Sunday, January 13, 2013

Should Sachin retire?



There was this panel discussion on TV concerning Sachin Tendulkar, whether “It was time for Sachin to hang his boots”.
Vinod Kambli for one, was of clear and distinct opinion that Sachin should retire or should have retired much earlier.  Kambli’s arguments had some sound reasoning, that Sachin was 40 and his reflexes were not what they were once.  Again, he last scored in January 2011, almost two years back. Since then everybody is waiting for him to score, but how long? Kambli seemed quite agitated and angry. But he claimed that he was speaking for Sachin’s good and not against him, whatever that meant.
Manoj Prabhakar too was of the opinion that Sachin should call it a day. But he put it a bit mildly. There were others who wanted Sachin to quit or at least rest for a while and start all over again. These arguments hold no grounds as Sachin has no time in his hands.
But it was Mr. Lele, one of the participants who took the cake. Lele had an interesting thing to say. He said we should let Tendulkar be. That he was a great player, master of the game, cricketing god and a great soul. (Being a great soul is different from being a great cricketer.) That we should not insist for Sachin to speak on the issue, that Sachin will retire when he feels like it, that selectors should not decide his fate, that he still had the potential to deliver.
Now Mr. Lele, Sachin cannot remain silent on the issue. He is a public figure and expected to behave like one. Even if his son holds a bat, it becomes news with a photograph of the kid. So he cannot ignore the matter. Secondly , if Sachin is to decide when he wants to retire, what are selectors there for, and a bunch of highly paid selectors at that? Even if he scores now, should India wait for another year for him to score? Moreover, cricket is not about batting only, other aspects like fielding too is important. Anybody can see his reflexes are slow.
Finally, I am a staunch admirer of Sachin’s game and his style.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Cultural diversity

At the recent investiture of the President of India in July 2012, the world witnessed:

A Parsi, Chief Justice Kapadia, swear in a Bengali Brahmin President, Pranab Mukherjee.  
Also present were Muslim Vice-President Hamid Ansari;
a Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh;
an Italian-born Catholic chairman of the ruling party, Sonia Gandhi;
a Dalit Speaker of the Parliament, Meira Kumar;
a Sikh Chief of the Indian Army,  General Bikram Singh;
an Anglo-Indian Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Norman Browne from Allahabad, whose son Omar is also a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force.

 I wonder which other country on this planet has a similar record for living with diversity? 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Under-achiever

At last our Prime Minister is under scrutiny of the Time magazine- Asia edition. The magazine has pronounced our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh as “under achiever” of the year. I wish that the esteemed magazine had used some mild words to express their views.

We all can take heart from the fact that under achievers are also one kind of achievers just as “infamous also get some kind of fame.” However, the fact of the matter is, the UPA government has failed India in their eight years of rule given various scandals, economic slowdown, prices sky rocketing, farmers’ suicides and various other failures.

In spite of all this, the Prime Minister is hopeful of economic revival, is sure that the scams are not out of proportions, and that everything will be hanky dory in the next two years. I salute his “never die” spirit. It is a known fact that a ‘wrong doing’ such as a scam takes no time to achieve. But to rectify that ‘wrong’ may take years if at all the wrong can be rectified. Our experience says otherwise. One case in point is that of “Kalmadi”, the Common Wealth Games scam champion. It took Kalmadi the time of just one Common Wealth Game to pull off scam worth several thousand crores of rupees. He was tried, even jailed and came out eventually and even holds a post in the government so that he can pull off another one. Can the money scammed be realized? No chance. This is just one example. There are hundreds of scams, small and big, right under the UPA government’s nose. The authority is helpless and a mute spectator.

And yet, Dr. Singh is hopeful of putting every wrong thing right in the balance two years left for them to rule. He has boldly declared that everything is not lost yet. The simple logic is: “How can ‘wrong doings’ of eight years of their rule be ‘corrected’ and economy down trend be controlled in the remaining two years?
Would the PM care to explain?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chidambaram speaketh

Chidambaram speaketh, nation listeneth. Chidambaram, honorable that he is, recently commented that “the Indian middle class is willing to splurge on ice-cream and mineral water without fuss, but protests against a small increase in price of wheat and rice.” This comment is totally out of context and has raised tremendous hue and cry throughout the nation and rightly so.

Here is why Chidambaram’s statement is outright blunder and silly. First of all, not only the middle class, but even the rich are wary of sky rocketing prices, what the honorable minister puts as ‘small or marginal’ rise. He has mentioned small increase in prices of wheat and rice. What about sugar and petrol and all other essentials? The prices have increased four hundred to five hundred times. Perhaps in Chidambaram’s dictionary many fold increase is ‘small increase.’

Secondly, Chidambaram has mentioned only ‘middle class,’ conveniently forgetting lower middle and poor class. Or perhaps he does not consider them class at all. He should know that the poor people do not get ordinary potable water to drink and cannot afford wheat and rice to eat, leave alone mineral water and ice-cream. There can be no comparison between them.

Third and most important-survival does not depend on mineral water and ice-cream. You have no choice there, take it or leave it. Survival does not depend on them. Wheat, rice, sugar, travel are essentials, no choice there. You have to have them whether you can afford them or not. Mr. Chidambaram would do well to remember that poor, middle and rich, all classes need wheat and rice for survival.

