Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dravid and men in blue: leaving on World Cup mission

By John Cheeran
Indian cricket team is leaving on mission World Cup today.
Let’s hope Rahul Dravid and boys stay back at least for the Super Eight stage. Well, in 2003, our the young men from Pakistan were in a hurry so that they had to come back before the Super Eight began.
Giving logic its space, one should admit that anything is possible. Such as India sinking without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle.
Also without reasons or rhyme are the World Cup commentaries given by former cricketers.
Go near a veteran cricketer with a microphone and lo, behold, his jaws will open. Kapil Dev, the man who led India to their lone World Cup triumph in 1983, has now found it strange that Sachin Tendulkar is the vice-captain of the World Cup team.
Indian cricket board has taken its decision to make Tendulkar the vice-captain much earlier and why is Kapil quibbling about it?
What’s Kapil’s problem when Tendulkar himself has no problem in being the vice-captain?
And I believe, Kapil wants Sourav Ganguly as deputy to Rahul Dravid.
That, indeed, is some radical way to run India’s World Cup campaign.
Thank you Kaps!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sham Lal: A life in letters

By John Cheeran
I met Sham Lal, India's foremost bookish editor (as Dileep Padgaonkar described the gentleman in his obituary in the Times of India on Saturday) at Bangalore in 1994.
Sham Lal had come from Delhi to receive the B.D. Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism. I was at the West End Hotel in Bangalore to attend the inaugural function of the Asian College of Journalism, an adventure by the then undivided Indian Express Group, with T.J.S. George as the guiding force. I belonged to the first batch of the ACJ.
Now as I read the news of Sham Lal's death I could not help recalling that meeting with great man.
Without doubt Sham Lal was the humblest, well-read man and former editor I met.
And that fact, I'm sure, is unlikely to change though there are, no doubt, greater intellectuals and editors than him in India.
Before the function began, Sham Lal was standing in a quiet corner. I had found out from someone that this indeed was the great Sham Lal, one of the award winners of the night. I approached Sham Lal and he was quite surprised that any youngster should show interest in him.
I told him that I'm a regular reader of his Life and Letters column in the Times of India. He was pleasantly surprised to know that his column is read with interest in such remote parts of the country as in my Kerala village.
I did not forget to tell Sham Lal that the entrance examination conducted by the Asian College of Journalism had a question, who writes the column Life and Letters, and I answered it right.
Now here I was shaking the hands of the columnist who gave me an extra mark!
I was ill-equipped to ask Sham Lal any profound questions that evening. He however wished me the best for my career.
Later Life and Letters column stopped appearing in the Times of India, still whenever possible, I used to pick up The Telegraph to read Sham Lal.
Indian readers will surely miss his insight. It is a pity that there are hardly anyone in Indian journalism who can write with the perspicacity that Sham Lal brought to the concerns of our age.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Inheritance of Loss: Loss of time and money

By John Cheeran
Tastes of individuals vary. Even making such allowances I should say I found Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, winner of the Man Booker Prize for 2006, a highly enervating novel.
I regret having spent Rs 400 for this book, which Desai took seven years to put together. She should have done something better.
It is an utterly feminine novel, an effort that goes nowhere, does not tackle anything but novelist’s own misplaced concerns. (Even the heroine Sai has been created from Kiran’s surname, Desai, so much for her creativity!)
No wonder none reads this book or even buys this book if one goes by the best seller’s list in New York Times and Los Angeles Times. What impact, then, the book has created by winning the Booker Prize.
The stature of Booker Prize itself has been highly over-rated.
Why do we want to pick up a novel, for that matter why do we want to read?
Not only we are looking to be engaged and entertained on the pages but wants to be enriched by new experiences that author hit us with.
Kiran has only succeeded in presenting a few disjointed scenes from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and New York. She is only watching from a distance even when Kalimpong is shaken and stirred by GNLF. Kiran had an opportunity to get under the skin of Gyan, a faltering revolutionary, but she fails in that task abjectly.
I find her broken sentences jarring; a pale imitation of Arundhati Roy, her predecessor in the Booker hunt.
It is a pity that Pankaj Mishara and Salman Rushdies have heaped praise on Kiran. It only shoes how insincere these members of the writers’ guild are when it comes to expressing their literary opinions.
Mishra had written in The New York Times that Desai’s novel “manages to explore , with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence.”
Really? Mishra makes me recall that classic example of a great newspaper report.
The duchess exclaimed. I’m pregnant. Who did it?
These three lines have royalty, sex and intrigue in it, ingredients to arrest reader’s attention.
The reviews and blurbs only betray the fact Kiran had researched over the seven years on current affairs and had rolled up this dough, unleavened by wit, vision or imagination. Unfortunately good research does not lead to a good novel.
Reviewers such as Rushdie and Mishra are members of the writers' guild and to expect a honest opinion about a fellow writer would be foolish of us. It's time we began to learn to trust our thoughts rather than be imprisoned by the hollow words of Rushdie and Mishra.
My inheritance has been the loss of time and money by making that harrowing effort to finish reading The Inheritance of Loss.
Meanwhile I note with interest that Penguin Books has mentioned that Kiran’s first book, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was critically acclaimed. Well, critically acclaimed is the euphemism for the fact none read it apart from reviewers, who were paid to go through it.
And the redeeming fact is that it will take another seven years for Kiran Desai to assault us with her next offering. Thank you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Elavoor tragedy: a price for our indifference

