Monday, July 31, 2006

A stunning defeat for Ganguly brotherhood

By John Cheeran
The biggest losers in the elections to Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) are Ganguly brothers. Snehasish and Sourav are left to lick their wounds at leisure as they could not unseat Jagmohan Dalmiya from the CAB.
It is interesting that the former President of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has termed victory in the factional war in a provincial cricket board as ‘his biggest achievement.’
The message is loud and clear to Dalmiya’s detractors on his own turf.
Dalmiya’s victory is hardly surprising. Dalmiya, who ruled over the CAB, since what seems time immemorial, had built up a network of trusted sycophants. Old favours are hard to be forgotten. And this election proved to be so.
Dalmiya’s win is also remarkable in its context. His opponent was Prasun Mukherjee, West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharaya’s candidate. But the ruling Left Front or even the CPI (M) were hardly united in their support of Mukherjee, the Kolkata City Police Commissioner. Dalmiya’s old boy network through sports minister Subhash Chakravarty did the trick there too.
But amidst all this, do not forget the former Indian cricket captain.
Souav Ganguly deserves our pity.
He was led to believe that time has come to switch loyalty and the end is near for Dalmiya in Indian cricket.
Those who termed Ganguly’s ill-timed email as a masterstroke in cricket politics are left ruing their judgment now.
Ganguly, being the man he is, will have no scruple in crawling back into Dalmiya’s favour. But Dalmiya, the wily warrior that he is, will be ruthless in his approach.
Who needs Ganguly anyway?
Not the Indian team.
And as for Dalmiya why should he back a dead horse now?

Quality of life!

By John Cheeran
What price for an Indian life?
Sixteen Indian workers were charred to death in a labour camp in Manama, Bahrain on Sunday. Truth will never come out in some cases, still I ask. Who was responsible for those dead workers in Bahrain? It should have been their employers. And, equally, the nation that chose to employ them.
The fire happened in a labour camp maintained by the contractor. My sources inform me that most of these labour camps in the Middle East countries are worse than an average prison in India or elsewhere in the world.
It is no secret that the Middle East nations take advantage of the abject poverty that prevails in the Indian sub-continent. It should not be forgotten that the infrastructure that these nations boast of has come at the cost of many, many Dead Workers XI such as the one in Bahrain.
It is astonishing how these petro-dollar rich nations can only see and admire the skyscrapers that rise in their land and be utterly blind to the inhuman conditions that prevail in labour camps in their own backyard.
Reports of Indian labourers fighting for water in searing heat in labour camps have reached India even from a modern metropolis such as Dubai. Quality of life, indeed!
Most often the administrations in the Middle East regimes shift the blame to the immediate employers and say they have nothing got to do with the welfare of overseas workers. It is highly preposterous that these nations do not bother to work out a uniform and minimum wage clause for manual labourers in their midst.
They preach lofty ideals but let slavery flourish in their backyard.Middle East nations have a hands-free policy towards workers from the Indian sub-continent and other Asian nations. They have convinced the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that these are only temporary workers and do not deserve to be treated any better.
I’m told that an average manual labourer in the Middle East gets Dh 400 (Indian Rs 4800) per month. (Incidentally, an average manual labourer in Kerala, South India, makes Rs 8000 per month).
And in many cases, even that pittance will not be paid regularly. It is no wonder then that Indian labourers rioted in Dubai and elsewhere early this year, protesting against non-payment of salaries and violation of other basic human rights by their employers.
When will such things stop?
Only when Indians prefer to starve at home, and cover their lifeless bodies with dignity.
Maa, thuje salaam!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Malhotra steps out against Wright

By John Cheeran
My memories of Ashok Malhotra are hardly that of a hard hitter.
I can recall his toothy grin and his struggles at the wicket to survive against the hot pace a Wayne Daniel and Michael Holding at the Eden Gardens in 1983.
Malhotra scored lots of runs in Ranji Trophy and proximity to his Haryana mate and Indian skipper Kapil Dev gave him a few opportunities in the Indian side.
Malhotra may have been an average player but he has showed exceptional reflex against former Indian coach John Wright’s barbs against national selectors.
Malhotra, a former national selector during Wright’s reign as coach, has hit hard against Wright ‘s double standards now.
Agencies report that Malhotra has called Wright as a spineless character in the wake of his allegations.
Malhotra says Wright did not have his own opinion and would often tow the selectors' line. "In the end we had to remind him that there were only 14 players and he had to suggest names," Malhotra was quoted as saying by UNI .
"Where do you think so many young players came from if the selectors were not doing their work? Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and their lot came in because of the selectors. He [Wright] knew 20 players but we knew 290 and so there would be a difference."
"I am really sorry to say that these foreign coaches come to India to earn million dollars and go back to write books criticizing the country. When they are here they tow the line, and only when they go back they find so many faults."
Malhotra has more than a point there.
I find it perfectly reasonable to have foreign coaches for the national side but if they have differences of opinion they should express it to the BCCI and if you cannot implement your designs you should move on. A coach’s role is not to be a silent spectator when things happen contrary to his convictions and turn his pusillanimity into fine print when time suits him.I wish Malhotra had such verve to hit back at bowlers in the 1980s.

Not the right stuff, John Wright

By John Cheeran
Every man has at least one story to tell.
Everyone should write at least a suicide note.
Cricketers and former cricketers prefer to write their suicide notes quite early in the day.
John Wright, former cricket captain of New Zealand and former coach to the Indian team, has got into the act now. He has released a book, Indian Summers, which deals with his years with the Indian national team.
I’m yet to read the book. But news agencies have carried excerpts from the book and some of them must merit our attention.
I would like to recall that he held a responsible position with the Indian team management, during the Sourav Ganguly era. He was the coach. But he was more like a fellow traveler who did not put his foot down whenever situation arose, demanding such responses. What John Wright knew was to keep his counsel to himself and ensure that he enjoyed the merry ride.
Wright was there with the Indian team roughly for five years, yet we did not see any departure from the tradition in Indian cricket. India won a few matches at home, reached the final of the World Cup in 2003 in South Africa. Wright’s report card did not look bad in the end, but there was no chance to be otherwise, with so many young boys pushing their luck in Indian cricket, the National team was bound to reap seasonal harvests.
My point is, how significant was Wright’s contribution?
Did he live up to his role as a corrective force?
He did not.
In his book, he has lamented that India has a frustrating quota system for selecting national players.
Wright says that the selectors were parochial and tried to plug for players from their own zone. "The first six or seven selections were straightforward. But when it got down to the marginal selections, those last three or four spots that determine the balance of the team and your ability to develop new players, the zonal factor kicked in and things would get interesting," Wright has written.
"It was easy to tell when selectors had come to a meeting with an agenda, ie to try their damnedest to get one or two players from their zones into the team. If their boys weren't picked, they tended to cross their arms, clam up and take no further part in the meeting." Wright worked with five selection committees, headed by Chandu Borde (twice), Brijesh Patel, Syed Kirmani and Kiran More.
He reveals that VVS Laxman and Mohammad Kaif were the ones who felt the heat of the selectors' whims the most. "VVS Laxman and Kaif are examples of outstanding performers who always seemed to be only one or two failures away from having their places questioned."
Is there anything new in this? Why did the agencies bring up this as something worthy of readers’ eyes?
Everyone associated with Indian cricket knows that the nation has a zonal system, which as been dubbed as quota system by critics. The zonal system has its merits as well as its flaws. The point is, if Wright was frustrated by the system he should have argued vigorously with the Indian cricket control board to set right what he felt wrong.
He did not do that; he did not want to upset the power equations with in the Board and with in Indian cricket. As always his biggest weapon was his silence; with an outrageously scheming Sourav Ganguly as his captain, Wright preferred to suffer the indignities heaped on him. Towards the end of his tenure he lost whatever little control he had over the Indian players. Some of the senior and emerging players were too contemptuous of Wright.
Wright also writes how captain Ganguly slighted him by bringing in Sunil Gavaskar as a batting consultant to the team during the Test series against Australia in 2004-05 without any discussion with him.
Wright was looking for a bowling consultant; but the team was given a batting expert.
Indian Summers says: "Two days before the first Test [in Bangalore] I was notified that the legendary Sunil Gavaskar would be joining us as a batting consultant. I couldn't work out how it had happened," Wright says, also indicating that he had in fact asked for some assistance for the bowlers, not the batsmen. "Gavaskar solved the mystery by revealing in a team meeting that he had a text message from Ganguly. I was far from happy because as the head coach I should have had the final say on support staff issues.
"The more people in the room the more shoulders to cry on, the more chance of mixed messages and the more potential for players to go off in different directions. But if the captain decides to bring someone into the camp two days out from a Test against the best team in the world, there's not a hell of a lot you can do about it."
Why did he not protest when the captain was sidelining him and pushing him around? Why did he keep silence. He had a right to tell the BCCI that such things are not done.
But I would like to know what Wright has to say on the most disgraceful episode in Indian cricket. A captain running away from battlefield because his weaknesses will be exposed by rival fast bowlers.
During the same Australian home series when Gavaskar suddenly appeared as batting consultant, Ganguly refused to play in the Nagpur Test. The host association, opposed to the Jagmohan Dalmiya camp, had prepared a green top for the Test against Australians. It was certain that Ganguly will be disgraced in such hostile conditions against a ruthless Aussie attack.
Ganguly pretended he has an injury and left his teammates in the lurch. It was then left to Rahul Dravid to lead the side. India lost the Test eventually.
Ganguly’s winning record as a captain was built around such shenanigans.
But didn’t Indian cricket lose even before that Test began with its captain fleeing from the battlefield?
It was a gross act of indiscipline from Ganguly and he was protected by Dalmiya.
My question to Wright: What were you doing in Nagpur when your captain fled?
People in responsible positions should live up to their assignments.
It is highly disgraceful that people prefer to remain servile, when they are required to intervene and live up to their role.
It is all the more despicable when those guys prefer to convert their cowardice into dollars by recalling the past, far removed from the heat and dust of the field.
Shame on you Mr Wright. This is hardly the right stuff.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A tale of hypocrisy: subsidy revolution!

