Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Big Villain In World Cricket


India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, be it in the terms of economy, development, education, infrastructure or various other areas. The huge population of India is the biggest asset of the nation, one which is slowly rising and giving the concept of development and prosperity, a new home. In the area of sports, India is doing well & improving it's performances and enhancing it's competence. The country has been earning many honours in various sports like Archery, Boxing, Wresting, Shooting, Squash, etc. And any discussion of Indian sports and their achievements is incomplete without the mention of one sport which is an obsession of all Indians- Cricket.

India has done quite well in cricket in the recent years. The World Cup in 1983 was for long, the sole achievement that the cricket Team of India could boast of. Things changed with the arrival of the new millennium and new teams under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly, M. S. Dhoni and others achieved great heights. This is extremely special for the people of India as cricket holds a very special place in the heart of each and every Indian.

With the rising disposable income of the Indian population and most importantly the Youth, cricket of late, has become a very rewarding sport for the participants. The Indian cricket board- BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has cashed on this Indian population by providing highly priced satellite rights to many sports broadcasters in order to fulfill the high demand for cricket by the people. With the demand increasing, the BCCI has supplied these rights at very “good prices” (business terms!) and made a lot of money. The BCCI is now the richest cricket Board in the world. It also contributes to the majority of the revenue from cricket events in the world. Some opinions have even suggested that the Indian Board contributes as high as 70-80% of the total revenues of World cricket. This is indeed a huge figure and consequently has seen the Indian Board becoming the new financial superpower in World Cricket.   

But this newly achieved financial power has led to a lot of misdeeds by the BCCI. Instead of growing into a just and fair manager of international cricketing affairs, the BCCI has turned into a bully. It interferes in a huge number of decisions taken in the field of cricket by various bodies and associations. The BCCI dictates to most of the people, associations and boards about what should be done and what should not be done. It tries to influence all decisions of cricket's apex body- The ICC (International Cricket Council). Domestically too, the BCCI keeps a very strict control on the players and all people involved in cricket management. Anyone going against them is severely reprimanded and humiliated.

This misconduct has seen the Indian Cricket board become the target of other boards such as the ECB (England & Wales Cricket board) and the CA (Cricket Australia) who on a number of occasions, have raised objections against the practices & actions of this big bully. But so far, they haven't been able to challenge the dominance of the BCCI because of the huge financial power that the Indian board holds.
The BCCI has handled this power badly. On a number of occasions, it has indulged in unfair practices, bullied other boards to accept their mandate, forced television channels and broadcasters to play by the unfair rules profitable only to the BCCI, pressurised and influenced various social organisations and activists barring them from interfering in cricketing activities and disputed every major expert and thinker of world cricket in issues that question their monopoly. They have behaved very badly on a number of occasions by disrupting the smooth and uniform process of cricket administration in the world. Their actions have been considered highly unethical by a number of eminent sports commentators and analysts across the world.
The BCCI's tantrums have been going on for quite some time now but they have really crossed all lines in recent occasions. The BCCI has shamed all Indians with it's bullying and disgraceful treatment of all other senior sports personalities and respectable national sports boards. This was highlighted by the spat between BCCI and Cricket Australia when the Indian board roughed up it's Aussie equal on the Sydney-gate issue. It is true that the issue was ignited by the improper conduct of the Australian National Cricket team, but the tiff was taken much further by the BCCI. On another occasion, the BCCI took on the ECB for not allowing the latter’s players to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

But the biggest matter of debate had been the stand of BCCI on the Decision review System (DRS), a system for minimising the instances of glaring errors made by the umpires during a match. While the rest of the world was in favour of the DRS, the BCCI did not support the system and bullied the ICC to remove the rule of making DRS compulsory for all international cricket matches. The BCCI had also not approved the regulations of the World Anti- Doping Association (WADA) to make the cricketing sport more transparent and reliable. So, despite an approval from almost all other test playing nations, the Anti-Doping regulations could not be implemented.

But the most serious of transgression by the BCCI has been the proposed change in a tournament of the Future Tours Programme (FTP), a schedule of all cricketing matches between nations which is prepared and approved by all international cricketing bodies, years in advance. In September 2013, the BCCI strongly suggested shortening the South African Tour of India, 2013-14 by cutting down on the number of matches to be played between the two nations. Instead, they invited the West Indies Cricket Board to tour India on a 2-match Test series. There were reports that this suggestion was made to ensure that the Great Indian Batsman- Sachin Tendulkar played his landmark 2ooth Test Match (and as per rumours, his last) in the stadium of his hometown- The Wankhede Staduim, Mumbai. However, there was also speculation that the BCCI has thought of shortening the South African Tour actually to punish the South African cricket board (CSA) for not imbibing to it's instructions of not appointing former ICC chief- Haroon Logart as their new CEO. The BCCI and Logart had differences on various cricketing issues (including the DRS and the dominance of BCCI in cricket). Later after the appointment of Logart as CSA CEO, the BCCI also insisted that Haroon Logart apologize for his former views and comments in the public.
How can the BCCI do this? No respectable sporting body can think of interfering in the internal and political affairs of another cricket board, no less when they have to appoint their CEO. But the BCCI, in all it's presumed authority supposedly did not hesitate.

The BCCI have also bore the brunt of criticism on the scheduling of matches of the Indian cricket Team. The Indian cricket team has been playing continuous and non-stop cricket for a long time. The 2011 Cricket World Cup in the Indian sub-continent was followed by the Indian Premier League (within 6 days of the conclusion of the former!), which was followed by overseas tours to West Indies, England, Australia which was then followed by the return tours of the same countries in India, Asia Cup, Champions League T20, Pakistan's tour of India, India's Tour of Sri Lanka, New Zealand's tour of India, 2 more IPLs, 1 more Champions League T20, ICC T20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and others (source: ESPNcricinfo.com). It might feel like I am simply naming all the cricket tournaments that come to my mind but the fact is that all these matches actually took place in a span of approximately 2 years. Each tour contains a number of test matches, One Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20s! With all these matches, one can imagine the amount of stress and pressure that the players are continuously in. As a result, India's leading players and talents have lost their rhythm (For example, compare the bowling strength of the Indian Cricket Team three years ago to now), overwork has led to many injuries and many good players have been inconsistent in their performance (talented players such as Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, etc. are out of the side and trying to rediscover their swing). Some of India's poor performances like the 0-4 whitewash in Australia were also considered to be so because of the tiredness and fatigue of non-stop cricket being played by the team.

