Friday, April 28, 2006

It happens in Dubai again!

Editor's note:
Third world workers are having a rough time in Dubai, considered to be the place where you can make quick bucks...Read here a report that Gulf Today published on April 27, 2006

DUBAI: Agitated over the continuous deduction of the salary for punching cards before end of work shifts, more than 3,000 labourers belonging to a major construction company went on a rampage on Wednesday evening smashing buses and damaging and ransacking the company's site office located in Mina Seyahi off Jumeirah in Dubai.
The enraged workers also beat up some on-site employees of the company and blocked the rush hour traffic on the Dubai Media City road for more than two hours. They demanded better living conditions in their labour camps and an increase in basic wages. Riot police and officials from the labour department had to be called in to disperse the protestors who allegedly damaged five buses causing considerable losses.
According to workers, trouble began around 6pm when they queued up to punch out after their day's work. However, a site manager's action of deducting a worker's salary for punching four minutes before time triggered the protests that soon turned violent. "First of all, are paid less salary and added to that is the deduction of the salaries for silly reasons like punching out early.
No worker would gain anything from punching out a few minutes before time,î said one of the protesting workers. He said that majority of the labourers earned less than Dhs1,000 because of low basic salaries and deductions.
"Even after putting eight hours of work in the hot sun, we are paid poor salaries. Most of the unskilled workers are paid around Dhs600 per month," said a worker. The situation was brought under control around 8:30pm when labour officials promised to resolve their problems after consulting the company.
Labourers belonging to the same company had resorted to violence early this month when they broke window panes and the furniture in the labour canteen in their Al Quoz labour camp.
When contacted by The Gulf Today Assistant Director for Follow-up and Investigations, Immigration and a member of The Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs Lt Col Rashid Bakhit Al Jumairi refused to comment on the issue.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

How Kaavya Viswanathan Got Caught

By Dinitia Smith, NYT
Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore accused of plagiarizing parts of her recently published chick-lit novel, acknowledged yesterday that she had borrowed language from another writer's books, but called the copying "unintentional and unconscious."
The book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," was recently published by Little, Brown to wide publicity.
On Sunday, The Harvard Crimson reported that Ms. Viswanathan, who received $500,000 as part of a deal for"Opal" and one other book, had seemingly plagiarized language from two novels by Megan McCafferty, an author of popular young-adult books.
In an e-mail message yesterday afternoon, Ms. Viswanathan, 19, said that in high school she had read the two books she is accused of borrowing from, "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings," and that they "spoke to me in a way few other books did."
"Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel, 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,' and passages in these books," she said.
Calling herself a "huge fan" of Ms.McCafferty's work, Ms. Viswanathan added, "I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." She also apologized to Ms. McCafferty and said that future printings of the novel would be revised to "eliminate any inappropriate similarities."
Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown, said that Ms. Viswanathan planned to add an acknowledgment to Ms. McCafferty in future printings of the book.
In her e-mail message, Ms. Viswanathan said that"the central stories of my book and hers are completely different."
But Ms. McCafferty's books, published by Crown, a division of Random House, are, likeMs. Viswanathan's, about a young woman from New Jersey trying to get into an Ivy League college - in her case, Columbia. (Ms. Viswanathan's character has hersights set on Harvard.)
Like the heroine of "Opal," Ms. McCafferty's character, Jessica Darling, visits the campus, strives to earn good grades to get in andmakes a triumphant high school graduation speech. And the borrowings may bemore extensive than have previously been reported. The Crimson cited 13instances in which Ms. Viswanathan's book closely paralleled Ms. McCafferty'swork.
But there are at least 29 passages that are strikingly similar.
At onepoint in "Sloppy Firsts," Ms. McCafferty's heroine unexpectedly encounters herlove interest. Ms. McCafferty writes: "Though I used to see him sometimes atHope's house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other's existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh, (b) say something,or (c) ignore him and keep on walking. I chose a brilliant combo of (a) and (b). " 'Uh, yeah. Ha. Ha. Ha.'
"I turned around and saw that Marcus was smiling at me." Similarly, Ms. Viswanathan's heroine, Opal, bumps into her love interest, and the two of them spy on one of the school's popular girls.
Ms. Viswanathan writes: "Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other's existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about, or (b) what I was supposed to do about it. I stared at him. " 'Flat irons,' he said.
'At least seven flat irons for that hair.' " 'Ha, yeah. Uh, ha. Ha.' I looked at the floor and managed a pathetic combination of laughter and monosyllables, then remembered that the object of our mockery was his former best friend. "I looked up and saw that Sean was grinning."
In a profile published in The New York Times earlier this month, Ms.Viswanathan said that while she was in high school, her parents hired Katherine Cohen, founder of Ivy Wise, a private counseling service, to help with the college application process.
After reading some of Ms. Viswanathan's writing, Ms. Cohen put her in touch with the William Morris Agency, and Ms. Viswanathan eventually signed with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, an agent there. Ms. Walsh said that she put Ms. Viswanathan in touch with a book packaging company, 17th Street Productions (now Alloy Entertainment), but that the plot and writing of "Opal"were "1,000 percent hers."
Alloy, which referred questions to Little, Brown, holds the copyright to "Opal" with Ms. Viswanathan. In the Times profile, Ms.Viswanathan said the idea for "Opal" came from her own experiences in high school "surrounded by the stereotype of high-pressure Asian and Indian families trying to get their children into Ivy League schools."
Tina Constable, a spokeswoman for Crown, said a reader had noticed the similarities between the books. That person, she said, "told Megan. Megan alerted us. We've alerted the Little, Brown legal department. We are waiting to hear from them."
It was unclear whether Harvard would take any action against Ms. Viswanathan.
"Our policies apply to work submitted to courses," said Robert Mitchell, the director of communications for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.
"Nevertheless, we expect Harvard students to conduct themselves with integrity and honesty at all times."
Ms. Walsh, the agent, said: "Knowing what a fine person Kaavya is, I believe any similarities were unintentional. Teenagers tendto adopt each other's language."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mahajan fights the most important battle in his life

