Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Divine grace and Tendulkar

By John Cheeran
Though Saatchi and Saatchi is confident of Sachin Tendulkar's star status, the star himself is not sure of his footwork.
Tendulkar has sought divine intervention to get back into form according to reports in the national media.
Priests traced the trouble to "sarpa dosha" or evil snake effects in the planetary alignments of the 33-year-old, The Times of India said on Monday. To correct the evil, Tendulkar, draped in white silk, and his wife Anjali began two days of prayers at the Subramanya temple complex in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
"The master blaster's loss of form and injury problems were traced to adverse planetary positions for which corrective rituals are taking place," the report said.
Recovering from a shoulder surgery a year after being treated for a tennis elbow, he missed the recent one-day series at home against England and will also sit out of the five one-dayers in the West Indies later this month. He was, however, confident of being fit for the four Test matches against the West Indies starting on June 2.
"I hope to be back in the Indian team soon,"Tendulkar said after the temple visit.
Is there anything wrong in seeking God's help to sort out cricketing matters?
There should not be.
In a crisis, every human being prays to God. I do pray.
But I also concede that certain things man has to do; man has to take full charge of himself.
I thought cricket was one such field where men are pitted against only men. I have a doubt now. Recent developments and poojas force me to ask whether Tendulkar has become the Tendulkar we know, only thanks to the planetary positions and divine grace.
Yes, divine grace has blessed Tendulkar. But what about those bowlers who are troubling Tendulkar consistently these days? I must say they have succeeded in their dharma.
Those bowlers are also blessed by the divine grace. Or is it that in the last four years bowlers of the world consulted their spiritual gurus and corrected their planetary positions?
Truth must be something like this.
God has blessed Tendulkar for the last 33 years. And Tendulkar has made the most-- runs and money -- out of the divine grace.
Now to believe that Tendulkar's form has waned only because of the planetary position would be preposterous.
It would be a tragedy if Tendulkar himself believes so.
It would be Tendulkar's end as a professional cricketer. It is a pity that after all these years Tendulkar cannot admit that he must be losing his powers of concentration and big time play owing to the advancing age.
There are fitter, faster and wily bowlers than when he started out his career. Tendulkar is young in years but he is a veteran in international cricket. It would be naive to think that Tendulkar will be able to bat with the freedom and assurance when he was absolutely young at the crease years ago.
The solace, however, is at the other end of the crease. A four year older Brian Lara, at 37, still bats well for West Indies. But Lara's secret to success is that he enjoys his cricket, has no eye on the record books and on the fine print of the marketing deal.
Lara, whenever he visits India, has no qualms to say that Tendulkar is the best batsman in the world even when the Indian legend is struggling to live up to the rigours of international cricket.
By showering praise on Tendulkar Lara has won the pressure game. Now when India take on West Indies I'm sure Lara will speak with his bat and outclass Tendulkar.
And by the way, how often Tendulkar has said Lara is the modern batting great of the game?Or how often Tendulkar has come out and praised rival cricketers?
Tendulkar definitely needs assistance beyond cricket but I'm not sure whether he is getting it from the right sources.
Let there be more runs for him.

Save the Children!

By John Cheeran
World is a wonderful place indeed.
As debates abound about the futility of the lifetime and the rationale of Intelligent Design, God sometimes dominate the topic.
Men and women lament their losses when tsunamis strike but a report by Save the Children researchers say that an estimated 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours each year worldwide.
That is, silent but deadly tsunamis are sweeping across the globe relentlessly.

And who is watching over us?
Read more from a report by the Save the Children organisation.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst place in the world to be a mother or child, with Scandinavian nations again taking the top spots in the rankings by the Connecticut-based humanitarian group.
Sweden heads the list, with Niger last. The "Mothers' Index" in the report ranks 125 nations according to 10 gauges of well-being -- six for mothers and four for children -- including objective measures such as lifetime mortality risk for mothers and infant mortality rate and subjective measures such as the political status of women.
Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children, said the report card "illustrates the direct line between the status of mothers and the status of their children.
"In countries where mothers do well, children do well," he said in a written statement accompanying the report.
But each year, according to the report, more than a half-million women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth difficulties, 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours, 2 million more die within their first month and 3 million are stillborn.
Causes of death in the developing world were dramatically different from those in the developed world, the report said. In industrialized nations deaths were most likely to result from babies being born too small or too early, while in the developing world about half of newborn deaths were from infection, tetanus and diarrhea.
Japan was among a number of nations highly ranked mainly because they offer free health services for pregnant women and babies, while the United States suffers from disparities in access to health care.
The report said almost all newborn and maternal deaths take place in developing nations -- 99 percent and 98 percent, respectively. The newborn mortality rates were particularly high in countries with a recent history of armed conflict, including Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ranking at the bottom of the scorecard were Liberia, Afghanistan, Angola and Iraq -- countries where armed conflict and cultural practices impede newborn survival.
"It's tragic that millions of newborns die every year, especially when these deaths are so easily preventable," says the report.
"Three out of four newborn deaths could be avoided with simple, low-cost tools that already exist, such as antibiotics for pneumonia, sterile blades to cut umbilical cords and knit caps to keep babies warm."
The Mothers' Index -- which excluded some nations that lacked sufficient data -- highlights huge disparities between the nations at the top and the bottom of the list.
The report highlights the three areas it says have the most influence on child well-being: female education, presence of a trained attendant at birth and use of family planning services.
Educated women, the report said, are more likely to marry and give birth later in life, to seek health care and to encourage education for their children, including girls.
The report said that family planning and increased contraception use leads to lower maternal and infant death rates.
Many women and children in developing nations, it said, die as a result of births that come at the wrong time -- too close together, too early or too late in the mother's life..