By John Cheeran
Tragedy that happened in Kerala, India, when a make-shift picnic boat carrying 37 school children and three teachers capsized should keep all of us imprisoned for our blasé approach to the quotidian realities.
15 students of the Elavoor Saint Antony’s Upper Primary School and three teachers of the same school lost their lives. The grief will never stop to run through those hearts that are closer to the departed souls.
It is frightening to realise that how men's and women's judgment can get clouded, and lead to disaster.
The make-shift boat Sivaranjini, made from three fiber boats strung together, should not have carried more than eight persons, authorities say now.
But the disaster-struck boat carried 53 students and four teachers.
Someone should have objected to the idea of taking that many of them in such a boat across the Periyar river.
Either the boatman or the teachers should have said no to that ride.
But then we take chances every moment of our lives, aren’t we?
And to consider that the boat began to leak at the outset of that return journey!
Also it is important that 110-strong picnic party had hired three such boats to their visit to the Thattekadu bird sanctuary. May be teachers were emboldened by the fact nothing happened when they traveled to the sanctuary in the same boats. But that does not prove that their decision was a sound one. Their luck held out during that trip and during the return trip fate lines snapped.
Every year hundreds of schools organize excursion trips such as these. Many of our tourist spots and the allied services are far from professional.
Boats may leak, bridges may creak but you take that trip with chance.
Everyday taking a bus trip on Kerala’s roads is a dangerous game. Buses, mainly private-run ones, ply on the roads with no care or thought for the commuters lives. Majority of these buses are not insured. The overloaded buses are steered around by maniacs in Kerala and astonishingly passengers are willing accomplices in this madness. None of them object driver’s rash driving. It is only when these killer vehicles involve in head-on collisions and murders innocent wayfarers rage takes over.
Then at next dawn, everything repeats.
The callousness of our indifference claims undeserving and innocent victims.
May God forgive us. Even though we know what we are doing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Trust Aussies to bounce back

By John Cheeran
Another defeat for Aussies.
Reigning world champions have lost their fifth one-day international in a row. The last three defeats against New Zealand should not worry the team management excessively as frontline players were missing from these games. No doubt, the Australian bowlers were hammered around the park by Kiwis in the last two games; Glenn McGrath was not there in the final game.
The good thing is that Australian batting has its heroes. Matthew Hayden’s 181 and Shane Watson’s knock upfront should be consolations in a defeat after posting 346 in 50 overs. Two days ago, Australia had posted 336 for 4 only to let Kiwis overtake them.
The important point is that this is not the World Cup.
The theory of teams and individuals peaking too early may not be exactly apt here. Australian crisis has come at a convenient time for them since similar defeats could have pretty well happened during the Super Eight Stage of the World Cup.
It is not a surprise that a tired team has lost a few close matches. Though the lengthening losing streak (five-in-a-row) is a concern, Australia should be able to regroup and recharge themselves for a World Cup that practically only starts in Super Eight stage. Though the World Cup starts on March 13 with some ridiculous mis-matches, there is plenty of time for analysis and looking at plan Bs.
If anyone team capable of lifting itself from the current rut, then it is Australia. In the 1999 World Cup, Australia had lost two of their first three matches only to bounce back and murder Pakistan in the final.
Now, Aussies have had a real testing time as the World Cup approaches and they should be all the more stronger and better for going through these turmoil unlike an Indian team that has managed to cover up its traditional, tragic flaws against the West Indies and Sri Lankans.

Monday, February 19, 2007

World Cup brims over with excitement

By John Cheeran
When the mighty West Indies lost the World Cup in 1983, it came as a shocker to the cricket world.
Especially when they lost to India, a team that disgraced themselves in the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 by not progressing beyond the group stage.
But the West Indies’ defeat at Lord’s was not all that surprising when you consider that India had beaten them in a group game of the 1983 World Cup itself.
And Kapil’s Devils had beaten the same side at Berbice a few months ago when India went on the traditional Test and one-day tour. England, a much stronger side than India, too defeated the Clive Lloyd’s West Indies before the 1983 World Cup.
Still, none was prepared for the stunning result in the 1983 World Cup. May be the all believed the lightning does not strike at the same place twice, India having beaten Lloyd’s men in the early stages of the World Cup.
Now are we witnessing similar scenes as the 2007 World Cup comes closer to our eyes? The world champions Australians seemed unbeatable, only a couple of weeks ago.
Their resounding Ashes series win and the dominance of the triangular series all , however, came to naught as they lost the first two matches of the final to England, a listless side throughout the tour.
Australians have not recovered from the shock reverse in the final against England. Coach John Buchanan’s efforts to resuscitate the side did not succeed as the Mike Hussey-led outfit lost the Chappell-Hadlee series to New Zealand.
Suddenly, much before the World Cup, a mutiny has taken place that has usurped the No. 1 seat from Ricky Ponting’s men.
Well, both New Zealand and England have beaten Australia more than once. But that has propelled the South Africans to the top spot in one-day ratings.
There cannot be a better buildup to 2007 World Cup. Now it looks anyone’s game.
Aussies cannot complain that they were not forewarned. Michael Vaughan and Stephen Fleming have done that job with panache.
It would be interesting to watch how the shaken and stirred Kangaroos defend the World Cup.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ganguly, man-of-the-moment!

By John Cheeran
Honours are not strange to Sourav Ganguly.
Ganguly has been selected as the man-of-the-series at the end of the India-Sri Lanka one-day encounters. Three good knocks (62, 48 and 58 not out) with bat would not have gone unnoticed anyway though the quality of Sri Lankan bowling attack was pretty ordinary.
On his comeback trail, Ganguly has showed willingness to work hard for his runs and it has given the Bengal batsman a series of scores that should stoke the fire in his belly more.
Ganguly is the man-of-the-moment.
What’s remarkable in Ganguly’s second innings is that he has not overcome his weaknesses as a batsman but has played within his limitations. He has batted lower down the order in Tests and should consider himself lucky that a magnanimous team management has given him the opener’s role in one-dayers in appreciation of his good work.
This is important when you consider the fact that India can easily have quite different one-day opening pairs among Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa and Virender Sehwag.
By assigning Ganguly opener’s role, the team management had to cajole Tendulkar to recalibrate his game for the challenges that middle-overs throw up. The genius that he is, Tendulkar has hammered a century in his new role against the West Indies.
An interesting aspect that has been on view in Ganguly’s comeback, both in Tests and one-dayers, is the batsman’s inability to come up with real, big scores. Well, no Indian batsman scored a century against South Africa in Tests either in Tests or in one-dayers.
A century has eluded Ganguly so far in the one-dayers where he enjoys a better run-record, and it only shows how much of a tough task scoring runs has been for this tenacious performer. May be, the World Cup in the West Indies would see a long-lasting Ganguly at the crease.
Opening on sleeping beauties is Indian batsmen relish in 50-over games.
Sensible batsmen such as Ganguly and Tendulkar have made use of the advantage of opening and built themselves runs in excess of the much-coveted 10,000 mark.
Youngsters such as Robin Uthappa should do well to take a leaf out of the soiled books of Tendulkar and Ganguly and learn not to fritter away the golden opportunities to kick start the Indian innings on batting paradises. A super-charged 50, of course, thrills the stadium, but for India as well as for his own career, Uthappa should learn the art of making hay while the sun shines.
Ask Ganguly and Tendulkar for details.