By John Cheeran
I have a question for you.
Why do you work?
I work to earn money. I do not work to save the world. I work only to save my skin.
And that's not a politically correct statement in India now.
Why do you want to become a doctor or engineer , or in this techie age, a software professional? Why do you want to become a cricketer in India and a footballer in Europe and Latin America?
If you become a doctor or cricketer you can make big money. That's true for all the sought after professions in anywhere in the world. A young man or woman walks into a medical college not to cure the ills of this world but to ensure that he or she will have a legal opportunity to make big money. So that they can have a blast...
But few would be ready to admit it. There lies the hypocrisy of the Indians.
The southern tip of India is in ferment now. It is all because of the Malayalis' zeal to save the world by becoming and doctors and engineers. The youth want to save the world!
In Kerala, the Marxists are demanding that higher education should be affordable for all sections of the society. That's a noble aim, you must be ready to agree.
Education is business and the demand for doctors and engineers have created a slew of self-financing medical and engineering colleges in Kerala. The neigbouring states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu pioneered the trend much, much earlier. So far so good.
But then the Marxists want to subsidize higher education by slashing the course fees in the government as well as self-financing medical and engineering colleges.
College managements say they cannot afford to offer quality education on a low course fee. Marxists say they are fighting for the Dalits and the poor and they too have a right to become careerists in this world. I agree fully with them.
Everyone has a right to pursue whatever they wish for. But that does not mean that someone else should carry your burden.
If a brilliant student is cash-strapped, he should take a loan to study instead of asking for a cheap ticket to education. There are plenty of banks who offer educational loans but that should be linked to academic excellence.
Loans will, definitely, have strings attached to them and one should be ready to accept them. To militate against this reality by vandalizing public property and educational institutions, as the activists of the Students Federation of India, the dirty tricks department of the CPI (M), did last week in Kerala is highly deplorable.
And just consider what has happened in the case of those students (Dalits and OBCs and other minorities) who have enjoyed the benefits of reservation in higher education?
They have grabbed the first opportunity that came their way to leave India without paying back not even a single paisa to the government who gave them a free education.
Those who have benefited from the largesse of the Indian government, (read tax payers), do not want to contribute to the nation.
What they want is more quotas in medical colleges, IITs and IIMs. That's the idea of the 'deprived classes' to correct the historical imbalance in the Indian society.
Marxists and assorted left loonies want to save the deprived classes so that they can meet their political ends.
The time, indeed, has come for revolution.

Playing for India

By John Cheeran
The Indian players are being told to play for each other at a camp in Bangalore.
I find that very, very, interesting.
Aren't these players already playing for each other?
They have made the National team through the ranks of age-wise competitions and other assorted domestic tournaments such as Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy.
Cricket is a very, very tricky game.
It is a team game only through one angle. While remaining a team game it offers individuals platform to pursue their private agendas. Centuries, double centuries, triple centuries.
Batting is an individual pursuit. It is one man against 11 enemies. A good batsman does not have to be a good team-man precisely because none can help him in his task of scoring runs except himself.
When you go out there to bat, you never think about rest of the team. Not even of your non-striker. It has been the case with Indian cricket which is largely true of other cricket nations as well.
On the other hand, bowling is a team pursuit.
It calls for a collective effort to take wickets. Even the most ferocious bowler need help from the pitch, wicketkeeper and fielders to dismiss batsmen.
What makes cricket a fascinating sport is this conflict between the individual and the collective.
In cricket it is not enough to play for each other. May be Indian Idols need to be told not to play for each other, but for India.
Playing for India, playing for a billion hearts. Think about it.
That's a great honour and it carries a greater responsibility.
Playing for India, let it be the new mantra for Rahul Dravid and guys.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blending science and rituals in Indian cricket

By John Cheeran
The last time Indian cricket team experimented with management innovations, the results were nothing short of a disaster.
In 2005, before going to Sri Lanka, the new coach Greg Chappell had got his boys to play with Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats. Sourav Ganguly was India's captain then.
The thinking hats did not come to India's help in that one-day series. May be Indian players thought in six different ways during the game and it showed in the results.
Indians are due to visit Colombo next month again for a tri-nation series. The Indian team members are being subjected to another management fad in Bangalore now.
The 15-member Indian team are having a three-day initial conditioning camp at Pegasus Centre for Excellence, 56 km north of Bangalore.
Reports from Bangalore inform that the Indian players, under the watchful eyes of a Pegasus team which includes former Indian Army and Air Force officers, will undergo innovative exercises aimed at team-building.
Let me quote from the Indian Express. "It is a place used by corporates and provides intensive but fun-filled training and army training techniques. The team management wanted to do something different. More than physical strength it is to build mental strength and the'We' factor," a cricket official said. "The idea is to get the players to build mental strength to play for each other even in the face of extreme physical adversity," the official said.
"Called the Outward Bound Learning method, the training session is expected to put the players through special obstacle courses, water-based activities and rock climbing.
Team India's physical trainer Gregory King said: "In the past too, we tried out a few new things which produced positive results."
King, apparently, has a short memory.
He doesn't remember the horrors of the last adventure into the Sri Lankan territory.
In the final of that Indian Oil Cup, Sri Lanka beat India by 18 runs. In fact throughout the tournament India could not beat Sri Lanka. In the first of the group matches, Sri Lanka beat India by three wickets. In the second match, Sri Lanka again defeated India by four wickets.
I do not know by what yardstick King classifies three successive defeats to Sri Lanka as positive results.
In the forthcoming series, however, there are three differences.
One, instead of the West Indies, the third team will be South Africa. Two, Sourav Ganguly will not be there. Third and the most important, Rahul Dravid will lead the side in his no-nonsense way.
But I wonder how much will stints like the one at Pegasus will contribute towards team's victories. Adopting a scientific approach towards the most basic problem in sport, that is winning, is fine. Embracing technology to analyse your game is good indeed. Looking after the mental aspects of the combatants too is a step in the right direction.
I'm all for rationalization of the game. But how would you blend the scientific approach with rituals and poojas?
India's most successful cricketer thinks that his injuries and lack of form are more a result of the alignment of planets than anything got to do with bat and ball. I believe, a man should be free to select his refuge. So I have no quarrels there.
And you know what amazes me the most?
When India won the World Cup in 1983 in England, the only time when India did it, there were no prayer offerings, no poojas, no thinking hats, no Outward Bound Learning Methods.
Not even a professional coach. India had only an XI.
Think about it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sourav, I know what you did this summer!

By John Cheeran
Sourav, I know what you did this summer!
Yes, Sourav you have authored world's most famous email last week to betray Jagmohan Dalmiya. But what have you done with bat and ball in England?
Does everyone in Calcutta know that you were busy writing your email masterpiece and hence could not concentrate enough on batting that too in the Second Division of England's tepid County cricket?
I know, the world knows...I know what you have done this summer..
Ganguly, you have done a wonderful job of committing cricketing suicide this summer.
Thank you.
Here is how the world has chronicled it. If anyone feels that I'm biased against the Lord Snooty, then he/she should read The Guardian report on the former Indian captain.
Here is a chronicle of a cricketer's death foretold!

July 28, 2006
More agony for Ganguly : PTI report in Telegraph Calcutta
London: Sourav Ganguly had a tough match in Northamptonsire’s outing against Essex in the County Championship. Sourav, who scored only 9 off 11 balls in Northants’ first innings total of 660 for five declared, was wicketless in the three overs he bowled.
Earlier, centuries by D. Sales (225), S. Peters (178) and Lance Klusener (124 not out) propelled Northants. In reply, Essex were 382 for 6 at close on the third day.

July 26, 2006
Ganguly flops again / The Hindu
London, July 26. (PTI): Sourav Ganguly's county stint appears to be drawing to a disappointing close with the former Indian captain scoring just nine for Northamptonshire in a four-day County championship division two cricket match against Essex here today.
Ganguly struck two fours off 11 balls before he was caught by Ben Phillip off James Middlebrook on the opening day of the match at Northants' home ground.
Opener Stephen Peters was unbeaten on 106 with captain D Sales at 31 as the hosts reached 209 for three in 59 overs in their first innings after electing to bat.
Zaheer Khan also met with similar luck as his former captain, going wicketless in his 11-over spell while conceding 33 runs for Worcestershire in a match against Derbyshire.
Derbyshire were 214 for 6 in 61 overs in their first innings after electing to bat on the opening day at Queen's Park in Chesterfield.

July 25, 2006
Calcutta's Telegraph, the paper that champions Ganguly's come back cause, carried this item.
Northants lose
A STAFF REPORTER Calcutta: Sourav Ganguly made five as Northamptonshire lost to Nottinghamshire by 63 runs in the quarter final of the Twenty20 Cup at Trent Bridge on Monday, according to information received here.
In reply to Nottinghamshire' s mammoth 214, Northamptonshire made 150 for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs. Earlier, Sourav was hammered for 39 runs from his three overs and picked up a wicket.
BRIEF SCORES Nottinghamshire 213/6 (David Hussey 71, Samit Patel 65; Ben Phillips 2/46, Sourav Ganguly 1/39). Northamptonshire 150/6 (Lance Klusener 72, Sourav 5). Nottinghamshire won by 63 runs.

July 22, 2006
Paul Weaver writes in The Guardian, London
Northants have made any number of shrewd overseas signings, many from the subcontinent, including Mushtaq Mohammad, Sarfraz Nawaz, Bishen Bedi and Kapil Dev, but Sourav Ganguly is unlikely to be included in that company.
The former captain of India signed a lucrative five-week contract, replacing the Australian Chris Rogers, and his first five first-class innings have produced 0, 2, 6, 2 and, yesterday, 5.
He did not bat against Pakistan in Northants' first innings and faced only 18 balls yesterday, the last of which, from Shahid Nazir, struck him on the chin as he pulled out of a hook stroke.

