Oct 21, 2008


    And finally the rogue of Maharashtra, Mr Raj Thackeray is behind bars. But I cannot but wonder, for how long. Indian law enforcement agencies are notorious for their inability to keep the rich and powerful behind bars for any length of time.

    The other day I was standing in a Bank at Pune filling out a form, when another customer walked up to me and asked me something in Marathi. Much as I would have liked to help him, I didn't understand him. And I told him as much in Hindi. Pat came the remark, "Maharashtra me rehte ho aur Marathi nahi aati?" I have lived in Pune for many years, not at a stretch, but off and on. But never had I heard this kind of a retort before. Clearly, Raj Thackeray's propaganda had prompted the remark. Not to be outdone, I said, "When you go to Andhra you wouldn't know Telugu either". And fortunately, that was the end of that. The trend however is another manifestation of the fallacy of 'Unity in Diversity'.

How could the authorities allow matters to come to such a sorry pass? What is our country coming to? If things are left to themselves, the Tipping point, which will fragment the country will inevitably arrive, sooner or later. We call ourselves a Secular state, which shows tolerance towards all religions. The Dictionary meaning of secularism is :
a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. In plain terms, for a secular state, it means, the Government not having anything to do with Religion. But in actual fact, secularism in India the way it is practiced by the state, is minority appeasement. And as far as the populace is concerned, there is hardly any religious tolerance in evidence. Riots, desecration and vilification of churches, perceived mockery of religious Gods by artists and painters, terrorism in the name of Jehad………..and the list just goes on and on. In the south we have demonstrations and burning of buses against Hindi language. Where is the unity in diversity? Only in slogans?

India, is a big country, but unlike some other countries like America or Canada it's becoming way too unmanageable. Why should a country so diverse in culture, language, ethnicity, creed, colour etc. be a single state. Especially since I have already shown above that 'Unity in Diversity' is nothing more than a slogan. Europe has countries, the size of Punjab, or in many cases even smaller. And since the World War II, they have had a relatively stable and peaceful existence (exceptions notwithstanding). Erstwhile USSR gave way to a number of nation states on being unshackled from communism. Though there have been minor skirmishes between states which were part of erstwhile USSR, I am of the firm belief that in the long run, the break up of the Soviet Union will turn out to be the reason for prosperity in the region.

Had India not been held together by military might, it would have disintegrated long ago. States in the North East, Kashmir and possibly Punjab, to name a few would have seceded. The question that I want to ask the readers of this blog is "Would it be such a bad thing for India to allow some of these provinces, which have been bleeding the country for decades, to be allowed to secede? The oft repeated answer that I get is "where will it all end?" There will hardly be an India left. But so what? Wouldn't India, or what was left of it be more prosperous than any of the other provinces that have been clamoring for Azaadi. And in the long run like Europe, a time would come when these very nation states after having seceded, and realized their folly would want an 'Indian Union' on the lines of the 'European Union.'

However, one of the pitfalls of a Democracy, esp. in a country like India is petty politics. And so, even a hint of a suggestion of the kind that I have made above by any political party, would push the country into throes of rage, anger and very likely violence by the so called 'Nationalists'.

Note: If you find my thoughts offensive, feel free to post your comments without prejudice. It will be my endeavor to respond objectively.

Oct 12, 2008


If you have been through the narrow lanes and by lanes of old Delhi's residential areas, where you have hardly enough space even to walk, you find children playing Cricket with ingenuously designed bats and balls. Bats made out of wooden logs and balls made out of old socks, or tennis balls being used as cricket balls. It is impossible to miss them. And this unfortunately is true not only of Delhi, but of the entire country. While football say for example can be played anywhere and everywhere without much ingenuity, as a football can be fabricated rather easily with old rags, cotton wool, or for that matter anything that is round in shape, its only cricket that you would find being played. Indeed we are a Cricket crazy country.

Why did it take India till 2008 to get an individual gold medal in Olympics? A country of a billion had, not one individual gold medal till the current year. Why?

        The answer is plain and simple. 'Cricket'.

        It is indeed difficult, to imagine that there has never been one talented enough person, capable of winning an Olympic gold medal in the second most populous country of the world. While we have our Northern neighbour, China(the most populous country of the world) topping the medals tally, we barely made it to the tally. The reason: 'Chinese don’t play Cricket.'