The Indian cricket schedule has been very hectic and tiring for players. The most-accepted reason for this overscheduling by the BCCI is considered to be the huge amounts of money earned in the sports through sponsors, broadcasters and other facilities that the Indian board encashes at supremely high prices, the reason being the obsession of the Indian population with the sport of cricket. However, this has led to a huge problem for the players and their well-being as too much stress and travelling can easily lead to fatigue and exhaustion. Also, too much cricket and matches played in sub-continental conditions or against weak teams and suspicions of dishonesty can reduce public interest in the sport.

The BCCI's problems have not just been administrative but also political. A number of controversies surrounding cricketing events such as the spot-fixing and illegal betting in IPL 6 put the board in a troublesome spot. Further revelations of the alleged links of the bookies with many prominent members of the IPL administrative and governance councils raised many questions over the transparency and trustworthiness of the BCCI when conducting various matters. Ex-IPL Commissioner Lalit modi was probably the biggest messiah and nemesis for BCCI (in context to the time period to which you see his role). Before 2010, he was the board’s messiah, inventing the million dollar league-IPL, establishing huge structures and stable returns of money for the Board and reportedly changing the dynamics of the financial affairs of the BCCI. But after his spat with Indian Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, he was revealed to have conducted a number of mal-practices while engaging in the contracts. Accusations like preparing bid conditions for teams in such a way that they favoured big corporate houses (with whom the BCCI wanted to partner in business), engaging in bid-rigging by disclosing the winning amount of bids to more favourable contenders, conducting affairs in illegal manners, etc. have recently come out. But Lalit Modi's revelations have only led to light being thrown on the general way in which the BCCI operated, taking the role of the big-bully and working only in order to maximise their returns of money. Further news of the Board President (temporarily suspended in August 2013) N. Srinivasan bullying his way back into the BCCI despite Supreme Court rulings prohibiting him from the same (SC rejected the appeal of BCCI against the former’s ruling) have only shown that the administrators can go to any extent to stay in power.

Can the BCCI President be given a clean chit by a probe run by the people of his own organisation (employees who work under him) and doing that without any cooperation with the Mumbai Police, the organisation which had actually started proceedings against the bookies? This looks like a mockery of the justice system even to the eye of people who do not have much knowledge about the law.

There were also reports of the manhandling of the owners of the IPL franchisees in the past by the BCCI. Certain franchises like the Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) were terminated by the BCCI (later revoked) for irregularities in their functioning and allegedly because of their former associations with Lalit Modi. Other franchises rubbed the BCCI off the wrong way and were also given the stick.  Kochi Tuskers Kerela (KTK) were also terminated by the Indian board for supposed financial irregularities but the deeper reason is considered to be the BCCI's dislike for the owners of the franchise (BCCI didn't want the franchise rights to be bagged by the eventual winners). Later, another franchise Sahara Pune Warriors, which was bagged by a very prominent person of India threatened to walk out of various agreements and contracts of IPL because of alleged manhandling by the BCCI.

The IPL is the Gerico, the million-dollar missile of the BCCI aimed at collecting the maximum revenues of the board through various commercial channels. It is the cash-pumper (read cash cow) through which the BCCI generates the majority of it's surplus cash revenue, which later helps to collar other cricketing Boards. When the issue of club vs. country rose, it was mandated that players can't leave their country to play for clubs who offer them more cash. So, the English cricketers and Australian cricketers mostly kept out of the IPL since their boards did not allow them to participate in the Indian league. In the Champions League T20, it was argued that all countries participating in the contest should have equal representation, with equal teams from each league being given a chance of winning the crown. But so far, the BCCI has only allowed only 1 team from West Indies, 1 from New Zealand, 1 team from Sri Lanka, 2 teams from Australia, 2 from England and 2 from South Africa (1 from Pakistan only recently was added) to participate while allowing as many as 4 Indian teams to take part in the contest! (in 2012) Furthermore, only India and South Africa have had the chance to hold the CLT20 competition in their country with India hosting the majority of the tournaments. This is grossly unfair on all sporting grounds. All countries should have gotten equal hosting chances. All countries should have sent equal number of teams in the competition. The logic behind the current arrangement is obviously financial. Since the most of the viewers of cricket matches come from India and the maximum revenue is generated by matches in India, the Indian teams and grounds have been favoured for the event.

Very recently, various questions have been raised on the identity of the Indian Cricket board- Just what is the BCCI? Is it a private body with interests only to promote the sport of cricket in India (and thus escape tax obligations and hide from the ambit of the RTI!) or a national association that represents India on a global scale in one of the most admired & important Indian Sports? How can the BCCI continue to represent India on a global scale and claim not to be a public body but a private organisation?

It is a very interesting - Is BCCI just a Private Body of people who suddenly one day thought of starting a business and making money, through starting a sport event like cricket in India? Conceptually, they are a private body of administrators who aim to make money. Where is the welfare of cricket in that?

The new Indian Sports Bill, to be introduced in the Indian parliament (it was introduced in the Parliament in 2011 but was sent back for modifications) has proposed to make all sporting associations who operate on a national scale as National Sports federations (NSFs) with statutory guidelines on the appointment of officers and administrators, their functioning, their conduct of affairs, etc. The BCCI has vehemently opposed this, by counter-jecting that such legislations will end it’s autonomy and also foil it's flourishing operations. Justice Mukul Mudgal, who headed the committee constituted to draft the Sports Development Bill 2013, said that, "BCCI should be a public body of national level to continue representing India in cricket. Any cricket board, national public body should be under the scope of RTI."  Logically, any cricket board entrusted with the job of selecting the national team should be a public, national body.