July 22, 2006
Christopher Lyles writes in Daily Telegraph, London
Overseas players are customarily offered a rest when touring teams visit, but not Sourav Ganguly, who is in the penultimate week of his disappointing mid-season sojourn with Northamptonshire.
On reflection, he probably wishes that he had been. After the county slipped to six for two in their second innings, Ganguly entered the fray seeking to improve on his lamentable return of 10 runs in four first-class innings for the club.
He improved on it to the tune of five runs before being forced to retire hurt when, shaping to pull, he edged a steeply rising delivery from Shahid Nazir into his chin. The result was two butterfly stitches to a small gash and the former India captain did not feel fit enough to return as his temporary team-mates were bowled out for just 140 to leave the tourists needing 160 for victory.

July 17, 2006
By Agencies Sourav Ganguly failed to make amends for his first innings flop, managing just two in the second essay for Northamptonshire who were staring at defeat in a four-day Division Two county cricket championship match against Surrey.
Northants needed a big hearted display from their top order batsmen after they were set a daunting target of 453 but none could stand up to the task, leaving the side tottering at 97 for six in the second innings at their home ground. Lance Klusener , unbeaten at 42, was the only batsman to reach double digits when play ended on the third day yesterday.
Ganguly (1 for 29), though, could take some consolation from the fact that he got rid of J N Batty when he appeared unstoppable at 133.
The former Indian captain had scored six while taking one wicket in the first innings.
Surrey made 328 and 424/6 declared in their two innings while Northants scored 300 in their first.

July 15, 2006
London: Sourav Ganguly's (6) batting woes continued and the solitary success with the ball didn't make much impact either as Nothamptonshire struggled to 61 for three in reply to Surrey's 328 on the first day of a Division two County Championship match at Northampton.
Ganguly hit a boundary in his short innings before being caught behind off an Azhar Mahmood delivery as Northants ended the day with Usman Afzaal (28) and Charl Pietersen (2) holding fort.

July 11, 2006
From PTI: Sourav Ganguly's stroke-filled 29 was not good enough as Northamptonshire went down to Warwickshire by 20 runs in a Twenty20 match at Edgbaston.
Leading his side's chase of a target of 188, the former Indian captain on Monday struck five fours in his 23-ball knock that broke a sequence of low scores. But the Northants failed to build on the good start given by Ganguly and Usman Afzaal (21) and were restricted to 167 for nine.

July 4, 2006
UNI Report in The Hindustan Times
Sourav Ganguly's 51-ball blitzkrieg of 73 powered Northamptonshire to an 11-run victory at home ground over Worcestershire in the Twenty20 Cup match.
The former India captain also grabbed a Worcestershire wicket with his gentle medium pace to cap a fruitful outing.
Northamptonshire overcame an early jitter and got off to a flier as Ganguly (73) and Rob White (66) came up with their personal best and put together a 105-run partnership.
Ganguly brought up his half-century and the 100 partnership in style when he launched Roger Sillence into the stands. His 51-ball knock included four towering sixes, besides seven hits to the fence before he was run out.

June 27, 2006
More misery for Northants
Warwickshire spoiled Sourav Ganguly's Northamptonshire debut with a 24-run winat Wantage Road. The former Indian captain did collect two wickets as the Bears scored 185-5after choosing to bat first.
Powerful contributions from sixth-wicket pair Michael Powell (44 from 25balls) Heath Streak (33 from 14 balls) gave a valuable boost to the final total.
Warwickshire off-spinner Ian Westwood then recorded figures of 3-29 as the hosts were bowled out for 161 after 19.3 overs of their reply.
Ben Phillips top scored for the Steelbacks with 38 not out, while Ganguly opened the batting and made 15 from 16 deliveries before being caught behind off James Anyon (1-32).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why can't India bombard Pakistan?

By John Cheeran
As Israel whips Hezbollah in Lebanon day after day it finds resonance in India too.
The most relevant question is this -- Why can't India hit Pakistan for its rogue acts on Indian soil?
In 11 minutes India lost more than 185 lives on July 11 in Mumbai. It took the captivity of only two of its soldiers for Israel to launch a full fledged war against Hezbollah terrorists.
Though Pakistan has denied any role in the recurrent terror attacks in India, none has bought that argument in India.
I have always maintained that Pakistan is a rogue nation and it should be treated as such by Indian public as well as the government. Pakistan is that impoverished nation which wants to have its children operated on in Bangalore and but prefers to pay back us with bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Pakistan does not allow Bollywood releases there yet they let the DVD piracy industry in Karachi thrive on Bollywood movies.
Indian Prime Ministers have gone for people-to-people contact measures, but that has only helped in the free flow of terrorists into India. And we, the soft citizens in a soft state, pay the price for being generous withthe lives of our dear ones.
But let us go back to that most important question. Why India is not hammering Pakistan?
India has the fourth largest army in the world but unfortunately it can act only as a deterrent. India is always on the back foot when it comes to dealing with its breakaway landmass.
Defence analysts always point out that the very fact that Pakistan has nuclear warheads make a war against them pyrrhic. Is that so?
Is Israel rummaging Lebanon's backyard and threatening to sear Syria only because its Arab enemies do not have nuclear capability?
May be or may not be.
But mind you, Israel is fighting only a conventional war against its Arab enemies. Israel is not nuking them. Israel at least lives for the day and doesn't care for any consequences other than the right to live and fight for another day.
So the point is, why don't India wage a conventional war on Pakistan? Cut them, bleed them to death.
The crucial factor among India, Israel and Pakistan is the United States. Israel has full support of the US to detox Lebanon of terrorists. But in the sub-continent, Pakistan is, and not India, America's ally on the War Against Terrorism. That's joke, and it is high time Indian Foreign Office say it so to their Washington counterparts.
How can George Bush proclaim the jihad factory as its ally while combating religious fanaticism and terrorism?
The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer had put it succinctly. Musharraf may be a bastard child, but it is our bastard child, he had reminded the US foreign policy makers while explaining the contradictions in embracing Pakistan as an ally.
Yes, and it is the strategic support from the US that emboldens Musharaff to make grandiose statements such as he made yesterday in Karachi. " Nobody dare take punitive action against Pakistan or cast an evil eye onit, " Musharraf said.
And he has made this statement gloating over his military establishment's nuclear strike potential.
Pakistan would be making a grave mistake if it assumes that India will behave like a coy bride for all seasons to come when it comes to tackling Pakistan's terror trade and tirade.
A shift in the United States's assessment of geo-political realities in South Asia should enable India to shed its inhibition and moral veneer to tear apart its enemies.
But what matters most is a shift in Indian policy makers' mindset. You got to intimidate the enemy and playing cricket is not the best way to achieve that aim.
India had ripped Pakistan's heart apart during the 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh. Neither Pakistan nor India had nuke capacity then. But Indira Gandhi frittered away the gains of that very war behaving like a loser while finalizing the fine print of the Simla Accord, rolling out a redcarpet welcome to a disgraced and defeated Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
More than ever, India now need a ruthless foreign policy to isolate Pakistan on global platforms and the nation should refrain from engaging futile summit exercises with terror merchants.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chomsky and Tendulkar

By John Cheeran
Indian cricket needs vigorous conversations.
And I'm happy that the nation has begun to discuss Sachin Tendulkar much more freely and fearlessly in the aftermath of Sanjay Manjrekar's piece of advice to the cricket icon.
In a land of sycophants and hagiographers Manjrekar has done a revolutionary thing.
Cast a stone at Tendulkar.
Forgive me the Lord, in this age and stage you don't have to be pure, and free of sins to criticize others. None is blemishless but that should not mean that we should abandon our critical faculties.
Right now the nation is divided into two camps; those who uphold the maxim that Tendulkar is beyond any reproach, and the small but growing band of cynics who are losing patience with Indian cricket's most celebrated player.
But let this be the beginning of a tradition of healthy debate in Indian cricket.
In August, in Colombo, Tendulkar will have enough opportunities to tell Manjrekar that he is not afraid of failures.
Skipper Rahul Dravid and India should benefit from a Tendulkar who is provokedto perform. If Tendulkar struggles to perform in Colombo, Manjrekar's analysis would be hailed as the boldest and succinct criticism as Indian cricket has ever witnessed.
I'm not waiting till the tri-series to begin in Colombo to appreciate what Manjrekar has done for Indian cricket.
Look at the aftermath of subjecting Tendulkar to psycho analysis.
There is no riot in Mumbai. No burning of Manjrekar effigies by Tendulkar fan clubs. Bal Thackery has not bothered to explain the situation, leaving us to figure it out the merit of the case.
Mumbai and Maharashtra are not threatening to secede from the Indian union for the insult to its greatest son. The Parliament is in session but Maratha MPs are not demanding a debate on the Manjrekar vs Tendulkar play.
And, as always we are catching the rush hour trains. Have we finally grown up?
Look at the whole thing like this. It's a debate between professional cricketers. The critic has played cricket at highest order and enjoys a cricketing tradition few others can boast of. Sanjay's father Vijay Manjrekar was the backbone of Indian batting in the 1950s and 60s.
And has there been a cricketer more gifted than Tendulkar in India?
Often the debate in Indian cricket is inflamed by parochialism but in this case Mumbai's greatest son has come under attack only from another Mumbaikar.
Let me repeat now that Manjrekar has not accused Tendulkar of feigning injuries. Those who are saying so are evidently slow learners.
To criticize is no crime; a differing viewpoint always need to be welcomed in a democracy. A combination of factors in the past, with WorldTel being the prime engine behind the PR campaign, have worked in Tendulkar's favour.
Tendulkar must accept that the world around him has changed. He should not lose his focus on the game and whenever possible should make use of constructive criticism.
The celebrated linguist Noam Chomsky had written about how the mass media conspire to manufacture consensus, in Manufacturing Consent. This has been true in Tendulkar's case in Indian journalism.
At long last, we have a dissident amidst us. Thank you, Manjrekar.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tendulkar is human, admits a few!

