Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vengsarkar fails to cross Laxman rekha again

By John Cheeran
Why is VVS Laxman still in the one-day wilderness?
It is highly puzzling that journeymen such as Dinesh Mongia and Dinesh Karthick make into the Indian one-day squad and at the same time, a player of Laxman’s class is ignored.
In 2003, selectors defied all logic to include Mongia in the World Cup squad at the cost of Laxman.
And it appears that in 2007 too Mongia will push out Laxman from the World Cup squad.
Selection committee chairman Dileep Vengsarkar said on Monday that it is Laxman’s lack of fitness that denied him a place in the side.
VVS Laxman says he is fit and eager to play. So I don’t understand what’s the problem there. Why don’t selectors get an authentication on Laxman’s fitness from the Indian team physio himself?
Laxman’s strike rate is as good as any other Indian middle order batsman. Laxman is essentially a stroke maker and on song a pleasure to watch. I don’t have the statistics with me, but I’m sure VVS’s one-day strike rate should be on par with skipper Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif. VVS has even opened innings for India and that should give more flexibility to skipper Dravid in case he fancies juggling the batting order.
Quite often Laxman’s fielding has been held against him. But then how many ace fielders Team India boast of?
Good sense at least has prevailed in the selection of Anil Kumble for the South African one-dayers. It is Kumble’s sheer class and experience that have won him a place in the Indian side. Of course, Dravid would have fought for the Karnataka leg-spinner.
At a time when Indian middle order is struggling to live up to its popular image, the very factors that were applied in Kumble’s case should have sealed Laxman’s place in the side too.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Let us enlist Indian team (BCCI) on Mumbai stock exchange

By John Cheeran
Sociologists in India love to say that people have the highest stake in the national cricket team. Cricket is a religion in India they say. They claim Indian nation’s mood swings with national team’s fortunes.
I really doubt it. No one cares anymore. Or do they?
In the aftermath of the Mohali massacre in the Champions Trophy, the Mumbai Sensex has crossed 13,000 mark for the first time. It is a significant moment in the incredible upward climb of Indian economy. Nation has no time for Rahul Dravid and company. You win or lose, it does not register on the emotional radar of the middle class India.
It is quite remarkable that cricket depression did not have any impact on India's economy.
So what stake average Indian has got in this Indian team that cannot defeat West Indies and Australia at home?
The only stakeholder in the Indian team is the Board of Control for Cricket in India. That means gentlemen such as Sharad Pawar, Lalit Modi and Inderjit Singh Bindra.
I wish the average Indian had his stake in the Indian team. It would have mattered then what he thinks or feels about the Indian team.
In the age of rising curves of stocks, we should demand that BCCI become a corporate entity such as Manchester United in England and many other such sporting entities worldwide.
It may also give an occasion to Indian cricket stars to feel humble, and they are not responsible to a few power centers alone. It is only when cricketers appropriate brand India, they become watch-able commodities in the sports market. Who cares when these worthies play for their respective states in Ranji Trophy?
BCCI should come up with a public equity. How big a response will it generate among investors is a question worth finding an answer.
Right now Indian cricket fans are restricted to invest only emotionally with the Indian team. Most often they end up depressed and broken hearted. The rewards the Indian cricketers shower on them are hardly enough.
Let us give the Indian cricket fan an opportunity to grab a slice of the cricket pie. After all without the eyeballs of success-starved, average Indian, the BCCI will not be able to bargain for the rights to host World Cup and to haggle for the broadcasting rights.
So it is quite inevitable that BCCI go public. Not with mere statements but with balance sheets.
Let the game begin, gentlemen!

Mystery: Robin Uthappa goes missing!

By John Cheeran
Dileep Vengsarkar, Chairman of National selection committee, has not unearthed any new talent as he announced the one-day team for India’s South African safari starting on November 19.
There are no choices that indicate that lessons are learnt from the humiliation in Mohali against World Champions Australia.
The significant selection is that of India’s veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble.
For long ignored for one-day internationals, Indian bowling’s lack of bite in the recent matches against quality batting lineup has forced the team management – skipper Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell – to bring Kumble back.
Skipper Dravid is an ardent admirer of Kumble’s approach to cricket and firm believer in AK’s wicket taking abilities. This will eventually lead to Kumble becoming one of the key campaigners for India's World Cup bid.
And Zaheer Khan finally gets that call.
Indian pace attack still reads Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan. Are these guys the India's best? What a pity, if you care to look at their bowling figures!
It is a mystery that promising Karnataka opener Robin Uthappa was ignored for this important tour ahead of the World Cup. Yes, selectors have taken notice of India’s stuttering starts in one-dayers but Vengsarkar has brought in Wasim Jaffer to give Virender Sehwag a run for his money.
A sensible move? Hardly.
Uthappa should have been given the chance to parade his stroke making abilities in South Africa and I must say that Dravid and Chappell have wasted a glorious opportunity to sort out India’s fatal flaw at the top in one-dayers.
Indian Squad for South Africa:
Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Mongia, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Yuvraj Singh (Dinesh Karthik on stand-by), Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar (VRV Singh on stand-by).

Australia shed innocent blood in Mohali

By John Cheeran
World champions Australia murdered Indian bowlers in Mohali to move into the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday. For the record, Australia beat India by six wickets with plenty of overs to spare.
The ease with which Australia secured victory would demoralize skipper Rahul Dravid for days to come.
He would have realized what a rag tag band of bowlers are at his disposal when first Adam Gilchrist, then Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting played punishing strokes with utter disdain.
India lost the match in the first 10 overs of Australian innings.
Indian seam attack brought tears to those who watched the game.
Each one of them – Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth struggled to find their rhythm and a spot to put the ball to bite back at the batsmen.
Gilchrist and Martyn handled Indian seamers as if they were a bunch of schoolboys who strayed into the Punjab Cricket Association ground. The four wickets that Australia lost on the day were hardly earned by the Indians.
Considering the transformation the wicket underwent (grass shaved off and cracks glued up) for this match India’s score of 249 was below par. Indian total fell short of 40-odd runs and all credit for that should go to the splendid bowling by the Aussie army.
It is no secret that Glenn McGrath frustrated Sachin Tendulkar no end in this crucial clash. Eventually the truth must be told. Again in a crucial clash, world’s number one batsman’s contribution was the smallest in Indian ranks today.
In hindsight, it is simply astonishing that Dravid left his best spinner Ramesh Powar in the sidelines for this match. As he did against West Indies where India should have sealed the semifinal place. Powar could have at least troubled the Aussies with his turn and he is relatively strange commodity for the Aussies. Aussies these days have the measure of Harbhajan Singh.
India approached this match without having enough confidence in their batting which was natural if you consider their recent string of poor scores. But taking Dinesh Mongia as the seventh batsman in the side and promoting him eventually into No.3 slot was a strategy that was going to back fire. And it did.
Indian batting failed to hammer Australian bowling in the last 10 overs. It was pathetic to see Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina struggling to bisect the field placements stroke after stroke.
If there was any positives for India from this match it was Virender Sehwag's return to form.
Sehwag still struggled but a half-century against Australia should be taken as signal of his success. But in the context of what followed, it turned out to be insignificant.
The savage way Aussies went about their run chase should force the celebrated Indian batting to do some serious soul searching.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

India need a miracle to win in Mohali

By John Cheeran
World champions Australia need only 250 runs to win in Mohali.
From this point, it would be a miracle if India beat Australia and qualified for the Champions Trophy semifinals.
India may have lost this game in their inability to force the pace of run gathering in the last 10 overs. Till then, India had many pluses.
For a change Virender Sehwag scored some runs (65) and skipper Rahul Dravid ensured that India did not collapse with a brilliant half-century (52) when Australian skipper Ricky Ponting applied pressure through some crafty juggling of bowlers.
Young southpaw Suresh Raina effectively signed his death warrant by struggling to hit out against Brett Lee and Shane Watson, when cutting loose was the task assigned to him.
We did not want batsmen to come at this stage shackled by self-doubts and hit the ball straight to fielders. I wonder what our young cricketers have learnt from sports psychologist Rudy Webster.
With only five overs remaining, India could manage only 207, a score they should have managed in the 40th over.
Australian bowling, led by Glenn McGrath, did not let Indian batsmen cut loose at any given point. Whenever it appeared that India were to shift gears, Australia struck back by grabbing a wicket.
This happened throughout the innings. By the 10th over Tendulkar was out; just when Dinesh Mongia began to look confident, the Punjab batsman played a silly shot to put pressure back on India.
Then it was left to skipper Rahul Dravid to find his moorings and avoid a collapse. India were nursing ambitions of a 270-plus total then. But then again, Sehwag’s dismissal neutralized the upper hand India had.
Later, Dravid, in a desperate bid to quicken the pulse, perished. The last 10 overs were remaining then and this was an opportunity to be grabbed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
Dhoni tried his best; running hard and innovating in stroke play; he even reverse swept Watson for a boundary. Dhoni is for real, only he holds hope for the future among the young brigade.
Well, one should admit that there were no Agarkars and Pathans in the Australian bowling line up to offer juicy half volleys in the slog overs. McGrath was effective in his first spell but the 36-year-old fast bowler was superb in his final spell giving no room for extravagant stroke play.

