Saturday, December 07, 2013

When a big tree falls, the earth shakes

By John Cheeran
Despite this being the age of social media, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, it is quite expected that a few voices will bring back such far away things like the massacre of the Sikhs in 1984. 
Is the 1984 riots still an election issue? During the campaign for Delhi assembly elections did anyone raise it? People are hardly worried about justice, but are enthused by the prospect of a slash in their electricity bill. (By the way, it was Narendra Modi who reminded the Muslims in Gujarat that if you want justice, you will not have peace.) 
Now it is interesting that as a non-resident Indian Sikh, Jaspreet Singh is very much interested in the riots of 1984. He was in Delhi when the riots followed in the wake of prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh security guards on October 31, 1984. 
Singh, finally, has written his 1984 novel. Helium (published by Bloomsbury, 290 pages, Rs 499) is a guilt-ridden account of the 1984 riots by a Hindu academic (an IITian) based at Cornell, of how the events left a trail in his life. But it is largely left unexplained why it has taken the narrator 25 years to look back and find out his top cop father’s role (read complicity) in the unspeakable events during the “three or four days in the past that ruptured his relationship” with him, and another five years to put together this periodic table of betrayal, complicity and guilt. 
There is much drama that Singh works into Helium. But even without such stuff, (for eg, the narrator’s affair with his professor’s wife, a serene Sikh beauty, that is,) the unspeakable horror that followed when the big tree fell should have been enough to hook a reader on.
Jaspreet Singh, however, raises a pertinent question – “Why don’t you Sikhs forget what happened a long time ago?” This is a question the majority tend to ask these days, especially the social media crowd, for whom 1984 and 2002 are mere milestones while they are busy moving on to greater things, such as giving Narendra Modi the prime ministership of India. 
And Jaspreet’s reply too is important – “For the same reason we Indians don’t forget British colonialism, the Amritsar massacre or Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi march. We don’t even forget mythological events like Diwali and Dusshera. And you want me to forget something that happened as recently as in 1984? Did you do something wrong then? Is that why you want us to forget?”
In a telling line, Singh writes “Ordinary citizens were mere bystanders; they watched the pogroms the way one watches the Republic Parade or a cricket match.” 
Sadly, justice has been denied to the survivors of the 1984 riots. Much the same can be said about the survivors of 2002 riots in Gujarat. Who will you blame but the political system? Or yourself? Is having a Sikh as prime minister (two terms) enough atonement? Will voting Modi into the PM’s seat be lacerating penance for 2002 riots? Or for the puppy that was caught on the wheels of the chief minister’s car?
As a work of fiction, Helium fails to make the cut, despite its roots in history. Singh’s digressive, pastiche style is ambitious but fails to hold together. Sample this: “During the PhD oral examination, for some unknown reason, my mind drifted to my own student days, and I could not help thinking, amid a jumble of stray thoughts, about the most harrowing event I ever witnessed.” Such unknown reasons bring Helium down and make it colourless.  
The anger is understandable but Helium rises to absurd levels when Singh writes: “Then it dawned on me: the Congress Party had conducted its first major genocidal pogrom exactly ninety-nine years after it was formed, and exactly one hundred years after it was conceived in the hill station of Shimla.” 
And statements such as “Operation Blue Star was the biggest disgrace in the recent history of our country” remains a partisan sentiment.
But it is disturbing that there have been few meaningful works of fiction based on the riots in 1984 and 2002. Our inability to imagine the violence, the horror and the hardship of those trying times exposes us to the charge of co-conspirators.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bombay: A Great City And A Terrible Place

By John Cheeran
Biographies are easy to write. There is a beginning and an end, and even if it is not an end in itself, you can keep all irksome questions out. But how about writing a biography of a city, a city that is many things to many people? It is a hugely challenging task and renowned journalist Naresh Fernandes has written a brilliant, short biography of Bombay, titled City Adrift (Aleph, 157p, Rs 275).
This is a political biography of Bombay, without Bollywood and cricket (read, Sachin Tendulkar). What a relief, it is. It is evident from the author’s decision to write the biography of Bombay and not Mumbai. He writes rechristening of the city is still remembered as a refutation of Bombay’s inclusive history.
Even for a reader who has never been to Bombay, the big picture that Fernandes draws with an admirable economy of words, conveys the stench of corruption and compromises of both politicians and those vegetarians in Malabar Hills.
With a honesty that is rare among Indian journalists, Fernandes quotes architect Charles Correa that “Bombay is a great city and a terrible place.” And if you have been to Bombay even once, I’m sure, you would agree with Correa. And the consequence, as the author notes, is that no matter how burdensome life in Bombay seems to become, it’s almost impossible to leave.
Being a Bombayite, Fernandes is worried at the re-islanding of Mumbai. The growing distance between the middleclass Bombay and its poor neighbours is growing. There is no common ground between the two “as the middleclass Bombay shops in access-restricted malls, exercises in parks operated by private developers, trades public transport for air-conditioned cars and aspires to live in gated communities.”
And who is to be blames for the city’s drift?
The author excoriates the middleclass for its inability to understand the source of Bombay’s problems. Its failure to engage with the system and taking recourse in slacktivism comes in for sharp criticism. 
In a biography of Bombay, it is not surprising that you come across the Spirit of Bombay. You don’t come across the Spirit of Delhi in Delhi or the Spirit of Chennai in Chennai. The author, who reported the twin wave of riots in Bombay in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 for The Times of India, and the serial bomb blasts in 1993 March, says it was an episode of The World This Week that first paid a tribute to the Spirit of Bombay. Then others followed suit. 
Fernandes writes: “Bombay’s indomitable will has been hailed by its politicians and socialites with such regularity it has become obvious that they’ve used this resilience as an excuse to absolve themselves of the need to take the difficult decisions necessary to actually make the city more liveable. The incessant invocation of Bombay’s spirit is just an attempt to ignore the numbing of another little bit of its soul.”
Changes in Bomaby’s demographics, have enlarged the city’s vocabulary (for eg, Joeshwari is now mini Pakistan). The author says prejudice against Muslims has become so ingrained in Bombay life, the most vitriolic anti-Islamic sentiments can be expressed in polite drawing rooms without an eyebrow being raised. May be everyone knows this part.
All that apart, it is not easy to kill Bombay. Save Bombay cries have been there as early as 1974. It has survived so long. Bombay is now home to nine of the 15 richest Indians and has the world’s seventh highest concentration of high-net-worth individuals. Don’t they want to improve the quality of life in a city that they share with 12 million others? Or cheering Mumbai Indians is enough to prove their commitment to Bombay?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dhoni, is there a conspiracy? End the Master’s agony, please.

