Skyes. I haven't heard much about this lady before, but boy, was she funny! In fact, she went beyond funny, she was amazing. The way she took Dick Cheney to task was brilliant, not only because of the message, but the way she encapsulated it in humour. 

And it makes me wonder, imagine an event like this in India - where all our politicians get together for charity and crack jokes at each other. Laloo taking a dig at Mayawati in good humour; Modi chiding Prakash Karat; Karunanidhi going all-out against Advani. Wish that day comes sooner ...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Amazing Blogger

Trishani Doshi, you are an amazing writer.

Cricinfo - If i were you, i would give Trishani Doshi a multi-year contract after tearing the IPL-only contract. 

Sample of what readers get to enjoy:

What we're lacking is a bit of drama. KKR (the top source of drama so far) have sort of slunk into oblivion. Nothing new except the possible sacking of John Buchanan. Yawn. Preits and Shilps haven't got into a catfight, there have been no wardrobe malfunctions, and all that chaddi-buddy camaraderie with the players (very charming at first) now makes me want to vomit. How about a sledge now and then, a slap, something. We need a bit of masala to up the momentum, and a few injured fingers and thunderclouds (albeit dramatically beautiful ones), aren't going to cut it. Mr Modi, please could you orchestrate something? The battle of the cheerleaders, perhaps, or round two of the Bhajji-Sreesanth battle. Maybe even a stream of a thousand Bollywood dancers pouring onto the pitch during a strategic time-out to do an unexpected jhatak to "Jai Ho"? Make it as mad as you possibly can.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Piling on Buchanan

Let me the 178,453rd critic of John Buchanan.

While i had a lot of respect for him before the IPL started, it has quickly eroded. He was lucky to be where he was, as Aussie national coach lording over immense talent - Waugh twins, Ponting, Gillie, McGrath, Hayden, Martyn, Langer, Gillespie and Clark. Now that he doesn't have a billion-dollar roster, his true colors are out in the open for everyone to see.

Buchanan now wants to increase foreign players from 4 to god-knows how many more! Already, Lalit Modi has shot it down & Dileep Premachandran's (of Cricinfo) criticism has been even more direct - calling Buchanan a "whiner" and right fully so.

The following are the errors in the way of Buchanan. There is an endless list, but this is just a start
  • Ganguly! The list starts with Ganguly. Ganguly was & is India's best captain, master tactician & has one of the best eye for talent. His latest talent-spot is M Vijay, who stood-in for Gambhir during the Indo-Aus series and has shown top-tier talent in the one match he got. Ganguly is getting up there in age but there is a better way of using him than discarding him like that. He could have been the operational face of the team for a long time (and will still be!) and mentor for Indian players. Instead, by antagonizing him, Buchanan has shown his immaturity.
  • Ishant Sharma is one of the best bowlers in the business. If Gary Kirsten & Dhoni can get the best out of him, why not you?
  • Support staff - Remember just one law. Support staff is named so, because they don't get onto the field and face the opposition. There is only so much they can do. They can never supersede players. Never ever!
  • Shah Rukh Khan: Seriously, how can this team spend $600k on Mortaza. His base price was $50k and would have been available for $150k max. The remaining $450k could have been used on local talent. Remember, 7 players must be Indian; Only 4 foreigners. Spend more on Indian talent
  • Ajit Agarkar: The biggest underperformer that Indian cricket has ever produced. He always dishes one if not two 'four-balls' every over. His current stat line shows that - 3 wickets @40 average, 10 RPO and 24 SR. Nearly the worst of any specialist bowler
Buchanan, i wouldn't be sorry to see you go. The best thing with your term in IPL is that your halo is burst & ruined.  And that's the way it should be ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

IPL - Best Players in 2009 are ...

Raina, Hayden & Malinga ... the best-player, batsman & bowler of IPL 2008 till date.

I created a Value Index for batting & bowling. Batting VI = Product of (No. of runs, Strike Rate, Average)/20000 & Bowling VI = Product of (Wickets, (40-Average), (12-RPO), (30-SR)). Get in touch with me if you want to debate the formula. LVI indicates the VI for the previous year.

The following is the list of best performing bowlers & batsmen in IPL 2009:

Criteria: Min. of 100 runs. Missing this mark are Sehwag, Gambhir, Pieterson, Flintoff & McCullam.