Sehwag hits out of crisis in the middle

By John Cheeran
Like a street ruffian reclaiming his pet corner, Indian opener Virender Sehwag cemented his place in the Indian side with a swashbuckling innings of 65 against Australia in Mohali.
That was a great improvement from a man under pressure, and in a match so vital for India’s survival in the Champions Trophy, highly welcome too.
But again, Sehwag left in a situation when he should have taken the innings to a higher plane from where India's lower order batsmen could have launched an assault on Aussies.
That said, it cannot be denied how invaluable is Delhi dazzler’s contribution on Sunday.
Wicket had only a tinge of grass but it still let Australian fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Watson keep the pressure on Indians.
And just consider the fact that world's no.1 batsman Sachin Tendulkar was out of sorts, not showing that hunger for runs.
As it always happens with someone out of touch slipping back to form, Sehwag enjoyed slices of luck early in his innings. A waltz with chance, that was Sehwag’s innings out there.
To begin with, Brett Lee erred in his line in his opening spell; and then Michael Clarke’s fingers let through the chance that Sehwag offered.
Sehwag did make clear his devil-may-care attitude against Mitchell Johnson almost walking down to square leg to hit the bowler through covers for roaring boundaries. Later, Sehwag survived a run out chance when he was on 46.
Sehwag excelled on the off-side with cavalier strokes but there was nothing that proclaimed he was fully in control in the middle. I did not remember him playing the pull shot even once in the innings.
A century was there for Sehwag’s asking but he seemed hardly interested. Even skipper Rahul Dravid’s presence was not enough to calm him down.
I’m sure, questions will be asked about the man’s commitment to the larger vision of Team India again and I will be one of them..

Noose tightens around Sehwag's bat

By John Cheeran
9, 8, 1,10, 9,17. This could be the way you spell Sehwag in these troubled times.
Incidentally these numbers are the runs scored by India’s dashing opener in India’s last six matches.
There is no doubt that Sehwag has the potential to do much better. If India have struggled in the recent one-day internationals Sehwag’s failure to give a rollicking start is largely responsible. The power play (20 overs) allows carefree stroke makers such as Sehwag to play with gay abandon. But Sehwag has forgotten how to survive more than ten minutes at the crease.
The Delhi batsman seems to play with no regard for the consequences of his actions.
Sehwag should have learnt his lessons by now, that is, if he had bothered to watch skipper Rahul Dravid and young Mahendra Singh Dhoni play themselves back into form with a blend of grit and graft in Ahmedabad against West Indies.
It is quite plain that such a state of affairs cannot go on beyond a point. Only Sehwag appears to differ from this line of thought!
Sehwag might as well reach the end of his tether at Mohali today as India are engaged in a clash for survival against world champions Australia.
Sehwag owes his life in the Indian dressing room thanks to Sourav Ganguly’s ouster. Apparently Greg Chappell wants to convince Indian cricket fans that he is not against the prima donnas of Indian cricket; not here to throw out the seniors. Chappell wants to come through as a fair judge of people precisely because Ganguly episode put so much pressure on him. More than anything else, the Delhi and Delhi Cricket Association might be exerting enough pressure on the BCCI and team management to give Sehwag one more chance.
May be a loss today against Australia will give Chappell and Dravid enough room and moral courage to go for a surgery and discard band-aid solutions to set right the disorders that plague the Indian team.
Such are the blessings in disguise!

Let Dhoni open up a new age for India

By John Cheeran
Welcome to Mohali. It is time Indian batsmen came out of their comfort zones.
No wonder coach Greg Chappell gave a verbal thrashing to the big egos of the Indian side on the eve of the West Indies clash in Ahmedabad.
Even that did not work eventually.
Chappell is doing better than John Wright, who shied away from confronting the player power head on.
One thing is clear. If guys such as Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina fail to break out of the rut they are in, Chappell will not shy away from overhauling the squad for the World Cup.
It is quite unlikely that Chappell or skipper Rahul Dravid will read this blog.
Still just in case...
If I were in Chappell's shoes I would sack Sehwag from today's crunch game and promote Mahendra Singh Dhoni as opener. If Adam Gilchrist can do the job for Australia why can't MSD do it for India?
At least from what I saw in Ahmedabad, for all his faults, Dhoni at least makes an effort to learn.
And in the vacant middle order slot, I will bring in Mohammad Kaif. Considering that Yuvraj Singh is injured and out of action for quite sometime now, I will include Dinesh Mongia too in the squad. Throw out RP Singh, bring on Sreesanth and Ramesh Powar to bolster the bowling. That should do the trick for the time being.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Injuries hurt, what about defeats?

By John Cheeran
Injury to all rounder Ajit Agarkar must come as a blessing in disguise for a beleaguered Indian skipper Rahul Dravid. It has helped him to pitch for Sreesanth.
And what about Yuvraj Singh's injury?
Yuvraj has hurt his left foot during practice on Saturday.
It has caused more alarm in Indian camp. Yuvraj is not in great form but he is not in miserable touch either.
India must be hoping that physios work on Yuvraj's foot so that he can bat tomorrow against Australians.
There are many other guys in the Indian top order who deserve an injury!
Such misfortunes would have spared Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid the dilemma of dropping Virender Sehwag.
The importance of the Champions Trophy quarterfinal to be played in Mohali tomorrow cannot be overstated. Whipping Australia in a must-win situation such as this will lift the drooping shoulders of Indian cricketers and it would act as a viagra for our success-starved heroes.
Or will it be another bloodshed on the pitch?
I hope Dravid does not wait for divine intervention in the middle and goad on his players to play like champions.

When Team India beats us!

Editor's note: Enjoy this!
A judge asked a boy of separated parents. Do you want to live with your dad?
The boy said: "No, because my father beats me."
So you prefer to stay with your mother, asked the judge again. "No, my mother also beats me," said the boy.
Whom do you want to live with? asked the judge.
"I want to live with the Indian team. It beats nobody," answered the boy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sreesanth to answer India's call

By John Cheeran
I don't think any one man can make a huge difference to Indian cricket team's fortunes now.
National selectors have called up fast bowler S Sreesanth for India's remaining Champions Trophy encounter against world champions Australia.
This indeed is a surprising move, an admission of desperation from the team management of Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid.
India's four-man pace attack, except for Munaf Patel, was collared by Chris Gayle and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, in the crucial match against the West Indies on Thursday.
Sreesanth, who deserved a place in the squad in the first place, now replaces Mumbai all-rounder Ajit Agarkar.
Kerala pacer should have been in the Champions Trophy team considering the woeful form of Irfan Pathan and an often lacklustre R.P. Singh.
Sreesanth, however, had taken selectors' decision in his stride and now gets a great opportunity to grab a spot in the World Cup squad against Australia.
To say that skipper Dravid missed Sreesanth's aggressive approach to bowling against West Indies will be an understatement. Someone to support Munaf in the early overs would have made West Indies batsmen hopping.
Now we can only hope that India come up with something extra-ordinary to stop Ricky Ponting and company.

email, email, email!

By John Cheeran
In the good old days, Kerala was not a hot bed for terrorism.
It is fast becoming so.
Immediately after former Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony taking over charge as Union Defence Minister, another email threat has come from Cochin in Kerala.
The message warns the state police authorities that the senders will assassinate Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he visits Kerala in November for an official function.
I'm not surprised at all.
I have expressed my fears that Kerala is turning into Afghanistan in at least some districts.
The spate of email threats that Kerala witnessed in recent times is another pointer towards that.

Champions Trophy: India's cup of woes overflows

By John Cheeran
Indian captain Rahul Dravid has a serious problem at hand, that is, how to get back to winning ways.
For the time being, India stays alive in the Champions Trophy but the three wicket loss the team suffered against the West Indies in Ahmedabad cannot be ignored.
India run into Australia on Sunday in what now happens to be a quarterfinal.
Brian Lara and West Indies can take pride from the fact that they have maintained the psychological edge over India.
Indian batsmen and bowlers can no longer blame alien playing conditions for the defeats. West Indies have beaten India in West Indies, in Kuala Lumpur and now in India...
In the context of the match, I would not lash at Indian batting beyond a point.
Whatever Dravid would like us to believe, (in his post-match comments Dravid again supported his bowlers) it was Indian seamers Irfan Pathan, RP Singh and Ajit Agarkar who gave the match on a platter to Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Munaf Patel bowled splendidly but he did not receive any support from his listless co-pacers..
It did not help matters that Dravid left out off spinner Ramesh Powar from his game plan and brought in a quick bowler for this clash.
Had Indian bowlers struck early, India could have won this match easily.
Just consider the tumble of wickets towards the end of the West Indian innings. It created a bit of a stir but things happened very, very late.
Finally about batting.
Skipper Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are back among the runs. If not for Dravid's tragic run out, precipitated by a call from Dhoni, things would have taken a happy turn for India. But a winning team is the one which can take such calamities in its stride.
What about the rest?
Who would bell Virender Sehwag?
Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, coach Greg Chappell or Dravid himself?
It is absolutely evident that India is not benefiting from Sehwag's continued presence whether as an opener or in lower middle order. Sehwag has frittered all opportunities to redeem himself and it would be suicidal to launch the World Cup campaign with such tattered sails at the top.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hanging Arundhati Roy's arguments