By John Cheeran
What’s happening, guys? I thought today, and the next four days, was all about Sachin Tendulkar’s tryst with exit from the game. But a moron of a cricketer, who happens to lead Indian team now, has taken a strange decision after winning the toss at the Wankhede. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has put the West Indies to bat first.
Come on, on all counts, the second Test against the West Indies is inconsequential in the grand narrative of Indian cricket. It is just another Test. The series can’t be lost with the innings win in the first Test at Kolkata.
Make no mistake, this Test is all about Tendulkar. And his 200th Test. His final Test.
The most sensible and charitable decision on the part of the Indian captain should have been choosing to bat first. In Tests, the accepted wisdom is to bat first in any case. And you don’t have to dream up a strategy against this bunch of West Indians, who are hardly up for the challenge of playing through five days, quite clearly demonstrated at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
So what’s the reason behind putting Tendulkar on the field to chew his nails, waiting for his turn to bat, who knows when? Is there a conspiracy to deny Tendulkar his final run?
Yes, of course, India will have its first innings sooner or later. But, Dhoni, why this pretence that all of a sudden you are interested in the game than its illustrious servant? And, of all times, now?
The West Indies will crumble in any case. And it would have been a more practical decision for India to bat first and put up a huge score, giving all its batsmen a chance to build their innings with care and conviction, including Tendulkar?
Did Tendulkar have any say in this decision? I doubt. Wouldn’t he have been interested in stepping out to play his last innings without being hurried, recalling some of his best knocks, while Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay soften up the friendly West Indian bowlers? With Cheteshwar Pujara stepping in between, Tendulkar could have been perfectly primed for his parting shot.
For all that, Dhoni should have remembered that cricket fans have flocked to the Wankhede not to see him or his bunch of cricket enthusiasts in the XI. They have come to see Sachin Tendulkar and see him hold the bat, man.
Or has someone, a marketing wizard, advised Dhoni that this is the best way to keep fans at the stadium and across living rooms in India in suspense? To keep them watching a few more commercials?
You don’t believe me, right? Believe.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Winds of Change Blow Away Akhilesh’s Cycle of Hope

By John Cheeran
Is Akhilesh Yadav more than his father’s son? There is no doubt that Akhilesh’s time has come with Muzaffarnagar riots challenging his authority as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. In the last 18 months, Akhilesh has turned BSP leader Mayawati into a saint, with the state witnessing more than 100 riots. The cycle of hope has been broken. 
Yet, not many can see the man behind Uttar Pradesh’s youngest chief minister, who now at 40, struggles to break free from the circle of his famous daddy and uncles.  
Yes, Akhilesh deserves our attention. Sunita Aron’s biography of the man in the hot seat, Akhilesh Yadav: Winds of Change (published by Tranquebar, pages 561), could not have come at a better time. Everyone is talking about UP and how Akhilesh has managed to alienate both the Hindu and Muslim communities. Muzaffarnagar riots have rocked political equations in Uttar Pradesh, reviving BJP’s drooping electoral fortunes in the state.
Winds of Change, however, fails to pull Akhilesh out of the shadow of India’s forever prime minister-in-waiting, netaji Mulayam Singh Yadav. 
Aron’s rambling account has a lot about the shifting political scape in UP but very little about Akhilesh. Despite being a witness to political vicissitudes in UP, the author has a hazy focus, and ends up with an amateurish effort. The book is too long (560 pages) and the tone is reverential. Poor writing mars this biography, factual errors add to readers’ woes. Relying on too many secondary sources and library clippings make this a dull reading. May be a bit of editing could have rescued this book -- it is amazing how the biographer can translate ‘shramdaan’ as land donation.
Aron uses colourful language as regional reporting often tends to be: "The tussle for power got increasingly vulgar and for the first time in history the UP assembly's carpets were soaked in blood even as legislators indulged in fisticuffs and routinely kidnapped and threatened each other in public.” 
Sample this: “It was evening time and a riot of emotions was visible on the grounds. Evening walkers ambled briskly despite a steady traffic of commuters.”
For all that, Tranquebar and Aron, I guess, got the name of the book wrong. It could have been easily titled Mulayam Singh Yadav: Winds of Change. This is a Mulayam biography in disguise as much as the current Uttar Pradesh administration is.       
Samajwadi Party, founded in 1992 by a shifty Mulayam, is now trying to change its colours with Akhilesh at helm. With free laptops but without English keyboards, it has been a difficult transition for Sydney and south India (Mysore) educated Akhilesh. The Yadav scion turned down an alliance from another powerful Yadav clan, to marry outside of his caste. Akhilesh has shades of strong will but the biography rarely tries to figure out the man.       
Although Samajwadi Party has its own Mahatma in Ram Manohar Lohia, whose ideology has been observed only in its violations, Mulayam has turned the party into a Yadav dynasty. The ‘modern’ Akhilesh has no qualms about it. He justifies the dynasty by saying people like him had ‘struggled’ to become politicians.
There is no doubt that Akhilesh has a tough task. He is ruling a state where students want their chief minister to allow them to copy during examinations. So much for aspirational values and free laptops. 
Much of the political reporting in India does not go beyond the inane. Sample this: “His (Vinod Barthwal, a SP leader) words had proved prophetic as Akhilesh's political career did witness a meteoric rise after his marriage to Dimple and he entered the Lok Sabha for the first time in 2000 after winning from Kannauj and eventually became the youngest chief minister of the largest state in 2012.” So what has marriage got to do with Akhilesh becoming an MP? Is it because the marriage came before the elections? Akhilesh married Dimple in 1999. And the biographer sees significance for an event that took place 13 years later and describes it as “meteoric rise.” 
Aron, however, gets it right, almost, when she writes: “Despite a growth story which remains unparalleled in any other village of Uttar Pradesh, the aggression amongst the locals of Saifai could be just a slice of what ails the Samajwadi Party across the state. It took a rustic Mulayam to rein in such elements in the past but for Akhilesh who is not only known for his politeness but is also hemmed in by lumpen elements within the party, it could prove to be a long overhaul.” 
May be it is a long haul. May be this is what we deserve when you write about a political party and a father-son duo who take pride in ‘English Hatao’ campaigns.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar’s Final Deal

By John Cheeran

To pretend that Sachin Tendulkar got his timing right when it came to his final innings would be utter dishonesty on the part of the great batsman as well as you and me.

