Archive for the 'India' Category

11
Sep
09

Dear ministers, you are only our servants.

Courtesy - Deccan Chronicle - 12/09/09

Courtesy - Deccan Chronicle - 12/09/09

Austerity is a term used when a national government reduces its spending, usually to pay back creditors. And austerity seems to be the buzz word in the Parliament of late. The UPA government’s decision to implement austerity measures, though welcome, has already created a storm in the political circles.  It all started when ministers SM Krishna and Shashi Tharoor were asked to check out of the luxury hotels they were staying at. However, this definitely was uncalled for, because as far as my knowledge is, both the ministers were living off on their own hard earned money and not the taxpayers.

The issue kicked in further when Finance minister P Chidambaram ‘requested’ his peers to travel in Economy class while flying domestic and Business while on International flights. Of course, something not easy to digest for the Baabus. Although they agreed to it, their call for 1st class on International flights is very much in the wrong direction. Sharad Pawar even went on to point out the “hazards” of flying economy was the prospect of being intruded upon by other passengers. Perhaps someone should remind dear Mr. Pawar, that he just a servant of the public and not vice versa.

Shashi Tharoor had responded to the situation, saying on Twitter:

I would be ashamed if I was spending the people’s money. But I’m not – I’m spending my own savings.

As long as the ministers pay from their own pockets for special privileges it is okay. Most of them are rich and buying an Executive class ticket as they wish won’t nuke their pockets. Like Mr. Tharoor says the ministers, who are mere representatives of the people, should be ashamed to spend the people’s money for their luxuries.

Moving on, Rahul Gandhi called for the Congress to return to power in Tamil Nadu. He was here in TN to kick of a youth recruitment drive all across the state. I really hope his dream comes true and end the dominance of self-centered regional parties. While an alliance with the DMK may be good at the moment, the Congress will definetely need to rethink about it in the future, especially if it hopes for a revival of the party, like it did in Uttar Pradesh.

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05
Sep
09

A deserved victory for Bhutia and co.

Three of my most favorite football teams are Manchester United, Atletico Madrid (Spain isn’t just about Barca and Real) and the Indian National Football team. Yes, you heard it right, the very team led by a certain Baichung Bhutia and coached by an Englishman named Bob Houghton. Ask any football fan in India and 8 out of 10 will tell you who top-scored in last season’s Premier League but ask them who the current I-League champions are and they would be clueless. That is football in India for you, where most of us  consider ‘Indian football’ as a non-existant entity.

For all those who saw the nerve-wrecking final of the Nehru Cup between India and Syria, I’m sure it must have been of a one of a kind experience. It was easily by far, one of the best games of football I’ve ever witnessed. No goals in regular time and with less than 10 minutes for penalties substitute Renedy Singh converted a free kick to send the crows to ruptures. He may not be a David Beckham but on that particular day he did much more than Beckham could ever do in his career – help win a trophy for his national side. But then, just when everybody thought the game is over for the Syrians, Ali Diab brilliantly headed the ball past the Indian ‘keeper with hardly any time left for the final whistle.

India wins Nehru Cup

Ask Roberto Baggio or David Beckham. They wouldn’t think twice telling you that a penalty shootout is the most dreaded affair for any football player. No matter how big a superstar you are, when it comes to shooting the ball from 12 yards with just one person separating glory from you, it is not about skill or talent, rather its about the nerves. Unfortunately for the West Asians, nerves deserted them, along with luck. And then there was super-man Subrata Pal. The three saves he made were nothing short of being called spectacular. The moment Pal leaped to his left to stop Belal Abduldaim, I swear the song Chak De India was playing in my head. The Syrian Coach Fajer Ibrahim commented after the match that Syria could have romped home 4-0 had they scored and the Indians did not deserved the victory. Someone should remind him life, and football are not about possiblities, rather reality. The bottom-line is that Syria lost and India won. But what an irony that in both 2007 and 2009 India won the cup after losing to Syria in the league stages but defeating them when it mattered the most in the final. Lightning does strike twice after all.

India does have a lot of talent. Guys like Chhetri, Pal and NP Pradeep certainly deserve a shot in the European leagues, at least in the smaller ones like in Belgium. It is a pity that Chettri couldn’t make the cut for a work permit with QPR. Else he would have been the second Indian after Bhutia to play in England. What India lacks the most is enough match practice. In the last couple of years apart from two Nehru Cups and the AFC Challenge Cup, the team has hardly played a game. India needs to play more friendlies against better oppositions from Asia and if possible outside. I can’t wait to see India play  the likes of Japan and South Korea in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

18
Aug
09

Much ado about nothing

Shahrukh Khan arrested and detained  for suspicious behaviour. If you assumed that I’m talking about the recent ‘detainment’ of SRK at Newark International Airport, you are wrong. The arrest I’m talking about is in fact a part of the story of an upcoming Bollywood film.  And guess what, it stars none other but the mighty Shahrukh Khan himself. A mere coincidence? You decide.