By John Cheeran
Blood turns against blood.
Fratricide is only a degree lower crime than parricide.
Pramod Mahajan, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and a former Parliamentary affairs minister has been shot at in Mumbai, and even after a four-hour surgery at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai his condition remains critical. The shots were fired by his brother, Pravin Mahajan. Mahajan, the Bharatiya Janata Party's General Secretary was hit by three shots.He was hit twice in the stomach and other struck him in the chest.The motive for the attack is not known.
Whatever the reasons that led to this turn of events, it is a severe blow to both Mahajan family and the BJP.
But what times we live in! It is not just terrorists alone one has to watch out for.
Time calls for better anger management techniques to the solace of all.

Aamir Khan's fifteen minutes of angst

By John Cheeran
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan's foray into street protest has put him in a tight spot.
Aamir would have expected the onlookers to applaud when, on April 14, he took up the cause of farmers displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project coming up in Narmada.
His move has created a political storm in Gujarat, the state that will reap maximum benefits from the dam project.
Apparently, Aamir's spin doctors have done a bad job in briefing him about the subject. Reports say that political activists in Gujarat have burnt posters and stormed theatres showing his latest release Rang de Basanti.
Indian media are discussing the many shades of the Aamir Khan episode in the discredited NBA movement. Celebrity involvement in NGO activism backfires, some of them point out. May be. May be not.
Aamir has the freedom to support any cause that catches his fancy. In an interview to the Indian Express he has said: "I don't have any past history with the aandolan. I'm not even fully ware of their history. There are two sides to every story and I'm not equipped to comment on them. I'm not an environmentalist, neither am I an activist. But I'm clearly in support of rehabilitation."
But does his support ends with sharing the space with activists for a few minutes?
Will Aamir spend his own money so that a few of the farmers can buy land of their choice?
I would be happy if the Bollywood actor pays his Income Tax without fudging the books.
I wish someone dug up the dirt on Bollywood actors' IT outstanding before they embark on espousing noble causes.

While waiting for the Unbeatable Indians....

By John Cheeran
There are no surprises in the 15-member Indian team for West Indies tour.
That is, there is no Sourav Ganguly.
By now, after the last match in Abu Dhabi, which Rahul Dravid's India won convincingly only Calcutta would have been disappointed at Ganguly's exclusion.
And only in Calcutta Ganguly would have mattered. But after Indian team's sparkling run in one-dayers with newcomers such as Robin Uthappa, Venugopala Rao and Suresh Raina seizing their chances Ganguly himself has realised that he cannot push his luck any longer. Calcutta Telegraph's crusader for the reinstate Ganguly campaign lets us know that "For one, Sourav didn't take calls. He also didn't reply when one sent an SMS('what now?')."
That indicates there is some sense left with the Calcutta cricketer.
Be that as it may, it was a fantastic season of success for Dravid and coach Greg Chappell. For once they got rid of the cantankerous Ganguly out of the team, one who should have been thrown out of the team long, long ago.
They brought in new comers both in batting and bowling and youngsters have grabbed their chances with both hands. The lone disappointment of the season was leg-spinner Piysuh Chawla.
Two Test losses -- in Karachi and Mumbai -- indeed reveal the shortcomings of the Indian side. But that's the way with Indian cricket.
There was never an unbeatable Indian side in history.
All efforts are now on to build such a team in India. But to replicate the success of West Indies of late 70s and 80s and later the Aussie model would take a long, long time.
I can't foresee India emerging as the Unbeatables in both versions of the game soon.
There is a distinct chance of India being a very, very good side in one-dayers.
The Dravidians already are a extremely competitive side and with more variation and sharpness in bowling, India can nurse their World Cup ambitions in West Indies.
But those fatal flaws in batting and bowling will come to the fore under pressure in Test cricket and it would be comforting if one can admit that there are no quickfix solutions to India's woes.
But while biding our time to emerge as the Unbeatables, let us raise a toast to these worthy winners of recent times. Only South Africans denied India the one-day series win. Comprehensive one-day wins against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England are reasons enough to rejoice.
Cheers Dravid. Cheers Team India.