By John Cheeran
For every opinion there is a counter opinion.
Even then the reaction from the Former Cricketers Club to Sanjay Manjrekar’s comments on Indian cricket’s icon Sachin Tendulkar has been slow in coming and feeble in its nature.
May be I’m mistaken, but so far I haven’t heard anything from stalwarts such as Bishan Singh Bedi, MAK Pataudi and Kapil Dev on the issue.
I’m yet to hear anything from that astute observer Sunil Gavaskar, himself a Mumbaikar and the dean of Bombay School of Batting. May be Gavaskar is sharpening his pencil for his next column. Like a tactician he wants gauge which way the opinion wind is blowing.
And above all why Ravi Shastri is silent?
Shastri had defended Tendulkar in the past with vim and vigour. I find these gentlemen’s silence on the subject eloquent.
It can be that Manjrekar, in the first place, is free to air his own views, but at another level, an admission that he has talked sense.
May be they are admiring Manjrekar’s courage of conviction, for which these stalwarts were renowned for during their playing days.
Interestingly, former India opener Chetan Chauhan has said star players should be able to take criticism in their stride. Let me quote Chauhan. "There is nothing wrong with his comments. He is a former player and a commentator and follows cricket closely. Everyone cannot be a sycophant and praise you always. Former players have to give the correct picture. If players commit mistakes, one should point out.
"Although my opinion is different -- Tendulkar is a great player, there is nothing wrong with Manjrekar`s opinion.
"If a player is failing to perform, it has to be written about. He has to make way for someone who is performing because it is the team which should come first and not individuals.
But in his hour of distress Tendulkar has found a few men to sing his praises.
Former wicketkeeper and selection committee chairman Syed Kirmani said it was unfair to make comments without ascertaining the facts.
"Be it senior cricketers or commentators, it is wrong on their part to write without going into the fact of the matter.
"It is unfair that people write columns on assumptions and presumptions. If one knows for fact that Sachin faked injuries, he can write with authority. Without knowing the reality, one should not express his opinion or views to the extent of hurting one`s feelings," he said.
Former coach and all-rounder Madan Lal said Tendulkar is criticized either way.
"It is sad that Tendulkar is criticized if he does not play when he is injured and also when he plays with an injury," he said.
"Manjrekar's comments are not in good taste. It is not the right thing to say about a player just before a series. Sachin is such a big player, he is the best judge of his injuries. You do get hurt by such comments, after all Sachin is also human," Lal said.
Yes, Madan Lal. Tendulkar is human.
That’s the key point in the debate initiated by Manjrekar.
And as they say, to err is human. Tendulkar is no God and he is subjected to the same frailties as other men and women.
Manjrekar only told Tendulkar to be realistic, correct his mistakes and make most of the fast receding opportunities.
Now it’s your call, Tendulkar.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pakistan plays chin music to Ganguly again

By John Cheeran
The anti-Dalmiya faction, led by West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, believes Sourav Ganguly still deserves a place in the Indian team.
Prasun Mukherjee, the Kolkata City Police Commissioner and the man who is opposing Dalmiya in the Cricket Association of Bengal elections, has said that Ganguly is out of the Indian team due to reasons other than cricket.
This statement is travesty of reality and is an effort to give legitimacy to the anti-Dalmiya campaign within the CAB.
I hold no brief for Dalmiya and have opposed him in the past for his skewed policies in Indian cricket. But it is ridiculous to witness a Save Sourav campaign so that another coterie can grab power in the CAB.
They are promising Kolkata that Dalmiya’s defeat will ensure Ganguly’s return to the Indian XI.
What delusions!
Everyone is familiar with facts of the Ganguly’s dismissal from the Indian dressing room. In his present form, the man can’t hold a bat properly against fast bowlers. Ganguly may have scored some runs in one-dayers but those days will never come back.
Because he has lost it mentally and physically.
Ganguly went to England to play for the Division B County side Northamptonshire. He has had a wretched time there. He could not score more than five runs in an innings in county cricket, yet he clamors for a place in the Indian national team?
Vaulting ambition, I must say.
Whatever it is Pakistan bowlers, currently on tour to England, have reduced the Bengal tiger to a kitten again. A thunderbolt from Pakistan fast bowler Shahid Nazir cracked Ganguly’s chin, putting an end to the former Indian captain’s ordeal at the batting crease. Ganguly was batting for Northamptonshire and he could make only five.
Nazir not only packed off Ganguly from the wicket, but also has cut short his county stint. Later, I understand that, Ganguly himself sent a thank you note to Nazir for delivering him from his miseries..
The man who exploited the 15-over limitations in one-day cricket to score runs could only aggregate 10 ( YES, TEN) runs in four first-class innings for Northamptonshire, leaving the management to rue their decision to pick him as a stop-gap arrangement.
And in Kolkata they want Ganguly to play for India again!
Does India need any more enemies?

Indian cricket's feudal war

By John Cheeran
Jagmohan Dalmiya is unfazed.
Former Indian cricket board (BCCI) President is determined to take on Sourav Ganguly's brother Snehasish and Prasun Mukherjee in the Cricket Association of Bengal elections.
Dalmiya has put his relationship with the former Indian captain in perspective.
"I am no longer in the BCCI. I have nothing to give. So, I do not expect loyalty from him," Dalmiya said.
Very well said, Dalmiya.
You are loyal to your interests only. So the former BCCI President has confessed that Indian cricket has had a feudal setup instead of a professional framework. It is loyalty that counts, not your skills and output on the field.
Dalmiya has admitted that he used to dole out favours to players and officials for being loyal to him. Dalmiya's honesty at this juncture is an indictment of the BCCI's feudal system, where players are brought into the national team for favours done far away from the playing fields.
The important question remains: why did it take so long for Ganguly to point fingers at his godfather?
Every Indian cricket fan can now see Ganguly for what he really is, a shameless manipulator.
I wish Dalmiya will judge him in a befitting manner when the tide turns in his favour.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

South Africa’s Black Prince!

By John Cheeran
It should not come as a surprise to you that different strands make up a nation’s life.
To recognize those varied strands is a test of character for any nation.
India has lived up to its social challenges in play as well as at work. Despite the casteist inclinations of a largely Hindu dominated society, other sections have broken the barriers to come up to breathe freely and fearlessly.
Indian cricket team has had Muslims as captains. India has had Muslims and Dalits as Presidents and other minorities as Prime Ministers. India's current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hails from a minority group.
Now the once White supremacist nation South Africa has gone for a Black as its cricket captain. Ashwell Prince's appointment as captain, though is a stop-gap arrangement, is a significant step in that country's cricket politics. The new skipper himself has acknowledged that "unforeseen circumstances" -Graeme Smith's injury – have led to his new post. Prince will be leading a South African team without its three key performers.
Jacques Kallis too will be missing along with Smith from the tour to Sri Lankaand Shaun Pollock will miss the first Test.
Circumstances have conspired so that South African selectors were forced to choose Prince as their captain. Now its is up to the Black Prince to live up to the challenge of being the first Black to lead the rainbow nation.

Ganguly email: a dog eats another!

By John Cheeran
Mate, who said a dog would not eat another?
Whoever it is, he should be shot. For he has been proven wrong by two Bengalis.
A dog will eat another, if it does not get any bones. That is the new lesson.
I'm told Sourav Ganguly has hit out against Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Ganguly has written an e-mail from England, where he is busy dragging his County side Northamptonshire to disgrace with his pathetic batting, attacking his one-time guardian angel.
In one stroke, Ganguly has become the most celebrated email writer in the history of the world. Ganguly's email is a passionate tale of love, betrayal and revenge.
Away from the batting crease, Ganguly's timing has been perfect.
He has chosen Dalmiya's weakest moment to strike at him, the forthcoming presidential elections for the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
And I'm not surprised. It fits with Ganguly's behaviour pattern as India's captain in the past. Ganguly, who has a degree in blaming others to hide his own faults, blames Dalmiya now for his current plight.
Ganguly has sent the email, what has now become a literary classic of a man's frustrations, to his brother Snehashish supporting Dalmiya's rival Prasun Mukherjee in the CAB elections.
Ganguly's Classic email was released by Mukherjee at a press conference in Kolkata.
Ganguly has said in the email: "People who leak e-mails and sacrifice players' careers should be heavily punished. There are people in CAB who are playing with players' careers to suit them. They should not be allowed to go scot-free as it takes years of hard work to reach a certain level in sports."
Complaining of unethical practices in the CAB, Ganguly also expressed satisfaction at the stand taken by the West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, who openly said that Dalmiya should stay away from the CAB presidential race. "I am happy that the Chief Minister and people concerned are addressing the issues and working towards the right path," Ganguly wrote.
Wonderful, indeed!
Now Ganguly is telling us who leaked Chappell's email, addressed to the Indian cricket board, to a Bengali newspaper.
Who else, Dalmiya.
Shame on you Ganguly. You are nothing but a desperate man without any scruple, who has chosen to betray the one who supported you during your gravest crises.
Greg Chappell spoke the truth when he told The Guardian how much the place in Indian team mattered to Ganguly's financial wellbeing. Now out of the team and struggling to score more than five runs in county cricket, Ganguly has stooped so low to please the anti-Dalmiya faction by attacking his former godfather.
It should not be a surprise to you if Ganguly is calculating that by attacking Dalmiya he can buy peace with Sharad Pawar and come back into the Indian team!
This is nothing but shameful opportunism.
Even Jagmohan Dalmiya does deserve better!

Tendulkar hides behind physios!