Tendulkar, the dollar sign

By John Cheeran
I do admit that marketing men know the worth of anyone in public life much better than journalists.
Hence I'm not amazed that Sourav Ganguly has not been chosen by Indian media planners to peddle Pepsi or Coca-Cola during this sizzling summer.
I'm told that media planners did not give into Sourav's clout even in West Bengal while finalising their strategy for the ABP Country.
Some of my fellow journalists might be railing against this injustice but I couldn't agree with the ad kids more.
Be that as it may, Saatchi and Saatchi's move to tie up with Sachin Tendulkar surprises me. Tendulkar, currently recovering from shoulder surgery, has signed a three-year deal which can be extended by another three years, with Saatchi's Indian arm ICONIX.
That is, not only during this World Cup, even in the 2011 World Cup, which is going to be staged in the Indian subcontinent, Saatchi hopes to sell the Indian hero.
Reports said the deal was worth around $40 million, a huge jump from his previous five-year endorsement deal worth $17 million, which ended late lastyear.
Tendulkar is struggling. Is his image strong enough to endure the turmoil at the wicket? It should have been a tough call for ICONIX to make.
To pay Tendulkar for the rights to use his image much more than when he was in peak form is a baffling but bold move by any yardstick.
I cannot foresee Tendulkar retaining his place in the Indian side in the post-World Cup scenario.
Right now, Tendulkar is finished as a quality Test cricketer. What keeps him in the Indian side is his fifty-over exploits. There too, Tendulkar has failed to conceal the cracks in his game. Everyone in India is impatient with this fast fading icon and a poor string of scores in the WorldCup (he has to come good in the Super League, since the group matches give two opportunities to crack centuries against teams who do not deserve to be there)will finish him off as a messenger boy to big-time advertising.
May be, ad kids do know better than me.
May be I'm plain wrong.
But by all means this has been an interesting turn of events.
Tendulkar's star status is directly linked to his place in the Indian side. I'm sure, having signed Tendulkar, Saatchi and Saatchi will be eager to ensure that Tendulkar remains in the Indian side. Temptation time for National selection committee.
I have no choice but to recall Indian team coach Greg Chappell's statement regarding Ganguly in this context.
Chappell told The Guardian that he did not realize that how important a place in the Indian team was for Ganguly's financial well-being. Much the same can be said about any player, and that includes Tendulkar.
Another crucial thing is that unlike legendary Kapil Dev, the Mumbai batsman lacks charisma. There cannot be any doubts on that score after all these years.
The day Tendulkar bids farewell to competitive cricket, marketing men will find it tough to project him as a brand. There cannot be an evolution for a finished product such as Tendulkar. And with the 2011 World Cup happening in the Indian subcontinent my money is onhitherto unknown stars in the mould of Mahendra Singh Dhoni to carry the message.
I hope to be around to be proven wrong by Tendulkar.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Let Kabul go to hell

By John Cheeran
Almost a month ago, Reuters were looking for journalists to become chief correspondent in Kabul, Afghanistan.
I too had received the opportunity alert for the same slot.
Though I was jobless then, it did not take me long to say, no, thank you to Reuters.
It is better to starve without a job than be a victim of senseless Taliban.
When I read about Indian engineer Satyanarayana's murder in Afghanistan, I recalled the Reuters opportunity alert.
Though I felt sad for poor Satyanarayana and his family, I was relieved that I at least made one correct decision in a decade or so.
It is true that Satyanarayana did not join a company based in Afghanistan but in Bahrain. But even then he would not have been oblivious to the fact that his company will be doing business mainly with perilous places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
No amount of money is worth losing your life in such a gory manner that is happening in Afganistan and Iraq.
It is better to commit suicide in India rather than letting the enemy slit your throat for his religious thrill.
And no news is worth reporting from Kabul and Kandahar at the cost of your life.
Let Kabul rot, I can't care less.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Phir Milenge, Pramod

By John Cheeran
I’m not a blind supporter of any political party.
Pramod Mahajan’s death is not a loss that affects only BJP but India as well.
Mahajan’s death, felled by his blood brother’s bullets, is the ultimate political tragedy in independent India’s history. India has lost more illustrious leaders than Mahajan but the circumstances in which Mahajan had to bid farewell, battling for 12 days at the Hinduja Hospital, resembled a Shakespearean tragedy.
Brother turns against brother. Fratricide.
Mahajan was considered to be the ace fixer for BJP. A negotiator with never fading smile, it baffles me that Pramod could not win through an argument or that he left an argument unresolved with his brother that led to his downfall.
How fickle life is. How mysterious is God’s will..
On that fateful Saturday morning, Pramod was at the safest of place on planet earth.
At home, with his wife.
What tragedy could have befell on him when he was reading the morning papers?
It is always difficult to guess other man’s designs. We all can only submit ourselves to God’s will.
Phir Milenge, Pramod!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kaavya lies between the lines

By John Cheeran
If I had $500,000 I would have just quit my job and stretched out myself on the floor and gone to sleep.
Guys and gals slog it out, cheat each other and eat each other only to survive; not for mega sums like $ 500,000.
The fact that Kaavya Viswanathan cheated her readers for money (she received $ 500,000 for How Opal Mehta Got A LIfe) and fame proves that those who are well educated and lead a good life are worse than rest of the society when it comes to dishonesty.
Even when Kavvya was caught by Harward Crimson, she maintained her elaborate lie that she just internalized whatever stuff she read from Megan McCafferty’s books.
I consider Praveen Mahajan less of an evil for admitting what he has done rather than in a denial mode.
Readers should be wary of writers such as Kaavya; readers should also be wary of those book agents who tom-tom the arrival of new wordsmiths.
Kaavya should be able to realize that world will not fall apart if she does not write anything other than an apology for her copycat act.
John Cheeran at Blogged