Mystery that surrounds Fifa World Cup

Editor's note: One of the rare columns I enjoy reading these days is by Simon Kuper in Financial Times.
Kuper provides a global perspective on sports and on April 15, he wrote about the mystery surrounding the Fifa World Cup.
Here is the Financial Times story
By Simon Kuper
Years ago in London I met a man who worked for an auction house.
Over steak sandwiches in a West End pub he unfolded a real-life detective story about the greatest prize in sport: the original football World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy.
People think it was stolen in Brazil in 1983 and melted down into goldbars.
But according to my friend, the trophy was intact and had recently been sold in London.
The French sculptor Abel Lafleur had made the trophy for the first World Cup in 1930. It was a magnificent piece: a 15-inch solid gold statuette of Nike, Greek goddess of victory.
My friend the auctioneer's story began in March 1966, when Nike was stolen from a London stamp exhibition.
England was then preparing to host the 1966 World Cup. The theft shamed the Football Association. But a week later, a dog named Pickles unearthed the stolen trophy under some bushes in south London.
After Pickles' discovery, the FA gave the cup for safekeeping to its regular jeweller George Bird. Martin Atherton, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire who has brilliantly traced the trophy's travails, describes how in the months before the World Cup Bird cycledit around London from exhibition to exhibition.
The trophy sat in his bicycle basket, concealed only by a cloth. Eventually Bird decided this wasn't safe. He suggested to the FA that he make a replica of the trophy: safer to exhibit this than the real thing. Atherton describes what happened next.
The FA asked Fifa'spermission to produce a replica. Football's world governing body said no. But the FA secretly commissioned Bird anyway. He made a gilded bronze trophy -probably for free, as a gift to the FA.
Now there were two Jules Rimet trophies:the real one and the replica, identical to the layman's eye. On July 30 1966, three policemen drove to Wembley for the World Cup final between England andWest Germany. In the car with them were both Jules Rimets.
After England's 4-2victory, the Queen handed captain Bobby Moore the real trophy. Later the toothless midfielder Nobby Stiles danced on the pitch with it. But then the policemen wrested the cup from Stiles and gave him the replica instead. The British authorities wanted to keep the real trophy safe. That evening, from the balcony of a Kensington hotel, the England team waved the replica to the crowd.
Nobody noticed the difference. In 1970, came the next World Cup in Mexico. The FA had to return the trophy to Fifa. But which trophy? There were two. And so, said my friend the auctioneer: "Theygave back the replica."
In Mexico, Brazil won its third World Cup and was allowed to keep the Jules Rimet trophy forever. A very different cup was sculpted to replace it. In 1983, the Jules Rimet was stolen from the Brazilian FA's headquarters. Police believe it was melted down into gold bars. "But the stolen trophy wasn't the real one," said my friend theauctioneer. "It was the replica."
One of the two Jules Rimet trophies had stayed in London after 1970, stored under Bird's bed. Atherton explains: "It officially did not exist and so could not be put on open display."
Twice Bird'shouse was burgled, and twice the thieves missed the cup. The jeweller died in 1995. Two years later his family auctioned his trophy. "Replica", states the Sotheby's catalogue for the auction. "Reserve price £20,000-£30,000."
That seemed a lot for a bronze fake. But it sold for £254,500, nine times the highest price previously paid at auction for a piece of football memorabilia. "It's an absurd price," my friend told me.
"Unless you know it's the real trophy. And the winning bidder knew." The winning bidder was Fifa itself, and the Brazilian FA probably bid too. Fifa wanted the trophy because it had heard the story of the switch: the story that the real cup had remained in England in 1970.
"Fifa took the decision to buy this trophy as it was thought to be the original one," Fifa confirmed to me. But the international football federation wasn't sure whether the trophy at auction was indeed the real golden cup, or merely the bronze replica.
Fifa didn't ascertain this at the viewing days before the sale, probably because it's not done at viewing sessions to produce testing equipment to check whether an object is gold. Fifa's purchase was a gamble.
Immediately after buying the trophy, it had an expert examine it. You can imagine the scene:a backroom, a couple of football officials and a jeweller.
And then the jewellerwould have broken the news: the trophy wasn't the real World Cup, but a cheap gilded bronze replica. Both my friend the auctioneer and Fifa had been wrong: the switch had never happened. Expecting to snag the real Jules Rimet, Fifa had blown £254,500 on a fake.
It has since loaned the thing to the National Football Museum in Preston. One question remains. Where is the real Jules Rimet trophy? Was it really melted down into gold bars, or is it now under some Latin American bed?

Friday, April 21, 2006

More than a vote at stake in Kerala

By John Cheeran
I have little more than a vote at stake in the Kerala State Assembly Elections that is taking place in India now.
Two of my friends are contesting the elections for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Trichur (Thrissur) district. They are the candidates of Communist Party of India (CPI).
Both V.S. Sunil Kumar and Rajaji Mathew Thomas are young and they fuel the hope for a better quality of political life in Kerala. Sunil Kumar is contesting in Cherppu constituency while Rajaji is trying his luck at Ollur.
Rajaji is a former General Secretary of All India Students Federation (AISF) and All India Youth Federation (AIYF). Sunil is the Kerala state Secretary of AIYF now.
We got to know each other during the early 90s when CPI held its National Conference in Thrissur.
Sunil and Rajaji are honest and tireless workers of the CPI and their induction into the poll arena will strengthen an aging leadership of the party.
I have not met Sunil Kumar recently. I met Rajai two years ago at the CPI headquarters in Thrissur. Standing at the veranda of Comrade Varrier Memorial Building, it took me a few seconds to recognize Rajaji Mathew. The fire in this Communist’s belly apparently was doused by the inertia in the party. He was greatly alarmed by the political drift in the party. There was no immediate answer to whither the CPI? The outlook was bleak then even in Thrissur, which had been home to legendary Communist struggles in the past. The Bharatiya Janata Party was in power at Centre and the Congress-led UDF was ruling at Thiruvananthapuram.
I have been told that both Sunil and Rajaji have bright chances of winning their seats in this election and becoming MLAs.
Whenever I think of these two comrades, an election defeat pops up in memory. With Sunil being the campaign manager, AISF had contested student elections in Sree Kerala Varma College in 1992. Breaking convention and in a brave tactical move, AISF had taken on the might of SFI, the Marxists’s fountainhead.
All of us, including me, lost that election battle.
I wish Cherppu and Ollur can make amends for that defeat 14 years later.
Lal Salaam!