By John Cheeran
When Arundhati Roy’s celebrated Booker Prize winning novel God of Small Things was published few dared to criticize her work.
In Kerala, where the story was unfolding, journalist and novelist M.P. Narayana Pilla pointed out what a bad writing God of Small Things amounted to.
In the first paragraph of the book, Arundhati wrote about ‘black crows’. Narayana Pilla asked who doesn’t know crows are black? Then why say it so?
That is to just to tell the liberties she takes with the written word.
Arundhati Roy has raved again, again in Outlook magazine.
Readers have wondered why Arundhati has not written any novels since winning the Booker Prize. They are mistaken. Arundhati Roy is capable only of fiction.
She has a problem in looking at facts in their face.
She dug up fiction from the debris of Gujarat riots and Outlook and carried it in the past. Arundhati had cooked up burnt alive scenes of an MP’s daughters who were not in India at the time. It was right-wing journalist Balbir Punj who nailed her lie.
Now Arundhati has taken up cudgels on behalf of terrorist Mohammad Afzal, who has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13. Thank God, Arundhati, unlike her friend Iranian President Ahmadinejad who keeps on denying the holocaust, has not said we, the Indians, were hallucinating on December 13, 2001.
She has not said Indian Parliament was not attacked.
She, however, screams that Afzal should not be hanged. (So that India should waste more money by feeding Afzal biryani and keeping alive him in the safe confince of Indian prison..In her Outlook essay Arundhai has done some quick maths and says India wasted an estimated Rs10,000 crore of public money during the tense period in the aftermath of Parliament attack. Spending money to defend the country is bad, but terrorists can be kept alive on taxpayers' money...Thank you very much ..)
Arundhati’s feeble argument goes like this. Let me quote her from Outlook.
“In its August 4, 2005, judgement, the Supreme Court clearly says that there was no evidence that Mohammad Afzal belonged to any terrorist group or organization. But it also says “As is the case with most of the conspiracies, there is and could be no direct evidence of the agreement amounting to criminal conspiracy. However, the circumstances, cumulatively weighed, would unerringly point to the collaboration of the accused Afzal with the slain fidayeen terrorists.
So: No direct evidence, but yes, circumstantial evidence.” Quote ends.
So Arundhati, what’s wrong in sentencing someone on the basis of circumstantial evidence?
Every day in India judges separate wheat from chaff based on circumstantial evidence.
It is well documented that Afzal had a background of terrorism and is a surrendered militant. Arundhati is unable to find fault with Supreme Court’s judgement but asks why we should we sentence terrorists at all.
She immediately discusses the morality of death sentence.
Why she has taken up the morality of death sentence only now? Because this is a god-send opportunity to grab the attention of the international media and cheap applause from the Muslim community. Where was she when other executions were happening right across India? Is Mohammad Afzal the first one to be hanged till death since Arundhati came of age?
She writes in Outlook that Supreme Court has observed that “The appellant, who is a surrendered militant and who was bent upon repeating the acts of treason against the nation, is a menace to the society and his life should become extinct.”
To counter this observation of Supreme Court Arundhati says: “They (a small but influential minority of intellectuals) see again she subtly throws in the word minority!!) argue that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that the Death Sentence works a deterrent terrorists.
How can it, when, in this age of fidayeen and suicide bombers, death seems to be the main attraction?"
At this point, Outlook Editor Vinod Mehta should have spiked this ridiculous piece. Here Arundhati says it is tough to resist the temptations of death. If that is the case, why all the fuss about hanging a potential suicide bomber and a proven plotter with a track record of militancy in Kashmir?
In any case, Afzals of this world are ready to destroy themselves so that they can destroy others. So why this hue and cry when Indian state decides to punish its assailants?
Arundhati Roy has asserted in her Outlook piece that India is an occupying power in Kashmir. Let me quote her : “On the whole, most of Kashmiris see Mohammad Afzal as a sort of prisoner-of-war being tried in the courts of an occupying power. (Which it undoubtedly is.)Quote ends..
So Arundhati Roy, has no doubt that India is occupying power in Kashmir!
I don’t think so. .
Indian government does not think so. Indian people do not think so.
Arundhati, this is not reason, but treason. Being the smart ass she is, Arundhati pretty well knows that to call India an occupying power in Kashmir is the easiest way to international stardom.
It has become easy and charming to be a traitor in India.
India, however, should treat its writers with care. Especially those who can't tell apart fact from fiction.
Turkey put Orhan Pamuk on trial for insulting what they call Turkishness.
We do not need a trial to determine that Arundhati has insulted Indian-ness by denying India's sovereignty over Kashmir, when she called the nation an occupying power.
It would be enough for us to understand her crime and hang Afzal till his death.
Long live India!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

India go for another dance with chance

By John Cheeran
India return to battlefield in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
They should win against the West Indies to stay alive in the Champions Trophy.
Except for a few, Indian players are veterans of the international circuit and that makes them philosophers when they sit together and stare at victory or in many cases, defeat.
For them, it is just another match. Up to a point that approach has its own merits.
Reputations have been ripped apart in this Champions Trophy. World champions Australia were beaten by the defending champions the West Indies.
India outclassed Ashes heroes England. Sri Lanka, the team that walloped West Indies in their last qualifier and enjoyed a winning streak, was outmaneuvered by a faithful Pakistan.
Such results have kept the semifinal spots up for grabs so far in both groups. So what surprise, Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell, have planned for West Indies?
It is high time India set their one-day record straight against West Indies. They lost in the Caribbean and they again lost in Kuala Lumpur. West Indies now have a quality pace attack and India’s illustrious top order should better get their act together.
I hope Dravid has time to pay attention to the fact that West Indies have beaten world champions twice in a span of few weeks. That alone should make Brian Lara and company dangerous opponents.
Over the years, West Indies batsmen have improved their skills against spinners and Dravid will have to win the toss and field first to make better use of Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar. In dewy conditions spinners tend to struggle to grip the ball.
Despite giving due reverence to factors such as pitch, dew and toss, the first lesson in limited overs cricket should not be forgotten either.
Batsmen win these dances with chances.

Prayer and Player: Inzamam defends faith

By John Cheeran
The Koran vs nandrolone debate is raging in Pakistan cricket.
It is important for anyone, for that matter any team, to decide when prayer has to end and play has to begin.
Prayer should not be a substitute for player.
I had written about the religious card being played by Pakistan's current captain Younis Khan at a time of adversity. Younis gloated over his side's win over Sri Lanka in Jaipur in the Champions Trophy. "We are a Muslim team," Younis had said then.
It is important to remember that when Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992 for the first and last time in Melbourne, the then captain Imran Khan did not give credit to Almighty.
Well, Imran did not say then they are a Muslim team.
On Tuesday, Inzamam-ul-Haq, who played a very crucial role in Pakistan's World Cup triumph in 1992, had to defend the role of Islam in Pakistan cricket.
Inzamam dismissed concerns about the increased influence of Islam on Pakistan's cricketers, adding that he had never forced anyone to pray or grow a beard. Inzamam refuted comments made by new Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf regarding finding a balance between players' faith and sporting activities, and that players should not feel under pressure to be religious.
"I have never forced anyone to offer prayers, nor have I linked selection in the team to religion. This is not correct at all," Inzamam said on Tuesday in an interview with the BBC's Urdu service.
"Those who are saying these things have never offered prayers, nor have they any link to Islam, which does not force anyone. Look at the players yourself. Just three players who toured England -Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi and myself, have beards, and our prayers and religious activities have never stopped a match," added the 36-year-old.
Ashraf, who recently took over from Shaharyar Khan as PCB chief, had commented on the religion question last week in a television interview with CNBC Pakistan.
"There is no doubt their religious faith is a motivating factor in the team. It binds them together. But there should be a balance between religion and cricket," Ashraf said.
The chairman also said he had told Inzamam "clearly that there should be no pressure on players who don't pray regularly, or any compulsion on them to do it under pressure".
"I have told him there should be no perception among players that if they don't pray they will not be in the team and Inzamam has assured me there is no pressure on anyone to do anything they don't want to do," Ashraf added.
It is indeed heartening that the chief of Pakistan board is keen to put some sense back into the dressing room. Inzamam, definitely, is feeling the heat after Ashraf has taken over the reins of the PCB.
Ashraf had squarely blamed Inzamam for precipitating the Oval Test fiasco, and it is quite unlikely that Inzamam will be reinstated as captain of the side now.
The issue of religion in Pakistan cricket arose last year when batsman Yousuf converted to Islam from Christianity, changed his name from Yousuf Youhana, grew a beard and started bowing on the pitch after making big scores.
Pakistan cricketers were typified by playboy and legendary all-rounder Imran Khan in the 1980s, who has become increasingly devout in his new career as a politician. Following the death of his daughter in 2001, former opening batsman Saeed Anwar joined a preaching group, which turned more teammates towards religion.
These players included former spinners Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq, who now sport beards and preach Islam in England, while Anwar also persuaded Yousuf to convert from Christianity.
The Pakistani players attend religious congregations on a regular basis and are often seen offering prayers in public, as well as having a special prayer room set up in their hotels.

Again, Saint Antony!

By John Cheeran
A K Antony, that humble politician from Kerala, has been picked by Congress high priestess Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to head the defence portfolio in the Union Cabinet.
So A. K. Antony will be handling the affairs of A.K.47 henceforth.
Kerala had supplied India a legendary defence minister when Jawaharlal Nehru ruled India. V.K. Krishna Menon's illustrious career, however, lost much of its sheen in the aftermath of Chinese war.
The gulf between V.K. and A.K. is too big to be bridged.
And it would be foolish to expect Antony to climb the heights Krishna occupied.
For one thing, Krishna had the absolute trust of Nehru. But he was never a yes man to Nehru.
Antony, even after betraying Indira Gandhi in the post-emergency phase, worked his way through to Indira-Sonia camp playing the loyalty card.
Antony, I'm told, is a politician who upholds principles.
Through a series of perfectly timed resignations Antony has assiduously built an image of saint who has no lust for the temptations of power.
The last time Antony resigned he was the chief minister of Kerala. Antony resigned when the United Democratic Front suffered a bruising defeat in the elections to the Parliament. It could have been called anything but a resignation.
Antony had resigned in the past owning up moral responsibility, a curious phrase to be employed in power politics.
But Antony's proclivity for resignations is nothing but a lack of guts to fight and set the system right. And in the Defence Ministry where murky deals are made and unmade Antony should be prepared to do a clean up operation rather than washing his hands off.
Antony himself is above corruption.
But he will have to display immense political will to make a difference to his new role. Antony will do good to remember that the decline of Congress (I) began with a defence deal (Bofors) that came out into open thanks to an intrepid V.P. Singh's intervention.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kalam, Tighten the noose around Afzal

By John Cheeran
President APJ Abdul Kalam owes an apology to nation for his in action and there by giving an extended lease of life to the terrorist Mohammad Afzal Guru, sentenced for death by Supreme Court of India.
Afzal was to be hanged on October 20.
Four days have gone past the deadline. Kalam had asked for the Law Ministry’s opinion on the mercy plea submitted on Afzal’s behalf.
It is more than a fortnight since the Law Ministry gave its verdict, saying that there is no need for setting aside the death sentence. In this period, it has to be noted that the Supreme Court had made it clear that even if President grants the mercy plea, it will be subject to judicial review.
So what’s the President waiting for?
Is he waiting for a revelation from above or another series of terrorist violence to rock India so that Indian citizens storm the central prison and execute Supreme Court’s verdict?
I have a feeling that Abdul Kalam was not keen to reject the mercy plea during Ramadan. Apparently he is scared of his co-religionists and does not want to go down as someone who betrayed his faith…Now even Ramadan is over.
Mr President, please tighten the noose around those who savaged the nation.
If not, step down from your pedestal and walk into the sunset.