India slay Sri Lanka ahead of World Cup

Blog Report
Yuvraj Singh came up with a pugnacious knock of 95 not out to guide India to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final one-dayer on Saturday and help seal the the series in favour of hosts 2-1.
Earlier, Chamara Silva hit an unbeaten 107 to shore up Sri Lankan innings to 259 for seven in the 47-overs-a-side game after the start was delayed because of dew on the ground.
Yuvraj shared in an unbroken 145-run fourth wicket partnership with Sourav Ganguly, who was 58 not out, to as the hosts cruised to 263 for three in 41 overs.
Yuvraj, who coming back after suffering a knee ligament tear in October, played brute shots against a listless Sri Lankan bowling attack on a pitch that favoured batsmen.
Ganguly who struck his second half-century of the four-matchwas declared the man-of-the series .
The 21-year-old Robin Uthappa logged 52 from 37 balls to give India a blazing start to their run chase.
Opener Virender Sehwag made 46.
Sehwag was run out to a direct hit by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara at the non-striker's end as he walked to complete a single but Yuvraj and Ganguly then took over.
Sri Lanka fought back in the match thanks to Silva's gutsy batting.
The 27-year-old, playing in only his 14th match since his debut in 1999, revived Sri Lanka after Indian pacers led by Ajit Agarkar's double strike reduced them to 56 for four in the 13th over.
Silva added 68 runs for the fifth wicket with Tillakaratne Dilshan (28), 41 for the next with Russel Arnold (22) before putting on a racy 64 runs for the seventh wicket with Farveez Maharoof (28).
Sri Lanka plundred 76 runs in last seven overs with Silva going after off spinner Harbhajan Singh and then scoring freely against pacemen Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth.
Silva, declared man of the match, had been out of favour until a strong return on the New Zealand tour late last year, where he hit 152 not out in the second test at Wellington to help level the series 2-2.
The series win will act as a catalyst for India ahead of the World Cup starting in West Indies on March 13.
Both India and Sri Lanka are in Group B with Bangladesh and Bermuda.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pollard, a suitable boy!

By John Cheeran
The West Indies selectors have done what Dilip Vengsarkar has failed to do when picking their warriors for World Cup.
I’m talking about the unknown commodity in team selection.
The Inclusion of 19-year-old Trinidad allrounder Kieron Pollard, simply, is a stroke of selection genius.
But in India, I’m told, the cupboard is bare and there are no secret weapons available for the team management. Well, we will know once the World Cup fever passes over.
Pollard has kept out the likes of Darren Sammy and Runako Morton whereas in India holy cows such as Virender Sehwag are let to loiter the grassy outfield.
Pollard, who made his debut in the West Indies' domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions this year for Trinidad and Tobago, is a big-hitter.
It is interesting to listen to Gordon Greenidge, the convener of the West Indies selection committee.
"We've had a good look at Kieron Pollard over the last few matches in the Carib Series and the KFC Cup.
He impressed us all. Throughout the Caribbean, a lot of praise has been heaped on this young
man. Also being an unknown quantity - he is not known to the outside world who will be coming to compete in this World Cup. From what we've seen, we feel that he will add value to the team. His contribution in regional tournaments so far has been very good."
Pollard has hit 83 off 38 balls against Nevis to put Trinidad and Tobago into the final of the inaugural Stanford Twenty20 Cup in Antigua.
He had a century on his first-class debut against league champions Barbados in the opening match of the season, and produced another ton against the Leeward Islands.Will Pollard be the X factor if the two-time former champions regain the world of glory at their home grounds?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Complete List: World Cup teams

Editor's Note:
Want to know who are fighting for cricket's World Cup?
Here is the complete list of World Cup teams.
Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin (wk), Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.
Habibul Bashar (capt), Shariar Nafees, Tamim Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Saqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak, Mashrafe Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain, Tapash Baisya, Syed Rasel, Rajin Saleh, Javed Omar.
Irving Romaine (capt), Dean Minors (wk), Delyone Borden, Lionel Cann, David Hemp, Kevin Hurdle, Malachi Jones, Stefan Kelly, Dwayne Leverock, Saleem Mukuddem, Steven Outerbridge, Oliver Pitcher, Clay Smith, Janeiro Tucker, KwameTucker.
John Davison (capt), Qaiser Ali, Ashish Bagai, Geoff Barnett, Umar Bhatti, IanBillcliff, Desmond Chumney, George Codrington, Austin Codrington, Anderson Cummins, Sunil Dhaniram, Ashif Mulla, Henry Osinde, Abdool Samad, Kevin Sandher.
Michael Vaughan (capt), Ed Joyce, Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss, KevinPietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Nixon (wk), Ravinder Bopara, Jamie Dalrymple, Monty Panesar, Jon Lewis, James Anderson, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood
Trent Johnston (capt), Kyle McCallan, Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Ken Carroll, Peter Gillespie, David Langford-Smith, John Mooney, Paul Mooney, Eoin Morgan, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Andrew White
Steve Tikolo (capt), Thomas Odoyo (vice-captain), Ravindu Shah, Tanmay Mishra,Collins Obuya, Peter Ongondo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Maurice Ouma, Malhar Patel, Hiren Varaiya, David Obuya (wk), Rajesh Bhudia, Jimmy Kamande, Tony Suji, Lameck Onyango.
Luuk van Troost (capt), Peter Borren, Daan van Bunge, Ryan ten Doeschate, Mark Jonkman, Muhammad Kashif, Alexei Kervezee, Tim de Leede, Adeel Raja, DarronReekers, Edgar Schiferli, Jeroen Smits, Billy Stelling, Eric Szwarczynski, Bas Zuiderent.
New Zealand
Stephen Fleming (capt), Shane Bond, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, MarkGillespie, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum (wk), Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram,Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, LouVincent.
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, ZaheerKhan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.
Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Hafeez, ImranNazir, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Rao Iftikhar Anjum
Craig Wright (capt), John Blain, Dougie Brown, Gavin Hamilton, Majid Haq, PaulHoffmann, Douglas Lockhart, Ross Lyons, Neil McCallum, Dewald Nel, Navdeep Poonia, Glenn Rogers, Colin Smith, Ryan Watson, Fraser Watts.
South Africa
Graeme Smith (capt), Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Roger Telemachus
Sri Lanka
Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, UpulTharanga, Marvan Atapattu, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Chamara Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, NuwanKulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga Bandara.
West Indies
Brian Lara (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ian Bradshaw, Corey Collymore, Jerome Taylor, Denesh Ramdin, Devon Smith, Lendl Simmons, Daren Powell, Kieron Pollard
Prosper Utseya (capt), Gary Brent, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Keith Dabengwa, Terry Duffin, Anthony Ireland, Friday Kasteni, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Ed Rainsford, Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor,Sean Williams.