I’m rolling on the floor with laughter reading what Tendulkar told Boria Majumdar in The Times of India front page story on October 11 that it (the decision to quit) “was not about body and mind.”

Retirement is all about getting old, body and mind, and heart too. Ask your HR department, they should tell you. To say then that Tendulkar quit playing because he thought he has reached a stage where he no longer enjoys the game is merely stating the obvious.

Everyone, except Tendulkar, knew that the great batsman has outlived his shelf-life. So when the decision came on Thursday, nobody asked“why”, the classic measure of a well-timed retirement. BCCI bosses had given broad hints that they were going to push out a batsman reluctant to leave the crease, despite the fact that Father Time had given him out a long time ago.

There were front page stories in at least three newspapers -- The Times of India, Mumbai Mirror and The Indian Express -- citing BCCI’s decision to give Tendulkar a farewell treat by hurriedly putting together a lambs-to-the slaughter West Indies squad for the run machine. That was the ultimate snub.

Those who were sticking to the pretty but pretentious line that“only Tendulkar knows when he decides to quit,” must be a relieved lot now. This was coming quite close to a good riddance minus the ‘thank you’ notes.

Debates about retirement of sport icons only happen in team sports. Consider the case of Roger Federer. Federer has the right to decide when he wants to quit. He alone is the master of his sporting destiny. If he is going to lose consistently, Federer has little choice but to pack his bags and leave. There is no need for a debate. The scoreline 6-0, 6-0, 6-1 would be enough.

In sport, nobody expects you to be forever young. So there is a time to go but your contributions will be recalled henceforth during tea breaks and rain intervals. A star is a star when it shines. The world has no time for a faded star.

So how does it matter whether Tendulkar plays his 200thTest or not? Is it not a mere statistic? Had Tendulkar said on Thursday that he has decided not to play any longer and is not bothered about BCCI inviting the West Indies to play a two-Test series in November, would his legacy as a great batsman have diminished?

May be people, fans, critics, commentators would have cried hearing that, knowing they would never see him play cricket again. That would have been a purifying moment, glorifying all aspects of cricket, and sport at large.

Now how does it matter whether Tendulkar scores zero or centuries in the last two remaining Tests? What difference will it make whether he has scored 15,837 runs or 16,000 and odd?

By saying it is all over, Tendulkar would have put BCCI in a fix. But such a call would have come only from a rebellious man, a man of substance, and not from a middle class icon, who stayed away from controversies by careful public relations management, and shied away from taking a stand when the great game was imperilled by match-fixing and other crises. Brands that have a contract with Tendulkar would have thrown a fit.
What you now have is a deal. Broadcasters, sponsors can have a once-in-25-years sporting moment. And you can rush for your tickets to Brabourne or Wankhede Stadium to be there when Tendulkar will have his final walk. You can bet on how many runs Tendulkar will score in his final innings. This is turning out to be more of theatre than sport. So, let’s salute the deal.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Catch An Elephant

By John Cheeran

To resist the urge to give advice calls for courage. To resist the urge to write ‘how to’ books demands both courage and discipline. One should never deny people an opportunity to keep their tryst with destiny by offering them advice.  

But then there are people who think different. Subroto Bagchi, chairman, Mindtree, gives us lessons in catching elephants, not just being rabbit hunters. The Elephant Catchers (Published by Hachette India, Rs 499) is all about scaling --scaling your business, intellect, reputation and people.          

Bagchi argues brilliantly. To begin with he says great strategy is not the child of reason, it is an act of emotion. He adds that execution of a great strategy is successful only when the people executing it connect to it and understand it.
He then brings in Mahatma Gandhi, as much as Apple’s Steve Jobs brought in Gandhi in his commercial to sell a point. “When Gandhi took on the British empire, all he asked his followers to pursue were two ideas: non-violence and non-cooperation.”

Bagchi writes that these ideas were as naked and simple as Mahatma himself. But it is a difficult job to remember that Gandhi had to call off his non-violent, non-cooperation campaigns each time when his followers went berserk. That’s the problem with grand sounding strategies, they do not work but remain as talking points.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What they are talking about in Kerala

By John Cheeran
Congress in Kerala is in all sorts of trouble. Group war is raging in the party and the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is seeking the ouster of chief minister Oommen Chandy. The saving grace is that CPM itself is divided over bringing down the United Democratic Front (UDF) government thanks to the internecine rivalry between party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, who is now seen as the last communist in Asia, including China.
Consider the charges against Chandy. It has been alleged that Chandy is party to a series of frauds committed by a private company, Team Solar, which swindled people of money to the tune of Rs 10 crore (the official figure quoted by Chandy is Rs 1 crore).  Serious among them is an accusation levelled by Sreedharan Nair, a provincial Congress leader and industrialist, who says he had received an assurance from Chandy that Team Solar is a venture that needs to be encouraged, which made him part with Rs 40 lakh to Saritha S Nair, a femme fatale associated with the solar firm.
Chandy says Sreedharan Nair had parted with his money a week before he met him last July. All Malayalis are now debating whether the femme fatale, Saritha S Nair, was with the Nair Who Had The Money, when he met the chief minister. Chandy, who streams visuals from the chief minister’s office live (Is he the world’s first politician to do so? Will have to check Limca Book of records) says visuals of his meeting with Nair are not available. And the incorruptible Chandy has now appointed a panel of Malayalam speaking Sherlock Holmes to retrieve the lost visuals, sift through them and spot whether there was a sexy Nair, apart from the Money Nair. 
Rivalry among Congress A and I groups has ensured that details were leaked to the media about extensive telephone conversations that Saritha had with chief minister’s office, his assistants and an entire spectrum of Congress leadership in the state, including home minister, members of Parliament and Kerala Pradesh Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala. And remember Kerala’s chief minister did not have a cell phone in his name till now and has been making use of his flunkeys’s phones to stay connected!  
There is no denying that both Saritha and her partner, Biju Radhakrishnan, had a criminal past, before they hit upon the ruling Congress establishment with a seemingly credible and fashionable scheme of solar energy at homes and industrial units.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who is the greatest living author in Malayalam?