Top ten things....

Top ten things that sound dirty but in a law firm, are not..
10. Have you looked through her briefs?
9. He is one hard judge.
8. Counselor, let's do it in chambers.
7. Her attorney withdrew at the last minute.
6 Is it a penal offence?
5. Better leave the handcuffs on.
4. For $200 an hour, she better be good!
3. Can you get him to drop his suit?
2. The judge gave her the stiffest one he could.
And the number 1 thing that sounds dirty but in law isn't
1. Think you can get me off?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Have a laugh..Sardar jokes

Editor's note: I mean no offence to sardars...
Just enjoy!
Sardar joined new job. 1st day he worked till late evening on the computer.
Boss was happy and asked what you did till evening.
Sardar: Keyboard alphabets were not in order, so I made it alright.
On a romantic day Sardar's girlfriend asks him. Darling on our engagement day will you give me a ring.
Sardar: Ya sure, from landline or mobile.

Doctor to patient: You will die within 2 hours.
Do you want to see any one before you die? Patient: Yes. A good doctor.

Two Sardars were fixing a bomb in a car. Sardar 1: What would you do if the bomb explodes while fixing. Sardar 2: Don't worry, I have one more.

Sardar was busy removing a wheel from his auto. A man asks Sardar why are you removing a wheel from your auto. Sardar: Cant you read the board. Parking is only for 2 wheeler.

Sardar: What is the name of your car ? Lady: I forgot the name, but is starts with "T".
Sardar: Oye Kamaal ki gaadi hai, Tea se start hoti hai. Hamaara gaadi petrol se start hoti hai.

Boss: Where were you born ?
Sardar: Punjab. Boss: Which part ? Sardar: Kya which part? Whole body born in Punjab.

How will you destroy a submarine full of Sardars?
Simple. Just knock the door and they will open it.

Have a laugh...more

For a couple of years I ve been blaming it on lack of sleep, not enough sunshine, too much pressure from my job, ear wax build-up, poor blood or anything else I could think of.
But now I found out the real reason: I' m tired because I'm overworked.
Here' s why: The population of this country is 273 million
140million are retired That leaves 133 million to do the work. There are 85 million in school That leaves 48 million to do the work. Of this 29 million are employed by the Federal government.
That leaves 19 million to do the work. 2.8 million are in armed forces preoccupied with killing Bin Laden. That leaves 16.2million to do the work. 14,800,000 work for State and City governments.
That leaves 1.4 million to do the work. At anytime 188,000 people are in hospital. That leaves just 1,212,000 to do the work. As of today, 1,211,998 people are in prison.
That leaves just 2 people to do the work. You and Me.
And there you are sitting on your butt, at your computer reading jokes.
That leaves just me to do all the work.

Have a laugh...Indian Hell!

An Indian dies and goes to hell.
There he finds that there is a different hell for each country.
He goes to the German hell and asks, "What do they do here?" He is told, "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day."
The man does not like the sound of that at all, so he moves on. He checks out the USA hell as well as the Russian hell and many more. He discovers that they are all more or less the same as the German hell.
Then he comes to the Indian hell and finds that there is a long line of people waiting to get in. Amazed, he asks, "What do they do here?" He is told, "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the Indian devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day."
But that is exactly the same as all the other hells - why are there so many people waiting to get in?"
Because maintenance is so bad that the electric chair does not work, someone has stolen all the nails from the bed, and the devil is a former Govt servant, so he comes in, signs the register and then goes to the canteen.

1999 World Cup: Fixing the fixers!

By John Cheeran
During the 1999 World Cup, held in England in the backdrop of match-fixing allegations raised by former Indian all rounder Manoj Prabhakar, the most newsworthy story came when Bangladesh beat Pakistan in a group match.
We glossed it over, in a rare show of Asian solidarity, describing it as the coming of age of Bangladesh as a cricketing power.
I was reporting the tournament for a New Delhi newspaper but not covering this match.
To put it right, Bangladesh did not just defeat Pakistan; they stunned the entire cricketing world. They won the Test ticket based on that one day.
Eventually, in the incestuous world of cricket, everything was forgotten.
To recall that Pakistan lost to two of its dreaded enemies in the political spectrum (Bangladesh and India, two nations that defeated Pakistan in a military battle) in that World Cup is a disturbing pointer to the havoc bookies can wreak in cricket.
The lid on match-fixing was taken off a little later in 2000 by Delhi Police. But during the 1999 World Cup Mohammad Azharuddin was Indian captain; Wasim Akram led Pakistan. I also cannot forget that Akram was humiliated for losing the final to Australia but Azharuddin got a hero’s welcome for pulling off a win (by hook or crook!) against Pakistan in Manchester at a time when Indian army was fighting Pakistan in Kargil.
In hindsight, was it a coincidence that when India defeated Pakistan on four occasions in World Cup and on the first three instances (1992, 1996 and 1999) Azharuddin led India?
Now Delhi Police have got enough leads to raise doubts about bookies’ involvement in 1999 World Cup. Delhi police are probing whether matches held in England were fixed by gambling syndicates and have requested the assistance of Scotland Yard to dig deeper.
Video footage of South Africa's matches during the 1999 World Cup and the UK bank accounts and telephone records of the former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje have been requested by the Delhi investigators.
In 2000, April Cronje admitted accepting bribes from gambling syndicates.
Before being banned for life and later dying in a plane crash, he was the subject ofthe King Commission set up by South Africa to investigate the bribery claims. The King Commission, however, did not focus on any of the matches in the 1999 World Cup.
Bangladesh's win over Pakistan has attracted lot of attention.
South Africa's loss to Zimbabwe and a Super Series match between India and Pakistan are getting more attention. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh won when their opponents had already assured qualification.
The Indian sleuths want more information on the dealings of Cronje and Sanjeev Chawla, an Indian national living in London. Tapped telephone conversations between the two men in 2000 led Delhi police to believe thatChawla was negotiating with Cronje to fix South Africa's matches in India.
During the King Commission Cronje admitted accepting bribes from gambling syndicates to help to fix matches and individual batting scores, notably an 8,000 pounds fee to ensure his team lost a one-day international against Indiain Nagpur in March 2000.
Gibbs, his opening batsman, later admitted having agreed to accept 8,000 pounds in exchange for scoring 20 runs or less and was banned for six months.
Gibbs, who is back playing for South Africa, was questioned by Delhi Police this week. It is believed he has not told the police anything new. Asked if he knew whether Cronje fixed the matches in Britain, Gibbs said he did not know but admitted that Cronje had lied when he told the King Commission that he had never approached team-mates to throw a game for cash. Concerning the 1999 tournament in England, detectives believe that earpieces and microphones worn by Cronje and other players are an indication that South Africa's match against India at Hove, won by South Africa, was fixed.

Sorrow Trophy for Kerala!

By John Cheeran
After the shootout, comes Bharatha vakyam.
Kerala’s Santosh Trophy team coach Bharathan says his directives were disregarded during the shootout against West Bengal in the semifinal on Sunday. Bharathan says he had told captain Abdul Hakeem to get N P Pradeep to take the first spot kick.
Incidentally, Kerala’s first spot kick was taken by Rajesh, and his shot found the upright without resulting in a goal.
Defeat is an orphan.
It is no surprise then that there is none brave enough to come forward and take responsibility for Kerala’s semifinal loss.
Coach says senior players did not pay attention to his suggestions. He also blamed frontliners for frittering away opportunities. I admit that coach has limitations. Players should control the situations as the game evolves.
All along the campaign, those who were closer to the Kerala camp were saying that defence was Kerala’s weakest link, and attack the most effective. In modern football midfield step up for attack and there was reasons to believe that Kerala had enough firepower to rattle the rivals.
Critics had pointed out that rivals had managed to crack open Kerala’s defence at least once to score in each match they played in the tournament.
But the final proved just the opposite. For 120 minutes Kerala defence kept Bengal’s neat and nifty attackers at bay not conceding a goal.
Defeat itself is disappointing. Disharmony between coach and players add to the wounds inflicted by a senseless shootout.What a painful retreat it is going to be for Kerala’s army from India’s capital.

Santosh Trophy: Kerala lose in shootout

By John Cheeran
Wasted chances will haunt Kerala skipper Abdul Hakeem in the years to come as Kerala lost their battle for Santosh Trophy, midway in the semifinal, to West Bengal in Haryana on Sunday night.
Kerala lost when full time and extra time did not throw up any goals and the match went into penalty shootout (2-4.)
Bengal will meet Punjab in the 61st Santosh Trophy final.
In the shoot out, Kerala's R Rajesh and Jaseer Karnath could not control their shots and they hit the upright. Bengal displayed their professional edge by slotting home all four of their shots. It was Lenal Thomas and N Pradeep who found the target for Kerala.
Dipendu Biswas, Sanjeev Maria, Suman Dutta and Shyam Mondal scored for Bengal.
In the first semifinal played earlier in the day, Punjab defeated last year's finalists Maharashtra 2-1.
In the first half, Kerala and Bengal tried to go for the goal. Bengal started brightly as Avinash Thapa hit over the bar only in the second minute. Syed Rahim Nabi, who was the driving force for the team in the match against Punjab, continued the good work, but failed to test Jean Christian in the Kerala goal in the eighth minute.
Kerala, braving the chill, slowly came back into the game. But all their efforts were not good enough on this day.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Give Azharuddin a preacher's role

By John Cheeran
Mohammad Azharuddin is in news again. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is discussing the possibilities of lifting the life ban imposed on the former Indian captain for his role in cricket match-fixing.
Azharuddin’s innocence in the match-fixing episode is debatable.
To err is human, Azharuddin is human, and circumstantial evidence suggested that Azharuddin maintained close links with bookies and fixers. May be the degree of Azhar’s involvement can be debatable, but it is a disgrace that he entertained such friends to the detriment of team spirit and spirit of sport itself.
Azharuddin’s act attained gravity considering that he was India’s captain.
And he was such a naïve man, ignorant of his historical significance as the symbol of India’s secularism in a turbulent time in independent India.
Azharuddin betrayed Indian cricket; may be others too have betrayed Indian cricket, and just because they wriggled out of the information net, that should not set Azharuddin free of his burden.
BCCI is planning to lift the ban on Azharuddin only to settle a score with International Cricket Council. Sharad Pawar and Lalit Modi are wise men and they may do as they please.
The biggest factor that may work in favour of Azharuddin is his studied silence on the issue. Apparently, the innocent boy from Hyderabad knows much more about match-fixing than he ever confessed to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He was expected to shock and awe Indian cricket, by naming some of the big guns who co-operated with him.
Azharuddin, however, has kept his vow of silence.
Azharuddin can be touchable again in Indian cricket, thanks to BCCI’s generosity.
If that is the case, BCCI should give Azharuddin a preacher’s role.
A role in which, a prodigal son talks to young Indian cricketers of the temptations of easy money in sport.