In its written statement submitted to the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports maintained on December 14, 2011, "that the BCCI was on a par with other national sports federations and had been availing itself of various government benefits, such as customs duty and income tax exemptions." Describing this as indirect funding of the BCCI, the government asked the CIC to treat the Board as an entity financed substantially by the government, and therefore, qualifying as a “public authority” under the RTI Act. The Central government pointed out that all civic and security services were provided by the Central or State governments concerned for organising BCCI’s sporting events. The hidden costs of expenditure on security, visa clearances, and so on were borne by the Centre and the State governments concerned, the BCCI was performing functions akin to state functions and also performing public duties by selecting national teams and representing India in international events.

The BCCI maintains that it is a private body. It denies to come under the Right to Information Act (RTI), and also declines to be answerable either to the public or to the government. Still, it is framing rules for regulation of cricket in the country nationally, without any authority. According to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Lucknow Bench by social activist Nutan Thakur and IPS officer Amitabh Thakur, "The BCCI cannot send names of its players for getting national awards like Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award etc, because according to the Central government's directives, only government recognised sports federations can send the nominations." The BCCI doesn't consider itself to be one of the 51 NSFs in India and thus is ineligible to send recommendations to the Sports Ministry for felicitating it's cricketers for national awards, as per the guidelines of the Sports ministry. However, the BCCI’s recommendations were entertained by the Sports Ministry ( maybe because it is just ahead of the election year and the Govt took a populist measure to appeal to the all cricket fans!)

The BCCI should realize that it cannot take on the government for long, no matter how powerful a body it may be. For cricket to survive you need grounds and maidans and most of these are owned by the government, state or centre. Further, the IPL is market-driven and is played as evening cricket consuming lot of power supplied by state electricity boards under the state government. In these days of terrorism where a 24 X 7 security blanket is a must, you need the government's support at every step. Reconciliation with the government while maintaining independence in its operations would be the best option for the BCCI.

But do the Indian people realise the immorality of the BCCI's actions? Do they really feel that the BCCI is right to behave in the way it is behaving or do they think that the Indian Board should be righted?

When India wins Tournaments and matches, the Indian cricket fans sit back and relax. Nobody wants to face the issues creeping in Indian cricket- the mismanagement, the corruption, the greed. (courtesy IPL, fixing, etc.) Everybody is happy only to see that the Team wins matches. The fans don't want Indian Cricket to lose. If you add that with the general perception of the majority of people that power, freedom and authority comes with MONEY, you will have many people who justify the actions of the BCCI on the international scale (most people in a country with huge poverty believe that money can give them everything in life).

In some earlier instances when BCCI flexed its muscles in issues such as "Symonds-gate" and in England, some cricket "intellectuals" justified it by saying that cricket had been dominated traditionally by boards such as England & CA, and since now the BCCI was in power, it could do the same. This arguement reeks of double standards and hypocrisy as the BCCI had earlier opposed the domination of ECB and CA in international cricket, and now it is functioning in the very same way that it earlier opposed.

India is a rising power in Sports. With the newly achieved power, there also come certain responsibilities. As the dominant Board, the BCCI must look to support ethical and fair practices in all matters and functions and should help promote cricket in more parts of the world. If the Indian cricket chooses to follow the example of the English or Australian Cricket boards, it will be a sad path for somebody who had staunchly opposed the hegemony & authority that the English & Aussies initially enjoyed. Going down the same path as the English, and very recently the Aussies travelled must be avoided. In any place, sector or time, any dominant entity which doesn't exercise it's power rightly is met with staunch opposition and endless attacks from others.

Also, the performance and functioning of the Team is a reflection of the management of affairs on a macro level. If the sports administrators do not focus on bettering the sports and focus only on making money or holding to their power, the Team and consequently the Indian fans will suffer. The overall improvement and development of the sport of Cricket depends only on the proper and fair functioning of the bodies, and having fair laws monitored by the International Cricket Council. 

The Indians do realise that the BCCI is doing wrong things and they should be corrected. People understand that it is wrong for any person in power to unethically dominate others. They understand that with power, comes responsibility. Philosophically, power is nothing but a gift of the people who appreciate and admire your work. If you do not work well, the power is taken from you. 

Indian Batting legend Rahul Dravid recently made a comment about the reason for the success of cricket in India- "There are so many fans and so many people who care deeply about this game and it is because of these fans that we are who we are as cricketers. Administrators are there because of the fans and the cricketers to run this game, so credibility of a game, or a board, or even a government for that matter, is important irrespective of what you do." 

The general perception is that the administration of cricket should be cleaned and be accounted for, but there is also some hesitation because majority of the sports in India today are not well managed and administered. That hesitation must be overcome in order to continue on the path to further sporting and cricketing excellence. The legislations should be framed in a way to allow sufficient autonomy for the NSFs as well as necessary accountability in their operations.

The BCCI isn't above the sport of cricket or the authority of the ICC, which the Indian body has looked to influence on a number of occasions. It is not right to let the Indian Board have it's way in all affairs. Ideologically, a sport is not about winning only. It is about playing honestly, with dignity, poise & grace and promoting the sport and it's spirit. The consideration of money must not even be important or significant in any sporting event or activity. 