Malinga has amazing stat line - 11 wickets at average shade below 10, RPO of 4.83 and SR of less than 12. Thus, he takes a wicket once every 2 overs giving less than 10 runs in those overs. Brilliant. If he continues his performance, he will most likely even overshadow the spectacular performance from Sohail Tanveer last year.

Spinners have done well too - Jakati, Ojha, Kumble, Hodge & Raina have done well. Overall, bowler's performance this year is likely to upstage last year. Isn't that expected - South African pitches aren't the featherbeds of the subcontinent.

To compare, find the tables for last year's performance - Shane Watson, Stuart Marsh and Sohail Tanveer were the best player, batsman & bowler from last year's edition.




PS: I edited the formula and hence re-wrote the entire article.

PS II: I changed the formula for batting - increased denominator from 20k to 30k. That bought the batting scores of last year to about par on bowling. Thus, last year's best performer was Sohail Tanveer & not Stuart Marsh, and that's the way it should be.

There is no point in re-doing all the graphs. I shall do another blog once the tournament is over. Will show the revised charts then.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Fake Disappointment - Rediff & IPL Indian Coaches

Rediff asks this provocative article - Why do all IPL teams have foreign coaches? Why not even one Indian coach. Let's see. I examined the list of most prominent Cricketers who played between 1980 & 2000 (at least 10 Test matches or 40 ODIs) and have retired. This is the classification of their status.
  • Coaching (6): Venkatesh Prasad, Robin Singh, Pravin Amre, WV Raman, Syed Kirmani, Kharsan Ghavri
  • TV Career (10): Nikhil Chopra, Saba Karim, Vinod Kambli, Sanjay  Manjrekar, Maninder Singh, Arun Lal, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Ajay Jadeja
  • Administration (11): Javagal Srinath (match referee), V Raju (selector), Kiran More (ex-selector), K Srikkanth (selector), Shivlal Yadav (Hyd Team Admin), Yashpal Sharma (selector), Dilip Vengsarkar (ex-selector), Brijesh Patel (ex-selector), G Viswanath (match referee), Chetan Chauhan (Team manager), Narendra Hirwani (selector)
  • ICL (5): Nayan Mongia, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Kapil Dev
  • Politics (2): Mohammad Azharuddin, Chetan Sharma, Kirti Azad
  • Not Known (4): Narendra Hirwani, Manoj Prabhakar, Surinder Amarnath, Mohinder Amarnath
  • Business (1): Dilip Doshi.
So, you see that most of the former players don't think Coaching is a great career option. Of these 7, i think at least the following are employed by current IPL coaches in various capacities - Prasad (Bowling Coach - CSK); Robin Singh (fielding coach - HDC); Pravin Amre (co-coach, MI). So, i don't see a reason for too much complaint here. India has a dearth of ex-cricketers who have turned to umpiring & coaching as their focus is mostly on administration.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2 stars of Indian Politics in their own rights

We are 15-16 days away from a new Parliament term & maybe a new Prime Minister as well. While there are a hundred aspirants to the throne, including the 2 that i am going to write about, only a handful have the credentials to get there. Of the folks who don't make the cut with me - 
  • Deva Gowda (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on ME!)
  • Jayalalitha (nope amma, your good English skills & mediocre Hindi skills don't hide your narrow thought process)
  • Mayawati (She is Jayalalitha Ver 0.0.1)
  • Prakash Karat (No, Thanks. I don't want to live in the 19th century!)
  • Sonia Gandhi (too much baggage Ma'am - You fled to Italy during the 1971 Indo-Pak War & your procastination in getting Indian Citizenship till your Cabinet Minister husband are 2 reasons why you should never be India's PM & not your foreign birth!)
  • Sharad Pawar (What, he wants both ICC Presidency as well India's PM post!)
  • PA Sangma (what! If your abilities as Lok Sabha Speaker are any good measure, the country will be in chaos during your term!)

On to the 2 gentlemen that i wanted to highlight today. Not because, they are my choice for Prime Minister but because they have skills in certain areas that are much needed. No one could predict that Laloo Yadav will revolutionize Indian Railways. I believe that the same will happen if these 2 folks get anywhere close to the PM Chair. 

Drum rolls, for Person 1 - Narendra Modi ...

Let me make the case for Modi. Have anyone see the way Gujarat has jumped up the charts in economy & Human Development Index in spite of the continued marginalization of the Muslims. Do you see how respected Industry leaders sing his praises? Do you see the amazing amount of passion in him to lead his state? Do you see the dwindling rural-urban divide in Gujarat where rural development has been given as much importance as urban growth? Sentiments & party membership aside, does India have any leader who has Modi's "Ready-in-2-minutes-PM" candidature?