All about editor's choice

By John Cheeran
The Times of India carried an interesting edit page article on World Cup on Thursday. I read it and then was forced to wonder about the editorial process in that great newspaper. The article makes reference to the 1996 World Cup, which was held in India, twice.
In his second reference, the author has written that “One remembers the havoc Sunil Gvasakar wreaked against Ewan Chatfield at Nagpur in the 1996 World Cup.”
Clearly, writer’s memory does not serve him right.
Gavaskar’s first and last one-day century came in the 1987 World Cup held in India. Yes, it was a blazing innings by Gavaskar’s standards and that left his fellow opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth stunned at the non-striker’s end. Yes, it was against New Zealand.
But how come Times of India’s obscenely paid assistant editors failed to cross check and eliminate the error, which provides the context to writer’s argument?
And to note that a Times of India stafffer had the audacity to crow about newspaper’s editorial process to bloggers only a few months ago!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

For the record: Dravid guides India to win in Goa

Blog Report
Indian skipper Rahul Dravid became the sixth batsman in history to reach 10,000 one-day runs as he steered India to a series-levelling five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday in Goa.
Dravid made 66 as India overcame early setbacks to go past Sri Lanka's 230-8 in the 47th over of the third one-day international at the Nehru Stadium.
The hosts hit 233-5 to level the four-match series 1-1 with the decider to be played in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. The first match in Kolkata was abandoneddue to rain and Sri Lanka won the second in Rajkot by five runs.
The series is the last for both teams before they head to the Caribbean for the World Cup starting on March 13.
India's victory was set up by left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan who took a career-best 5-42 after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat.
Zaheer reduced Sri Lanka to 6-3 in the fifth over before the tourists, electing to take first strike, fought back through the lower order to post a teasing total. Russel Arnold (66 not out) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (42) put on 89 for the sixth wicket after half the side was back in the pavilion for 91 by the 24thover.
India, in reply, slipped to 35-2 by the fifth over as Virender Sehwag was caught off Dilhara Fernando for 12 and Sachin Tendulkar was bowled by NuwanKulasekara for one. Sourav Ganguly made 48 to boost the score before Dravid and Mahendra Dhoni (67 not out) sealed India's win with a fifth-wicket stand of 133.
Dravid was unlucky to be run out four runs short of victory when bowler Malinga Bandara deflected a hit from Dhoni on to the wicket with the non-striker out of his crease.
Dravid joined team-mates Tendulkar and Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan, Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka and Brian Lara of the West Indies in the exclusive 10,000-run club when he reached 22.
The Indian captain, a veteran of 309 one-dayers, now has 10,044 runs with 12 hundreds and 77 half-centuries.
Earlier, Zaheer grabbed the first three wickets in eight balls as he surpassed his previous best of 4-19 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2003.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Arab discovers India

Editor's note: Everyone knows that Indians work like slaves in the Middle East, subjected to racial abuse day in, day out. For fear of upsetting the oil imperialists, the OPEC Mafia, policy makers and politicians in India ignore the Middle East Reality. Read the following article in that context.
Tariq A. Al-Maeena in Arab News
Over the Haj holidays, I surprised my kids with an announcement that I would be taking them to India for a short holiday. My distinct memories from having visited the country with my parents when I was a child had left me with impressions of cultures and civilizations that one reads in history books.
And then there was the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. And wanting to repeat that experience for my children, I decided to give them a taste of India by planning our trip to encompass different regions of the country - Chennai in the south, Delhi and Agra somewhere in the central, and Mumbai in the western part of the Indian Subcontinent.
In the days preceding our trip, friends and acquaintances of both my children and myself were somewhat alarmed and bemused and quizzed us with the same question: "But why India?"
And why not, I would ask them. Their answers were somewhat patronizing and sympathetic. India, they would say, is dirty, crowded, and backward and we'd be sure to catch one of many diseases.
I would be exposing my children to viruses and bacteria of gargantuan proportions. Malaria, diarrhea, cholera and the plague were commonplace, and were I that insensitive or naïve to expose my children to such deadly threats, all for the sake of seeing some old monuments?
I would patiently explain to these naysayers that I wanted my children to see India firsthand, and not to take in the impression that unfortunately a lot of us Saudis and others have of that country. And I wanted to expose them to a diverse culture that they had not experienced before. And I thanked them for our health concerns, but assured them that we would be taking all necessary precautions.
But their concerns began to create some unsettling feelings within myself. Was I being rash expecting to get through India without some debilitating medical condition? And what about my children? Was I foolishly exposing them to transmissible diseases and possible harm? With a population of over a billion people, was I being immature in not giving worth to my friends' concerns?
I was adamant on this adventure though, but to be on the safe side I must confess that I did call upon the Indian Consulate in Jeddah and inquired about any specific medical precautions that we would have to take. "Drink only bottled water, and eat only in the hotels you would be staying in" was their soothing reply.
Armed with that knowledge, we began our trip. But to be on the safe side, we popped in malaria pills as an added precaution. As we spun through Chennai, Delhi, Agra and Mumbai, my kids were amazed. And they loved it. The hustle and bustle of Chennai with its serene shorelines dotted with resorts and retreats offering world-class service, the grandeur of the Presidential Palace in Delhi, the beauty of Marine Drive in Mumbai, topped with our visit to the majestic Taj Mahal had my children chirping in unison that it was the trip of a lifetime.
The preservation of historic monuments, unlike our own, were some of the things they marveled at. And from our observations, we were pleasantly surprised to find parts of India cleaner than our own city. Their roads, although crowded, were not run down as ours, and the Indians seemed more prosperous than imagined.
In a conversation with the vice president of marketing in the chain of hotels we were staying at, I remarked that I was amazed that five star hotels, once known to be the haven for only Westerners and rich Gulf tourists were primarily being occupied by Indians today. "Yes, my friend," was her reply. "India today is booming in heavy industry and technology. IT, pharmaceuticals, steel and medicine are the backbone of our economy. Education is a top priority and some of our universities are among the leading ones in the world. People are more affluent and spend > freely. Over thirty percent of our population is now middle class..."
"Thirty percent, that's good," I interrupted. "Yes, my friend, that translates to over 300 million", she said with a bemused look at me as the force of that staggering number dawned on me.
Three hundred million! And here we are, not even twenty million Saudis, and many not anywhere near middle-class.
What right do we have to thumb up our noses on India, a country on the move upward?
Yes, we drank only bottled water, but also ate in local restaurants. We witnessed wealth and we saw poverty. We learned about their great history and we observed massive new projects in the works, designed to make life easier on the Indian.
In spite of their diverse cultures and religions, India is tolerant and moving forward, and not bogged down by what we witness here...intolerance and rigidity on the part of a few who seek to impose their views on the rest of us.
Indeed, India...I have to salute thee. And thanks for making my children's' visit a memorable one.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Look for beauty in love....