The 365 shades of Sunil Gavasakr

By John Cheeran
Envy must be the middle name of former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar. I have criticized Gavaskar in the past and it makes me sad that the legendary cricketer remains as cussed as ever.
Gavaskar has said that international cricketers should be willing to play 365 days in a year. I would have dismissed Gavaskar’s comments with the contempt that it deserves but then he happens to be the Chairman of ICC’s Cricket Committee.
Gavaskar or, better still, Malcolm Speed should immediately clarify whether the ICC shares former Indian captain’s belief, of the more the merrier.
It is interesting to read what Gavasakr said on the subject: “I can’t see the problem, these players are turning out for their countries. It’s an honour to represent your country. I would be willing to sweat 365 days in a year for India. Those who can’t stand the heat should stay out.”
Gavaskar was reacting to reports of a possible strike by international cricketers if the ICC did not reduce the number of matches.
Quite recently Gavaskar had wore his national pride on his sleeve by taking up the India Cap issue.
It is strange that as someone who has played cricket at its highest level with great intensity Gavaskar cannot empathize with the plight of modern cricketers. Though no Indian cricketer has cribbed about playing too many matches the truth is that non-stop cricket is taking its toll all over the cricketing world.
Tim May, President of the Federation of International Cricketers Association, has drawn the ICC’s attention to the issue. “It’s a revenue-raising frenzy. It’s pushing the players into a position where they are just going to say, No, It’s too much, we’ re walking away from this.”
I strongly feel that when ICC takes a decision on the non-stop cricket what matters is the opinion of current crop of cricketers rather than old fogies such as Gavaskar.
Taking cue from Gavaskar, Sharad Pawar may one day make India play 365 days a year so that Rohan Gavaskar might get a chance to play for the country.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Abu Dhabi matches a regressive move for cricket

By John Cheeran
Staging international cricket matches in Abu Dhabi is a step, which I oppose vehemently.
For that matter, anywhere the game has no chance to spread its roots.
The UAE has no serious domestic cricket and there is no clime for the game to take roots.
It is one thing to build impressive stadiums. But where are the youngsters playing the game in the UAE?
It is quite another matter that the UAE is home to millions of Indians and Pakistanis, fanatic followers of the game. They watch the game, read about the game but cannot afford to play it.
Unless Emaratis, the local people, take up the game there is no point in playing cricket only to help a minority who are interested in staging the matches.
Mercifully, and quite wisely, locals prefer to play and enjoy football in the UAE.
The UAE has great ambitions to be a sporting hub; Abu Dhabi recently hosted a friendly between football world champions Brazil and the UAE national team. The UAE itself played in the World Cup final round in the 90s. Two years ago, Dubai and Abu Dhabi hosted Fifa’s World Youth Championship successfully.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi now host European Tour golf events; and more and more international sporting events shall take place there.
The phenomenon of Sharjah happened much before the cricket playing nations woke up to the marketing potentials of the game. And what a farce it turned out to be in the end.
Once the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided not to play in Sharjah, the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series, which used to organize the matches, vanished into the desert.
It is true that a portion of the profit was earmarked for earthquake relief when India and Pakistan clashed in Abu Dhabi. But if you want to raise money for charity, by way of cricket, why play outside of India and Pakistan?
Why not Lahore, Mumbai, New Delhi or Karachi for a venue?
At a time when India is considering full convertibility for rupee, the argument that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was keen on the foreign exchange from the proceedings does not hold much water. It is again a case of cricket administrators, this time a responsible political animal such as Sharad Pawar, making a colossal mistake.
But, then, the original sin was committed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
ICC had no qualms in shifting its base to Dubai, where there are more bricks than bats.
India should have opposed that move and made either Mumbai or New Delhi as the center stage of cricket. Money talks? Isn’t it?
Read also

Monday, April 17, 2006

An NRI journalist learns his profit

By John Cheeran
Terrible are the consequences of aiming for quick bucks in life.
Chances are that you lose yourself, including freedom and self-respect.
I’m not surprised by the experience Mr. T. G. Jacob, a senior Indian journalist, had with an English newspaper in the UAE.
Jacob has written about his humiliation inside the office in his blog
But the point is who was responsible for Jacob’s plight?
Was it fellow journalists or the management? Or Jacob himself?
Freedom has a premium, self-respect has a premium and I’m happy and proud that the journalist in Jacob was man enough to resign the job.
But Jacob has not explained why he allowed himself to be humiliated in his blog.
I guess it was the fear of incarceration by authorities. Fear is the cutting edge philosophy for management in some societies. Journalists have sold out to the management even in India so it should not surprise us that journalists are treated on equal footing with page-makers.
Do journalists deserve any better?