Now, for the negatives - his non-apology for post-Godhra riots. I have 2 issues with Modi on this attitude - Marginalization of minorities always leads to radicalization of society and is the first step for downfall of any civilization. For the last 7 years, Muslims have been using 2002 riots as the excuse for nearly every terrorist attack in India. Modi's attitude towards Muslims needs radical shift. While Modi will never fall in love with Muslims, at the very least he needs to show genuine concern for Muslim & other minorities. Else, he is no different than the narrow-minded Mayawati to me. The second issue with Modi on the Godhra incident is that his non-apology has made folks focus on post-Godhra riots and there has been next-to-zero empathy for the victims of the train attacks. Had Modi succeded in avoiding post-Godhra riots, the focus over the last 7 years would have been on the radicalization of Muslims and their inability to join the mainstream. That could have bought shame to right-wing Muslims thereby reducing their numbers. Modi, you did a major dis-service to the nation by not taking action post-Godhra attacks. 

The second person that i want to highlight is Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Laugh all you want, but i would take MSY anyday above some of the other leaders in view. His anti-English & anti-computer stance are meaningless populism measures that he himself will abandon post 2009 elections. I recall a Shekar Gupta story on the Sukhoi-30 defense deal. Mulayam worked together with Vajapayee, Jaswant Singh & finished a deal that was started by PV Narasimha Rao & Manmohan Singh. Reason? The deal was good for India. That's the bottom-line. Politics was left outside the door when it came to our strategic interest. Second example, Mulayam Singh was the key reason why the Indo-US Nuclear deal was signed. The UPA goverment was in shambles after the Left Front abandoned them & when APJ Abdul Kalam called Mulayam Singh for a meeting & provided his support for the deal, Mulayam agreed to prop the UPA government. In effect, the anti-US SP provided support to the nuclear deal rather than the pro-US BJP.While some can contend that Mulayam's support was opportunistic (and it might well be the case!), we should acknowledge the fact that Mulayam put India's interest before his own interest. And by the way, Mulayam was all for giving APJ Abdul Kalam a second term as President. In fact, Mulayam was one of the early proponents for Abdul Kalam as India's President in the first place in 2002.

The case against Mulayam has been well documented. His pro-Muslim lean along with anti-Hindu stance is the mirror image of Modi's stance. 

The nation will be well-served if we had a 50:50 mix of Modi & Mulayam.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Karunanidhi & fasting ...

So, we have all heard about Karunanidhi's dramatic attempt at indefinitive fasting in Chennai today which started after breakfast and ended before lunch. 

What a noble attempt. Right? Karunanidhi's action speaks for itself
  • 19 July 2008: Karunanidhi doesn't go on fast but senior leaders of his party do. Reason - Protest killing of fishermen by Sri Lankan foreces
  • 1 October 2007: Karunanidhi goes on indefinite fast protesting the dealys in the Sethusamudram project. 
  • December 2003: Karunanidhi ends fast within minutes of starting one protesting the arrest of partyman.
  • 2002: Karunanidhi goes on fast protesting attacks on his MLA office in Chennai. 
  • June 2001: Karunanidhi goes on fast protesting his arrest by the Jayalalitha regime
You make your own judgement. Is Karunanidhi today's version of Mahatma Gandhi or is he a selfish politician?

WTF Moment of the Day - Ram Temple & Secularism

Sonia Gandhi was in Mumbai & before she reached the rally venue, Ramdas Athavle uttered this WTF sentence:
"Only the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) can build a Ram Mandir because we are secular.
I mean - what was that & where did that come from?

I was always under the impression that Secularism meant that Hindus donate away their temples to Muslims & Christians. I was under the impression that those pressing for building the Ram temple (BJP, Shiv Sena) are called communalists. As per your definition, BJP is the most secular party in India. Isn't it so?

If this wasn't the election season, i would have sympathized with this man believing that he was in the midst of suffering a heat stroke. Personally, i am tired of this chalta hai attitude of the public - Politicians can state whatever they want & get away before the elections. 

By the way, Mr. Athavle, did you know that this UPA government that you believe will build the Ram temple doesn't even believe Ram ever existed! That's what they told the Supreme Court of India in September 2007 before withdrawing it in the face of widespread protests & condemnation.