By John Cheeran
The message has reached the Sachin Tendulkar camp.
Tendulkar has reacted in predictable fashion to Sanjay Manjrekar's no-nonsense criticism.
In a fit of delusion, India's cricket icon has dismissed his Mumbai mate's charges as baselss.
I'm afraid that Tendulkar has not learnt his lessons from the past and the cronies who surround him will not let him grow up to a stage where he can look facts in their face.
I must confess that Tendulkar's response has left me deeply saddened.
It is interesting to note that Tendulkar has hidden behind physiotherapists and the science of sports medicine.
Let's hear Tendulkar on the issue (in The Times of India again).
"I don't want to comment much, but I feel sorry that an ex-India player has made statements without checking the facts and without talking to people concerned. I also find it surprising that he has made these statements without being in the dressing room and knowing the true situation," said Tendulkar.
Indian team's current physio John Gloster and former trainer Andrew Leipus has defended Tendulkar saying that the Indian icon never shied away from playing for India. They say only they have the expertise to decide the seriousness of the injury.
You can read Times of India for their wisdom.
But the point raised by Manjrekar in the first place is Tendulkar has to play now with these injuries.
No where did Manjrekar write that Tendulkar was not injured.
The question is about the seriousness of injuries and using injuries as a coverup for failure when it suits the legendary batsman.
Time is running out and there is a restless generation pushing its way into the Indian dressing room. Please take note, Mr Tendulkar.
The instances Manjrekar listed as Tendulkar manipulating his injuries to protect his brand value should prod Indian cricket fan to re-evaluate his unconditional star worship.
It is also interesting to note that rest of the Former Cricketers' Club has stayed away from the debate. The guys who abuse Greg Chappel and take pot shots at Rahul Dravid even for imagined offences are gutless to criticise Tendulkar.
May be their silence is a tacit admission that Manjrekar has written the truth.
May be they are waiting for Tendulkar to murder the Sri Lankan bowlers in the forthcoming tri-series in Colombo so that they can pounce on Manjrekar.
Is this called courage of conviction?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tendulkar should learn to live with injuries

By John Cheeran
Sanjay Manjrekar is a brave man.
The former Indian cricketer, renowned for his technical excellence, has criticized Sachin Tendulkar for his shameful pussyfooting over injuries in a lead article in The Times of India.
Manjreker has written what many others have shied away even from thinking.
None criticizes Tendulkar, especially Indian cricket writers.
Manjrekar has argued that Tendulkar should not be afraid of failures on a day when the contemporary King of Runs was brought back into the Indian team by national selectors. Manjrekar gives West Indian captain Brain Lara and Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul Haq as examples to Tendulkar. The former India and Mumbai cricketer points out that these two are too playing with many injuries and not as fully fit individuals.
Manjrekar has drawn attention also to Tendulkar's baffling decision to take a break and reveal his latest injury after failing in the second innings of the Mumbai Test against England, a Test that India lost eventually.
One must remember that the Mumbai crowd lost patience with their once blue-eyed boy and roundly jeered him before Tendulkar said, look, guys, it is not my mistake, I'm not fit, I'm injured and I need an operation and rest. That was a Public Relation exercise at its best.
I had pointed out the same through a post here but the celebrated cricket writers were not inclined to think in that vein.
Now Manjrekar has written that Tendulkar should learn to play with a less than fully fit body. After playing international cricket for 17 years, your body will have its own wear and tear. To expect otherwise would be foolhardy.
There has been so much fuss in the past about Tendulkar's tennis elbow. How serious is this problem? None really knows.
Again, Manjrekar has drawn the nation's attention to how Tendulkar pretends that he is a victim of injuries when the going gets tough and with in days shows no trace of such woes when bowlers let him dominate the action.
All of us carry injuries to workplace. Minor and major ones; we are not prima donnas and hence we cannot pick and choose when we want to do our work.
Tendulkar is given such luxuries by an indulgent nation and the cricket board. But Tendulkar would well to remember that he cannot hide behind tennis elbows any longer.
He has to play with his injuries; if he runs up a poor string of scores, it is quite natural. But he should be ready to accept the fact that he will be dropped if he does not score consistently.
Now everytime Tendulkar walks out to bat there will be expectations as in the past. But there will be disappointments too, much more than in the past.
It would be silly to blame the injuries for one's failures and hold a team's options to pick a winning combination to ransom.
This, indeed, is time to think for the Camp Tendulkar.

Welcome home Mr Tendulkar

By John Cheeran
The Indian cricket team announced by Chairman of selectors Kiran More on Thursday for the tri-nation one-day series in Sri Lanka is possibly the one that does not invite any agitated responses from any quarter.
The inclusion of a fit-again Sachin Tendulkar was a foregone conclusion. Welcome home Mr Tendulkar. Peace prevails for the time being.
It would have been a stormy selection committee meeting had India come back from the West Indies without clinching the Test series. And remember India lost the one-day series in West Indies 1-4, that too after winning the first match thanks to a brilliant century from skipper Rahul Dravid.
But the Test triumph at Sabina Park, Kingston, has strengthened Dravid as the leader and Greg Chappell as the coach. A call for change in captaincy and for the dismissal of Chappell as coach had to be abandoned. Even the inconsistent batting performances from the tried and tested are forgotten for the moment.
Sourav Ganguly has become history as far as playing for India is concerned. Not even his brothers in Bengal are bothered about the dead horse now. The last I heard on the Maharaja is that he can't score past even five runs an innings for Northamptonshire. What a fall!
But I'm surprised to see that Team India has not gone for some crucial changes which they should have done in view of the World Cup campaign.
I would have picked Anil Kumble in the team and would have given the second best batsman in India, VVS Laxman, an opportunity to play in the one-dayers again. It is a pity that instead selectors have gone for the utility value of Dinesh Mongia. This only shows the clout wielded by the Punjab Cricket Association and Inderjit Singh Bindra.
Selectors have kept their faith in young pacers Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, RP Singh andMunaf Patel. The announcement must be a huge relief for Pathan after a challenging series in West Indies that played havoc with his confidence levels.
Indian squad: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Suresh Raina, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Dinesh Mongia, Rudra Pratap Singh.
Schedule:Aug. 14: Sri Lanka v South Africa (day/night), Aug. 16: Sri Lanka v India (day/night)Aug. 19: India v South Africa (day), Aug. 21: Sri Lanka v South Africa (day)Aug. 24: Sri Lanka v India (day/night)Aug. 26: India v South Africa (day/night)Aug. 29: Final (day/night)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Indian road block on bloggers' path

By John Cheeran
The Indian governments' move to block bloggers platforms such as and is a thoughtless act.
It has been expalined that the move has come in the wake of serial blasts in suburban trains in Mumbai and the goverment is concerned that terrorists are using the blogs as their messageboard.
May be terrorists are using the blogs to their advantage. I do not deny that. Not only the blogs. The democratisation of technology has ensured that even a suburban Bombay terrorist can wield communication gizmos Pentagon would like to have a monopoly on.
But when you are banning such popular platforms like the free flow of information among the non-Jihadis is also affected. The free flow of information, comments and rants dry up. This is just not fair.
I do not welcome such a situation. This move should be resisted and the government has to be convinced that though their intention is good, the path they have taken is a wrong one.
Terrorists are also using Instant Messengers, SMSs and GPS phones to their advantage.
In all these cases, including even in the use of cell phones, there must be systems to track back and forth the information flow and zero in on who exactly is using these and saying what. All these information combing operation can be a highly tedious and perilous process.
The investigating agencies should do their work but that should not beby resorting to such inane ideas as blocking the blogs. It is a matter of concern that how long the blockade will be on..
If the governement insists on blocking a platform, more others will spring up. The ban on blogs in India is on from last Friday and it has evoked a global reaction. It is not just Indian newspapers who have written stories on the ban on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even New York Times and Washington Post have devoted space to the curbs put on the freedom of expression by Indian government.
All the same I should admit and put it on the record that for all the rage and fuss in the media, you can hardly sense the impact of blocking the blogs in India. It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 Indian bloggers on the net.
What's the profile of an average Indian blogger? To be sure, blogging is a middle class itch. I must say that there is some great blogging by Indians, but for most of them it is an afterthought. In fact blogging by its nature is an afterthought.
Most of the prominent bloggers have their careers going in the media and it is a diversion from the boredom of desk and the possibility of limitless space has sprouted the sublime and the ridiculous.
Sensorship cannot rein in the blogging phenomenon in this digital age, there are countless ways to beat the block and there are many platform options available so that you can still upload your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I hope Indian government will get down to the serious business ofhunting down the terror sympathisers.

In memory of VP Sathyan

By John Cheeran
V P Sathyan and C V Pappachan began their football careers in 1982 with Kerala Police. The reason to remember this point now is Sathyan's suicide on Tuesday.
Yesterday and today I read through agency reports and even the suicide not Sathyan wrote to his wife Anitha. Sathyan was beyond any hope and the root of his despair lay in financial mismanagement.
One of the finest deep defenders India ever had, Sathyan definitely would have thought a lot about ending his life because in the end it matters him and his family alone.
Each suicide should evoke our pity. Sathyan chose to liberate himself from the clutches of life whereas many would have fought on.
A day before World Cup began in Germany I had met CV Pappachan at his home town Thrissur. Pappachan was coming out of a seminar on Indian football that I too had attended. Pappachan spoke about football in an intelligent way. It held my attention.
Our conversation was entering extra-time and a few others were waiting for us to finish so that Pappachan can join them at a near by hotel. I gently reminded him that others are waiting for him at the hotel. Pappachan brushed it off by saying "I'm not interested..They are going for a drink. I want to fetch my child from school."
I then admired Pappachan for getting his priorities right. I now sympathize with Sathyan's family. How the ace Indian footballer lost himself in a series of mispasses.!
To defend, it is important that you should have a safe zone to plant your feet. Kerala Police provided that safe zone for a generation of footbalers like Pappachan and Sathyan so that they could freely play football.
Kerala Police let them play and gave them the comforts of a secure and dignified job in Kerala itself. Pappachan is now DySP in Thrissur. Sathyan could have been the same.
Reacting to Sathyan's tragic end, Pappachan came up with that crucial point of departure that marked their careers. "Sathyan left Kerala Police to play in Calcutta (Mohun Bagan) peeved at not getting a promotion. He came back to Police later and still missed out onanother promotion for breaking the service. Then he left to play for Indian Bank in Chennai."
I think had Sathyan stayed back with Kerala Police he would not have lost control of his life. Sathyan left for Indian Bank when Kerala Police football team had become history. But he could have had an easy time with in the organization.
Though a defender on the football field, Sathyan might have thirsted for the adventure of active sport. One thing was sure. He loved football and his decision to get into coaching shows his deep passion for the game. After all how many of his generation went into coaching the youngsters?
But in the end such moves backfired. Sathyan never touched big money, though he dreamt of it. He regretted not taking up some offers from Qatar and Czech Republic to play there in the 1990s.
Somewhere down the line Sathyan began to lose his self-control and then there was no terra firma for him. In the past Indian footballers have struggled to make a decent living. I must say times have indeed changed for the better for an average footballer and that makes Sathyan's tragedy all the more unbearable.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

V P Sathyan: Sudden Death!