Of course, I would be exaggerating if I say the Baadshah of Bollywood planned the ‘detainment’ in advance as a publicity stunt for ‘My Name is Khan‘, his next movie which follows a Muslim’s tribulations in post 9/11 America. You don’t have to pass through the immigration checks at Newark or travel to the USA to realize the ‘torture’ faced by the actor is something every Asian, Muslims in particular have long  faced. But to make such hue and cry about it was absolute shame. Whether you like it or not, these checks have prevented possible security violations.

Shahrukh couldn’t have asked for a better promotion for the film. He was simply in the right place in the right time. He is possibly the best person to know how to handle the media in the right way to hios own advantages. Now all he has to do is to wait for the media to highlight the similarity of the film to this real-life event faced bu the star of the film himself.  He may have shed crocodile tears and threatened ‘never to set foot in the US again’. But at the end of the day he is Bollywood’s biggest star and a big percentage of his moolah comes from overseas, in particular North America. Not just that, the whole incident also would also increase awareness about him among the Americans, probably even land him a future Hollywood role.

Shahrukh should learn a lesson or two from former President APJ Abdul Kalam. He kept his mouth shut and did not want up to stir a controversy after the ‘mistreatment’ meted out to him by an American airline. Be it SRK or Kalam, they are no different from the common man. They may have done great deeds but that doesn’t mean they get special treatment wherever they go. Very few Indians are aware of the fact that even former American Vice President Al Gore was checked after he inadvertently bypassed security. Unlike SRK, he made no fuss about it and politely went through the check.

09
Jul
09

Docomo!!

GPRS rates of 1 paise/kb; call rates of 1 paise/second – Just some of the cool features India’s latest mobile operator Tata Docomo is bringing. The GSM service is a joint venture between India’s very own Tata Tele Services and Japan’s predominant network NTT Docomo. Tata’s CDMA service Indicom hasn’t been all that good, but the attractive tariffs enough should be able to woo people to the new service. Considering number portability is just around the corner, prices shoud be dropping even more as the operators would be ready to do anything to prevent customers from jumping ship.

At the moment I’m using Vodafone. The service is pretty decent and most of my friends are using it too. But the feature that I’ve been attracted to the most has obviously been its super-good Internet services. 10 p/10 kb at zero rental is music to the ears of any net-savvy person. It has hepled me to keep in touch with Facebook and Twitter. But now that Docomo has gone one step further in charging users  for every 1 kb rather than 10 kb,  it will only make net on the go even more cheaper. Btw Airtel’s internet sucks simply because it has no zero rental GPRS plans. I don’t really talk on the phone but that may just change with Docomo’s 1 sec pulse. But even this may change with Docomo’s arrival. This is even better than the 10 paise per call offers on Vodafone and other networks. On the flipside it lacks enough SMS offers.  This could affect its popularuty among the text-crazy teens and the youth.

The government had said Mobile Number Portability would be ready by mid-2009. This is especially helpful when you are unhappy about your service provider, and not being able to switch to another provider because you don’t want to lose your current cell phone number. But now, you may as well say good-bye to such fears as you can switch to a different operator while retaining your old number. This means increased competetion and ultimately it is the consumer who gets to smile. Docomo’s launch is thus very well timed.

I have to admit that Vodafone is definitely in danger of losing at least one happy and loyal customer, Moi. But whether that happens or not is in their hands. The customer’s motto is simple –Gimme More.

29
Jun
09

LGBT rights in India: A contentious issue

Forty years after the the world witnessed the start of the gay rights movement in the form of New York’s Stonewall riots, Chennai became the latest city to hold a gay-parade. It felt nice seeing so many people of  alternative sexualities coming out in the open in flamboyance. Love it or hate it, homosexuality is here to stay. It is high time that we realise that the LGBT community are also human beings just like any of us.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a highly debated subject in the media of late. The legislation has been misused by the police to harass gays and other sexual minorities for years now. Critics of the gay movement have been arguing that homosexuality is a western idea, which I find is totally absurd. Before the arrival of the British India used to be home to one of the most sexually liberated societies of the world. It was Vatsyayana, an Indian who taught the world the art of the Kamasutra. Stone carvings belonging to ancient India depict men having sex with men. Why, even bestiality has been depicted in these age old images.  The anti-gay laws were drafted in 1860 by the British at the height of the Victorian era, a time when Britain was in one of its most culturally conservative phases. So why this hypocritical idea that homosexuality is a western concept and we Indians should shun it?