I wonder if a man of Chidambaram’s education and back ground thinks the way he does, how can one blame Lalus and Rajas and Kalmadis and the likes?

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Austerity

Reports in newspapers suggest “Olympic freeloaders down from 166 to 10.” This means that the number of officials (freeloaders here) who accompany Olympic players is reduced. How considerate, if the news is to be believed. But for once, let us believe the news.

Let us do a simple mathematics. How many officials are required against each Olympic participant, one? Two or three? Let us assume 50 players are participating in this major event. By the count of 166 officials, each player gets services of more than three officials. How do these officials justify their presence in the game? Let’s see.

Two junior officials say their presence is required to keep an eye on the athletes and their needs. Fine, presence of a couple of officials is accounted for and justifiably at that. Next, four more are needed to ascertain that the two juniors do their duty properly. Now the arc of inspection widens and eight more are required to keep checks on those six officials as well as to control players. Moreover, they require personal services of their junior officials. But that should be enough, why more? Here is why.

The sports minister accompanies the Olympic group (He may not know anything about sports, though). Now athletes and officials are one thing. But a sports minister’s presence is quite a different matter altogether. He has his status to maintain and of course, he represents our country. Our athletes can do with 15-20 officials. But the minister requires a posse of junior ministers and senior officials to look after his needs, official and personal. A minister is not a mere athlete whose needs are limited. A minister’s needs are varied and require more attention.

However, when suggested by the government to practice some austerity, the minister agrees immediately and suggests: “Why do we need so many athletes in Olympics? We need to tone down their numbers. Why can’t one athlete be trained and made to participate in four-five games? After all, they (athletes) are freeloaders.” Well said, minister.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Political kho-kho

Our chief ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan are in the wrong business, that is, business of politics. They should have been playing Kho-kho because they are experts in passing the buck to their opponents, literally. On the other hand, they are in the right business because they could have been experts in Kho-kho had they taken the game on national level or even on international level but for the fact that Kho-kho pays almost nothing whereas politics pays money as well as flats. Adarsh is a case in point.

In the game of Kho-kho, several persons sit in a squatting position in a row, their faces in opposite direction to one another alternately. One person runs around this group of sitting people and another one from the group tries to catch him. The running person has to avoid getting caught. He can take a U-turn around the sitting group while running but is not allowed to turn left. The person running after him and trying to catch him can push any one squatting on the ground who in turn tries to catch the runner. There are other rules in the game too.

Here in politics, Sushil Kumar Shinde pushes (blames) Deshmukh who in turn blames Chavan who blames both Shinde and Deshmukh. The fun is, in Kho-kho once you get caught you are out of the game. In politics you go round and round for years and nobody gets caught. There will be court cases and enquiry commissions and the ball will roll between the three of them for years to come. In the meantime, everybody makes money. The three have already made some, commission people will make some. Other related people are in business till the case runs and it is likely to run for years. Everybody is happy and everybody comes out a winner.

On top of money, the three of them and also their relatives & friends have gained flats in the Adarsh building. Kho-kho doesn’t offer such perks.

Ironically, among the three, Deshmukh has got an appropriate name for himself, ‘Vilasrao.’ Vilas means luxury or extravagance. Deshmukh has to remain in luxury to justify his name. And he does so, scam or no scam.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fuel mathematics

Jagjit Singh, our most beloved gazal singer, had once said: “These ‘aroh-avroh’, ‘utar-chadhav’ are all complex mathematics of music,” though he himself made simple music which was easy to the ears.

However, these utterances of our legend fit our fuel pricing. The government has made the calculation of petrol price very complicated. On one hand it gives subsidy on the fuel, on the other hand it levies various taxes and other charges making the fuel unaffordable, even for the well to do. Every time the price of petrol increases, there is hue and cry from the government that the administration is losing quite a chunk in subsidies. Some experts opine that the actual cost of petrol is very low, between forty and forty two rupees. The rest are taxes - central and local, vats, road improvement tax, education cess and what not, making it complicated.

All this is humbug. It is a simple formula related to scams. To make it simple, when there is increase in petrol price, it directly affects almost all commodities-right from bus, auto, taxi fares to food and other consumer items. Similarly when scam occurs, it has direct affect on petrol. When there is a scam (and there are many) our politicians are sure that the amount of the scam cannot be recovered. Whoever can recover anything from Kalmadis, Telgis, Hasan Alis and the likes? No, that huge amount of tax payers’ money in hundreds and thousands of crores is gone down the drain (drains named Kalmadi, Telgi and Hasan Ali and others) forever. On top of that there are litigation and cases and inquiries that run forever costing huge money to the administration. Already our central and state governments run on deficit budget. And in these deficits, scam amounts are not provided for.

So what do we do? We already have various taxes- income tax, sales tax, central tax, vats, toll tax, road tax, octroi, TDS, professional tax- you name it, we have it. So we have come out with a simple solution. Increase petrol prices and make its calculations complicated. Kalmadi has scammed for four thousand crores? Increase petrol prices. Telgi has scammed another twenty? There is our petrol to recover it from. Our budget - national and state- should remain the same. People’s budget be damned.


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Header image credit: adapted from David Niblack

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