The BCCI vs. CSA situation has been really embarrassing for the entire country (It's like Indian Government goofing up in some matter of international importance). The BCCI has really crossed all boundaries (it had already done that earlier but now it's official) and this is an unwise position for the Board to be in. They are right, an apology must be issued- but by the BCCI for publicly and shamelessly interfering in the internal matters of a fellow Board, holding the entire FTP and other cricket Boards hostage with it's Big-Brotherly policies and misleading the people who put their faith and support in them. On the national level, the BCCI must accept that they are a public, national body and are therefore under the ambit of RTI and the Government. It is the only way BCCI can manage to retain it's position and authority as the Board of Control of Cricket in India. Immense lobbying and influences may save the Board in the short run but in the long run, there is no other way except maintaining it's public image and brand (read. Dravid's message). It is also important because the people of India care a lot for the sport and want it to be a reflection of the ideal form of daily life- that it be clean, transparent and fairly competitive. It will not be a very good situation if due to the administrators’ misbehaviour, the Indian fans suffer. Hopefully, that time will not come!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Problem of the Cops

The Real measure to Check Crimes against Women…

We all know what is happening around us. Around a month-and-a-half back, a brilliant female Physiotherapy student was brutally beaten up, gang-raped, performed unnatural sex upon and left to die, along with a male friend of hers who also was mercilessly beaten up, in New Delhi. The aggravated condition of the girl forced the Doctors to remove her intestines. She fought hard till the end, but ultimately lost her life’s battle. This led to massive protests across the nation, particularly by the youth, on the streets student and historical landmarks to end the discrimination and the rising crimes against Women all across the country.

Bowing to the public pressure, the Govt. was forced to initiate quick and tough responses to better the security and safety of women in public areas. A number of measures were suggested by the Experts, Journalists, Judges, Citizens and everyone else to check crimes against women, which have been on the increase for quite some time now. Everyone suggested measures, and the pressurized Govt. still tries to do everything to show that it is working on each and every such solution.

But the ONLY positive that has emerged from this, so far, has been the rise of the youth sentiment, awareness and activism in getting the bureaucracy to start some actions. It has not been a long time, only a-month-and-a-half since the hated criminal incident took place, which is very less considering the time the govt. takes in starting  new things, but the only good thing that looks to emerge from this all, is the rise in awareness of the people. This is something, that is never quite enough when you need to effectively tackle crimes of such magnitude.

From the point of view of laws, In the past also there have been many laws that cover the safety of women in public areas and homes. But what good has come of these laws alone? Are laws simply enough to check crimes or violations in any criminal case? Are suggestions and sentiments simply enough in making our streets, our roads, our homes safer?


These laws have to be backed by good actions, by adequate measures, to stop any crimes, violations ad offenses. No laws alone are simply enough to stop illegal acts, but LAWS BACKED BY ACTIONS make our environments better places to live in. 

Of course we need good laws, but what good are good laws if they are not enacted well?

This puts the focus on those who enacts the laws. This puts the focus on the protectors of the citizens- The Police.

The Police enacts all laws and protects the citizens from dangerous activities. The Police protects the laws and sees to it that laws are not broken. The Police stops misguided people from breaking these laws and arrests those who do, to initiate regret and reform. No law can be enacted if the Police doesn’t catch culprits or if the police doesn’t ensure adequate discipline to solve any case. India has a strong system of laws, but still it lags behind in providing safety, security and freedom to its citizens. This can only be attributed to the weak enactment of these laws by the Police.

The police in India are a bit of an opposite of the heroes or protectors we suppose them to be. Majority of the people of India are hesitant to approach the police in case of any inconvenience. One may ask anyone if s/he is suspicious of the police, and the answer would say “Yes”. The policemen in India are the ones with the largest tummies and are completely unfit in all physical areas than even the most malnourished poor in India. The police are known to e the most corrupt, and most notorious in their handling of all their duties. Rape cases are treated in a very insensitive way by the police. The victim is often harassed, pushed to bury differences and even made to suffer, in place of the aggressor. In Many other cases, the police are the real villains, lathi-charging peaceful protesters, turning down aggravated citizens and their appeals of justice, and at times even abating or themselves committing crimes against the citizens.

At some occasions, the foot-soldiers of the police are not at faults. They are caught because of the self-focused bureaucracy of the country, made up of people who will do anything to preserve their power, that power that has corrupted them. They order repressals of the citizens, they do not ensure better weapons and arsenal for the policemen for the latter to effectively fight crime, and they do not ensure sufficient compensation to the policemen to have a peaceful lives, which are necessary to fight crimes. Needless to say, with such dismal facilities, their investigative competencies and India’s security conditions are worse than even the lowest standards set by other developing countries. 

All crimes can be stopped if the Police acts on time. All illegal activities can be nipped in the nipped in the butt if the police acts efficiently and diligently and stops all illegal activities from happening. The biggest and the most important measure to check crimes against women, and crimes against children, and crimes against men is to manage the police force effectively.

Only a disciplined and efficient Police force can ensure the safety and security of all citizens. The developed countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are able to ensure the safety of cities because they have an efficient police force.

Greater accountability is a good step to motivate the police forces to work better. Harsher punishments to the police personnel under whose area the crimes take place and (as suggested by the Justice Verma Committee on Crimes against Women in 2013) the prosecution of the superior in case of a crime done by a sub-ordinate are some of the steps that can help in increasing the effectiveness of the police.       

Let us only hope that the police force and all of us quickly realise this and work towards making the country safer, more secure and more friendly for every one of us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To Bridge That Divide..

The world is a beautiful place. It is a very lovely place to love in, to be present in, to explore, to see and to have fun! It is made of many wonders, many marvels and many beauties to visit and admire. It is the natural beauty and untouched freshness and energy that makes us alive, and pursue our goals an objectives each day, with newer and better enthusiasm. It is indeed a lovely world we have all around us!!

It is true that any place can be a paradise to live in if we want to make it. If we keep faithful towards nature, or the environment, our surroundings, our fellow people, our fellow known and unknown ones, any place can be a heaven to live in.

On the contrast, any place can be hell, a underground shadowed place where people only want to push other people down, an go upward, where no one cares about anyone else, where people don;t matter to others, where care and love towards others is not as equal and lovely as it is for something we wrong and funnily claim to be ours. it is will be a bad world we will live in, if this happens.