By John Cheeran
Who is the greatest living author in Malayalam? That tag would easily be applied to M T Vasudevan Nair, known as MT, who celebrates his 80th birthday today (July 15).
For beginners, MT has written short stories, novels, screenplays and edited the prestigious literary weekly Mathrubhumi. MT is also an acclaimed film director (six movies) and won the best national feature film award for his first movie, Nirmalyam, in 1973.
The weekend witnessed a deluge of encomiums to the writer, free from critical assessment of his works and that is not unusual. In Kerala, bitching among writers is conducted a little subtly, away from print and sound bites.
MT has written 87 short stories (that’s one count) and the last one (Kazhcha—Sight) was in 1998. He has written nine novels but all that was ages ago. Still there will be few who would not have read MT classics like Manju, Nalukettu and Iruttinte Aathmavu.
Lyricism was MT’s hallmark. But MT’s concerns were limited. He bemoaned a way of life, mostly depicting crumbling Nair joint families and trying on the mantle of the outsider in such circumstances. MT also encouraged the Malayali’s penchant for nostalgia and the beedi smoking author carefully cultivated his aura.
Unlike many of his generation, MT’s struggles have been few and patchy. MT never lived or worked outside of Kerala unlike some of the modern greats of Malayalam literature such as O V Vijayan and Vaikkom Muhammed Bashir. While Bashir pulled off all sorts of tricks while pitching tent at various parts of India, Delhi shaped Vijayan’s writing. Both have written powerful novels that addressed concerns beyond the parochial and maudlin.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Is Muslim League a dead horse?

By John Cheeran

There is little in common between Jawaharlal Nehru and Ramesh Chennithala. The former is India’s most celebrated statesman-prime minister, the latter a khadi-clad Peter Pan in Kerala.

Last week Chennithala, president, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, tried to emulate Nehru when he said the rump of Muslim League in Kerala (what is variously described as Indian Union Muslim League Kerala committee, Muslim League, etc) has become a liability for Congress.

It was Nehru who dismissed Muslim League as a dead horse in the post-independence euphoria in 1957. (It is another matter that, two years later, he keeled over and the state unit of Congress struck an alliance with the League in Kerala). Now the dead horse is galloping faster than Congress in Kerala, threatening almost to wreck the United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition.

Will the high command in New Delhi agree about what Nehru said in 1957?

Why do Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi flog the dead horse? The Gandhis can hardly displease the rump of Muslim League in Kerala, for the Oommen Chandy-led UDF ministry leads a precarious existence even with the support of the League. So they will acquiesce, and League will continue to press their arguments.

It is important to realise who flogged Nehru’s dead horse into life.

With a 25% Muslim population in the state, both the UDF and CPM-led LDF are wary of alienating Muslim voters. But one cannot understand the need for a Muslim League, in Kerala’s cultural and social context, in electoral arena. Both Congress and CPM are quite accommodative of Muslim aspirations, so why strike a divisive note on the basis of religion? The answer should come from the Muslim community. League, however, has realized that only thing that matters in a first-past-post democracy is numbers in a given geographical area.

Read the full story

Look beyond scoreboard; trophies are not the truth

By John Cheeran
The scoreboard is important in cricket, but then you learn to look beyond the scoreboard when you regard sport as more than a pastime. The tragedy in Indian sport is that very few have the courage to look beyond the scoreboard.

That explains the glee that washed over the sport pages of newspapers, magazines and talk shows in myriad television channels after India creditably won the Champions Trophy in England, although contests were less than bloody battles, when you appreciated how famished the Australians and poor Pakistanis looked on the field. But, let us grant that a win is a win is a win.

Much pretty prose was thrown at the readers to yet again anoint Mahindra Singh Dhoni as India’s greatest captain, notwithstanding his gambler’s move to bring an expensive Ishant Sharma into the attack to break the burgeoning England partnership while the hosts were chasing India’s target.

Again, Dhoni succeeded, India succeeded. India have become champions. Yes, Dhoni deserves credit for handling his players well and scripting the tournament victory, away from home.

But victories on the field should not be a licence to fix deals off the field. You can get away with inexplicable decisions on the field, as long as you pull it off. But you cannot apply the same logic, or better still, tactic, off the field while making decisions.

That’s why despite being India’s ‘greatest ever captain’ Dhoni has to answer questions on what has been going on in the IPL, throughout all its six editions, and explain his conflict of interest by running a sport management firm that looks after the pecuniary interests of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Prgyan Ojha, three India players, while remaining as Team India captain.

These are irksome questions. But India needs answers for these questions from Dhoni. It is a pity that India’s feckless sport writers have yet again failed to raise these points while gaping in wonder at the scoreboard.

