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

Friday, May 10, 2013

Does, and should, IAS attract the best and brightest?

Does, and should, IAS attract the best and brightest?
By John Cheeran
Are the best and the brightest of Indian minds getting attracted to Indian civil service? Last week, Union Public Service Commission announced the results of the civil service examination and since then there has been much feting of winners, including down to the 500thperson on the rank list.
In Kerala, especially, since candidates from the state won the first, second and fourth positions in the examination.
Now that the brouhaha over the winners and the “achievement” is slowly fizzling out, it is time to take a hard look at the ‘civil serpent’ obsession.
The Indian civil service is no longer the ‘steel frame’ that British Raj claimed it to be. And India is no longer a nation of limited opportunities, where the best was a sarkari job. Post-1990s, youngsters have a variety of options to choose from the job market. Information technology, media, entertainment, finance, telecom, service, and infrastructure sectors offer unlimited opportunities for career growth as well as remuneration. Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) and Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) are global brands and a significant chunk of India’s best and the brightest make a beeline to them. Youngsters topping CAT are never feted the way IAS toppers are envied and felicitated.
And here is a larger question. Why are we placing so much importance on coming first in examinations, whether it is IAS or CAT? What does coming first, signify?
Read the full story:

How Congress won Karnataka

By John Cheeran
Now it is certain that Congress will form the government in Karnataka. The party has secured a simple majority in the 223-seat state assembly. Political pundits are, however, quick to point out that Congress has not succeeded in cashing in on circumstances ripe for a massive victory. The verdict is that Congress has nothing to build on from the Karnataka election results. The party has failed to deliver the killer blow.
Is it so simple? Congress fought a very difficult election in the state. Of course, with a BJP chief minister going to jail on corruption charges, and the same influential leader breaking away from the party, splitting the Hindutva votes, it can be argued that Congress should have an intimidating majority in the assembly.
It is true, but only up to a point. B S Yeddyurappa’s KJP split votes that BJP should have garnered naturally. Being a Lingayat leader, a section of votes that bolstered the BJP’s MLA kitty in 2008, Yeddyurappa contesting elections and winning a significant number of seats has hurt the saffron party.

Monday, May 06, 2013

In Goa, the rape of innocence

By John Cheeran

Are women safe in India? With Asian Development Bank issuing a warning last week to its delegates who were attending a session in New Delhi not to show bare legs in order to avoid sexual harassment, you can imagine the outsider’s perception of safety levels in India.

The outrage after the Nirbhaya gang rape has not changed things any better for women in Delhi or elsewhere in the country. Rapes continue, making Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to tell Parliament that rapes happen all the time in India.

Kishwar Desai’s new novel The Sea of Innocence (Published by Simon Schuster India, Price Rs 350) comes at a time when there is a heightened awareness about women’s lack of safety whether on sunny beaches, unlit street corners or inside their own homes.

Read the full story at

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Bloomsbury to launch Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed on May 21


May be, the book you were waiting for in 2013 is here, almost. Bloomsbury is all set to launch Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed on May 21.

Hosseini on Thursday told us that And The Mountains Echoed has been in writing for the last six years. Says Hosseini: “My earlier novels were, at heart, tales of fatherhood and motherhood. My new novel is a multi-generational family story as well, this time revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honour and sacrifice for each other.’

Hosseini is the author of international bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which the publisher claims to have been sold over 38 million copies worldwide.

Alexandra Pringle, editor-in-chief, Bloomsbury, who acquired the UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) of the novel from David Grossman, said everyone at Bloomsbury in the UK, Australia, India, Ireland and throughout our export territories was thrilled to be publishing And the Mountains Echoed. Pringle said: “Khaled has written a big book in every sense of the word. He has told half a century of history, of a land and a people, through so many different characters, all of whom the reader loves and cares for. It is Khaled’s incredible gift to make us care that much, to give us the gift of understanding, to leave us feeling so enriched but also bereft at having to leave those people behind.”

John Cheeran at Blogged