Life can be exactly what we chose it to be, it can a bed of flowers if we want there to be flowers for everyone around us, for everyone, and it can be a barren, dry land if we look only in our 'supposed ' belongings and not care for others.

Today, we are a booming period of invention and discovery. the time we are living in is a very blessed era, where constant innovation is happening all around us, newer ideas and tricks are being generated every second, happiness and joy are given and received ever moment even as we read this.

Every day, new and better technology makes our lives better and more convenient. We can easily do tasks like watching a match at the very time it is happening some 1200 kms away!! We can read what another person has said, or read, or written or seen from one corner of the world!! But that is old news!! 
These days, we can read signposts and notices written in a foreign language in a mater of seconds, without ever knowing the language only by pointing our smart phones to it (with the internet on) and see how it suddenly turns the foreign script into our known or preferred language and that after keeping the entire background and screen the same as it was. (Augmented Reality or AR Apps) 
We can point our smartphone cameras to any object, and in moments there will be huge mountain of information about it, it's features, it's past, present and future, etc. (Bar-code Readers, etc.)
 We are today on the barrage of development, of times when the world is going forward every day we see something wonderful and amazing happen mostly things that were impossible with yesterday's technology and resources. 

But How do you measure development? Is it when I have more money than I had 10 years back? Or by the luxuries and comforts available to the people relatively?

Yes, we have today come a long way, a really long way! But Have we really come all this way forward as we claim to be? We claim that we are now a better place and a better world to live in, but are we? We pride in living in lands where the economies grow at high rates, where the people who were till yesterday only thinking of doing something have managed to do them. 

But have we really come that far? Have we really progressed as much as we think we have, or as much as we suppose to?

As much as money we have made, have we been able to reduce the number of people who go to bed every night starving? As much as we have made our lives easier, have we reduced the burden of economically backward people who sleep each day without food in their stomachs? Have we, after having so much, even done anything to give them an assurance of a full meal for even a single day? 

Today, We live a country where all seems well. People are fattening with food and finance each day and  prosperity seems to be our esteemed guest for one too many times. 

There are People have so much that they don't know how to spend it, so much they don't even know what to do with it, on whose whims and fancies the majority of the other employees seem to be working. These people dictate the industries, spear-head the initiatives to throw parties and gatherings for any excuse, and above all who demand a lot and don't hold themselves accountable either to law & order or to the people.  

Yet, there are people also who still cannot ensure fulfilling their bare-minimum daily requirements, people who cannot be assured of getting basic minimum resources, those who cannot really use the little they have for the concern that it is the more and more that they need. They work very hard every day, labour day-in and day-out but still cannot make their situation better. 

IN all, Today there seems to be gap, or a divide in the people of our society. We seems to be a crak in our oneness and unity. On one hand, we have one set of people who are highly privileged and can have everything, anything they cherish or desire, and on the other hand we have people who don't have access to basic facilities like housing, clothes and health, food, clean water, education, and equality. Also there are people who have features of both, to some extents, and do suitably well for themselves. 

We are developing, growing but we seem to be doing so only for the first category of people, and to a lesser extent the third category. The ultra-savvy people who have access to everything in the world, are getting more and more power, are accumulating more and more for their innumerable wants, leave apart their needs. And yet we have people who cannot afford full basic meals a day, who cannot even cover their bodies at night during cold waves and take solace in the coolness of shade and air coolers in the hot summers.  the world  

Open the page 3 section of the daily newspaper you receive at your home daily. 
You will see that there is no dearth of people who party hard,who throw up bashes for each and every silly  reason, who celebrate for the entire night giving some hard-to-understand reason.

Then, open the newspaper to the 'City' pages which report the daily and local happenings/events in your nearest area, locality or city. You will be shocked to see the various problems, issues, tensions of the another type of people. You will come across people who survive without even 2 pieces of proper clothing on them, you will come across children who cry out their starting years, across kids who fall into carelessly uncovered manholes and bore wells, and the bureaucrats make hardly any action or effort in the situation.  

Or ou may even go to any Shopping complex, mall or any supermarket, and you will be surprised to see how many, and how well-off people are present there, shopping and joy-riding in huge numbers. And this number of people doesn't look like it will come down any time soon. Now, visit any low-lying or an economically-not-so-well-off area in your locality, and you will be even more surprised to see how many, and astonishingly people are living in inhuman conditions without any proper means of comfort, and how bad their condition actually is. If you are a traveller, you will across such sections and types of people even more, and even more frequently everywhere and all this amidst all the claims of  'The Great Indian Development'!!

You one can read in the newspapers, on the internet, in various online portals & magazines about people party wildly in various nightclubs, lounges and bars all throughout the night. A huge number of people will always be present when an event for the super-rich happens, a large number will turn up when when any special priviledges and luxuries are available. They will be present in social gatherings, functions, events, everywhere.

These days, people cannot live without air-conditioning. A moment without an air-conditioner feels like a day in a fireball, as hot as any sun or fire. We cannot live without electricity, cannot miss watching our favourite television programmes, cannot vision life without surfing the internet, and it doen't complete our day without chatting with friends.

 Yet, there are people today who live without air-conditioning for the entire day, for 7 days a week, for 30 days a month and for 12 months a year. We cam't sleep without the AC on, but these people, everyday sleep under nothing but the shelter of the night sky, in the temperatures copying those in deserts, or hot furnaces. These people work the entire day long, without any assurance of a piece of meal in the night.

Even today,after 65 years of independance the number of people below the poverty line remains the same as it were 10-15 years ago. The number of people who belonged to the depressed classes a generation or two back, remain under the same ceiling. 

Every day we read about things that impress us, that forward direction we are going in, but the same day you ignore the facts that people still die without proper shelters to live in, without adequate clothes to shield them during winters, adequate resources to keep them cool under summers, and without adequate meals to fill their stomachs every night. 