By John Cheeran
The last line of defence in his life crumbled for former Indian football team captain and ace defender V P Sathyan on Tuesday morning.
Sathyan committed suicide by jumping before a running train at suburban Pallavaram, Chennai. Suicide notes were recovered from Sathyan's shirt pocket, Railway police sources said.
Sathyan was 41 and is survived by his wife and a 10-year old daughter.
In his letter to his wife Anita, Sathyan said he was taking the extreme step as he had drained his wealth in drinking and gambling. "I have lost my wealth and also the wedding ring. I do not want to even phone you because I might change my mind about ending my life," he wrote. Three other letters -- addressed to All India Football Federation President Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, D V Sundar, Sports Secretary of Indian Bank where he was employed as an assistant manager, and the media -- were also found with Sathyan, sources said.
His body will be taken to his native place Kannur in Kerala tonight after a post-mortem. Sathyan started his football career with the Kerala Police.
Sathyan was also a member of the five-member selection committee, constituted by the All India Football Federation, for the senior national team.
Sathyan played around 80 matches for India since 1985, including those at the Asian Games, SAF Games, Nehru Cup and 10 of them as captain, Sathyan, aged 41 was aiming to make a mark as a coach.
C.V. Papachen, a former footballer who represented India along with Sathyan, said: "I am shocked that he took away his life. We played for the Kerala Police, Kerala state and India on numerous occasions. We met last year when he came to Kochi for the Santosh Trophy. We used to talk over telephone." Papachen and Sathyan began their football career together in 1982 when they joined the Kerala Police.
"I am what I am today because of him. He groomed me very well and never ever treated me like a junior player,' said former Indian football captain I.M.Vijayan. "He used to be serious and reserved,' he added. Sathyan, who began his career with the Kerala Police and took a break to play for Mohun Bagan in the late 80s, was an outstanding defender.
After resigning from the post of deputy superintendent of police with the Kerala Police, he joined Indian Bank at Chennai and played for them. Later, he became the coach of the bank team and was settled in Chennai.
Sathyan led the Indian team in the 1986 Merdeka tournament. He was also member of the team that took part in the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 and South Asian Federation Games in 1989. He played atthe senior level for 12 years.
While playing for Mohun Bagan club he was awarded AIFF Player of the Year award in 1995.
In an interview in 2002, Sathyan had said he regretted rejecting offers to play from Qatar and the Czech Republic, which he got in the early 1990s.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Star of David shining bright!

By John Cheeran
Israel is God’s Promised Land.
And Israel is the super hero nation of modern times. A tiny nation surrounded by hostile neighbors throughout the region living heroically every single day. Remarkably, till the other day Israel has been the only democracy in the Middle East.
When Israel came into existence after Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers, all Arab nations wanted to wipe it off from planet earth. In 1947-48 and 1967, Arabs attacked Israel and got their just deserts.
During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel trounced their rivals and occupied West Bank and Gaza. Over the years we have been told that the anger, violence and terror against Israel is due to its occupation of the territories seized in that war. End the occupation and the "cycle of violence" ceases.
The problem with this claim was that, as renowned columnist Charles Krauthammer points out, before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War, every Arab state had rejected Israel's right to exist and declared Israel's pre-1967 borders — now deemed sacred — to be nothing more than the armistice lines suspending, and not ending, the 1948-49 war to exterminate Israel.
Cut back to the present round of hostilities.There is a saying in my village: Give the stick to your rival and get beaten. Hezbollah has done just that now. Emboldened by Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s repeated rants to destroy Israel, Hezbollah went on the offensive.They attacked Israel, held two Israeli soldiers as hostages and issued threats. What do you expect Israel to do? Kiss the Hezbollah arse? No way.
Israel has hit back in its no-nonsense manner. And they say now Lebanon is bleeding. Terrorists are on the run. What else you bargained for in the first place?Did you expect Israel to show their other cheek to enemies?
As Israeli rockets wreck Lebanon, the Arab world stands confounded. Saudis have admitted that Hezbollah is the guilty party. The war can end now only if Hezbollah surrenders completely. There are no ceasefires now.
It is pathetic to see the reaction in the Middle East media. As always journalists there are afraid to look facts in their face. They comfort their readers with recycled lies; they carry pictures of destruction in their newspapers but fail to ask the crucial question, who is responsible for all this.
It is easy and convenient to blame Israel for the ills in this world but truth quite often hurts you. Terrorists cannot win this war!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The importance of saying NO!

By John Cheeran
Roughly four weeks ago a murder took place in Munnar, Kerala, India.
It was no ordinary murder.
A newly wed couple from Chennai (Madras) was honeymooning in Munnar, a town famous for hill resorts. It appeared at the time of murder that local thieves slit the throat of husband Anantharaman to steal money and wife’s jewels. At least that was what the distressed wife told the Kerala Police in the aftermath of the murder.
Things took an unpredictable turn the very next day. The police pieced together evidence and it emerged that wife had conspired together with her paramour and friend to kill her husband.
Wife prepared extensive plan for honeymoon to Kerala and gave details to her paramour, who is an auto driver in Chennai.
During the honeymoon wife kept constant touch with her paramour, SMSing him on the cell phone. Such deviousness, such meticulous planning finally came to naught with the loss of an innocent life.
The last I heard was that husband’s family is not keen to push the case since the conspirator wife comes from their own family.
Women can plot with astounding cunning. But they never show courage when it is called for. The woman in question in this episode apparently could not love her husband as she was against the marriage. But if she was really in love with her auto driver, why did she agree in the first place to marry Anantharaman?
Parental pressure? Bullshit. She was city-bred, worked at a call center and knew her world. A firm no from her to her father, or to the groom, would have ensured that marriage with Anantharaman did not take place.
But she let it happen, conspired and killed an innocent man. Who is at fault here?
Quite obviously, the wife. She did not have the gumption to say no to the marriage proposal her father brought but had the resolve to eliminate someone who trusted her absolutely.
It would be easy to wash away the guilt by blaming a culture and system that do not encourage saying No when the situation calls absolutely for nothing else.
I think saying NO is much better than saying YES and plotting tragedy for one and everyone.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Storm over minority rights in Kerala

By John Cheeran
Kerala is witnessing some interesting and at the same time ridiculous political moves.
At the centre of the debate is higher education or rather the right to higher education.
A pampered voting community in a vibrant democracy is falsely given to understand and in turn demand that they should have higher education on a platter.
Education is business. Economists always point it out that in any human activity, for things to get done, an incentive is must. Some of the enterprising members of the Kerala -- please read it as Christian missionaries and other assorted Christian establishments -- have understood this economic principle. They realised long time ago that education is business andhigher education is higher business.
Higher the business, higher the profit. This has been an established truth elsewhere in the world and also partially in Kerala. Now the right to higher education and the right to run higher education are clashing against each other in Kerala.
To explain this situation, you have to be familiar with loftier terms such as secularism and minority rights. Now a bit of arithmetic. Christians, all denominations taken together constitute only 1.8 per cent of Indian population. Muslims account for 18 per cent. Except for the decimals, the rest are Hindus.
By this yardstick, Christians and Muslims are minorities and the Indian constitution has given these communities some rights. Minority educational institutions enjoy some assorted privileges in an India that is benighted with the casteist reservations.
All over India there are self-financing medical and engineering colleges. In Kerala, most of the self-financing medical, nursing and engineering colleges are run by Christian managements and they enjoy the so called minority rights.
Now these minority rights give the managements the freedom to run these institutions by the laws they frame. It boils down to the fact the management can determine the course fee structure of the institute. To restrain these managements Kerala's Marxists (read Ezhavas, the ) have come up with a new bill which says that though Christians are a minority in India, in Kerala they do not constitute a minority. Interesting argument indeed!
Marxists can afford to preach high principles since they have won the election and in any event when the next elections come after five years, they are bound to lose it. So Marxists can't care less how the Christian managements may retaliate to the Kerala government move.
The most organized among Kerala's Christians -- The Catholics, the imperial arm of Vatican -- have begun what they call as their fight for justice. The Catholic bishops have taken their sorrows to the door steps of Sonia Gandhi, a born Catholic and the power behind the UPA government at the Centre. Bishops are confident that Sonia will persuade Marxists, strangely, her political allies at the Centre from hurting the sentiments and profit book of the Christian management.
I'm a Christian from Kerala. I'm not a Catholic.
I belong to the Orthodox Syrian Church, India's independent church which owes no allegiance to Vatican and Pope. I have my differences with my priests and Church supremos on a variety of issues. But I'm glad that they have not joined hands with the Catholic mafia in Kerala.
When you think of Kerala's Christians please remember it is not just Catholics out there. There are other Christians as well.
The important point is that All Catholics are Christians but All Christians in Kerala and India are not Catholics. I don't want to delve into Christian factionalism here. That will be too tedious at this point.
My grouse against the Catholic bishops is that why did they supplicate in front of Sonia Gandhi? Why not take their grievance to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?
But then being the smart men they are, the Catholic bishops know where the realpower lies, at the feet of Mother India! (To put the record straight, bishops later met Manmohan Singh and claimed they got the assurance that there will not be any threat to their minority status.)
Instead of pleading with Sonia, the Catholic bishops eager to protect their minority tag should fight the battle at Supreme Court, ready to accept a honourable verdict on this issue.