Friday, October 20, 2006

See you again Sreevidya

By John Cheeran
The best thing about life is that it ends at some point unlike our 24x7 news channels.
Sreevidya, the celebrated Indian movie actress, died in Thiruvananthapurm on Thursday. She was 53.
Doctors said Sreevidya, a by word for beauty in God's Own Country, was battling cancer for more than two years.
But I fear much more than cancer, it was loneliness that contributed to her full stop.
After a refulgent career in movies she had turned to her first love, classical music, to combat loneliness and cancer. She became a devotee and when death came she must have been fully rehearsed for the final take.
Sreevidya was not a natural Malayali. (Her parents were Tamilians) And that alone tells us why she did not end up as a hypocrite when it came to tackling life head on.
Sreevidya's screen roles often were of sacrifice and selfless love. A weeping wife, a heart-broken beloved and a helpless sister.
Unreal ones, one must say. Where do we find such characters in life ?
But all of us loved her for just being that woman who we could not find next door, and the door next to that...
Sreevidya was bold and foolish at the same time.
She married her love, George Thomas, at a time when it was not easy for a Brahmin lady to marry outside her caste and religion. And she suffered.
She was bitter and had reasons to be so. But it was Sreevidya's greatness that she did not show traces of her sorrow to people like us.
Sreevidya was a soulful actress. She leaves behind her hundredes of roles.
The most precious thing among them was her life it self.
Thank you, and see you...

A fillip for investigative journalism

Editor's note: A verdict from Britain which can be useful for journalists in India too. Read the good news..
From Index on Censorship
In a landmark ruling likely to set a vital precedent in similar cases, Britain's highest court, the House of Lords, has ruled in favour of a public interest defence for defamations contained in important stories -and this defence can only be lost by editors who act irresponsibly.
The 11 October ruling follows an appeal by The Wall Street Journal Europe against a High Court judge's decision, supported by three Court of Appeal judges, that it should pay £40,000 damages to a billionaire Saudi car dealer, Mohammed Jameel.
The paper's 6 February 2002 front page story - "Saudi Officials Monitor Certain Bank Accounts" - said that bank accounts associated with a number of prominent Saudi citizens, including Jameel's family and its businesses, had been monitored by Saudi authorities at the request of US authorities. The aim of the monitoring was to ensure that no money was provided, intentionally or otherwise to support terrorists.
The Wall Street Journal Europe had published the Jameel name, amongst others, not to accuse the plaintiffs in this case of terrorist involvement, but to show that the Saudis were co-operating with the U.S. in the war on terror by agreeing to monitor the bank accounts of some of their most powerful and wealthy citizens.
The newspaper argued that it could not prove the truth of this story because its sources in Riyadh were afraid of reprisals from Saudi authorities if they testified, although their information had been confirmed in Washington through a confidential source within the US Treasury who also could not be identified.
The trial judge, Eady J, ruled that publication of the story was not in the public interest because it breached an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi government to keep the monitoring secret. He applied a long-standing English legal rule that the defamation could only be defended if there was an urgent moral duty to publish it.
The Law Lords, however, ruled that the media were not bound by government secrecy: "It is no part of the duty of the press to co-operate with any government, let alone foreign governments, whether friendly or not, in order to keep from the public information of public interest the disclosure of which cannot be said to be damaging to national interests."
They went on to rule that The Wall Street Journal Europe had been entitled to publish the story, despite its defamation of Jameel, to show the extent of Saudi co-operation on the war on terror.
The judges said that where the topic of a media investigation was of public importance, relevant allegations that could not subsequently be proved true should not attract libel damages if they had been published responsibly. The media was entitled to publish defamatory allegations as part of its duty of neutral reporting of news, or if, after investigation, they were believed to have substance and to raise matters of public interest.
The five Law Lords were unanimous in their ruling. The leading judgment was given by Lord Hoffman, supported by Lord Scott and Baroness Hale, and was intended to remove the risk that had hitherto attended newspaper investigation into matters of public concern " which could be construed as reflecting badly on public figures".

In the Line of Fire: A Pack (Pak) of Lies!

Editor's note: Everyone interested in India and democracy should read this review of Pakistani General Musharaff's book "In the Line of Fire" by Tunku Varadarajan.
Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal.

An 'Ally' With His Own Agenda
By Tunku Varadarajan in Wall Street Journal
Toward the end of "In the Line of Fire"--in a chapter on the emancipation of women that has all the passion of a government circular--Pervez Musharraf writes that "rape, no matter where it happens in the world, is a tragedy and deeply traumatic for the victim.
My heart, therefore, goes out to Mukhtaran Mai and any woman to whom such a fate befalls." Ms. Mukhtaran is a woman from a benighted village in Gen. Musharraf's Pakistan. After her brother broke a taboo by having a (consensual) sexual relationship with a woman from a tribe deemed superior to his own, a village tribunal decreed that the brothers of the higher-status woman could right this wrong by having their way with Ms. Mukhtaran.
Gen. Musharraf relates in his book that Ms. Mukhtaran was dragged into a room and "came out visibly ruffled and partly undressed"--which is one way to describe a woman's state after gang rape.
Generals are allowed to be coy, occasionally, I suppose.Yet so coy is this general that he does not tell us that he--the omnipotent chief executive of Pakistan--ordered a travel ban on Ms. Mukhtaran when an NGO wished to fly her to the U.S. to publicize her plight.
He did not, he said last year, want her "to bad-mouth Pakistan" abroad. Not content with muzzling Ms. Mukhtaran--a woman who had, through her fight for justice, become a genuine Pakistani heroine and a force for social good--Gen. Musharraf told the editorial board of the Washington Post last year that rape had become "a money-making concern" in Pakistan.
"A lot of people say that if you want to go abroad and get a visa from Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."
This jaunty little aperçu about entrepreneurial rape doesn't appear on the pages of "In the Line of Fire." Indeed, there's much else that is missing from Gen. Musharraf's account of his life and times. The book is not so much an autobiography as a highly selective auto-hagiography, by turns self-congratulatory, narcissistic and mendacious.
And yet, at a certain level, the general deserves our thanks, for no one can possibly read "In the Line of Fire" and maintain the illusion that Gen. Musharraf offers a template for enlightened rule--unless, of course, one is Robert Rubin, the former U.S. Treasury secretary, who cooed these words at a recent love-in for the general at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York: "There is a very, very good chapter in this book about economic policy. I suggest to President Musharraf when he finishes in Pakistan he should come and govern here for a while."
Ac atalog of the book's omissions and revisionisms would require a book in itself, but two stand out as especially egregious.
The first is his account of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl--whom he describes gratuitously as "a citizen of both the United States and Israel," even though Pearl was in Pakistan on an American passport and working for an American newspaper (The Wall Street Journal)
Gen. Musharraf neglects to mention that Omar Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind behind Pearl's kidnapping, turned himself in to Brigadier Ijaz Shah--the home secretary of the Punjab, a former spook of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and a bosom buddy of Gen. Musharraf--a whole week before Sheikh's "arrest" was announced by the police.
What was Sheikh doing with Brig. Shah and why has Gen. Musharraf never acknowledged this week-long ISI cocoon?
The book doesn't deign to tell us. The second distorting omission concerns India. Gen. Musharraf makes no mention in his book of the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, conducted by a terrorist group based in Pakistan and armed by the ISI.
Instead he writes merely of "war hysteria" in early 2002, as if India's ire came from nowhere. Typically, he spins the episode his way, in a comic passage of machismo: "We went through a period of extreme tension throughout 2002, when Indian troops amassed on our borders during a hair-trigger, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. We responded by moving all our forces forward. The standoff lasted ten months. Then the Indians blinked and quite ignominiously agreed to a mutual withdrawal of forces."
My advice to readers is this: Believe little of what you read in "In the Line of Fire."
News accounts have made much of the book's claim that Richard Armitage, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, told a Pakistani official after 9/11 that the U.S. would bomb Pakistan back into the Stone Age if it did not collaborate in the quest for Osama bin Laden. This threat is almost certainly pure Musharraf fiction.
There is another fatuous passage where the general writes of the death in an airplane explosion of Zia-ul-Haq, a predecessor as military dictator: "The black box was recovered but gave no indication of a problem. It seems likely that gases were used to disable the pilots. But who unleashed them, we don'tknow. I have my suspicions, though."
So who killed Zia, and why are we kept, soap-operatically, on tenterhooks by Gen. Musharraf? Was it the CIA or the Russians, India or the Mossad? Or was it little green men?
Perhaps we must wait for the sequel to this book for all to be revealed. Though there's much the book doesn't tell us, it does offer invaluable (and frequently hilarious) insights into the levels of delusion that a man may reach when he is accountable to no one, elected by no one and trusted by no one.
Self-preservation, here, becomes paramount--democracy be damned. The general is quick to dismiss Pakistan's elected governments as "sham democracy." He offers himself as an antidote: a true patriot who is "putting the system right"--in his own sweet time.
The only patsies to have swallowed this line are those who inhabit the upper reaches of the Bush administration.
Gen. Musharraf has played the Americans beautifully. Anyone who could incriminate him has been placed out of reach. A.Q. Khan, for instance, conveniently dubbed a "rogue" nuclear scientist, was publicly scolded by Gen. Musharraf in a gaudy show of theatrics; but no American has been allowed to question him.
And it is incredible to claim, as Gen. Musharraf has done, that a military command responsible for approving the foreign tours of nuclear scientists and providing security for Pakistan's nuclear establishments knew nothing of Khan's proliferation activities.
After five years of Pakistani collaboration with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, not one Taliban leader of consequence has been captured or killed. Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, cries himself hoarse over the Taliban functioning out of Pakistan's western regions and he is treated with open ridicule by Gen. Musharraf.
There is precious little, however, that George W. Bush can do about this: He cannot now admit that a man he has called his "ally" for the past five years has been double-crossing him nearly every minute of that time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What sort of a country is Pakistan?