The ABC of reservation for OBCs

By John Cheeran
Indian media, by and large, are against reservation for backward classes in higher educational institutes (read central institutes such as IITs and IIMs) in the country.
Let me say in the beginning that I'm a Christian (though Christianity does not recognize caste, those lower caste Hindus who converted are in line for the reservation cake) and in league with Brahmins and other assorted upper class Hindus in India on the reservation subject.
Though I don't read Indian newspapers exhaustively I came across a comment in The Times of India by Amrith Lal, defending the reservation policy.
I don't know whether Mr Lal belongs to a scheduled caste or tribe or the OBCs. Who knows he may even be a Brahmin. But he must be a brave man to go against the grain in New Delhi.
It is always good to have a different opinion on any issue. And it takes a certain amount of courage to root for SCs and STs in Delhi's media scene. To the credit of the nation, we have established a consensus that SCs and STs should be given the benefit of reservation precisely because the community is not savvy enough to exploit the legal provisions. But to root for the OBCs in the media, especially now, does not take much courage.
Because some of the top notch editors in Delhi and Mumbai in fact belong to the OBC. I know a few of them, but it is not my intention to reveal their names andexpose them for not standing up to the rights of OBCs. And the sundry soldiers as editors and reporters there are many, many OBCs out there. But in the newsroom they prefer to pretend as Brahmins!
I'm against the reservation policy (50 per cent reserved for SCs, STs andOBCs) which is already in practice in Southern India. But I'm saddened by thefact that the top notch OBC editors in New Delhi and Mumbai are pretending to be themselves Brahmins.
Being a Brahmin is not bad thing. In fact it is the thing all of us should aspire to be, thus wrote the great OBC intellectual O.V. Vijayan in 1994 in the then undivided Indian Express.
But let's come to the central point.
Mr Lal says in his comment that the South of India is living with the 50 per cent reservation policy already, so why should anyone in North should have trouble in accepting the same?
This, indeed, is a wonderful argument. Any mistake, if enough people makes it, soon ceases to be mistake, becomes a BIG RIGHT.
So since South India has accepted the mistakes, North can make it a right thing by embracing it. And Mr Lal has no qualms in opening the doors of IITS and IIMs, considered to be higher temples of learning, to OBCs, on the basis of reservation. He argues "this should be an opportunity to for IITs and IIMs to increase their student intake."
If IITs and IIMs want to increase their intake why cannot the same thing be done from the open category, where even OBCs, SCs and STs are welcome to excel on a level playing field?
Why the increased intake has to be from the OBCs only? What about those who are 'born high'?
Mr Lal makes an interesting point later.
"Quotas in institutions have to be understood as an instrument to create opportunities for those who have been denied access to knowledge for social reasons. Quotas aren't ani-merit."
Wow! Does Mr Lal believe that they (OBCs are thriving communities all over India. For example Ezhavas and Muslims in Kerala are OBCs, both communities are the richest in Kerala) have been denied access to knowledge?
If that is the case, how did they come till the gates of IITs and IIMs?
None has denied the OBCs access to school and colleges. If they hadn't gone to school and colleges, they could not have come for JEE.
So there is no case of expiating the guilt, by Brahmins and upper castes, in this reservation issue.
It is quite simple. If you have a yardstick in education and employment apply it fairly. There is nothing called positive discrimination in life. If you are a student, you are judged by the marks you score. If you are an employee you are judged by the quality of work you do.
There are no birthrights to be distributed in the world.
I would like to quote P.V. Indiresan, former Director of IIT Madras, on the subject. "Do you want to select Indian cricket team on the basis of caste?"
There are enough OBCs in the Indian team too, without resorting to reservation.
I don't know whether Mr Lal is a journalist.
What if Times of India starts recruiting journalists on the basis of their caste? How much reservation Mr Lal suggests in journalism?
As they say charity can begin at home.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Skipper Dravid’s masterstroke

By John Cheeran
I’m disappointed by skipper Rahul Dravid’s decision to take rest during the Guwahatti and Jamshedpur one-dayers against England.
Yes, it shows the confidence of a skipper who has completed his mission of humbling the English. It also shows skipper’s faith in his mates to carry on with his ideas.
Dravid is having fun both as skipper and batsman. Some of his tactics have paid rich dividends for Team India. The way Dravid handled the side in Kochi illustrates his leadership skills and cricketing nous.
Dravid’s Power Play left England totally breathless in Kochi at a crucial time of their innings. Dravid applied second Power Play only in 29th over, there by denying England batsmen the freedom to step up the scoring, when they desired.
As is their wont, Arun Lal and Nasser Hussain doubted the wisdom of Dravid delaying the Power Play. They predicted a flood of runs sweeping Team India to the nearby Arabian Sea. But as things turned out, once again, these TV loud mouths were proved wrong.
Most of our experts are unable to go against the grain. Being bold means you have to be highly individualistic and take decisions based on the NOW rather than the past.
Batting first after winning toss in the Mumbai Test was a bold and aggressive move though the cricketing riff-raff, including Geoff Boycott, termed it as a colossal blunder.
It is in this backdrop that I prefer to enjoy Dravid leading from the front against England to complete a 7-0 brown wash or what can be termed, an India Wash.
Also, skipper is in great touch with bat, has succeeded in his usual No.3 slot as well as an opener. This, indeed, was a great time to carry his good form to rattle off some more runs against a demoralized bowling attack.
But it goes to the credit of a selfless Dravid that he has decided to take it easy for two matches letting Virender Sehwag rediscover himself as a leader and opener.
By staying away Dravid paves the way for the debut of young opener Robin Uthappa. Skipper’s move will also give a beleaguered Mohammad Kaif sufficient time to kick-start his career.
If there is one man in India who will be upset by all these tactical positioning, I will not name him.
After all what name you can give frustration, other than Ganguly!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dravid puts Flintoff and Co in their place