Read full story

Friday, June 28, 2013

A navigation guide for you in New Digital Age

By John Cheeran
Can you keep your privacy online? With the US National Security Agency’s Prism programme snooping on social media networks to collect data, you have reasons to be highly sceptical. People who are not on Google, Facebook and Yahoo and not using smartphones are becoming a minority across the world. The digital age in which we are living has become an uncertain place.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google, and Jared Cohen, director, Google Ideas, warn us about the consequences of going online in a brilliant book The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business (Published by Hachette in India, Rs 650).
Five billion more people are poised to come online. By 2025, the majority of the world’s population will, in one generation, have gone from having virtually no access to unfiltered information to accessing all of the world’s information through a device that fits in the palm of the hand.
If the current pace of technological innovation is maintained, most of the projected eight billion people on Earth will be online, write Schmidt and Cohen.
The authors raise an important question-- will the digital empowerment of individuals result in a safer world, or a more dangerous one? They don’t have the answers but try to chart out the scenario that may unfold before us.
Any stuff you keep online is vulnerable. Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens in the future. How to protect it? There is no delete button in digital world. Isn't that a frightening piece of knowledge?
WikiLeaks cofounder Julian Assange believes in the dictum of ‘information wants to be free.’ Free-information activists say the absence of a delete button ultimately strengthens humanity’s progress toward greater equality, productivity and self-determination.
But the absence of a delete button also presents challenges.
Schmidt and Cohen do not address whether secrecy and privacy are the same. As an individual you have a right to privacy, but do you have a right to secrecy? Public interest should be the key to unlock this question.
The authors caution us that if we are on the web, we are publishing and we run the risk of becoming public figures—it’s only a question of how many people are paying attention, and why. You are always under surveillance in the digital world.
Security and privacy are a shared responsibility between companies, users and the institutions, write Schmidt and Cohen. They admit that companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are expected to safeguard data, prevent their systems from being hacked into and provide the most effective tools for users to maximize control of their privacy and security.
But they also make it clear that it is up to users to leverage these tools. “Each day you choose not to utilize them, you will experience some loss of privacy and security as the data keeps piling up.” The option to delete data is largely an illusion.
The irony is that privacy is in danger but we don't even get our basic information right, the kind of information no one has withheld from us. Take the case of former railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, as an example. Did we know about the kind of environment in which Bansal was operating as a politician?
Read full story

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Do Muslim girls want to marry at 16?

By John Cheeran

Getting married still remains a big deal in India. Kerala is no exception. These days a few Malayalis do not marry at all, but prefer to be in live-in relationships. But this is not about them.
It is about how girls are still pushed into marriage in Kerala much before they attain the age of 18, among Kerala’s Muslims, who constitute more than 25% of the state’s population. These are nothing but child marriages.
The Child Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006, unambiguously defines a “child as a person who, if a male, has not completed 21 years of age, and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age.”
A circular issued on June 14, 2013, by Local Self Government (LSG) department of the government of Kerala has sought to reassure unconvinced registrars across the state that Muslim marriages involving a male aged less than 21 and a female aged less than 18 is legal.
The circular violates provisions in Special Marriage Act 1954. As per this Act, if a marriage has to be solemnized, the man has to be 21 years old and the woman must be 18 years of age. Both the Child Marriage Prohibition Act and Special Marriage Act are applicable to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
At the moment, a debate is on in Kerala about the intent and logic behind the Congress-led UDF government’s move to sanctify such child marriages among Muslims.
The LSG department is headed by an Indian Union Muslim League minister, M K Muneer, an MBBS doctor, who told The Times of India (the TOI led with the story on June 20 in Kerala which has triggered a state-wide debate, forcing rest of the newspapers and news channels to amplify the story) that he is personally against the move to encourage child marriages among Muslims.
But the government, harried by allegations against chief minister Oommen Chandy’s office of nexus with a set of financial fraudsters, is adamant and not ready to withdraw the circular. Muslim League has 20 MLAs in the assembly and the government runs on two-seat majority in the 140 member assembly.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The importance of revealing rape victim’s identity

By John Cheeran
Is there life after rape? Should a woman live in a purdah rest of her life, if a maniac forcibly violates her privacy? Should she conceal her identity and the identity of those who are near her and next to her?
Are the media and legal system doing the rape victim and her family a favour by not making public her identity? And withholding all references that may point to her identity?  
I do not think so. By not naming the rape victim, you are not favouring her but perpetuating the shame and stigma that is associated with the heinous act. Rape is not the fault of the victim. By treating rape as an unmentionable crime, the media are treating the rape victim as an untouchable, someone who is different from you and me.
How does the fact that the public do not know her name, help the rape victim handle the trauma that she is undergoing? The fact remains that she has been assaulted, privacy violated. Those who done it deserves to be hanged, after establishing their crime in a court of law.
But why the victim has to be always on the back foot? Why are we shrouding her identity, apparently, in an ethical effort to help her?
In fact, in every rape incident, everyone who knows the victim at an individual level knows that she has been subjected to the crime, however long, and however hard, you try to pretend so. In the latest incident of rape – of a medical student at the Manipal Medical College in Udupi in Karnataka, all the students in that campus now must be familiar with the name of the victim. Knowing the name is not the crime, but in the age of surreal connectivity, there are no secrets left among us. To know is the human urge, especially if it involves someone’s misfortune and misery, such are rape incidents. So would be the village or town that the rape victims come from. Her relatives would know. So would be all her classmates. All of them talk. In a free society, where people are free to gossip, and their fare idea about what is happening around the world will continue to do that, unless we want to be a society where news should be always treated with an ethical pen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Many Splendid Women of Khaled Hosseini

By John Cheeran

There is more to Afghanistan than Taliban. Although not a late discovery, it is important to state this after reading Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And The Mountains Echoed’ (Published by Bloomsbury, Rs599). Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, writes with a striking absence of rage but with deep understanding of quotidian desires. You agree with Nabi, the chauffer, who plays a pivotal role in this generational saga, when he says: “I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.”

And most often, such waiting is futile. And The Mountains Echoed is not about Afghanistan. It is after all, about you and me. As Markos Varvaris, the Greek plastic surgeon who pitches camp in Kabul tending to the war victims, ruminates about a mother who disowned her disfigured child in pursuit of happiness: “We are not even that different, she and I. Hadn’t we each, in the end, unmoored ourselves by cutting loose the anchors that weighed us down?”

Sometimes, you have to admit that the comeuppance never comes.You cannot think about Afghanistan, without women coming into focus. Hosseini tears open the purdah, writes with rare understanding about women, and in fact, And The Mountains echo with deep thoughts of the women characters—all of them carrying a deep sense of loss and tragedy, with them, including the beautiful actress Madaline Gianakos, even though her obituary attests to her success.

All Hosseini’s women are strong and troubled but have a sense of dignity to them. This is in stark contrast to most of Hosseini’s male characters, except Markos, the plastic surgeon, who through his deep bond with Thalia, the inventive, spunky woman, who keeps him going at many levels, rises above the helplessness of Wahdati, Nabi, Saboor, Abdullah (all of them Afghanis, men of the mountain).

The unapologetic Nila Wahdati, the poet who cannot bear a child but gets married to a gay, and her troubled relationship with adopted child Pari leaves you unsettled. In an interview Hosseini has Wahdati saying this about her daughter Pari – “Everything I have done, I have done for my daughter. Not that she understands, or appreciates, the full measure of what I have done for her. She can be breathtakingly thoughtless, my daughter. If she knew the life she would have had to endure, if not for me….