By John Cheeran
I would like to reproduce here a letter published in International Herald Tribune, on October 17.
The writer asks some valid questions and all those Pakistan lovers all over the world have an obligation to answer these questions....

"Rape as Punishment"
Regarding the news article in Pakistan rape cases, stigma, but little justice (Oct.13).
What sort of country is Pakistan that it can tolerate premeditated rape of women as punishment of a "wrong" perpetrated by somebody else?
What sort of men can even contemplate. let alone, commit such crimes?
Where are the howls of protest from Muslim leaders in Pakistan?
Where is the decisive action from Pakistan's authorities? These practices should be unequivocally condemned and eradicated.
No matter what the social or historical context, rape as a punishment is barbaric and simply must not be tolerated in any society that considers itself part of the community of nations. How can any Pakistani leader hold his head up while these awful crimes continue?
from Neil M. D. Russell, Hong Kong...

Any answers?

Have a laugh...Why are men happier?

Why ARE Men Happier?
Men Are Just Happier People.
What do you expect from such simple creatures?
Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack.
You can be President. You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too dirty.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress costs $5000. A Tux rental is only $100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. You have one mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life.
Your belly usually hides your big hips. You need only one wallet and one pair of shoes.
You want only one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look! You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes. You don't freak out when you go to a party and see another man wearing the same shirt, instead you become buddies.
No WONDER men are happier..

Have a laugh...2

Definition of kiss
Prof .of Economics Kiss is that thing for which the demand is aways higher than the supply.
Prof. of Accountancy Kiss is a credit because it is profitable when returned.
Prof. of Algebra Kiss is infinity because two divided by nothing.
Prof. of Geometry Kiss is the shortest distance between two lips.
Prof. of Physics Kiss is the contraction of mouth due to the expansion of the heart.
Prof. of Chemistry Kiss is the reaction of the interaction between two hearts.
Prof. of Zoology Kiss is the interchange of salivary bacteria.
Prof. of Physiology Kiss is the juxtaposition of two orbicularisoris muscles in the state of contraction.
Prof. of Dentistry Kiss is infectious and antiseptic.
Prof. of Philosophy Kiss is the persecution for the child, ecstasy for the youth and homage for the old.
Prof. of English Kiss is a noun that is used as a conjunction, it is more common than proper, it is spoken in the plural and it is applicable to all.
Prof. of Architecture Kiss is a process which builds a solid bond between the two dynamic objects
Prof. of Comp.Science What is a kiss? It seems to be an undefined variable

Have a laugh....1

Editor's note: I'm desperately in need of humour.
I have found some jokes swirling on the net and thought posting them here would help spread the cheer around...

On marriage
I recently read that love is entirely a matter of chemistry.
That must be why my wife treats me like toxic waste. -David Bissonette
By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. -Socrates
Woman inspires us to great things, and prevents us from achieving them. -Dumas
The great question... which I have not been able to answer... is, "What does a woman want?
-Sigmund Freud
I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me. -Anonymous
"I don't worry about terrorism. I was married for two years." -Sam Kinison
"There's a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It's called marriage." -James Holt McGavran
"I've had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me and the second one didn't."
-Patrick Murray
Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming 1. Whenever you're wrong, Admit it,
2. Whenever you're right, shut up. -Nash
You know what I did before I married? Anything I wanted to. -Henny Youngman
A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong. -Milton Berle

Is the world of cricket being flattened?

By John Cheeran
Ah, cricket!
What a wonderful sport it is.
A team that was shot out for 80 the other day in Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium against Sri Lanka has bounced back to defeat world champions Australia in a convincing manner on Wednesday.
That is a quite a transformation indeed, inspired by 37-year-old Brian Lara and a few mean fast bowlers.
Look at some of the results in this edition of the Champions Trophy!
Defending champions West Indies losing abjectly though in an inconsequential match against Sri Lanka, a Sri Lanka on a winning streak going down to a Pakistan side riddled by doping and other fratricidal tensions..
There is always room for upsets in cricket but it is happening all, much more frequently now. Australian's dominance in one-day cricket is not all-encompassing as it was in the past. West Indies had beaten them in a group match in the tri-series in Kuala Lumpur. Rahul Dravid's India had taken world champions to the brink again in Kuala Lumpur and only a foolish stroke from Mahendra Singh Dhoni tilted the match in Aussies' way.
And New Zealand are waiting in the wings to pull off some pleasant surprises.
The world of cricket is being flattened now.
It is a level playing field out there with Davids slaying Goliaths much more regularly.
I would rate West Indies lifting themselves from the lows of 80 all out (even though it was a on a dodgy track at Brabourne) to outclass Australia a greater performance than Pakistan putting it past Sri Lanka.
West Indies have been the most volatile side in the recent years and they have had a history of playing below par both in one-dayers and Tests. Only during the last home series against India, Lara was seen fighting the demons of Caribbean cricket. Lara was having a running battle with national selectors for getting a team of his choice. He openly criticized the Windies cricket board and only the forthcoming World Cup has ensured Lara's captaincy and even his place in the squad.
I hope we will get to see more interesting results in the Champions Trophy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pakistan, a bookie's delight!

By John Cheeran
Well, Pakistan proved me right on Tuesday night.
In my last post, I had explained how it would be a wise move to put your money on Pakistan to produce an outstanding performance in the Champions Trophy despite their travails.
Younis Khan and teammates have done just that by defeating Sri Lanka, the team on an upswing, by four wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
It was an excellent team effort, with significant contributions coming from batsmen Imran Farhat, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf.
It would be right to say that Pakistan did not miss their dope-tainted fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif on the field.
After all, one-day cricket is a batsman's game.
So where do Pakistan go from Jaipur?
Will they win the Champions Trophy?
Their chances of entering the semifinals of the competition has really brightened up after the win over Sri Lanka. If they can beat South Africa who have already lost to New Zealand, anything can happen from then onwards..
So give a thought to my advice..Trust Pakistan to make you richer..

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Put your money on Pakistan

By John Cheeran
Want to make quick money during the Champions Trophy?
Put your money on Pakistan to win the championship.
Bookmakers have increased the odds on Pakistan winning the trophy.
Pakistan are without their pace spearheads Sohaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who were caught doping by Pakistan Cricket Board.
Not only this has taken the cutting edge away from Pakistan bowling attack, the incident has lowered the morale of the side.
Their official captain Inzamam-ul Haq is serving the ban for his role in the Oval Test fiasco.
The 'dummy' captain Younis Khan's authority as a leader remains to be seen since the drama that surrounded his elevation, stepping down and climbing back.
May be now General Musharaff will threaten them with the prospect of firing squad back home, if they do not redeem themselves.
Again, put the money on Pakistan.
Back them to come up with the unpredictable.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Chikungunya bites V.S. Achuthanandan!

By John Cheeran
Kerala’s Marxist Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan should offer an unqualified apology to the state for issuing false and irresponsible statements in the state assembly on Chikungunya deaths, and there by triggering a panic situation in the state.
Today (October 16,) Indian Medical Association (IMA) officials gave their verdict on Chikungunya. There are no deaths caused by Chikungunya in Kerala.
The IMA verdict stunned journalists attending the press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.
IMA’s doctor spokespersons made it categorical that none of the deaths at Taluk Hospital (30 dead) in Cherthala and Alappuzha Medical College in September has anything to do with Chikungunya.
All those deaths were due to reasons such as fever, stroke, heart attacks, renal failure and respiratory problems. Totally un-dramatic and totally not newsworthy!
I should say that media men will be deeply disappointed to report the good news that there are no Chikungunya deaths in Kerala.
So what about all those deaths in Alappuzha District, someone was heard asking during the press conference.
IMA fellows shot back,” what about them?” None of them died due to Chikungunya.”
It comes to me as a rude shock that people can be devoid of sense in such an incredible manner in Kerala.
On a normal day, even during the pre-Chikungunya days, people used to die in Kerala just as elsewhere.
To assume now that all those deaths are due to the spreading Chikungunya virus and to whip up a crisis was utter foolishness on the part of politicians such as V.S. and the media.
In the light of IMA’s statement, Achuthanandan becomes the man responsible for the unhealthy situation.
And to consider that Kerala Chief Minister railed against the Union Health Minister Anbumani Dass for telling the truth (no Chikungunya deaths in Kerala) and wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to restrain Anbumani from making such statements is really pathetic.
It is time CPI (M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan instilled some sense to comrade V.S.
So what made Achuthanandan jump the gun and heap ridicule on his own party’s Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi, ignoring the reports given by the state health department?
V.S. has a track record of cheap populism.
His penchant for playing in to the gallery is legendary.
Whether it is Coca-Cola issue or reclaiming agriculture land, his vote-grabbing politics remains deaf to the voice of reason.