And unfortunately, this number doesn't seem to be coming down anytime soon, all credit to the planning and implementation of various schemes launched by the Govt.

There used to be social stigma in the society in the earlier times. There were divisions in the people- there were always 'special' people who were more privileged than all others and had the best of all worlds, and there were people who were depressed in all the areas and categories. 
There were people who had evrything they not could not even want, and they were people who could not even dream of ever getting even a basic and equal share of it, let alone get it in real. 
This stigma lasted for a lot of time and seems to be taking up by others, thus the times of people of different occupations, beliefs and backgrounds formed their own separate groups and clusters. 

In today's economy, apart from the higher and the depressed classes, the middle class is also growing. 
They now have more money than before. They can now go to a mall more regularly, buy the most blinking  and sparkling brands in the market, can more frequently visit the most trendy outlets, and hang out in the most favourite places. They are today, eating more and more and make all their work and daily exercise, even lesser. Also, they are getting more things done in the red-tapes and bureaucracy, now that they have more money. They have truly developed.

Another sad state of the fact is that even after we proclaim ourselves to be developing, the crime rates among the "top cities" also have't come down. This doesn't include only just the cruel and cold-blooded activities by mad-men but the very own crimes and mal-practises we commit ourselves and against our very own people. The female foetuses we kill, the female infants we murder, the discrimination we commit against a person of a lower economic strata or background, the lovers we get maimed for only loving as per their own wishes, this list of crimes goes on and on. The middle class today can spend much more, and thus ensure that all industries run in good shape, the businesses run in good shape, the economies run in good shape, and the more wealth is generated for all. 

There were economic backward people generations ages back, and there are such economically and socially backward people even today. They faced the social stigma when the nation was under foreign rule, they face the stigma even today, 65 years after we proclaim ourselves to be 'free'. In those times, there were crimes, depression an backwardness, and even now there are crimes, depression and backwardness. 

Yes, the world is very wonderful to live in today but this is a truth as much as it is a lie.  

There are a lot of problems going on, a lot of mis-deeds we are facing. But we really can defeat them, win over them, if we chose to work together and eliminate these wrongs going on in our societies.

Is it really a truth that the same economy, or the nation that only 12-16 months back looked poised to take over the mantle of the developed economies in the world, is today struggling to meet it's quartertly economic targets? 

 If we really progressed as much as we thought we had, shouldn't it have cushioned the impact of this unforeseen economic turmoil? Have we really progressed that far?

We are not alone in this war, neither are we the only country to have faced this problem. 
We aren't the only nation to witness this false perception of growth and 'supposed' development. 

This was prominent in all major economies of the world in their own formative years of progress and growth. Yes, the United Kingdom (fromerly known as The Great Britain) faced this problem a problem a lot. There were social divisions and cracks in the unity of their unions and groups. There were the same issues in the developing United States of the 1900s-1940s era, when they had to witness the great depression along with racial discrimination, high crime rates, gender disparity, and many more problems, when there were great social divides within the people. It was also prevalent during the same time in various countries like France, Germany, and many other World-War countries, whether in the form of racial discrimination, Ethnic discrimination against Jews, or disparities between feudal land-lords and cashless, landless peasants. 

But the legend of growth and development of all these countries has only been the fact that they have been able to overcome these problems with focussed efforts and continued, unending hard-work and labour. They were dealing with the same problems, they were down and injured  as well, but they came up with trong willpower and effort and were able to solve these problems to the maximum possible effects.   

Back closer to the countries and economies of Asia, the greatest example of such inclusive growth in a country is is China- the land of the Dragon. 

China was also one of the most under-developed economies during the 1900s and 1950s but they had the courage and spirit to fight these social mal-practises and evils and defeat them. China launched various initiatives and actions to bridge the existing and large divide between the rich (generally the landlords) and the poor (generally the farmers). But how did they achieve this?
China had plans, launched in the second half of the 20th century and were aimed at improving the well-being and living of the PEOPLE and especially those of the poor. What China did is really commendable and remarkable, given the fact that they have the largest population in the world now (the largest growing population in the world then). China turned their greatest weakness into their greatest weapon, by investing largely in these people. They invested in the PEOPLE, in the general public and put little investment in blinking and sparkling money-wasting projects. They did not focus on building world-record bridges, or building higher and taller skyscrapers, or by investing highly in highly advanced technology, but they simply invested in their people- their biggest asset, and trying for their development, happiness and equality. Even though the manner in which they did it it might not be feasible or favourable to all (Communism and Socialism), but what they did was truly remarkable and impressive. And today, China is the fastest growing economy of the world, and already the third-largest one (beating Germany 2 years back), behind Japan and United States. They will also soon be the most powerful world authority, and that at a time when most of the  leading world economies are struggling to maintain their positive growth rates. (China is recording nearly double-digit growth every year!!).

In India, however we are investing in the ares and sectors that may not be too profitable or beneficial. Like China, India's strength is the big population that it has. (Already the middle class is growing more!!) If an investment has to be made for the long term, it has to be in the people, their comfort and well-being. And by people I do not mean the upper elite class of the society, but rather in the economically weaker and backward ones. The rich can easily do themselves good even without govt. intervention but the depressed ones require immediate aid and assistance. If we are to really progress, we don't have to invest in the rich people and then show our increase in the national per-capita income (which will be an average of incomes of all three sections of people) but rather, we have help the lower strata of people who require and need our assistance much more.