Read the full story

Why the urban Indian woman is a fascinating creature

By John Cheeran
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is a blessed woman by her own admission. By age 15, she figured out what she wanted to do for the rest of her life—write. To write till you die can be a frightening prospect for many but not for Meenakshi. “I want to write forever. I want to write and write,” says Meenakshi.
There can be no comparison between Meenakshi and Arundhathi Roy. Roy has written only one book, The God of Small Things, and put a full stop to fiction. But Meenakshi belongs elsewhere.
Admittedly, she is “India’s answer to Bridget Jones”, as the cover of her latest book, Cold Feet, (Published by Penguin) proclaims. Unlike Helen Fielding’s single, 30-something, fictional career woman, Meenakshi is for real, although her blog jottings pulled in all kinds of surfers towards her. Well, Meenkashi is the chick-lit diva.
She admits that ‘class divide’ exists among Indian English writers. “One has to concede that point. There are literary fiction writers and those who are like me. But what’s wrong with it? Such divide is there at all places, in all spheres. What matters is I’m being read.”
Meenakshi belongs to an age where they want to have their cake and eat it too. She wants to write not only a good book but a successful one too. “I guess both would be the same. But I will not mind even if a good book of mine does not sell like hot cakes,” says Meenakshi.
Then it is not out of place when Shayna, one of the five single women characters in Cold Feet, says: “Because I want my cake and eat it too. What a stupid expression though. Whose cake do I have if I’m not allowed to eat it? This is my goddamn cake, I’m going to go face downwards in it and emerge with my eyelashes covered in icing. When I’m eating my cake you can bet I’m going to have a second helping.”

Read the full story

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Is Sreesanth an Ajmal Kasab?

By John Cheeran

Is S Sreesanth a terrorist? Is he a criminal? Is ‘spot-fixing’ a crime? Is he a Sanjay Dutt? Should Sreesanth be tried under sections 3 and 4 of Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA)? These are important questions, because we are in danger of slipping into a police state, where an accused person has few options to prove his innocence. MCOCA takes away one’s right to be on bail. As per the act, anything that the police claim as confessions to a superintendent of police (SP) level officer in writing or recording will be admissible before a court of law.

What is applicable for Sreesanth also holds true for the two other Rajasthan Royals cricketers, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila. As of now, for me, Sreesanth is a cricketer who has erred grievously. Delhi Police till last Tuesday (June 4) had charged him with cheating offence Under IPC 420. Under Indian Penal Code, there is no such offence called ‘spot-fixing.’

Of course, Sreesanth has committed a mistake. With a sense of drama, which is richly deserving in this case, you can say Sreesanth has betrayed cricket. Sreesanth’s crime is that he broke the agreement he had with his IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals and the BCCI, the owners of IPL, by indulging in ‘spot-fixing’ and thereby besmirching the reputation of IPL and cricket.

Sreesanth has done something that is indefensible, going by the Delhi Police’s initial argument, that he took money from bookies and bowled as per their instructions. If it is so, it is an act that is unpardonable by a cricket enthusiast. It is nothing more. And I presume Delhi police, too, know this aspect of the case, including police commissioner Neeraj Kumar.

If that is so, why are the police applying MCOCA against Sreesanth and other accused?

Read the full story

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Why Rima Kallingal hates an overdose of testosterone

By John Cheeran/ The Times of India Crest Edition

Rima Kallingal says she is proud to be seen as the brave new female face of Malayalam cinema. “I do feel proud about it. I am happy that I had the guts to make a choice, when it came to doing films such as ‘22 Female Kottayam’,” she says.

Kallingal, however, is cautious about being typecast. “I don’t want to get stereotyped with the bold and beautiful tag. I’m looking for diverse roles and balance while doing more films.” She is aware that she could be seen as a role model and that her unconventional characters could change something in society. “But I’m an artiste still. I have to challenge myself,” she insists.

It is tough being the brave, new heroine, she admits. “After doing ‘22 Female Kottayam’ in 2012, I had to wait for another four months before I could get another role. Nobody else could see any other facet of femininity in me for a long time,” confesses Kallingal. But she is generous enough to point to other strong heroines in the past. She cites P Padmarajan’s Desadanakilikal Karayarilla, where actress Shaari played a lesbian character.

Read the full story

Monday, June 03, 2013

When India is a metaphor for BCCI

By John Cheeran

So who won? There may not be a definitive answer to that question but there is no doubt about who lost in the Chennai Test on Sunday –the Indian cricket fan. It was a victory for N Srinivasan and his brinkmanship, it was a victory for Arun Jaitley and his political nous, and it was a victory for Jagmohan Dalmiya and his sense of opportunism.

If you have been a cricket lover, you can henceforth love BCCI. What a beautiful four-letter word it is. You can use it now to let your steam out – ‘BCCI You.’ This is the only message coming from Chennai. Whatever the outraged public say, BCCI is a realm, where you are not given entry. You can buy a match ticket, enter M A Chidambaram Stadium, or M A Chinnaswamy Stadium or for that matter Eden Gardens. That’s it. (As much as you can cast your vote during elections but your tryst with democracy ends there.) You cannot walk into the portals of the BCCI. We will fix the game for you, that’s the message coming from Srinivasan, Jaitley and Dalmiya. We are in it together. We will run this as a private organization (which in any case, it is) and let no one come forward to clean-up our act, say the entrenched forces in Indian cricket.

And mind you, BCCI is the most professionally run sports organization in India. It only shows how poorly managed our other sports organizations are. You cannot criticize BCCI on certain counts. For example, former and current cricketers are taken care of financially by the board. There is no breakdown of administration. Indian board flexes its muscle and money at the International Cricket Council. It vetoes ICC proposals and takes on the perpetrators of imagined insults to the nation and its cricketers. BCCI may be a mafia, it is a mafia that gets things done. Like what? When Srinivasan was around, India regained the World Cup, in 2011, 28 years after its first title triumph. The board’s coffers are full. It religiously conducts all domestic tournaments, and on the face of it, there is a degree of process (however skewed it may be) involved in its decision making. To a large extent, this explains the silence of the satraps of the state associations in the working committee meeting in Chennai on Sunday.