Now if you are among those retards who think gays are sinners and Section 377 should be impossed stringently, then you should also realise the law does not just affect gays, but straight people like you and me too. This is what the law reads: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” In simple words the law says that anal or oral sex even between opposite sexes is a crime. Britain repealed its anti-gay laws in 1967, but 42 years down the line, India is still in the dark ages with respect to same sex relations. Critics allege that decriminalising gay-sex would increase child abuse cases and even spread HIV/AIDS. But fact of the matter is that it has proven to be the opposite. The government should rather change its rape laws so that both the genders are included as victims in it.

The current government has been so far taking a positive approach towards the issue. However law minister Mr.Veerappa Moily’s statement that ‘all groups would be consulted before taking a decision’, is not in the right direction. It is obvious that religious groups especially the Catholic Church will oppose any amendment in the law. India is a secular country and its laws should not be influenced by any religion. I’m a Catholic, but at the same time I’m also a human being. The Bible says gays are a disgrace, but the same Bible also says love one another and treat everyone equally. Not everything said in the Bible is right. You just have to take the positives out of  it, or any religious text for that matter.

India may still have a long way to go for gay-marriages, but at least decriminalising homosexuality would help it in being labelled a progressive country. But at the end of the day, it is not just the law books that matter, what goes on in our minds also play a major role. For years LGBT people have been subject to social stigma. ‘Normal’ people have been calling them ‘abnormal’ and a blot in the society. Unless and until we see a change in the homophobic attitude of the society, gays will still choose to remain in the closet. Homosexuality is nothing against nature, in fact even animals have been known to show homosexual behaviour. Why should we heterosexuals have problems with homosexuals, when they don’t have any problems with our sexuality. Right to Equality is a fundamental right in the democracy of ours, and it should apply to all kinds of people, sexual minorities included.

P.S: I had a tough time deciding whether or not to write this article as I was afraid that my friends would brand me a gay. This is the kind of stigma I’m talking about. But fact is I’m straight and also comfortable with my sexuality. But my straightness doesn’t mean I have the right to bash gays.

I’m Straight, but not Narrow

19
Jun
09

Now God’s own IPL team?

sreesanth

Possible Captain? ... NOT 😛

When the likes of SRK, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty are minting money with their IPL teams, can our very own Southern superstars be left out? According to media reports Mohanlal is all set to enter the the bandwagon as well. Accompanying him will be best friend and ace director Priyadarshan. Lalettan and Priyan have apparently expressed interest in entering a Kerala based franchisee for the 2010 edition of the Indian Premier League.

However from the looks of it, it is easier said than done. First of all Kerala doesn’t have a proper stadium. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Kaloor, Kochi which has so far hosted international matches in the state doesn’t even have a roof to escape the scorching sun. The floodlights are hardly in any working condition. With all the corruption in the Kerala Cricket Association, even if a Tripura or Nagaland is ready to host an IPL match, our administrators in Dheivathinte Swantham Naadu will be still fighting among themselves for a seat next to the cheerleaders. And when cities like Ahmedabad and Kanpur which have better stadia are around, it is unlikely that money hungry BCCI will even consider Kerala.

Apart from Sreesanth, the only Kerala Ranji player in the IPL is Raiphi Gomez of the Rajasthan Royals. Even the Chennai Super Kings of which Kerala is a catchment state, doesn’t have a single mallu in the team. If Kerala’s Ranji recors are anything to go by, even the lowly Knightriders won’t have any problems dispatching them. Priyadarshan has said that he hopes to develop talented cricketers from the state. Hope he doesn’t mean players like Sreesanth. One Appam is more than enough to give us malayalis a ‘good’ name.

10
Jun
09

BCCI vs ICL but on the cricket field for a change

India takes on giant-killers Ireland in today’s T20 World Cup fixture. Shouldn’t the BCCI be boycotting the game? Perplexed? When India takes the field for tonight’s game it will probably be the first time an India team is involved in a Match that also features players who’ve been involved in the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Ireland mainstays Niall O’Brien and Boyd Rankin turned up for the Delhi Jets and the Kolkata Tigers in the inaugural season respectively.

Keeper O’Brien was in fact the man of the match in Ireland’s victory over Bangladesh in their earlier match. He was also the MOM when he scored a gritty 72 to lead the Irish to a famous victory over India’s arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup. Rankin meanwhile took career best figures of 3/32 in the match and also  topped the bowling charts for Men in Green for the tournament. The two are in fact the only ex ICL players to have turned up for their national sides in official tournaments so far.

The BCCI looks like is unaware of the ICL presence in the Ireland team. They may have relaxed rules for ex ICL talent and is in the process of welcoming them back to the ‘official’ fold and so is unlikely to create any problems in tonight’s game even if they are aware of the situation. But it should be noted that Rankin and O’Brien returned to national colors as far as back in March 2008, more than an year before the Indian Board’s pardoning of the ‘rebels’. If Ireland goes on to upset the Indians tonight, the ICL bosses will have a reason to smile. After all it will be the only time that they probably will taste any sort of success against the BCCI.