Recently, a very prominent govt. minister launched a scheme/plan  to provide all students across all strata and types of people of the country with a computing device,complete with the latest bling and features, with high hopes that it will make them better, help them in many ways by enabling them to read and access thousands of articles and writings and information on the internet, and use various other applications. He invested heavily in technology he did not give the students what they required, but what would actually be required by a few of the well-off sections of the students.
He failed to address the fact that many people who he planned to transform from the depressed to the ultra-modern tech-savvy youths were not priveleged to have a regular  electricity connection to operate the electronic computing device and they don't have the required knowledge of operating the internet, the device and the web. They also didn't have the required finance to fund an internet connection in order to open the internet, let alone try to access it.
You simply can't give a man a sword and expect him to become an excellent marksman all by himself, can you. Rather he should have invested in education, in making all children more aware and informed about the technologies, their uses, their methods, etc. He should have invested more in plain-old traditional text-books which clear the concepts, rather than providing a distraction of online games, etc. He should develop the people, rather than give them a shiny new piece of computer which will never help them without prior an adequate knowledge. This is the same as, "Give a man a fish and he will not retire hungry that night, but teach a man how to fish and he will never sleep hungry for the rest of his life."

So, If China can, why not India? Isn't China the most populous state in the world, and despite that they have reached this stage, then we surely can do it as well!!

We are in a very critical stage of development right now. The world economy is nearing slowdown, the production growth is stagnant, the domestic sector is hesitant to any measures, the general opinion and outlook isn't very bright.

 At such times, what we need is a stable and inclusive long term economic development plan which helps us in the long run. And any such plan has to be in the most important and necessary areas of the nation, investing in the actual jewels of the country-it's people. Only when the people are stable, well-off and rightly placed, that anything else can truly grow or develop.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hope and Wisdom

The world is an unexplored place, an unseen, un-experienced place for most of us. We have seen, read and heard many things, understood many facts, accepted many truths, but due to many physical, personal, social limitations and constraints we haven't been able to see them or verify them for ourselves.

I haven't seen how deep Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean is, I haven't seen Viruses or Cells that are factually the most basic elements that make up living matter, I haven't experienced the height of Mount Everest, nor have I seen the largest man-made structure in the world- The Great Wall of China. And when I think of doing these myself, I feel a certain rush. I feel a certain desire, a desire to go out & achieve it, to experience it, feel it, see it and do it for myself. Of course it has all been done before and is verified & tested by various scientists and researchers numerous times, but what good is a fact if you can't prove it (by "you", I mean people like you & me, who haven't done it ourselves but are aware and known to the facts). Of course, we still believe they are true, proven but it is the certain feeling of doing it for yourself that makes it really worth doing..

But keeping to what I want to express through this piece of text, let me put focus on the very first line starting the post- "The world is an un-explored territory."

And indeed it is. There are many things which we haven't seen, but not just those things that we haven't seen, but there are many things which we know to be true but things which we don't anticipate, don't prepare each other for. And it's not just limited to various things outside our control, but it is very true for things and creatures to know about and in understanding whom we have made significant and complementary progress. 

There are many things that happen, many actions taken by our known ones or by the people or individuals who we think we understand, that baffle us, that make us doubtful and lead to many scenarios that we don't generally prepare ourselves for. People do things you never think they would do, things that you never think they could do. But in this way life teaches you in something, something worth learning. Whenever such things happen, It gives you a lesson; you have to learn and understand it and use it to be wiser in the new tomorrow.

Some of such people who have surprised me and many others, are the Major Tennis Stalwarts of India- Mahesh Bhupati, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes. They are mentioned in that order because of the timings of their actions in that order. 

Firstly, Mahesh Bhupati surprised (rather, perplexed and startled) the nation by announcing that he would not pair up with Leander Paes, India's highest ranked professional Tennis Player in Men's Doubles and his usual men's doubles partner, for this year's London Olympics. Paes & Bhupati  have been India's most successful pair in the Doubles category of Men's Tennis and have been very successful in all the events they have participated in throughout. Together, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati  have won 26 titles together, including 3 Grand Slams. Their Career record is 303-103, and they share the longest winning streak in Doubles in the Davis Cup, that of 23 consecutive matches. Also, they have been known to be very close friends and partners, even though their friendship has seen it's bad times in the past. 

The decision came at a time when the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was announcing the teams to be sent to the London Olympics. Refusing to the AITA's decision, Bhupati openly declared his feelings towards playing with Leander Paes, and refused to be teamed up with him for the Olympics, and in the forseeable future. He chose Rohan Bopanna, to be his partner. 

This was a very selfish decision by Bhupati, beacuse by this decison, he was putting his own ego in front of his country. He was choosing not to play with Leander due to his own personal problems, and denying the country it's chance of bagging a Medal in the London Olympics. 

Later, Rohan Bopanna supported Bhupati and agreed to partner only him, for the event, escalating the problem further

However, any problem rises only when there is a failure of the parties involved to work out a compromise, and it can only happen when both or all the parties involved are adamant on their own stands. 

A few days later, Leander Paes broke his silence and hit out at Mahesh Bhupati & Rohan Bopanna by saying that there should be an adequate punishment for players who refuse to comply with the decisions of the highest authority of the Sport (here AITA) and stating that it would be unfair if the AITA gave in to their demands. He also said that it was wrong that due to the dirty politics of the two players, his dream of  performing well in the Olympics would be put on stake (since he would be paired with a much lower ranked player in the event). Above all, he threatened to pull out from the Olympics Team if such unfair and unjust treatment was meted out. 

In my opinion, It is really sad to see India's Medal hopes being put at stake by the icons of Indian Tennis by putting their egos in front and not thinking about the country above themselves. Both Bhupati & Bopanna are really unprofessional and immature not to think of their country first, and being adamant on their decision to dictate terms to the AITA and the entire nation. Leander Paes also, is wrong to threaten to withdraw from the Olympics if his choice of a partner is not met. This is due to his ego, that refuses to accept being paired with a lower-ranked player for the Olympics. This is really wrong. He should remember that he was once a rookie himself, and if he would not have been trained and taught in the proper way, he would not have been able to do what he has today. 

Paes, Bhupati & Bopanna need to accept the AITA's decision in the best interests of the nation and play with all their commitment and effort to ensure that India gets a medal in this category of the Games. It is very wrong for the players, who have been able to reach these heights only because of the love & support of the nation and it's people to let them down, they should put their best foot forward in the best interests of the nation and give in their bet to win a medal for the country and make everyone proud. 