But when it comes to big decisions, there is opacity, deceit, subterfuge, arm-twisting and mutual back-scratching. Very rarely we see the ‘back-stabbing’ attempted by the western lobby, led by one of the most ambitious politicians around in India now.

Read full story

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Why cricketers never suffer from backbone injuries?

By John Cheeran

Have you ever wondered why cricketers never suffer from backbone injuries? Read Sachin Tendulkar’s statement to the media on Friday, and you will understand. The man who conquered the best of bowlers, slow and fast, is still uneasy about fielding questions. Hence a convenient, anodyne statement, that does not tell us anything, does not take a position on anything that is germane to the malaise that afflicts Indian cricket.

Let me quote the great batsman: “During this difficult phase, I join every cricketer, from the boys in the maidans across the country to those who represent clubs, states and the country, who trust the

authorities to take sincere steps to get to the root of the issue.”

So what’s the issue, Tendulkar?

It appears you are too terrified to utter the word ‘fixing’. And significantly, you still have trust in those who employ you, that is Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), when you say “you trust the authorities to take sincere steps.”

Ahem. This pearl of wisdom comes from the elder statesman of world cricket, who has played international cricket since 1989.

Is Tendulkar living in denial? Why? Does he think the BCCI has failed in keeping cricket clean and corruption-free in India? Does he think that the BCCI should subject itself to an overhaul? There are no answers.

Read full story

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mr Sachin Tendulkar, can you spell batting from betting?

By John Cheeran

Mahindra Singh Dhoni’s grin on Tuesday said a few things. It revealed Dhoni’s utter contempt for the ordinary cricket fan. Dhoni does not think it is important to allay fears of fans about the integrity of Indian cricketers, including himself. Also, something that I had pointed much earlier in Arrackistan, Dhoni is playing for a BCCI XI, not for India. He is the captain of BCCI XI, not the captain of India. This leaves me with one inference: cement has entered Indian cricket’s soul.

Dhoni’s kinship with BCCI president N Srinivasan is apparent. He is a vice-president with India Cements, where Srinivasan is the managing director. Dhoni also leads Chennai Super Kings, a team owned by India Cements, which is run by Srinivasan. Despite 0-4 defeats in England and Australia, Dhoni could cling on to captaincy thanks to the munificence of Srinivasan. And his wife Sakshi kept close company of disgraced bookie conduit, Vindu Dara Singh. Dhoni, by virtue of his role as Chennai Super Kings captain, had to spend time with a cricket enthusiast by the name, Gurunath Meiyappan. No, wonder, then, that Dhoni had a mouthful of cement when faced with irksome questions. Dhoni chose not to fall in line with BCCI diktat because that serves his own interests, not Indian cricket’s.

By speaking his mind, by speaking out against cricketers who are in collusion with bookmakers, and emphasising the need for the establishment to keep stricter vigil to steer clear of corrupting influences, Dhoni could have emerged as not just captain of Indian team, but a leader, this nation can look up to. Dhoni might have won the World Cup for India, but in this Test of character and leadership, this young man has failed in abject manner.

Read the full story

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Is M S Dhoni Team India captain or India Cements captain?

By John Cheeran
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a great communicator. Dhoni, usually, prefers to talk with his bat. On the eve of the IPL 6 final in Kolkata, India’s most valuable cricket brand (yes, stronger than Sachin Tendulkar, on pure form) was invisible. He just did not turn up for the pre-match media interaction. May be Dhoni has a headache.
But who is Mahendra Singh Dhoni? Is he the captain of Chennai Super Kings, or the captain of Indian team? Or the captain of India Cements? Or the captain of Team BCCI?
Dhoni has let himself be cornered and devalued by keeping his silence ever since the spot-fixing scandal involving his former India playmate S Sreesanth broke out on May 16. And that silence has become unbearable after Vindu Dara Singh was nabbed by Mumbai police for his close contacts with bookies. Pictures of Vindu in the company of Sakshi, Dhoni’s wife were splashed across the front pages of newspapers throughout the country. Later Chennai Super Kings CEO Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for his association with Vindu and for allegedly trading inside information regarding the Super Kings team strategy, etc. BCCI has on Sunday finally ‘suspended’ Meiyappan’s further role in the team management of Super Kings. 
Now, why Dhoni is not speaking up?  Read the full story

What makes BCCI chief Srinivasan defiant

By John Cheeran
Finally, we have heard from N Srinivasan, president of Board of Control for Cricket in India. He has said in Mumbai on Saturday that he will not allow ‘forces’ to bulldoze or railroad him into quitting as the BCCI president. It is certain now that the game has just begun. This will not end with the IPL 6 final between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians on Sunday in Kolkata.
This post is to understand why Srinivasan remains defiant when you and I are convinced that his position as BCCI president has become untenable after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been arrested by Mumbai police for indulging in betting (which is illegal in India) and his links with Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh and bookies. Vindu has been accused of shielding bookies and placing bets on Meiyappan’s behalf. Till now Meiyappan has been described as CEO and team principal of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, a team that has performed well in the tournament. CSK, former IPL champions, has also entered the final of IPL.   
Can Srinivasan afford to remain cocky, as both Mumbai and Delhi police teams are unearthing more information regarding betting and spot-fixing in IPL and Indian cricket. It is no longer three rotten eggs by the names of S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.

Will the real Modi step up please?