By John Cheeran
India could not have won the seven-match one-day series against England in a more convincing manner than they did at Kochi.
Even die-hard India loyalists would not have expected the team to bounce back from the last day collapse in Mumbai Test in such a fashion, winning first four matches to wrap up the series.
In Kochi, India won their 15th consecutive match, chasing a target, a new world record in one-day cricket.
While India was winning the match, with Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina applying the finishing touches to the efforts of skipper Rahul Dravid and Irfan Pathan, I heard a critic trying to put Team India’s success story in perspective.
This perspective is called depleted vision.
Throughout the series against England, both in Tests and one-dayers, some of the pundits were telling us that visitors are a depleted side.
They don’t have Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Ashely Giles, Simon Jones etc. A national team should have sufficient replacements and at international level any newcomer is expected to stand up and deliver the goods.
I would like to remind those critics that by their yardstick, India too is a depleted side.
India is without Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly (whether you like it or not hasn’t he scored some runs in ODIs?), VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble.
And add to this, the wretched form of opener Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif, two players who have contributed immensely to India’s progress in one-dayers.
What matters is not the reputation of players but ability to succeed NOW.
India, to the credit of skipper Dravid and coach Greg Chappell, has found a new set of players who are ready to give their life to team’s success.
It is a pity that the likes of VVS Laxman and Kumble can’t find a place in the one-day eleven; but it shows the intensity of the competition that has thrown up future legends such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
Not at all a bad state of affairs, I must say!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rahul Dravid's Way

By John Cheeran
A 3-0 lead in a seven-match one-day series has its own advantages.
I must quickly say that England, the Ashes winners, have struggled with their one-day workouts recently.
England, however, are considered to be a very good Test side. England drew the Test series with India 1-1. They have beaten Australia at home and are the No.2 side in ICC's Test rankings.
The common wisdom in cricket is that if you are a good Test side you are boundto become a good one-day side too. You got to have your basics right to survive in Test cricket and if that is the case, nothing should stop you from winning one-dayers.
Well..England are no pushovers in one-day arena. Rahul Dravid and his men can take pride in seizing the advantage though England are very much with a chance to win the one-day series.
From the Indian angle, to bounce back from the last day meltdown in Mumbai in such an authentic fashion shows the resilience of the side. There were quite a few learned men who questioned Dravid's ability to inspire the boys after the reverse in Mumbai.
Without Sachin Tendulkar, India's finest one-day player ever, and with an out of form blaster Virender Sehwag, Dravid has taken India to a face-saving situation, at least, in the one-day series.
Again, Ganguly's comeback hopes were ambushed as teenager Suresh Raina andYuvraj Singh shored up the wobbling Indian middle order. Again, Dravid led from the front as he stepped up to open Indian innings in Goa so that India could bolster their bowling.
If Yuvraj Singh sunk Ganguly's chances of a one-day return with an impressive display during the Sri Lankan and Pakistan series, now it was Raina's turn to be Ganguly's gravedigger.
With India staring at defeat in Faridabad (92 for five) and Ganguly packing his kit, left-hander Raina attacked the England bowling with gusto to give India a memorable victory.
Raina did not let the fireworks end there as we all watched the second round in Goa.
Raina's run making gives team management the freedom and luxury to give Mohammad Kaif more time to find his form. As coach Greg Chappell pointed out Kaif remains an integral element in India's design for the World Cup.
But some of the old problems remain with Dravid. Batting must consistently live up to the challenges ahead and for that, team should begin at the top. Sehwag has to sort out his batting quickly and on a day when pitch demands only four bowlers, Dravid can bring in one more batsman.
Dravid has to solve the opener's riddle too, if he is not interested in padding up first on a regular basis. Selectors have rightly brought in Karnataka youngster Robin Uthappa, whose aggressive ways at the wicket shall soon make him an opener India could bank on.
And one thing is certain. There is no place for Ganguly in this Indian XI.

Goan pitch too much for Hussain and co

By John Cheeran
India's win against England in Goa was truly magnificent.
But something else make me really happy. It is that the omniscient, formercricketers-turned television commentators had to eat their words as the match entered the final phase in Goa.
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain was apprehensive that pitch will not last the full 100 overs and the batting second will be a difficult task for England.
Hussain, along with Arun Lal, was harping on the point that Indian skipper Rahul Dravid was lucky to win the toss and bat first.
When the Indian innings was in progress, commentators were reminding viewers how difficult the stroke-making is and giving England skipper Andrew Flintoff the moral licence to lose the match.
Is it Flintoff's fault that he lost the vital toss?
How can England batsmen chase any total on a picth that is certainkly going to deteriorate and assist spinners in the afternoon?
The view from the commenatry box must be excellent otherwise the sages such as Hussain, David Gower, Dean Jones, Arun Lal and L Sivaramakrishnan would not have predicted a low score in Goa.
They backed up their predictions with statistics. Viewers were reminded repeatedly that the average total posted by team batting first was only 196. Aha, wonderful and thank you.
But then commentary turned mute the moment Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina stepped up the gas. Runs flowed in the last 10 overs of Indian innings and pitch suddenly turned benign.
India posted their highest score in the series, 294 forsix. That should not be a poor score on a bad pitch!
The pitch, prepared on a football field at the Nehru Stadium, held firm and England was not given any chance to grumble. At least Paul Collingwood, who gave the impetus to England chase, did not have any complaints about the pitch. He made an entertaining 93 to raise visions of a thrilling England victory.
What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?