Another important event that has caught the attention of all is the impertinent refusal of the BCCI to allow DRS (Decison Review Sysem) to be implemented in all the series that are played between various teams in the sport of cricket. 

While the BCCI has been stubborn in it's refusal to allow the implementation of the DRS, many other nations have given support to it and the ICC has many times put the forward the proposal to allow it's usage in many international tournaments and series. 

The stand of the Indian Board on DRS is really baffling. They continue to say that the use of DRS should not be made since it's not foolproof. But going by that logic, they should also not have various cameras during the match present to allow better decisions such as Run-outs and catches since there have been instances where the video or sound images have been ineffective and inconclusive to prove a decison. Many other reforms and advancements that are used today would not be present in the world of cricket if the BCCI's logic had it's way. 

What the BCCI needs to understand is also that any technological advancement or development is not error-free especially in the initial stages, but it is only due to subsequent and continuous testing and experimentation that we obtain a better product and help develop the sport better. 

It is true that the BCCI enjoys a financial clout in the ICC, with the majority of revenue of the international body being supplied by the Indian Association. But that is no fair way or right reason for it to exercise it's power for getting things done according to it's own selfish interests and objectives. It is wrong of the BCCI to arm-twist the ICC into get it's proposals done. Yes, It is no hidden fact that the BCCI holds a lot of influence in the ICC due to it's monetary power, and this has also been the bane of many other  countries who have felt disadvantaged due to the many unfair practises of the Indian Cricket Board. 

The BCCI must remember the times of the CA (Cricket Australia)- ECB (England Cricket Board) domination and how wrong it felt to have them all powerful and influential in the ICC, and heed to their lessons in the past.

 Any sport can only progress when the members co-operate and harmonically work together to ensure that fair treatment is given to all, and fair objectives of all member countries are met.  

Now, These days, The biggest football tournament of two years is going on. The UEFA Euro 2012, being hosted by Poland and Ukraine.With a tournament so big and so highly reputed, there are many special situations that are bound to happen. Whether they are about a team losing earlier than expected or a dark horse arising above all to suddenly take the stage, you can find all types of stories and happenings in the world of sports and football. This Euro also has it's own share of such news, which are being discussed universally by all football enthusiasts.

 There have been many instances worth chatting about but I feel the most prominent one is that of team England and their performance in this year's event. Also, their subsequent elimination from the tournament in the quarter-finals. 

The England team started off their campaign with a Hard-fought draw against France. They went on to win their encounters against Ukraine and Sweden. However, it wasn't the results of Team England that came into focus, but their style of play.

 Teams like Spain, France & Italy, had noticed that England were playing very defensively throughout the tournament. Before the arrival of Wayne Rooney (vs Sweden) after his 2-match suspension, England had only Danny Welback as a goal-scoring opportunity in the front. There was also substitute Theo Walcott and the inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, but apart from that there was no other striker or attacking player in the field. England were not passing enough, not obtaining any possessions and were only fixed on one single department. England seemed to be playing with a defensive approach, trying to frustrate opponents in all their attempts and then hoping to score something in their own counter-attack. 

Many said that with their manager changed just two months back, quite close to the start of the tournament (Roy Hodgson) they were little prepared for some major strategic transformation than their usual style of play. That could have been an excuse, but it seemed to be something else when England mid-fielder Scott Parker (EPL club Tottenham Hotspurs) went ahead and said that it did not matter if the England Team were playing ordinary or Ugly Football, as long as they kept beating opponents and winning. Sure they had been lucky at times (John Terry kicked the ball out of the goal when the ball had crossed the line vs. Ukraine or the goals that was given off-sides vs. Sweden) they were winning and that only mattered. That statement from the England Mid-fielder showed that the defensive Approach of England was not just a backup plan but a full-pronged strategy charted for success for the team in the Tournament. He even went on quote the name of the Team from where this approach has been inspired- Chelsea. But while Chelsea rode on pure luck and unbeatable chance to somehow get the Champions League Trophy this season, England could do no such thing. After all, till when could this faulty and incomplete strategy work? 

Sadly for them, The English team had to learn this lesson the hard way, when they were knocked out in their own game by Italy, who themselves are masters of defense. It is hard to see that such talented players, of the quality of Steven Gerrad, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welback that have never won a major tournament for their country so far but it will not happen unless England get their act together and play with a better plan and objective in the coming tournaments of FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil and the next Euro.

Another instance of an unfortunate or wrong event happened in India when Mahi, a 4-year old girl lost her life after she fell into an open borewell in Manesar, Haryana. 

The Haryana Govt. initially shocked all by stating that there was nothing new in Mahi's death and that such instances happened everywhere. However, after the huge media outcry and public pressure, they were coaxed to act. The little girl, who fell into the open borewell repotedly either while playing or while looking for water joined some other known children who have given up their lives due to the negligence and inaction of the bureaucrats. The borewell, which was nearly 70 feet deep was uncovered and unprotected against such happenings. 

After the 85-hour ordeal when she was pulled up by the rescuers, Mahi had already died. A twitter user summed up the feelings of one and all by saying that, "It is not that sad that Mahi, another kid in India has lost her life due to bureaucratic shamelesness, but it is very sad that she might not be the last one.."   

It is very sad to hear to some of the news but it is also important to note that there is always a lesson in all these happenings. Tennis ego clashes teach us humility, and being devoted to make the nation proud, BCCI stand-off teaches us not to be a bully when we are in power but being fair and equal to all, England's one-sided approach shows that no mission is ever complete without a proper plan and the unfortunate event of Mahi's event teached us to be careful always, and that a little carelessness can sometimes prove lethal.

It is for us to learn these lessons, and understand them to ensure that such events and incidents do not happen again. After all, a great man has said, "Making a mistake is human, learning from it is wisdom and repeating it is stupidity."