By John Cheeran
Tomorrow is Valentine’s day, marketing man’s coup over cupid.
Love, beauty all those things come to fore on such a day.
Let me leave this message for you on Valentine’s day.
Look for beauty in love, not love in beauty.
And enjoy.

Betting and batting: For a few more dollars

By John Cheeran
Some of our international cricketers have managed to confuse between batting and betting. So they end up betting when they must be batting for themselves and their team.
West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels seems to have problems in spelling out both betting and batting. The allegations surrounding Samuels, during the Nagpur one-day match between India and the West Indies, may have some shades of truth in it.
What can be done about match-fixing in cricket? Very few can resist the prospect of a few more dollars. And cricket is rich in possibilities for manipulation.
Despite stringent policing, the virus of fixing will come back at cricket in stronger forms.
Betting is a perfectly fine activity. In the history of American boxing, betting syndicates used to virtually own boxers and manipulate the outcome of bouts to suit them. Even today, doubts persist how Mohammad Ali managed to knock out Sonny Liston during their first bout. Many believe the betting syndicate forced Liston to throw his bout against the then rookie boxer Ali.
I believe the day will not be far away when cricket betting syndicates in India will start picking boys from the playing fields and plant such players as their moles in the Indian dressing room.
May be that calls for patience. And when they have easy pickings among our current crop of cricketers why fixers nurse and rear their dark horses?

Monday, February 12, 2007

World Cup Team: A conservative choice

By John Cheeran
India’s 15 for the World Cup is a very, very conservative choice.
Well, World Cup is not a stage where you change and chop for the heck of it, but Dilip Vengsarkar, chairman of national selectors, should have taken at least form into consideration while including Virender Sehwag in the team.
What has Sehwag done to deserve a place in the side after he was dropped from the side in the post-South African safari? It is also important to remember that Sehwag had a wretched time in South Africa.
And it shows what a strange place Indian cricket is when none even whispered VVS Laxman’s name during the press conference held to announce the team for World Cup in Mumbai.
It is a pity that an injured and unproven Yuvraj Singh finds favour with selectors; a listless Sehwag finds supporters among the selectors. And Laxman, who has done well in the recently concluded South African series, was not given even a trial game in the games against the West Indies and Sri Lanka.
May be it all go to show that paucity of the talent, as Vengsarkar had put it in the past, forced selectors go for the kind of choices they made.
And remember this. It was after India lost their World Cup campaign in 1996 at home, that Indian cricket found two of its most celebrated cricketers. Those two guys were Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. May be India will stumble on its heroes once the dust of the battle settles in the West Indies.
Indian squad Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthick, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan.

India's World Cup team: Sehwag, Sreesanth in

By John Cheeran
India's World Cup Team was announced by Board secretary Niranjan Shah in Mumbai on Monday.
Indian squad Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthick, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan.

World Cup Preview: Sri Lanka beat India by 5 runs

A Blog Report
Sri Lanka beat India by five runs in the second one-dayer at Rajkot on Sunday, taking a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara hit a neat 110, his sixth one-day hundred, to shore up the visitors from 58 for four to reach 257 for eight. Sri Lanka then restricted India to 252 for nine.
In a tantalizing encounter, India required 11 runs to win off the final over but Sanath Jayasuriya conceded just five with his frugal left-arm spin, removing Mahendra Dhoni who had made 48 off the penultimate ball of the contest.
Sangakkara, 29, put on 108 runs for the fifth wicket with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 56, and then put on 61 with Farveez Maharoof (17) for the seventh wicket.
The left-handed batsman struck 11 fours and four sixes until he was caught in the deep off paceman Munaf Patel in the 49th over.
Patel, who dropped Sangakkara on 91 off his own bowling, claimed four for 50.
"It was a brilliant game," said Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene. "We just knew we were not out of the game until the last ball."
Sangakkara was delighted to follow upon his prolific 2006 when he scored his highest Test score of 287 in the first game against South Africa in Colombo.
Sri Lanka were boosted in their final World Cup buildup, but the defeat put pressure on Indian players before today's selection meeting to name the final squad for the tournament starting in West Indies next month.
Opener Saurav Ganguly (62) and Sachin Tendulkar (54) added 100 runs for the third wicket when India chased as the hosts appeared to be coasting towards victory.
However, leg spinner Malinga Bandara broke the partnership when he had Tendulkar stumped giving the charge against a sharp leg-break.
Sri Lankan bowlers put on a spirited display despite the absence of experienced paceman Chaminda Vaas and off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who have both been rested for the series.
Ganguly edged a wide ball from paceman Lasith Malinga to Sangakkara and Sehwag, playing his first knock since an abysmal South African tour, nicked Bandara behind the stumps trying to glide the ball to third man.
Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik (31) added 66 runs for the sixth wicket before Malinga trapped Karthik leg before to force the close finish.
Paceman Maharoof took three for 42, including the wicket of skipper Rahul Dravid, who played on to his stumps.
The first game of the four-match series was abandoned because of rain in Kolkata on Thursday. The next match will be played in Margao on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What's the measure for Yuvraj Singh?