By John Cheeran
Mr BCCI president, where are you? Where is your son-in-law?
We are waiting to hear from you about your ‘innocence’ and the professional manner in which you have been running the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Chennai Super Kings IPL franchise.
But by refusing to meet Mumbai police team that went to Chennai on Thursday, your son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, CEO of Chennai Super Kings, has put BCCI and you on back foot. Now India wonders whether there is anything for you guys to hide from law enforcement agencies in the backdrop of spot-fixing scandal. Evidently, investigation into spot-fixing by three Rajasthan Royal cricketers, has not been unfolding as per the script. Mumbai police claims that Meiyappan has been keeping close links with Vindu Dara Singh, a Bollywood actor in cahoots with bookmakers. The fact that both Meiyappan and Srinivasan kept cops guessing about their whereabouts on Thursday is a mocking move that reeks of subterfuge and arrogance. If law permits, by now, cops should be sifting through telephone conversation transcripts of Meiyappan and Srinivasan to find out the truth. And truth involves not just these two.
Betting is illegal in India. Cricket fans and public, at large, want to know about the association between Vindu and BCCI president’s son-in-law. Has Meiyappan placed bets on the outcome of IPL matches? If he has, what is the nature of those bets? If a CEO of an IPL franchise, which is interestingly being led by India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is into betting, then it sets off many questions. Those questions can wait, depending on what Mumbai police reveals after questioning Meiyappan.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A letter to the bookie who fixed S Sreesanth

By John Cheeran
Dear bookie,
I know you have stumped Indian cricket by snaring S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan into spot-fixing during IPL 6. I know that you have your own reasons to do so. But is that the most sensible way (I’m not saying ethical way) to go about achieving your goal, which I presume is making money with minimum effort.
I’m not against betting, nor would be millions of Indians. Most of the time, we bet on our worst fears and heave a sigh of relief when we lose those ones. By all means, bet, if you want. But why are you trying to get players, cricketers, in this case? Can’t you leave them out of it?
A lot of people think that spot-fixing lends itself to betting, which you know that it is not. All you are trying to do is manipulate the odds of brackets (session betting, for eg, a team would score more than 60 runs in first 8 overs). Aren’t you?
So does it make sense to pay Rs 40 lakhs for Sreesanth to concede 14 runs in an over during an IPL match? Throughout his international and domestic career, Sreesanth has never been known for economy rates but for taking wickets even though he will be hammered around for boundaries. Giving 14 runs is something that comes quite naturally to this pesky bowler. So why waste money on him? You can always place a bet on him to bowl in an unpredictable manner and you stand to win at the stakes.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why is the cricket establishment silent?

By John Cheeran
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in a blue funk. The world’s richest and most powerful cricket body has little control over what is happening in Indian cricket. Its biggest brand IPL is stumped by its worst crisis since its inception in 2008. Three of its players (technically they belong to its franchise Rajasthan Royals) are in Delhi Police’s custody. At the moment BCCI president N Srinivasan cannot defend or disown the tainted trio – S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan - completely.
On Sunday, BCCI working committee met in Chennai but could not come up with any bold suggestion to make cricket in India and, specifically, IPL T20 matches, corruption-free. One way could have been making franchises accountable for the actions of its players. If Rajasthan Royals players have been proved to have acted in a manner that influenced the outcome of the game, the team itself should be thrown out of the league.
And not just players. If anyone belonging to the team management or owners themselves attempt things that make it easier for bookmakers, the BCCI should throw the franchise out of the IPL. It would hurt. But unfortunately BCCI is not in a position to propose any such thing. Instead, it says it cannot control bookies. Srinivasan says the BCCI does not encourage betting. To quote the ‘old sport’ during the press meet in Chennai:  “We don't encourage betting, we do not encourage anything.” That’s a valid point, that the BCCI does not encourage anything.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How fixing Pakistanis has been a Good Fix for India

 By John Cheeran
 There is Good Fix and, then, there is Bad Fix. We, Indians, love the Good Fix.
 There has been an avalanche of protests, shocked expressions of fans, former players, commentators and administrators (read the BCCI) in the wake of Delhi Police – mind you, it is a police force that cannot keep rapists under check and cannot rein in the overflowing male testosterone on the streets of Delhi—exposing former India player S Sreesanth and two other cricketers from IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals as having colluded with bookies in instances of spot-fixing in IPL 6. But isn't it quite ironic that no one has taken seriously the charge that India’s semi-final against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup was fixed? Why?
 Because it was alleged to have been fixed in India’s favour. And it was against our enemy, Pakistan. That was a Good Fix. Winning against Pakistan, by hook or crook, does matter and you better not ask any questions on that. And India won the World Cup after 28 years, so you better shut up and cheer our cricketers. And in any case whose fault is it if Pakistani cricketers had taken money to drop catches and throw their wickets cheaply, even though the tournament and the particular match itself was staged in India, and organized by BCCI? Didn't you know that all Pakistani cricketers were on take from the bookies? And mind you, we won, and our cricketers are clean.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who should be afraid of S Sreesanth?

Who should be afraid of S Sreesanth?
By John Cheeran
On April 3, the very day IPL 6 began, Times Blogs carried a cautionary post by me-- IPL 6: It can’t get bettor. (
Let me quote from that post. “Players, and more than them, the franchise owners have a great responsibility to ensure that the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) remains free from quirky and 'funny' incidents. For, there is a strong perception that IPL matches are a god-send for spot-fixing. Every single ball is important and a lot depends on a dropped catch, a no-ball, and an unwarranted extra run.”
Now this morning comes the shocking news of the arrest of former India player S Sreesanth and two other young cricketers Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandilia (all three of them currently playing for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL). The charge against them—spot-fixing. The frightening prospect has finally come true, forcing the BCCI to suspend the three players.
Reports say that Delhi police, whose special cell made these arrests, believe there are more players involved in this alleged spot-fixing series in the IPL, including cricketers from other Test playing nations.
Sreesanth seems an ideal candidate to come under the bookmakers’ radar. Read the full story at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kerala’s Big Idea: Vision 2030 aims for Nordic norms

By John Cheeran
Here is a state government thinking different and thinking big. Moving away from band-aid concepts of development, the UDF government has unveiled broad contours of what it calls Vision 2030, an ambitious plan that focuses on improving the state’s healthcare, infrastructure and quality of life to the level of Nordic nations by 2030. It aims to combine growth with social security.
And, hold your breath, making Kochi, which is staring at a civic nightmare without enough drinking water and poor sanitation, a global city is another key result area of Vision 2030.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy and state planning board vice-chairman K M Chandrasekhar say political consensus is an imperative for implementing Vision 2030, with the state having a history of coalitions of divergent development and political perspective alternating every five years in power. Chandy says the UDF will discuss with all stakeholders to arrive at consensus by end of July.     
As the UDF government led by Chandy completes two years in power, Chandy wants to bring healthcare as the hot topic in Kerala. He says the UDF government will take steps to make Right to Health for every citizen its top agenda in the remaining three years and will seek the Centre’s support in this.
Read the full story at
John Cheeran at Blogged