        While the above has been said slightly tongue in cheek, the more serious point here, is that children whose talent needs to be nurtured to make them succeed, play only one game, and that, unfortunately is not, and never will be, an Olympic sport. The whole country is playing cricket throughout the year, it is the only sport(if it can be called that) that is considered worth playing. And what do we have to show for it. Amongst the cricket playing nations in the world, which can be counted on fingertips, our country which plays only one game has never been on the top for more than a few months. In fact, it is perpetually struggling to be amongst the first three cricketing nations in the world.

        Talent, there would be in abundance in the country. Talent for Athletics, Swimming, Tennis, Badminton, Wrestling, Boxing and the host of other individual sport. Much of the talent never gets the opportunity to blossom. (Think of the young boy who is washing dishes in one of the roadside Dhabas or another who is making beedis in a factory, to help his folks make ends meet). Of the remainder, that has the opportunity, ninety nine percent concentrate their energies on Cricket, a game that in my opinion requires the least amount of athleticism.  It is hardly surprising therefore, that of the meagre one percent that remain, there has been only one Olympic gold medallist.

        It does not end there either, while cricketers are raking in moolah, not only from the BCCI but also from endorsements, the other sportspersons are struggling to afford the game, for want of adequate sponsorship.

        And I am not even talking of the other ill effects of the game. The very shape of Cricket stadia, prevent them from being used for any other sport. What a criminal waste of prime real estate. The all pervasive nature of fan following of the game in the country, results in a needless waste of millions of man hours throughout the year. A single game itself takes between one to five days to complete, a colossal amount of time in this day and age. And at the end of which, numerous times there is no result (in test matches particularly).

        Take the case of the two hugely successful Hindi movies based on games in India, 'Lagaan' and 'Chak de India'. While both movies were hugely popular and successful, only one of them got nominated for an Oscar. And there are no prizes for guessing which one (for those who don’t already know). It obviously had to be the one on Cricket, notwithstanding the fact that our country has won the Olympic gold in Hockey on so many occasions in the past.

        If we have to produce medal winners, we have to seriously think of weaning the youth away from Cricket. While banning the game altogether would be a rather draconian step in a free country, we ought to think seriously about making the game less attractive and popular, as also encourage other sports.


  1.    1  A game that requires you to put on a pullover / sweater to keep yourself warm while playing scarcely qualifies for a game.

Oct 9, 2008


Something for the reading Buffs. I found these readers recommendations of the best books on India. I would not particularly fancy all of the recommendations but nevertheless reproduce the same below:

In spite of the Gods - Ed Luce
India - What can it teach us? - Max Mueller
In light of India - Octavio Paz
India: a million mutinies now - VS Naipaul
India: A history - John Keay
A two volume history of India - Romila Thapar and Percival Spear
The Idea of India - Sunil Khilnani
The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen
Wings of Fire - APJ Abdul Kalam
Ignited Minds
Being Indian
A search in Secret India - Paul Brunton
A source book of Indian philosophy - S Radhakrishnan
India My Love - Osho
India - from Midnight to Millennium - Sashi Tharoor
India Unbound - Gurucharan Das
The Algebra of Infinite Justice - Arundhati Roy -
Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat
One Night at Call Centre - Chetan Bhagat
The Discovery of India - by Jawaharlal Nehru
The British Rule in India - by Karl Marx
The Wonder that was India - A L Basham
Imagining India - Ronald Inden
The Vedas, Bhagavad Gita,
Engaging India - Strobe Talbott
The Polyester Prince - Hamish McDonald
Yuganta - Irawati Karve
Swami and Friends - RK Narayan
The Vendor of Sweets - RK Narayan
The Great Indian Novel - Shashi Tharoor
Sardar Sarovar: The Independent Review - Bradford Morse
Power Play - Abhay Mehta
City of Gold - Gillian Tindall
City of Djinn’s - William Dalrymple
The Hills of Angheri - Kavery Nambisan
Words Like Freedom - Siddharth Dube
Savaging the Civilized - Ramachandra Guha
Sourcebook of Indian Tradition - Ainslee Embree
Early history of India (and other volumes) by Romila Thapar
The world is flat - Thomas L. Friedman
Social Background Of Indian Nationalism - by A R Desai
The Age of Kali - William Dalrymple
The Burdens of Democracy - Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Why Ethnic Parties Succeed in India - Kanchan Chandra
India’s Economic Reforms - Jagdish Bhagwati
Raag Darbari
The Best of R K Laxman
Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
In Light Of India - Octavio Paz
Tamas - Bhisham Sahni
The Elephant Paradigm - Gurcharan Das
Culture Shock! India - Gitanjal Kolanad
Everybody loves a good draught - by P. Sainath
Freedom at Midnight - Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins

Go through the complete post here.