By John Cheeran
Tomorrow they are selecting the Indian squad for World Cup.
There should not be any concerns regarding the choice of skipper Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
Debate should rage when it comes to picking guys such as Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh Dinesh Karthick, Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan.
I’m most puzzled by the case of Yuvraj Singh, the middle-order bat from Punjab. Yes, he has potential to cut loose against bouncy attack. But how fit he is for World Cup?
Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar and the BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah have been conveniently quiet about Yuvraj’s fitness. Yuvraj got a chance to play in two matches against the West Indies. At Chennai, on a batting paradise, the comeback man appeared out of sorts and contributed in large measure to India’s defeat. In the fourth and final match against the West Indies Yuvraj did not get a chance to bat as the top order made merry.
Yuvraj was out of the team list though the Calcutta one-day against Sri Lanka was abandoned eventually. He is believed to be carrying some injuries and hence he is out of the squad even for the second one-dayer now in progress in Rajkot.
So what’s the measure for measure when it comes to Yuvraj? Doesn’t he need to prove fitness? Doesn’t he need to prove he has the form?
The formbook does not favour Sehwag either, unless he makes amends at Rajkot.So it is pretty much obvious that support from outside, much as in the same fashion the UPA government at the center gets from the Communists, matters in World Cup selection too.

A reality check on India!

Editor's note: It has been part of my efforts to present a balanced view on an India that is Rising.
Here is a thought-provoking article by Philip Bowring that appeared in International Herald Tribune.

HONG KONG: I've been bullish on India for thepast 17 years, but now I'm nervous.
One does not need to be in the country to bedeluged by "India rising" triumphalism. The BBC World Service is providing an endlessly repeated series on the subject.
Morgan Stanley's star economist Stephen Roach has followed the crowd and returned from the subcontinent with"great enthusiasm" for the "magic of its entrepreneurial spirit." Fortune magazine advises us to look out for more multibillion-dollar acquisitions by globalizing Indian companies.
A resurgence of Indian pride is understandableafter decades when India was ignored by the Western media and viewed withdisdain by fast-growing East Asia. Such a boost to national self- confidence must be of long-term benefit and create a dynamic of rising expectations.
But there are too many signs of an overconfidence that looks more and more like hubris. If suddenly deflated it could undercut the basis on which Indian optimism is built - that India can compete in a globalizing world and one day equal China in economic weight.
The hype about ethnic Indian talent is a reminder that a decade ago much the same thing was being said of ethnic Chinese. Back then, the world was caught up in the "miracle" of Southeast Asian growth, fueled, it was said, by the business skills and networks of overseas Chinese.
Success was attributed to the culture of Confucius, who believed in a hierarchical society directed by a wise elite. "Asian values" were equated with Confucian ones.
The "global Chinese" story - while not a myth - was overblown and finally punctured by the Asian economic crisis. There are other reasons to worry now about the India hype.
It is all very well for Indians to express racial pride over the success of Mittal in gaining control of European Arcelor to become the world's biggest steelmaker.
But why, it might be asked, has the Indian-born, London-dwelling Lakshmi Mittal invested so little in India itself?And where would India be if its markets were as open as those of Europe, an openness which enabled Mittal to buy Arcelor?
The Tata Group's acquisition of the Anglo-Dutch steel group Corus raises other concerns. May be there are synergies and Tata can acquire technology. But, again, one may ask why Tata, a100- year-old family conglomerate, is investing so heavily outside India when India offers the greatest growth potential of any major steel market. Its current steel output of 44 million tons is one-tenth that of China.
Contrast the effort by Tata to buy into the international big league with that of Posco of South Korea. Its rise from nothing to become the world's third largest producer and a leader in steel technology was achieved through organic internal growth and investment in research - just as Japan's was a generation earlier.
Although Posco was protected by the government, it was always under pressure to produce quality steel at prices that kept South Korea's shipbuilding and other steel-using industries competitive.
Indian overseas acquisitions have been possible not so much because the acquirers are especially rich or dominant intheir industries, but because it has been so easy to borrow.
Indian companies are the beneficiaries, for now, of the same global liquidity bubble that isproducing multibillion-dollar private equity takeovers and has helped the Indian stock market rise fourfold since 2003.
Thus, Indian companies are investing more overseas than foreigners are investing in India. Of course some acquisitions are in fields where India does lead - software and generic pharmaceuticals.
Some are driven by business logic. But others do more to swell Indian pride than boost the Indian economy.
At home, Indian investors have been helped by an unsustainable rate of growth in bank credit - 20 percent last year. The fact is that India remains a capital-short country.
The growth of its grossdomestic product has been stimulated by a rise in the investment rate from around 25 percent of GDP to 30 percent. But even more is needed to sustain growth, and even the present rate may prove hard to maintain when global conditions become tighter.
As it is, India's private-sector savings surplus has fallen sharply while the public-sector deficit remains very high. The seriousdeterioration now occurring in the current account will probably crimp India's growth, push interest rates back up and prick the stock bubble.
Enthusiasm about India's global role as a manufacturer, given its supply of labor and vast domestic market, is fine in theory, but it must be tempered by the reality of high tariffs and a huge manufacturing trade deficit. India is more dependent than ever on exports of services and raw materials, and on workers' remittances.
Long term I remain bullish on India. But it is time for a reality check.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Dravid, you are only another brick in Indian cricket wall