Boycott, a pain in Indian cricket's arse

By John Cheeran
When Geoff Boycott used to hold the bat during his career, he was an intolerable bore.
Boycott has become a pain in the arse in the last 15 years in his role as a newspaper columnist and television commentator.
His sermons are a load of rubbish and it is a known fact that he has no qualms in currying favour with Sourav Ganguly and even Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Boycott used the aftermath of India's Test loss in Mumbai to launch a tirade against Indian skipper Rahul Dravid. Boycott accused Dravid of not giving Indian supporters a proper explanation for his decision to bowl first after winning the toss.
Any Tom, Dick and Boycott can become wise after the event. Boycott should learn to shut up his mouth. Dravid had told the Indian cricket fans that his decision to bowl first after winning the toss turned out to be a mistake in hindsight.
so what rubbish is Boycott writing about in his syndicated column?
Why does he insinuate that Dravid does not have the courage to admit it when a decision goes wrong?
Not only Dravid owned up to his decision, unlike his illustrious predecessor from Calcutta, he did not describe the move as a "collective decision."
That's what leading from the front is all about. In the same column, distributed by a syndication agency based in Calcutta, Boycott accused Dravid of not opening the Indian innings in Tests!
He said Dravid's decision to not to open the innings is mystifying to him! The reason is amazing, Dravid is India's best batsman.
In that case why not Sachin Tendulkar open in Tests? Why not Brian Lara open the West Indies innings in Tests? Why did Prince of Calcutta come so low down in the order in Tests?
The thing is that Boycott's rubbish comes after Dravid opened in the Pakistan Test series only to resuscitate Ganguly as a batsman.
Mr Boycott, unlike you, Dravid knows what's best for India. Dravid has not runaway from any challenge. Dravid has opened for India in Tests, kept wickets in one-dayers, and tamed the fastest and fiercest of bowlers all over the world.
Dravid prefers to scores his Test centuries away from India and when team need them the most. Just because Dravid is decent in his dealings with men and media, don't take him for granted.
Mr Boycott, next time try to read what you write. May better sense prevail!

A break for whom? Dravid or Ganguly?

By John Cheeran
Desperation knows no limits.
Quite a few Sourav Ganguly supporters had hoped in the backdrop of Indian batting's collapse in Mumbai that Rahul Dravid's boys will struggle in the one-day series against England. Certainly, India did struggle but they won in New Delhi, Faridabad and Goa in convincing manner, if you are ready to admit that in limited overs, margin of victory can be as thin as one run.
The more India wins, the more desperate Calcutta caucus gets.
For the rest of India, Ganguly, as a cricketer, is dead and buried on Pakistan soil. But the sight of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir struggling at the top of the order and Sachin Tendulkar putting his shoulder right in London, makes Bengali hearts beat faster.
One of the syndication agencies, a euphemism for the racketeering of journalists, based in Calcutta, has been campaigning actively for the inclusion of Ganguly for the last four one-day matches against England.
This agency had made their hay when Ganguly was shining as Indian skipper. So what do they do? They get Dean Jones, former Australian batsman and now a television commentator, to write in his column some astonishing things!
Jones does a SWOT analysis and the Aussie writes under Opportunities that Rahul Dravid needs a break from cricket. He does not explain why Dravid should take a break from the game.
Dravid is in great form, he has led the side with vision and daring and skipper himself has no plans to take a break. But Jones prescribes the rest therapy for Indian skipper!
Jones does not stop there.
He went on to write that when Dravid takes a break, Sehwag can lead the side and to plug the gap in middle order, Ganguly should be brought back by selectors!
What logic, this is. This is the worst crap I have read in my life!
The tragedy is not that the Calcutta syndication agency spoon-fed Jones its Bring Back Ganguly idea but The Times of India ran the Jones column with the headline "Rahul Dravid needs a break."
I beleive in the dictum that a dog should not eat the other dog.
But I cannot help wondering what crime Times of India readers commit to deserve this?
Give me a break please!

Monday, April 03, 2006

A letter to Greg Chappell

By John Cheeran
Is Greg Chappell doing his job?
Coach Chappell has worked his magic with guys such as Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel.
Youngsters Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni too have benefited from the Aussie legend’s presence.
It is quite surprising that young fast bowlers have added a few things on to their skills but senior batsmen have lost their moorings.
A renowned batsman in 70s and 80s, Chappell’s inputs, however, have not helped seniors such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly sort out their batting woes.
Interesting thing to be remembered here is that it was Chappell who helped Ganguly in 2004 to regain his batting form in Australia. In fact Chappell had become Ganguly’s trusted man during that time.
A grateful Ganguly ensured that Chappell got Indian coach’s post so that he doesn’t have to rush to Sydney to sort his own problems with bat.
Chappell, in an interview to The Guardian, confessed that without the influence of Ganguly he would not have got Indian coach’s job.
But again why Chappell magic is not working with the senior batsmen where as guys such as Pathan has invented their batting skills.
Is it because the senior pros in the side are not listening to coach’s suggestions?
Whatever the case may be it is a pathetic spectacle to see Sehwag holding his bat without a clue against balls that leap to his throat. Sehwag’s weakness was apparent in the Karachi Test and throughout the last Test series against England.
It is surprising that the initiative has not come from Sehwag to overcome his weakness against the rising stuff. Bowlers all over the world must be relishing now the prospect to harass Sehwag.
Chappell too has to admit his failure in giving the adequate technical and psychological support to the beleaguered Indian batsmen.
Chappell can explain that he cannot bat for those who are struggling in the middle.
We would, however, like to see the Indian batsmen face rival fast bowlers with courage and conviction.
And Chappell cannot deny that, as a coach, he has the moral responsibility to restore Indian batting its dignity.
I wish the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir rein in their egos and become better students soon for their own good as well as for the benefit of Indian cricket.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Worshipping false Gods