Brilliant men always betray their wives

Editor's note: This is for all men who are cheating on their wives. In case they get caught, they could ease their guilt by saying all brilliant men did it!
Brilliance takes its price..!
Read on

By Desmond Morris in Daily Telegraph, London
It is all in the genius's genes. So Albert Einstein did not, after all, spend all his wakinghours chalking up complex symbols on a blackboard.
According to letters newly released this week, he devoted quite a bit of it to chasing the ladies. And with considerable success. To many, the idea of Einstein having 10 mistresses does not fit the classical image of the great, remote genius.
Why was he wasting his valuable time with the exhausting business of conducting a string of illicit affairs - affairs that would cause havoc with his family life, damaging especially his relationship with his sons?
The answer is that he, like many other intensely creative men, was over-endowed with one of the human male's most characteristic qualities: the joy of risk-taking. Every creative act, every new formula, every ground-breaking innovation, is an act of rebellion that may -if successful - destroy an old, existing concept.
So every time a brilliant mindsees a new possibility, it is faced with a moment of supreme risk-taking. The new formula, the new invention, may not work. It may turn out to be a disaster. But the man of genius - such as Einstein - has the courage to plough ahead, despite the dangers, both on and off the intellectual field. Not that Einsteinis by any means an isolated instance. Indeed, far from being the exception he is closer to the norm where great men and sex are concerned.
During apresidential visit to Britain, John F. Kennedy once shocked an elderly Harold Macmillan when he complained to him that if he didn't have sex with a woman every day he suffered from severe headaches. Kennedy was insatiable and impatient. He was reported to make love with one eye on the clock and to be through with a girl as soon as he had had sex with her in three different ways. If possible, he preferred two girls at once and seduced almost every young woman he met, from starlets to socialites, secretaries to stewardesses.
Oh yes, and not forgetting strippers.
But then the compulsion in dominant males to take the highest of risks - a compulsion that seems to be innate - is one that dates back to prehistoric times.
Our arboreal relatives, the monkeys, simply fled up into the high branches when danger threatened and, while feeding, all they had to confront was a fruit or a berry. But when our early ancestors came down to live on the ground, they had to give up scampering aloft to escape and also had to face dangerous competitors and prey when turning to meat-eating as a new way of life.
To become successful hunters required a new personality trait - bravery. If the primeval hunters were to survive as carnivores they had to be courageous and take serious risks. The females of the tribe were too important to expose to these dangers - their vital reproductive role ruled them out. But the males were expendable.
If, inevitably, a few of them were killed, the others could easily maintain the reproductiverate of the still very small tribes. So it was the males who evolved into the pack-hunters who would become genetically programmed as risk-takers and whosejob it was to bring home the bacon.
Today, going to the office or the factory, or working on the farm - the modern equivalents of the ancient hunt - are farless hazardous, but the deeply ingrained urge to take risks still remains. Proof of this comes from the fact that men today are much more accident-prone than women. Throughout life women are less likely than men to die of a violent accident.
By the age of 30, males are 15 times more likely to die of an accident than females. For special males - the most adventurous ones - there are two choices. Either they can engage in risk-taking of the physical kind - join the SAS, get launched into space, or trek to the South Pole -or they can explore new ideas, create new art forms or invent new technologies and thereby change the way we all live.
Men with brilliant minds, whose creativity brings them enormous success, sometimes find themselves in a curious situation. They are so highly rewarded by society for their achievements that they are unable to limit their curiosity to new problems in their special fields. It starts to spill over into other areas.
Novel sexual experiences, for instance, suddenly seem irresistible. It is not the mating act itself that is so important - that varies very little. It is the thrill of the chase and the excitement of a new conquest that drives them on. Once the conquest has been made, the novelty of the affair soon wears off and another chase is begun.
Each illicit episode involves stealth and secrecy, tactics and strategy, and the terrifying risk of discovery, making it the perfect metaphor for the primeval hunt. Aiding and abetting these erotic adventures is the fact that the fame, power and wealth that the see specially brilliant men have received as rewards for their achievements make them very attractive figures to the opposite sex. They may have a face like an angry hippopotamus but, thanks to their high status, they somehow manage to ooze sex appeal, much to the disbelief and dismay of the handsome failures who carry out menial tasks for them.
The great philosopher Bertrand Russell, who for all his undeniable intellectual brilliance could never have bedded a woman on looks alone, was described as suffering from ''galloping satyriasis". He claimed he could not see a sexual partner as sexually attractive for more than a few years, after which he had to make a new conquest. He had affairs with a long line of women, a few of whom he later married. They included a young secretary, an MP's wife, the daughter of a Chicago surgeon, a researcher, an actress, a suffragette, several teachers, the wife of a Cambridge lecturer and his children's governess.
His private life was described by one biographer as ''a chaos of serious affairs, secret trysts and emotional tightrope acts that constantly threatened... ruinous scandal''. This was risk-taking of the highestorder.
Picasso was also a sexual glutton, described by a friend as being obsessed with sex. There was a long procession of women in and out of his life: Fernande and Eva, Olga and Marie-Therese, Dora and Françoise, Alice and Jacqueline, and many more. He was quoted as saying: ''There's nothing so similarto one poodle dog as another poodle dog, and that goes for women, too.''

Friday, July 14, 2006

More on terrorists amidst you and me!

Editor's note: I had written in the aftermath of Mumbai blasts that terrorism is not imported to India from Pakistan and Bangladesh but is aided and abetted by Jihadi sympathisers within the nation.
Rajeev P I, a friend and my former colleague, has come up with an on-the-ball story in The Indian Express from where else? Kochi, God's Own Country...
Read it...
In Kerala, SIMI thrives on W Asia funds, LeT links
Rajeev P I
Kochi: In Kerala, much of the original cadre of the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have survived the ban using the cover of a slew of Islamic outfits and still continue with their cause, state intelligence sources told The Indian Express today.
Last month, the state government had filed its affidavit before the tribunal headed by Delhi High Court judge B.N. Chaturvedi evaluating the third phase of the two-year ban, as required by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1959 invoked to ban it.
It had categorically claimed that SIMI men were still actively propagandising their extremist causes, outlined its foreign funding channels (mainly the West Asia) and how it had ''lately'' developed connections with the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
The Kerala Government was categoric that this outfit must stay banned, unlike Mulayam Singh's Government in UP, which had told the tribunal that it did not find enough reasons to ban it.
SIMI was first banned on 27 September 2001, and the two-year ban terms are beingextended regularly, with the mandatory endorsement from the tribunal each term. Intelligence sources say even while it stayed banned, SIMI had organised a meeting of its top 25 leaders at Kozhikode last year, and a radical cleric from Lakshwadeep took classes for it in Malappuram. It has also been organising regular indoctrination drives, particularly targeting college-level youth, undercover of several front outfits.
Some of the outfits now under police scanner for SIMI presence include the ultra-radical National Development Front (NDF), the People's Democratic Party (PDP) of Coimbatore serial blasts accused Abdul Nasser Mahdani, and several fringe outfits, including the Muslim Youth Cultural Forum, Karuna Foundation, Muslim Aikya Vedi, Sahridaya Vedi, Samskara Vedi, Solidarity Students Movement and the Movement for Protection of Islamic Symbols and Monuments, among others.
Many of these, the police say, are funded abundantly from West Asian countries. ''Yes, they went into other organisations after the ban came. We can't do anything about it,'' the state DGP Raman Shrivastava told The Indian Express. He, however, insisted that there was still nothing to connect the SIMI ranks in Kerala with the Mumbai blasts.
''We have no intelligence on any such linkage yet,'' he said.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mumbai: Is it resilience or is it expediency?

By John Cheeran
Mumbai is back on its feet.
Nothing can stop the people of this great city. Nothing at all.
On Wednesday it was again business as usual in Mumbai. Trains, schools, share markets and all other places were bustling with life, defeating death itself in the process.
Mumbai's resilience is amazing and touching..
Or is it just the Who Cares attitude?
Whoever has gone, is gone, we have got bills to pay and burden to carry on and please leave us free, we are in a hurry..
Was that the message from Mumbai on Wednesday?
May be there is relief among the survivors that the next wave of blasts will take at least a year or two to visit and till such time we are safe....Let us carry on with the life without pausing to find out what led to these dastardly acts and without remembering that it could have happened to us as well...
Time is precious...and we don't want to mourn our brothers whose lives were taken away in a random stroke of fate so that we could breathe a sigh of relief..
The point, however, remains that those who are alive are plain lucky.
Malcolm Gladwell had rightly brought up the broken window theory in his celebrated book Tipping Point. There, he says, if we did not take immediate repairing actions, those who have broken the windows succeed in what they set out to do in the first place. Inflict damage.
In that sense, Mumbai's spirit of bouncing back will defeat the terror merchants.
They tried to cripple the city and prevent its people from functioning without fear.
But the terrorists' designs did not work out in that fashion. Mumbai lived its Wednesday as if 7/11 never happened..
Is it a sign of courage or curse?
Would it not have been a greater resistance to terror and its dalals if Mumbai suspended its business as usual approach and dedicated the Day After to console the near and dear ones of those tragic victims.
200 Indians dead. That's what the death toll in a mini war could add up to.
Make no mistake, it's war on the streets, folks!
Mumbai could have set a shining example by mobilising its manpower to find ways to minimise the trauma of those who have suffered in this terrible tragedy.
It should have been a day when the citizens of Mumbai sat together, thought together and prayed together and repaired together its battered dreams and hopes.
I pray that Mumbai's celebrated resilient spirit is not a case of mammon prevailing over those sublime human values of sharing the sorrow and spreading the joy.
Long live Mumbai, Long live India!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

India blasts: Hunt down terrorist sympathizers

By John Cheeran
Terrorist attacks are not new to India.
Mumbai, India’s financial nerve center, is the city most ravaged by attacks carried out by Jihadis.
Yesterday evening Jihadis struck in Mumbai. As I write this, death toll in the Mumbai train blasts has risen to 190 and 500 others are still fighting for their lives in various hospitals.
It is no secret that there is a wide network of sympathizers for Muslim fundamentalists in India. Whatever the wooly secularists aver to the contrary, it is the truth.
And now Jihadi’s have ensured that by targeting only the first class compartments of these rush hour trains, their silent sympathizers, who hardly travel by first class in India, escaped the carnage.
So Jihadi’s have carried out the latest round of terrorism in Mumbai with enough research so that their support base remains intact.
Terrorism in India has already entered a new phase.
It would be naive to believe that terrorism is exported to India from Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are terrorists amidst us in India, and it seems, there is no need for recruiting the willing martyrs from outside of India to carry out such dastardly attacks.
If anyone in the Indian intelligence and defence establishment thinks that carrying out such operations require great resolve, courage, technical know-how and support of foreign hand, then they are hugely mistaken.
Caches of RDX are floating all over India now.
In Maharashtra alone in the last 30 days huge quantity of explosives were seized but Police failed to follow it up to its ultimate destination. Even in Kerala, where Jihadi supporters have no reasons for their classic grievances on any count, caches of explosives were seized from the so called places of worship and market places. Kerala’s state government is yet to give an explanation to the public on this dangerous development.
To plant explosives in India’s teeming market places, crowded commuter trains and other people friendly places is child’s play to those who are driven by hatred of Kafirs.
There will be more such attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere in the days to come. It is impossible to placate a section of people who believe they are inheriting paradise by eliminating their class enemies.
Ruthless crackdown on the sympathizers of Jihadis is the only way to root out terrorism. In the past, courts in India have let free many Jihadi sympathizers, as in the attack on Parliament, and such instances have emboldened the fifth columnists.
In India now you have to be your own deliverer.
It is always wise to keep a watch on your surroundings. Trust can take a back seat now so that we should not lose this war on terror.