By John Cheeran
By batting for the inclusion of the beleaguered opener Virender Sehwag in the Cape Town Test XI, what captain Rahul Dravid tried to win was the support of senior members in the side.
A captain has the right to back his players, especially those guys, who he thinks can deliver the runs for the team.
It is quite another matter that Sehwag let Dravid down and the entire team. Now with juicy bits of the Chetan Desai’s South African report out in the media, it is strange to see Dravid barking up the wrong tree.
Desai had a job to do, and he did it.
Dravid is right to be incensed since the report was leaked, but his ire should be directed at the BCCI, his employers. But what has Dravid to say about his player’s intransigence?
Dravid misses the whole point in the controversy.
What happens within the India dressing room should end there most of the times. But the kind of instance that Desai has recorded when Sehwag refused to turn up for a practice session early in the morning when coach Greg Chappell and his support staff were waiting for him should have been brought up for a national debate much earlier. And to know that Sehwag had asked for that special nets session!
And in this case, I’m all for such inspired leaks.
It is important to Indian cricket that Indian team captain Dravid realizes that Sehwag, at his current state of mind, is useless to the side. Yes, Sehwag is on trial against the Sri Lankans.
Even chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, who played the experience card to bring in Ganguly, has spoken out against Sehwag.
Let me say this. I have given Indian captain Dravid unsolicited support through this web log. And I am pretty much aware that my blog does not make a difference to Dravid or Indian cricket.
But while Dravid is busy searching through the Indian cricket archives to find out the name of Chetan Desai, I want to tell him that he will not find my name either in those history books. And names of millions of Indian cricket fans like me.
It is important that Dravid realizes that it is those guys who were, and are, beyond the boundaries who have sustained the Indian cricket.
And you, Dravid, are only another brick in the Great Indian Wall.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sehwag Confidential!

By John Cheeran
When young men play, you cannot expect them to behave like Socrates.
Quarrels and clashes are inevitable when you struggle to survive against the opposition as well as within the dressing room.
What surprise is there if opener Virender Sehwag and Greg Chappell had an argument, a heated one at it?
Sehwag was extremely fortunate to have played all three Tests during the South African series. It was unacceptable to me that he played the last Test. At that time reports or rumours (these days there are only rumours) suggested that Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar did not want Sehwag in the team yet a group of senior players led by Rahul Dravid, accommodated him in the XI.
Now an Indian television channel has broke the news that the confidential report on South African tour submitted to the BCCI by manager Chetan Desai has accounted Sehwag’s refusal to attend a training session on the eve of the Durban Test.
Sehwag rarely competes to get the gentleman prize tag. Greg Chappell hardly minces his words.
But the report now has administrative value for the BCCI. But it is nothing sensational. It would have been sensational if the news of the dissent had broke out on the eve of the Durban Test.
All sensible guys are resigned to Sehwag watching the World Cup action from his Delhi home.
As for the current series against Sri Lanka, Sehwag will be under extra pressure to perform in the backdrop of reports how churlish his behaviour has become in the recent days.
If anyone thinks this is something similar to the Ganguly vs Chappell drama, they are sadly mistaken.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ranji Trophy, a review

By John Cheeran
What separated Mumbai, the Ranji Trophy champions for the 37th time, from their challengers, Bengal, was the presence of pacer Zaheer Khan. For Zaheer it was his first match for Mumbai. Not many Mumbai cricketers made their debuts in the Ranji Trophy finals.
Zaheer, switching tracks from Baroda to Mumbai, delivered critical blows both in the first and second innings. He continued his hold over Sourav Ganguly when he dismissed the Bengal left-hander for another duck, the third in a row.
It was the Indian pacer’s five wicket spell in the first innings to knock out Bengal for 143 that sealed the match in favour of Mumbai.
Of course, there were splendid batting performances from Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Manjo Tiwari and Sourav Ganguly.
But it was Zaheer who upended the things in the final. That’s what a match-winner should do.
Zaheer’s brilliant performance put Bengal’s promising pacer Ranadeb Bose’s dedicated efforts throughout the season in the shade.
Bose, though he got the opportunity to bowl first on a pacer-friendly track at the Wankhede, could not grab his chances. He, however, came back with vigor in the second innings to take five Mumbai wickets.
Bose has finished the season with 57 wickets at an average of 14.23.
An impressive performance indeed. It is a pity that Bose did not figure in the list of 30 for the World Cup. Cricket does not end with the World Cup.
Bose will soon get a chance to bowl for India in the post World Cup turbulence that is waiting to hit the Indian cricket.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sreesanth battles for the big moment

By John Cheeran
Selectors' gaze will be firmly on fast bowler S Sreesanth as he runs up to bowl in the first two one-day matches against Sri Lanka, beginning on February 8 in Kolkata.
Sreesanth found himself disoriented when he conceded 1/79 in Nagpur and 1/67 in Chennai on flat wickets against the West Indies. He was in fact unlucky not to get a bowl on a dodgy track at Cuttack though.
Now is the moment for Sreesanth.
Life can be merciless as Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds realises after having injured and almost ruled out of the World Cup. Sreesanth has to grab his chances in the next two games. And he knows it.
Sreesanth says the hammering he got at Nagpur and Chennai have been good lessons.
"It was a learning experience for me. I had bowled quite a few wides and I will not commit such mistakes. I will stop the runs. I will put in my very best against the Sri Lankans in the coming matches," Sreesanth has said in Cochin.
"It is a great opportunity for me that I have been selected for the first two matches against Sri Lanka. I would work hard and will see that I do not give many runs this time. I am still a learner. I will not take things for granted," he said.
It's already been a long journey for Sreesanth from the heights of Wanderers to the fast approaching wilderness.

Sreesanth gets support from MRF coach T.A. Sekar

By John Cheeran
Will India's young fast bowler S Sreesanth catch the World Cup bus?
Many have struck Sreesanth's name out from their list of 15, after watching the Wanderers Wonderboy getting hammered all over the place in the one-dayers against the West Indies.
Sreesanth, however, has got some support from his coach, T.A. Sekar, the chief coach at MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai.
Sekar sees a bright future for the Kerala boy.
Sekar says Sreesanth is India's match-winner. "He can get early wickets and that can put opponents on the back foot. He bowled badly in just two matches and people have started talking about his run rate. I don't think anybody in the Indian team has his wicket taking ability and strike rate. He is only 23 and has a bright future."
It is important that we realise that inconsistency from bowlers have become the norm in one-day cricket.
Sekar says that when Glenn McGrath goes for 73 runs in 10 overs none makes a fuss but poor Sreesanth is singled out for criticism.
Yes, there is a point in what Sekar says.
And after all, it is Sekar's dharma to defend his ward at his hour of distress.
Let's hope Sreesanth will gain his place in the World Cup team by his karma against the Sri Lankans.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

India, In spite of the Gods and foreign correspondents!