By John Cheeran
Though India has won the first two one-day matches against England in the seven-match series, changes are likely to take place in the team sooner or later.
Indian team management’s immediate objective should be to win the next two matches, which would give them the series victory.
That should enable skipper Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell to take some tough measures against some of the established batsmen in the side. Here I presume that even if India win the next two matches, there will not be any significant contributions from openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
These two have tested the patience of Indian fans and team management and they should be told to take a walk from the side now. Even when conditions were conducive for batting, Sehwag and Gambhir failed India miserably. Their failure at the top, especially in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, is unpardonable.
Hence Dravid will have to re-think his opening options. If I were in Dravid’s shoes I would have promoted Yuvraj Singh as an opener to begin with Sehwag and will bring VVS Laxman to bolster the middle order.
If Sehwag remains restless and out of form, there is another path. In that case, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh should open the innings for India. Both VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh have opened in one-dayers and Tests before. And anyone objecting to the idea of making VVS and Yuvraj Singh openers, they should realize one fact.
If a technically unsound Sourav Ganguly could open the Indian innings in one-dayers, anyone can do the opener’s job. The successful opening combination of Ganguly and Tendulkar were the product of the exigencies of one-day cricket and Test match technique was not the basis for such a move.
That should hold good for a new opening combination like Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh or better still VVS Laxman and Yuvraj.
Who knows we will have to accept the reality when Tendulkar comes back he will have to revert to No.4 batting slot in one-dayers too. Naturally, there will be instant criticism against such a move but whatever works best for India should be acceptable for everyone.
The time to worship false Gods is over.

Gooch gives full marks to skipper Dravid

By John Cheeran
Simon Briggs this one is for you!
The Daily Telegraph, London, correspondent had written last week that skipper Rahul Dravid cannot inspire the Indian side.
But former England skipper Graham Gooch says Rahul Dravid was inspirational as skipper in the first one-dayer in Delhi and some of the catching was as sublime as it was ridiculously inept in Mumbai.
Gooch wrote in his column “The irony is complete. England as a Test side keeps moving upwards while its stock in one-day cricket is slipping everyday. India is a side reborn in one-day cricket while in Tests, it's almost on a life-support system.”
Gooch lavishes praise on Dravid. “I liked Dravid for the way he positioned his fielders around Andrew Flintoff's bat even when the colossal England captain was hell bent on blowing India away. Dravid gave a slip and a short square-leg to Harbhajan and introduced the second Power Play. Flintoff swept at two deliveries in vain and another, fuller and flatter, caught him plumb in front of the stumps.
"Five of the England batsmen were out attempting a sweep or toying with the idea at a critical moment of decision, as was the case with Geraint Jones. Clearly, England thinks of it as a ploy to counter the Indian spinners and upset the field.
It was adequate with its defensive methods in Tests but in the fast-paced world of one-dayers, you need to score runs as well and hence the reliance on this method. The England batsmen are still some way from leaving the crease to the tweakers. It's a skill which can't be taught overnight.”

Saturday, April 01, 2006

India finds a hero in Raina

By John Cheeran
After losing five wickets for 92 runs by the 25th over, few sides successfully complete their chase of a total such as 227 for a win.
India did just that on Friday against England, for their 14th consecutive one-day win while chasing.
There were enough reasons for skipper Rahul Dravid to get worried after he himself got the raw end of the stick, after ran out by Paul Collingwood.
Dravid, however, can relax a bit about the future now with 19-year-old Suresh Raina emerging a match-winner in Faridabad.
There was no doubt about Raina's potential and he had played his part in some ofthe rousing wins in the past against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
But today Raina rebuilt the Indian innings from debris and finished the job with a cool head and admirable flourish.
With this knock Raina has cemented his place in the one-day side, and there by firming up those options for World Cup before skipper Dravid and coach Greg Chappell.
It is harrowing to watch when you lose your wickets in the manner that India lost them today against England.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, though avoided the early meltdown, disappointed again by throwing away their wickets, playing rash shots. Both of them wasted glorious opportunities to salvage themselves, if not anything else.
For the first time in recent times Dravid failed to flourish in a crisis, but his run out was tragic to say the least.
The brigther side of Friday's crash was that it gave Raina the perfect chance to parade his batting skills. The statistic is incredibale that the unbeaten 81 in Faridabad is Raina's first one-day international half-century, for today he played not as a teenager but as a seasoned campaigner who knows when to lash out and when to rein himself in adversity.
His innings had its moment of uncertainty but it was a mature effort, not reckless batting.
Raina has big shots, as he showed in the latter part of his innings, but he has the nous to pierce the field and rotate the strike to frustrate the bowlers.
A composed batsman that he is, Raina, in the one-days to come will be both a nourisher of India's fortunes and destroyer of bowling attacks.
In Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan India can maximise their potential in the one-day format but India can win consistently only when the top order justifies their fat pay package from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
John Cheeran at Blogged