Pakistan cheats again: Akhtar, Asif fail dope test!

By John Cheeran
Secret is out.
That is, the secret of Pakistan's ace pacer Shoaib Akhtar and a generation of Pakistani fast bowlers'.
News has just come in that Pakistan fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Asif Mohammad have failed an internal dope test conducted by, hold your breath, Pakistan Cricket Board, as part of their preparations for ICC Champions Trophy.
Tests were conducted a fortnight ago in Pakistan.
Thank god, it is not a global conspiracy against Pakistan since it was done at their home.
The reason why PCB conducted their own dope test was that ICC is conducting random dope tests during the Champions Trophy.
May be, the Pakistan board was not confident about their players' clean status.
So it appears that instead of an entire team being caught in the dope net, PCB went for a defensive approach.
None should be surprised at the result of these dope tests.
Over the years, Pakistan has perfected cheating as an art form. From ball tampering to what not, Pakistan players have done it all.
It was a pity that some of the Indian commentators joined the Pakistani mob in baying for a honest umpire's blood when Australia's Darrell Hair caught Pakistan cricketers tampering with the ball during the Oval Test. An insulted Pakistan team refused to continue to play in the Test for having caught in the foul act.
It is a pity that Hair is not umpiring in the Champions Trophy.
It is a hard time indeed for Pakistan.
Already Inzamam-ul-Haq is banned from playing in the Champions Trophy for a crime he committed during the Oval Test!
Now Pakistan's disgraced pace spearheads will have to go back without bowling a single ball in the Champions Trophy.

Mystery of small targets

By John Cheeran
Chasing small targets is never easy, that's the conventional wisdom.
India realised that the hard way against England in Jaipur on Sunday.
Rattling off 126 runs should have been a stroll in the park for any international side and for India, enjoying the home advantage and with Sachin Tendulkar back in fine touch, the task should have been all the more easier.
But that was not the case.
The popular theory is that a small target makes run chasers complacent. They assume that the match is already won and are likely, not to show the determination needed to stay there and work hard for runs.
A couple of big hits and it is a custom to leave the job of overhauling the rival score to others till tail enders gasp for breath all of a sudden.
Also it is assumed that the fielding side would be more charged up than usual and fight for every wicket and deny batsmen easy runs.
Everytime a one-day match witnesses the misery and mystery of small targets, such thoughts come to prominence. But I tend to disagree. It is not the mind thing.
The villain in such cases must be the pitch.
If you pause to consider why the team batting first could not manage a big total, you will realise that conditions were not favourable for stroke making. What is good for Team A should be good for Team B too in this case.
Pitch conditions do not alter drastically with in the course of a single day and especially when the team batting first is all out in 40 overs, more than a great bowling effort, it is the uneven bounce and vagaries of the pitch that authors the nail-biting moments.
Small targets, necessarily, do not mean easy wins.
It only means that run making is going to be really difficult out there and anything is possible. Even a total, lower than the target.
So it is not easy, it is tough..

India should build on the plus points

By John Cheeran
Sanjay Manjrekar had observed that the pitches prepared for the Champions Trophy are unlikely to be full of runs. He had his reason.
Monsoon is just over and curators have not got much time to tend the pitch the way they want and that means in the beginning of the season, pitches may not hold good for a batting feast.
The way West Indies crumbled in Mumbai against Sri Lanka and England's below par performance in Jaipur against India give credence to Manjrekar's argument.
Champions Trophy is in for some tantalising battles during the coming weeks.
Having said that India and Rahul Dravid can take comfort from the four-wicket win in their first match.
Yes, India too struggled to hit off 126 runs losing their top order in the process. In the glow of victory, it would be worthwhile to remember that not much has changed from what has happened in the recent times.
Sachin Tendulkar is in great touch and it was his superior approach to the task at hand that helped India to overhaul Andrew Flintoff's challenge. Tendulkar was not in a hurry after Virender Sehwag went early.
Tendulkar even let Irfan Pathan have majority of the strike when these two were at the crease. The biggest plus point from Jaipur is that the bowler-friendly track with uneven bounce helped Pathan to regain his confidence as a bowler.
To Pathan's credit, he did not fritter away an opportunity such as this and put the ball on the rigth spot grabbing England skipper Flintoff's prize wicket.
At another level, team management remains unruffled by the criticism. Chappell and Dravid picked five bowlers -- Pathan, Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Pawar showing their resolve to break the tradition of packing the side with batsmen.
Sehwag was given back his opener's slot but that in itself is not a signal that guys are far away from the winds of change.
Pathan walking in as the No.3,virtually doing an opener's role if you consider Sehwag's hasty retreat, signals experiments with batting orders are very much boiling inside the dressing room.
Losing six wickets while chasing 126 should make Indian camp pay enough attention to their struggling batsmen. Tide should turn in favour of them but the wait cannot go on for ever. I hope Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoniwake up soon.
After crossing the first hurdle, Dravid's worry must be to maintain the winning momentum since India go to battle now only after 10 days.
He would do well to regain his batting touch in the meanwhile so that India does not suffer a West Indies in the remaining matches.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bets on batting order!

By John Cheeran
Cricket pundits in India are not worried who will win the Champions Trophy battle between India and England today.
They are taking bets on India’s batting order rather than on the result.
So in Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium their eyes will not be focused on the middle but will be glued to the Indian dressing room, fighting among themselves to find out who will pop out when India’s turn come to bat.
Coach Greg Chappell and Captain Rahul Dravid have come under fire for daring to be different and for bringing life’s unpleasant turns and twists to cricket.
By bringing regular opener Virender Sehwag one notch down in Malaysia and there by denying the Delhi Destroyer the comforts of a restricted field placements Dravid courted criticism.
A smart Sehwag, to win back his opener’s patch on the turf, failed abjectly in Malyasian meltdown.
Who will open now?
Dravid and Tendulkar or Tendulkar and Sehwag?
Sachin Tendulkar, fearing that he will be shunted around just like others in the team, has gone public for the need to have reservations in batting order.
It is in this backdrop India is taking on England.
So look toward to the dressing room.

India will have a tough ride

By John Cheeran
Always bet on your worst fears.
I have been following Murphy's Law for a long, long time.
So I will pick Australia to win the Champions Trophy because they are simply too good compared to other teams.
What about India?
I would like to see India winning the Champions Trophy but I have to admit that my faith in them has shaken a bit.
I still reckon that Dravid's boys have the potential to join Australia for a semifinal berth from Group A, pushing back West Indies and England. And if you consider the home advantage, India should reach semifinals.
To win the next two matches, without having any second chance to redeem themselves, Dravid will have to lead from the front, scoring plenty of runs and goading his bowlers to strangle the opposition.
It is very much possible. After all, you have to score only one run more than your rivals to win.

Will it spin in India's favour?

By John Cheeran
When Indian skipper Rahul Dravid is told from all four corners that he and coach Greg Chappell should stop experimenting with strategies, England are planning just that.
Trying to bring innovation to the way they throw batsmen at rival bowlers.
England team management has gone public much before the Champions Trophy in India that their skipper Andrew Flintoff will open the innings.
And, today, India are facing England in the first match of the tournament. Dravid must be the most prepared person to come to terms with such surprises.
On Saturday, Dravid said it doesn't really matter who opens. "He could provide some exciting possibilities up the order, but we could also get him out early and put a lot pressure on their middle order. We will be prepared whoever England open with."
That's the attitude a team that aspires world title should have.
But it is quite another matter how keyed up Dravid's men will be when they begintheir Champions Trophy campaign. Team India have been hit hard by some narrow losses in the immediate past. Their top order batting has been whipped to cream on more than one occasion.
Sometimes, it has happened that even a good batting effort (scoring 300 plus with one of your batsmen slamming a century) does not ensure victory.
In Jaipur India are laying a spin trap for England. On such occasions tactics can backfire. Especially when England have a competent spinner in Monty Panesar, one who can put even Sachin Tendulkar to sleep in the middle.
India will not be taking a gamble if they decide to field both off spinners Harbhajan Singh and Romesh Powar. Powar's reputation for big hitting should be a factor that eventually should seal his place in the side.
It is apparent that Dravid is banking on the hosts' tradition of spin this time.
With the kind of slow wickets available, he should exploit the home advantage to off set the reversals suffered in Malaysia and West Indies.
Let us hear Dravid. "It is an advantage for us, we came back from some difficult positions to win that (England) series," he said. "But in an eight-team competition, any of these teams can go on and win.
"I hope we hit the groundrunning," he said. "We can be a force to reckon with at home."
And the fact that India had thrashed England 5-1 in a home series in April should be some comfort to Dravid.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gibbs offers a defensive bat to Indian Police

By John Cheeran
The movers and shakers in Indian cricket would have heaved a sigh of relief as South African
cricketer Herschelle Gibbs did not name any Indians to have involved in the match-fixing scandal that erupted in 2000.
Delhi Police Joint Commissioner of Police, Ranjit Narayan who headed the team of interrogators, said that Gibbs confessed to have received the offer twice from late captain Hansie Cronje and was part of the conspiracy.
Narayan said Gibbs was asked to "under-perform in return of certain amount of money".
"Gibbs accepted receiving the offer and agreed he was involved in the conspiracy.... But he said he was only following what his captain had asked him to do."
Gibbs, a player renowned for taking chances at the batting crease, has defended against Delhi Police pretty well.
Among the things that South African opener said two things are important.
Yes, he received offers of money to under-perform. But he has not said that he accepted the offer, or in other words, received the money.
And now the offer came from the then skipper Hansie Cronje. Gibbs has opened up the escape route by saying that "he was only following what his captain asked him to do."
What an obedient player Gibbs has been!
Gibbs was named by Cronje along with Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydon as the players who had agreed to underperform in a tie in India.
The Delhi Police had arrested three persons -- South Delhi-based businessman Rajesh Kalra, late music baron Gulshan Kumar's son Kishan Kumar and Sunil Dhara -- in the case but they were all released on bail later.
The Police are yet to arrest Sanjeev Chawla, the key accused and believed to be hiding in England.