By John Cheeran
It is very difficult to be accurate when you engage with India.
That is true even in the case of insiders such as you and me.
So when foreign correspondents stitch together books about an India That is Rising, you should expect a half-baked treat.
India is, in spite of the foreign correspondents.
Edward Luce, who is now Financial Times’ Washington Commentator, is eminently qualified to write about India. Luce was FT’s South Asia Bureau Chief based in New Delhi between 2001 and 2005. Not just that. Having married an Indian girl, Luce is almost an insider, like you and me.
Hence I’m disappointed with Luce’s book, In Spite of the Gods, published by Little, Brown in Britain.
Luce has written his book, steered by a few intellectuals and historians whom he encountered during his India beat. And it shows.
Luce is pretty much impressed with the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu. He writes that “Many Indian modernizers hope that Tamil Nadu points the way that the north is heading – towards a more moderate and civilized clash between the castes in the field of politics and elsewhere. Tamil Nadu proves that caste sentiments can be diluted, especially in urban settings.”
Luce has compared Bihar to Tamil Nadu and contrasted Mayawati with Jayalalithaa.
Yes, Tamil Nadu is a progressive place compared to north India. But then it is hardly a case of social justice as is made out by Luce. Tamil Nadu, as Luce correctly points out has only 3 per cent of Brahmin population compared to the 15 to 20 per cent of upper castes in north India.
But instead of Mayawati, a Dalit leader of Dalits, Tamil Nadu has produced a Barhmin leader of Dalits in Jayalalithaa. It is a pity that Luce failed to notice this curious nature of Tamil Nadu politics. May be his advisers failed in pointing out this significant point to him.
In Tamil Nadu, it is not the caste that matters, but cast is. Average Tamizhan still believes life is not elsewhere but on the 70mm screen.
To Luce’s credit, he has fleetingly discussed the impact of Gulf Dirhams in Kerala. Luce has confused town names Kodungaloor and Chavakad and has created a new one, Changanoor (page 256) while writing about the Mini Gulf enclave in Trichur district.
Luce has written what Indian journalists and especially journalists in Kerala are spineless to write. Exposure to Gulf has brought about a Muslim resurgence in Kerala.
He portrays an Abdullah Kutty in Trichur district who is proud to have contributed towards the revival of the mosque in his area. Luce notes that Mosque has been designed according to the prevalent Gulf style. Its minaret booms out the calls to prayer to a much larger area than before.
Excerpts: He (Abdullah Kutty) said that exposure to the Gulf had changed other things too. Most of the women had become more conservative in their dress. “Now they are considered vulgar if they do not cover all parts of their body except the face,” he said.
The change in the dress code of Muslim women in Kerala, prompted by the Middle East is an interesting turn in Kerala’s march to modernity and Internet cities.
By and large Luce has included shining pictures of India in his book.
In the past, India-hands Mark Tully and Elizabeth Boomiller had written perceptive books about the India. And not to forget V.S. Naipual and his India: A Million Mutinies Now, which remains by far the best account of India with more direct encounters with the nation than Luce has managed here.
But Luce has gone step ahead of them all, by writing a policy prescription for India.I hope Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Madam Sonia Gandhi shall pay careful attention to Dr Luce.

Sehwag running after World Cup bus

By John Cheeran
India's World Cup campaign will have its constours defined in the next seven days.
On February 12, Dilip Vengsarkar and other selectors will prune the list of 30 by half.
The frontline batsmen and bowlers have selected themselves with reasonable performances in the recent past and those who are struggling are getting a final chance for the tigh-rope walk against Sri Lanka, during the four-match series that starts on February 8.
Well, this trial is all about Delhi dazzler Virender Sehwag.
Can Sehwag emulate Ganguly in his determination to stage a successful comeback into the Indian team?
Sehwag has scored 4,756 runs in 163 one-day internationals with seven centuries.
Let me quote Vengsarkar on Sehwag. "He needed a break because he was not in good form. He has gone back and worked on his batting. We'd like him to bat in the middle order and I hope hedoes well."
It will not be all that easy. Yes, Sehwag has scored a century for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy after he was dropped from the Indian team. With Robin Uthappa redefining the batting in the early overs Sehwag will have to take his gunpowder into the lower middle order.
Fast bowler Munaf Patel also gets a chance to play against Sri Lanka.
He was named in the 15-man squad for the first two one-dayers.
The series against Sri Lanka begins in Kolkata on February 8, with the remaining games in Rajkot (Feb 11), Goa (Feb 14) and Visakhapatnam (Feb 17).
India's squad for the first two one-dayers
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthick, Mahendra Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, AjitAgarkar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ae mere Madrasi logon (or is it log on!) and Lata Mangeshkar!

By John Cheeran
Shilpa Shetty won her prize in the Celebrity Big Brother Contest.
It has been a few days and I was expecting Shetty to make statement that her winner’s amount of Rs three crores will be utilized to set up a foundation to fight racism on a global scale. May be starting with India itself.
How racist are Indians?
The North-South divide is pretty evident in India that is Bharath. For North Indians prefer to address all South Indians as “Madrasi,” a pejorative term at its best.
Such practice was rampant earlier and is on the wane as India discovered Bangalore and Hyderabad and even Kerala.
A few days earlier on January 26, I listened on the radio Lata Mangeshkar’s famous song “Ae mere watan ke logon.” I was startled when Lata sang ‘Madrasis', referring to all those South of Vindhya.
Here is a song that has been hailed to cut across all divisions in the land. Here is a song that brought tears to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s eyes as Lata sang it during the war in 1965.
Still it is shocking that writer can get away by using pejorative term for those who cannot instantly sync with the song.
Apparently Kavi Pradeep who wrote the song, would not have heard about anything south of Vindhya.
And over the years Watan ke log has been played a billion times. A racist song at best!
Hope none listens to Lata’s effort after the first two lines.
John Cheeran at Blogged