Train services resume in Mumbai

Blog Report
Train services have resumed in Mumbai tonight.
Trains from Vasai to Borivili, Goregaon to Borivili, Churchgate to Bandra, Bandra to Andheri are running now.
But all trains from Ahmedbad to Mumbai are suspended.

Mumbai blast: Helpline Nos

Western Railway 022-22005388
Lilavati Hospital: 022-24451515
Sion Hospital: 022-40676380
Cooper Hospital: 022-26207254

Key facts in Mumbai train blasts

Key facts on Mumbai blasts
Seven blasts in Western Line between 6 and 6.30
Blasts in order oof occurence
1. Khar
2. Mahim
3. Bhayander
4. Jogeshwari
5. Borivili
6. Matunga
7. Bandra
All explosions took place in first class compartments.

Terror in Mumbai; 160 dead in 7 blasts in moving trains

MUMBAI: India is under attack again.
Jihadis have struck at the heart of India killing, on the last count, 160 and more than 500 griveously injured.
Bombs exploded on seven packed commuter trains in the Western Line in Mumbai.
The first blast occured at 6.25 pm in a moving train at Khar.
All explosions took place in the first class compartments.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the seven bomb explosions that took place within about 10 minutes during evening rush hour.
But suspicion was likely to centre on Muslim militants fighting New Delhi's rule in disputed Kashmir, who have been blamed for several bomb attacks in India in the past.
"The death toll is 163 and around 460 people have been injured," police inspector Ashok Jadhav said.
"We are not sure if it is RDX or not," city Police Commissioner A.N. Roy said, referring to the possible use of high-powered plastic explosives.
Commuters fled suburban rail stations in panic after the explosions and mobile phone lines were jammed. Hundreds of dazed passengers walked along the railway tracks.
Television showed twisted rail carriages and people in torn, blood-stained clothes carrying the dead and wounded on stretchers as steady monsoon rain fell. A policeman was shown carrying two white, blood-stained bundles of what appeared to be body parts.
"The blasts happened when the trains were most crowded," D.K Shankaran, chief secretary of the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, said.
Railway authorities suspended all suburban train services in the city after the blasts.
Dazed survivors with wounds from injuries to heads, legs and hands waited at railway stations, with little sign of any emergency medical aid.
"We heard a loud blast in one of the train compartments. When we rushed there and looked, we saw people with severed limbs and grievous injuries," one witness told the CNN-IBN news channel, standing in a blood-spattered coach.
"There were no police or railway people to help."
The first attack took place at 6.24 p.m. with the others following in quick succession.
"Incidents had taken place in the space of 10 minutes. It appears to be pre-planned," Anil Sharma, chief security commissioner of Western Railway, told CNN-IBN television channel.
The Mumbai blasts came just hours after suspected Islamist militants killed seven people, six of them tourists, in a series of grenade attacks in Indian Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, police said, the most concerted targeting of civilians in months.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Football can be cruel..ask Zidane!

By Roger Cohen /International Herald Tribune
Genius has a dark side.
How else to reconcile the divine smile on Zinedine Zidane's face throughout the
French victory he orchestrated over Brazil with the man, fist-clenched,
possessed, driving his head into Marco Materazzi's chest in the 110th minute of
the World Cup final and so concluding his career in shame?
Life is no fairy tale. Zidane was to lift the trophy and come full circle eight years after the French triumph in Paris, when he scored two goals in the final. That was the script. Instead, Italy won and Zidane came full circle to another moment in the 1998 tournament: the one in which he snapped, stamped on a Saudi Arabian
player's chest, and was sent off.
Rage resided in Zidane, somewhere deep in the soul of a humble man who had a gift, who could see what others could not, who caressed the ball and who took games and the people who watched them to unsuspected and lovely places. Rage cannot undo or lessen his gift.
We must accept the two together as, in the end, we must accept all the contradictions of life. Only in fairy tales does everything come out right.
Do not belabor this moment of madness. Of course, we want to know what the provocation might have been.
Our curiosity demands that we discover what Materazzi may have said to
spur such ugliness. But let us respect Zidane's silence. We know that he is
suffering. We may begin to imagine what it was like for him to walk off the
field, past the trophy he coveted, head bowed, to a silent pain. He must live
with the terrible ambiguity he showed the world in this tournament.
Football can be cruel. It was cruel at the end of a fine World Cup that Germany hosted with generosity. Yes, there were the dives and fouls and referees' mistakes and scoreless games. There was the general impression, especially in the later
rounds, that defenses dominated. If this competition is the death knell of the
4-1-4-1 formation, nobody will be sorry.
But there was also the beauty and the splendor, from Philipp Lahm's opening goal in the first match to Gianluigi Buffon's extraordinary save from Zidane's 104th minute header in the final.
A month, any month, must be made of highs and lows. This one was no exception. But
the highs prevailed.
Buffon was as close to perfection as anyone gets in this tournament. He conceded an own goal and a penalty in seven matches: no opponent scored against him in open play. Fabio Cannavaro in the Italian defense was also near impassable, a gladiator with a courage and timing that were awe-inspiring.
And so the Italians took home the World Cup for the fourth time, one less than
the Braziians. They won football's most coveted trophy with five powerful
penalties after 120 minutes of play had failed to separate two teams tied 1-1
since the 18th minute.
Italy scarcely deserved the victory on the night.
It hung on and seized it chance. But over the course of the tournament it had
earned the title. Its football was the smoothest and most cohesive, and its
defense was made of iron. If you do not see beauty in defense, you cannot
understand the essence of the Italian game.
Italians are sentimental about many things. But football to them is more serious than that. They carry the game in their blood as no other nation except Brazil. Four titles now demonstrate that. By comparison, the English and the French are parvenus when it comes to this sport. If you want to understand what it is to be unsentimental, just look at the five Italian penalties that won the match.
One after the other, steadying weary limbs, Andrea Pirlo, Materazzi, Daniele de Rossi, Alessandro del Piero and Fabio Grosso drove unstoppable shots high into the net. That was enough, for one Frenchman, David Trezeguet, had faltered, hitting the bar and seeing the ball bounce down on, but not over, the line.
The game had ebbed and flowed. The first half was Italy's, the second France's, with the match swinging like a pendulum after a frenzied start that saw a goal for each side before the final had settled into any sort of rhythm.
A goalless game, many had predicted,looking at two powerful defenses. That seemed reasonable. But the stakes and the charged setting in Berlin's Olympic Stadium always suggested this might not be a night for reason.
Within seven minutes of the start, Thierry Henry, the French
striker, had found time to get himself concussed and then recover to head on a
pass to Florent Malouda, stampeding into the penalty area. Down he went after
Materazzi's clumsy tackle, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Who else but Zidane to take it? Up he stepped to send Buffon the wrong way with a spooned shot that came down off the bar and bounced just over the line.
I said football is cruel. It is a matter of inches. One penalty, Zidane's, comes down off the bar and drops a foot over the line. Another, Trezeguet's, come down on the line.
I'm not enough of a mathematician to calculate the probabiliy and angles
involves in that, but they are head-spinning.
Zidane lost his head. It should not have happened. It did. We will speculate, because we are compelled to understand. Fatigue? Frustration? Fury? Let's leave the questions aside. It happened, just as it happened that two balls came down off the bar in the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin and one landed in the goal and one did not. To love this game you must love its mystery.
Zidane's early goal produced a new situation. The Italians had not previously been down in the tournament. They responded in style, sweeping forward with Pirlo once again conducting the blue-shirted orchestra. And in the 18th minute, there was Materazzi to atone for the penalty, hanging in the air to meet Pirlo's corner and send a powerful header into the roof of the net. A rerun of his goal in the group stage against the Czech Republic.
There are moments in a match. This was Italy's. It came searching for a decisive goal, and Luca Toni might have had it in the 35th minute, heading another of Pirlo's outswinging corners onto the top of the bar.
But the Italians could not force the issue.
After that, the game was France's to seize. Italy was weary. The 120 agonizing minutes played against Germany in the semi-final showed. But the French could not find a way through. The last time they scored a goal that was not from a free kick or penalty was in the second round against Spain. Thierry Henry was too isolated up front. And Raymond Domench, the French coach, was too stubborn in his defense-minded formation, as well as being graceless in defeat.
Frank Ribery went close. Henry went close. And Zidane forced that memorable save from Buffon. But in the end it came down to the lottery of penalties.
Italy lost the 1994 World Cup on penalties to Brazil. Tonight they avenged that defeat and the painful loss to the French in the final of Euro 2000. Marcello Lippi, the Italian coach, deserved the triumph.
He crafted a team whose skill was complemented by great mental strength at a
time when scandals at home might have sapped the focus and will of the side.
Italy, in the critical moments, had what it took. In the image of the lion of
their midfield, Gennaro Guttoso, the Italians were unrelenting.
This game is hard. It is unforgiving. It may seem capricious but it tends to reward the strong.
The Italians went wild as Grosso powered in the final kick. The French,
with Zidane gone, were desolate. The Italians danced and waved, overcome by joy.
But one Italian player, Mauro Camoranesi, had other thoughts. He went over to
comfort his Juventus colleague, Trezeguet.
That was the spirit of this World Cup. That is what I take with me from the end of this final, a game not of beauty, but of a terrible, exhausting power.
John Cheeran at Blogged