Mr President, are you listening?

By John Cheeran
Mr President are you listening?
The Supreme Court ruled on last Wednesday that pardon must be granted in clemency pleas (such as the one raised for the terrorist Mohammad Afzal who has been sentenced for death) only after taking into consideration its potential impact on society.
The court also said that powers of clemency by the president or the governor of a state cannot be exercised for political considerations or on the basis of religion, caste or other extraneous factors.
All these factors are very much at play, in a big way, and that has brought forward this political teaser called clemency plea.
It was a bench consisting of judges Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia who made it clear that the powers of reprieve, pardon or remission of sentence cannot be done on irrelevant materials. The exercise of the powers must be for bona fide and valid reasons.
According to the court, while exercising the power, the president or the governor should keep in mind not only the welfare of the convict but also the welfare of the public at large and the impact of release of the convict on society.
It is very interesting to note that the court has observed the exercise of the power of clemency by the president or the governor would be subject to judicial review since such a power cannot be exercised for extraneous, political or for mala fide reasons.
Tread carefully, Mr President.

Is writing a sport of sorts?

By John Cheeran
Awards make me think.
I have never won any award in my life so it is natural that I have a very low opinion of awards. That, however, should not prevent me from asking this question. Is writing a sport of sorts?
Winning a medal for writing, does it make your work of greater value?
Winning a medal for writing, of course, will ensure that your book becomes popular and your stock value goes up in the publishing world.
I have been reading through wire stories after Kiran Desai won the Booker Prizefor her The Inheritance of Loss. All these stories did not fail to remind me that Kiran is the youngest Booker-winner at 35. Incidentally Arundhati Roy was 36 when she won the Booker for her God of Small Things.
Is there any age and weight category for literary prizes?
What does it add to the value of the Loss if Kiran is 35 or 65?
It is not Kiran's fault that she became a successful author at 35.
But attaching importance to that element is unfortunate.
The point is that it is assumed that the faster you win it, the greater you become.
In individual sports, you always mention the age of the winner when a performance is put into perspective. When cricketers and footballers make their debut we remember their age, for it is an indication of how long you are going to stay around the game.
Sport, except in golf, ensures that the older you become the lesser your chances to hit the winning shot.
Is the business of writing too the same? Does it hinge on how fast you conquer Nobel and Booker?
May be Kaavya Viswanathan would have thought so.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How Indian is Kiran Desai?

By John Cheeran
Kiran Desai has won the Booker Prize for her novel, The Inheritance of Loss, a great piece of news for literate Indians.
But how Indian is Desai?
I believe she spends her time between London and New York.
I haven't read the Inheritance of Loss and going by what Pankaj Mishra wrote in The New York Times, it seems to be my loss.
One thing, however, is sure.
Desai will never be able to whip up the hype that Arundhathi Roy created through her God of Small Things in 1996, a phrase that spread like wildfire among the Indian middleclass.
Roy, unlike Desai, was the first Indian woman to win a major literary prize and she was truly made and mellowed 100 per cent in our own land.
That's something special indeed, even though I find Roy's political essays puerile to the core.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

T.K. Arun on Cuban crisis

By T.K. Arun in Economic Times
We have no future.”
That bald assessment of her life by Maria (name changed), an average Cuban in her twenties, should serve as a chilling warning for all opponents of globalisation around the world, particularly in India.
For Cuba has lived out the anti-capitalist dream in all its many-splendoured glory and yet that dream has now gone sour — to an extent where many prefer to be eaten by sharks while braving the 90-mile, illegal sea passage by small boat or raft to Miami to slowly melting away into the bleak lethargy of hopelessness that life has come to mean on this Caribbean paradise.
Cuba’s ‘socialist’ achievements are truly impressive: compulsory and free education for all up to 15 years of age, free further education for anyone keen enough to pursue it, healthcare that is accessible to all, racial integration (up to 400,000 Africans had been brought to Cuba to work on the island’s sugarcane plantations before the slave trade was abolished in the latter half of the 19th century), vigorous cultural output, enviable achievements in sports, the ability to help other countries with teams of doctors and teachers and independence from domination by other countries.
If Cubans had been content to compare themselves with their counterparts on the neighbouring island of Hispaniola, where lawless Haiti and dominated Dominican Republic snuggle together, or with the residents of Yucatan province of Mexico, to the west across the Gulf of Mexico, or even with the people of Jamaica and Cayman islands to the south, they would have been not so desolate.
But human nature being what it is, Cubans compare themselves not with what they have left behind in their own history but with the lived prosperity in their giant neighbour to the north, the United States.
Prosperity is sadly missing from Cuban life. Cuban good times had been underwritten by sugar purchases by the Soviet Union at fancy prices and transfer of assorted subsidies from the erstwhile east European bloc, including armament and training. With the collapse and demise of the ‘second world’, the Cuban economy crumpled. That the Cuban nation did not follow suit is testimony to the political will, tenacity and rootedness of Fidel Castro’s leadership. However, the people lead a miserable life.
A feature of the ‘Special Period’ announced with the onset of the economic crisis post 1991 is a system of two currencies: local Cuban pesos and convertible units of currency (CUCs) pegged at an exchange rate of 0.9 CUC per US dollar. Salaries are paid in local pesos, incentives for good work in CUCs.
Elementary food rations can be purchased in pesos, but to buy anything else, even toothpaste and soap, leave alone the luxuries of life, you need CUCs. Apart from the meagre CUCs doled out as incentives, there are three ways Cubans can lay their hands on CUCs: remittances from the Cubans who have made it to the US, providing (all kinds of) services to foreign tourists and, ubiquitously, corruption including pilferage. The people of Cuba resent having such degradation being foisted on them.
Apparently, Raul Castro — Fidel’s brother, comrade-in-arms in the revolution along with Che Guevara and Camilio Cienfuegos, head of the ministry of revolutionary armed forces and anointed heir apparent — has visited China and favours introducing economic reforms of the market kind.
However, Fidel would suffer no such neo-liberal nonsense. So, socialism in one island continues to shrivel. What is not widely appreciated in India is Latin America’s native mythology about revolution. Practically every one of the 20 countries of the region has a tradition, going back to the time of local resistance against Iberian colonial rule, of yearning for revolutionary change.
Fidel traces his revolutionary lineage from 19th century Cuban prophet of revolution Jose Marti and fighters like Antonio Maceo. Only Cuba under Fidel Castro has lived out that revolutionary dream. So Fidel’s Cuba enjoys immense prestige in the entire region. Latin American leaders cynically pay homage to Cuba and Fidel, to shore up their domestic image, whether to prove that they are not puppets of the US or to boost their own pro-poor credentials.
This widespread popular admiration for Cuba across Latin America, drawing upon the region’s historical commitment to revolution and change, is a major factor restraining the US from launching any direct attack on the island, apart from Cuba’s own capacity to wage a prolonged war against any occupying force.
So Cuba survives. Not as a beacon of revolutionary light for the world but as a negative example of the limits of achievement of human resource development sans a market economy that can put those resources to work. Socialists pride themselves as the future, not bemoan being deprived of one.

A few words on globalization

By John Cheeran
Communists and Islamists are two groups who oppose globalization vigorously in India. In Marxist-dominated states such as Kerala and West Bengal comrades have successfully convinced the common folks that globalization is worse than going to PAKISTAN.
Though Kerala stake claim to be 100 per cent literate, they deserve our sympathy for not knowing. What is true of Kerala is true of whole India, at least in this case.
Communists and Islamists oppose globalization since it is driven and controlled mainly by the United States of America. Indian Communists unfortunately think that it is George Bush and company who have denied them a ballot revolution in India.
Indian Islamists, like Muslims all over the world, hate the US. For them it is the Great Satan. Some of the Christain priests too are caught up in this trap of anti-globalization in the name of liberation theology.
The so called ideological perspective against globalization is just a veneer.
The rage against globalization is like the rage of the wine against the glass that holds it.
All of us enjoy the benefits of globalization everyday, if not every minute.
It is the seamless process of globalization that shrunk the world. As in the evocative phrase coined by Thomas Friedman, the world is flat.
It is futile to protect and swear by local markets; you need markets everywhere to accept your products (pepper to software solutions) so that you can reap maximum benefits from your efforts.
Marxism, Islam and Christianity and a few other things came to India through a process of globalization only. Only the name came later, the process was very much there in the beginning. Most of the life-saving drugs are researched and made first in West and come to India and rest of the world only thanks to globalization.
The Quixotic mutiny engineered by Marxist leader V.S. Achuthanandan against Coca-Cola and Pepsi is the latest jerk against globalization in Kerala. What a pity to see DYFI and AISF cadres cracking the imperialist bottles during the day.
In the evening, they quench the thirst not by drinking local brew such as toddy and arrack but Indian Made Foreign Liquor. IMFL, what a name we have coined!
China abandoned Communism, Russia and its former colonies have embraced the free market and now it is Cuba the last bastion of anti-globalization.
I have come across an excellent piece on what staying away from globalization has meant for Cuba. T.K. Arun, a former member of Planning commission, Kerala, and a senior editor with Economic Times, has written a no-nonsense account of the Cuban myth for Economic Times.
Please participate in the debate.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Champions Trophy: why these qualifiers?

By John Cheeran
Has Champions Trophy begun?
Some say yes, it has. Some say, no it is only qualifiers that have started.
Qualifying matches! Whom International Cricket Council is fooling?
Four team are kept outside the elite six. Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are playing each other for two tickets that will take them into Champions Trophy proper.
Well, do you really want to force Sri Lanka and West Indies, the defending champions, to waste their time against such outfits as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the no-hopers?
Everyone knows that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, in their present content, do not stand a chance to beat Sri Lanka and West Indies...
So why we are having this farce out there?
John Cheeran at Blogged