IMHO, Congress wants to have the cake & eat it too! They want both Hindus & Muslims to believe that their interests will be addressed only by Congress and that's why we get to hear these WTF statements.

The Big Fight - Sri Lanka

I watched the Big Fight: Sri Lanka Shadow in Tamil Nadu Politics last saturday. What a fight it was.

There was quite a panel - Jayanti Natarajan (Congress - She escaped by the proverbial skin of the teeth when Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated); AIADMK leader (didn't get his name); L Ganesan (DMK - recently switched back from MDMK); Dr. Subramanian Swamy; Catholic Priest who sympathizes with LTTE; N Ram, Editor - The Hindu; a pro-LTTE mid-30s student leader; Anti-LTTE journalist.

Before analyzing these folks' comments on the show, let me salute to the 2 brave girls & one guy who dressed down the pro-LTTE student leader for his comment that Prabhakaran should be compared to Bhagat Singh & Bose. The 2 girls, in particular, shook down, a vehemently patronizing comment from the stupid LTTE student leader and landed quite a few punches. The power of Youth at it's best & also the reason, why India 20 years down the line will be in much safer hands. Kudos to all 3 of you.

My thoughts on each of the leaders & their party/party position:

1. Jayanthi Natarajan: Had such thin-skin that it was incorrect to get her to come to the show. She had the opportunity to get leverage to Congress in the opening remarks & missed it completly. She couldn't send a strong message that the UPA govt saw the difference between LTTE (for which it has no sympathies) and the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, kudos to her, for slapping down the LTTE student leader when he displayed patronizing behaviour towards the 2 girls.

2. AIADMK Leader: Whatever you drank before the show, from your performance, never drink it again. You cannot call the nation's NSA advisor, a "chaprasi". Shoes might be the rage of the season, but never again call anyone chaprasi if you don't want a mob to beat you up. Moreover, you cannot ask that a secular nation be forced to bifurcate with the demand for "Eelam". Why is Pakistan wrong when asking for seperation of Kashmir while India is correct when calling for Eelam seperation?

3. L Ganesan: You look drunk! Period. And remember that this is 2009 & not 1989. The rights of Sri Lankan Tamils is different that LTTE.

4. Catholic Priest: You got too worked up by SL President and called the current situation a "genocide" & "humanitarian crisis" by the evil Rajapaksa. Never mind that you don't know the definition of genocide (def. not 40 civilian losses a day) and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar called that the relief camps in Sri Lanka were much better than the relief camps in Tamil Nadu for Sri Lankan Tamils or the Kashmiri Pundit relief camps. How can you not comment on the recent photos showing LTTE holding civilians hostage at gun point? You were yet another disaster in the show.

5. Subramanian Swamy: Nice opportunity for you to mention the February lawyer attacks as well as showcase your legal expertise. I don't like you a lot, but am impressed by your knowledge.

6. N Ram: Dignified, calm response in volatile environment. Just what we expect from him everytime

7. Pro-LTTE student leader: Counldn't defend a thing! Uttered rubbish statements like "Prabhakaran is equivalent to Bhagat Singh & Bose". To you - Bhagat Singh & Bose were ready to sacrifice their lives for the needs of their fellow citizens; Prabhakaran has murdered many a Tamil & non-Tamil leaders for his cause; Prabhakaran has abused the political process to get out of tough situation; Prabhakaran has a death sentence warrant against him & never against compare him to great people.

8. Anti-LTTE Journalist: Great summary of LTTE's war crimes against fellow Tamilians.

Vikram Chandra did a great job. He called out people when they uttered non-sense but i felt that he could have been more decisive and pressed the leaders for depth in the topic.

What's my take:
  • I won't feel sorry when the LTTE is decimated. They don't belong to the present times. They hurt too many Tamilians to generate the sympathy that they have today.
  • Rajapaksa has the golden opportunity of correcting 60 years of mistakes and prove that he is a World leader rather than a narrow-minded state patriarch. Announce the repeal of "Sinhala Only" Act completely; provide for affirmative action for Tamilians in educational & government for a period of 20 years; provide a federal structure within which the Tamils get enough autonomy to rule the Northern & Eastern states where they dominate; repeal the military constitution and replace with a civilian constitution.
  • Indian Government: Pressure SL by recalling our ambassador & contemplating firing their envoy if Tamilians don't get political benefit
  • Indian political parties: Avoid making stupid statements against a soverign nation. You could be booked under NSA.