Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro Cup - Nearing Climax

What a fascinating contest Euro Cup is turning out to be. Most of matches I have seen have been cracker of games like previous night's semi final encounter between Germany and Turkey. Even though Turkey had done well in last matches, nobody gave them any chance against Germany, me included. But they turned out to be more than a match for Germans. In first half they had as many 14 shots at goal and German had only 5 or so, if I remember right. Last 15 minutes of the game was absolutely fantastic, if not for quality of play, then for goals scored and the drama. Bad luck for Turkey, but I think It will set a great final on Sunday, with Russia. Obviously I am supporting and hoping that Russia beat Spain tonight. Russia versus Germany in final, what a treat it would be. Podolski, Ballack and Schweinsteiger running against Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko . Russians were such a treat to watch against Netherlands , they virtually outran the Dutch. But before that, Russians have to outplay Spain tonight. And player to watch out would be Arshavin...He is best player on display at the moment and hopefully he will do the trick tonight with his tireless sprints and skills with Ball.

I hope that ESPN doesn’t keep getting blacked out like last night. Even though it happened due to electric storm in Vienna, their overall coverage of Euro has been pathetic. Agreed that Football is nowhere near Cricket in terms of popularity in India, but there are a million fans that follow and watch Football in India, and EPSN would do well to deck up their coverage. Their presenters look sleepy and bored. May be they need a Mandira Bedi for Football.
Update, Jun27: Spain roasted Russia 3-0. Russia was completely outplayed. I was wondering if it was the same team that I had seen earlier!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

India-US Nuclear deal - Roadblock on Left

Henry Kissinger once said that foreign policies should not be governed by emotions but should be dictated solely by cold logic of a nation's self interest and strategic objectives. He could be right or wrong depending on how you look at it. From American's perspective, He was right. Americans have followed it to the hilt and have always pursued thier own interests even if meant using brute force or undercover operations. If you are non-American, you would despise their foreign policy as is widely done in middle East, Iraq, Iran and so many other parts of world. Even in India, for various reasons, there has been an American phobia for long time. I think somewhere deeper; it has got to do with clash of civilization values. Eastern and western split. Materialism versus spiritualism. It also did no good to our relations with America that, soon after Independence, Nehru sided with socialism and became friends with Soviet Union. In era of cold war and bipolar world, India had clearly chosen its side even though ideologically India was never in any club and proclaimed its non-alignment. India's closeness to Russians led Americans to make Pakistan its ally. During 1971 war with Pakistan, Americans showed their intention by moving their naval fleet towards Karachi, a definite low point in Indo-American relationship.

World has changed since then. Cold war is over. Soviet Union is thing of history. China is rising and India is on the move. Changed equations have brought India and America closer. Our foreign policy towards America has seen this tilt of close cooperation for mutual benefit and this has been true regardless of which political party has come to power. BJP started this and Congress followed it up. A new beginning was expected when Manmohan Sign signed Nuclear treaty with Bush, but the soft speaking Sardar had not counted that he had party poopers in his own alliance in form of left parties. The days of Ideologies are long gone but not for the communists in India. They still live in ancient world of Carl Marx. They still thrive on anti-Americanism, their mistrust of everything American and their love for China. These leftists have no solution for anything other than striking work in their states, perennialy asking for subsidies and inventing ways of keeping poor always poor. How is that West Bengal which left has ruled for so many decades is still economically backward? The same Left, still stuck is some bygone era, has also managed to derail the nuclear deal and from recent reports in press it looks like that deal could be virtually off.
To ask few questions. How many people in this country actually know about what Nuclear deal is? I don’t know. But I don’t care. I would rather trust people like Manmohan Singhs and Kalams and country's nuclear and energy scientists than listening to some Karats and Basus. 80% people of this country don’t know or care what Nuclear deal is about. In fact they might not know what nuclear is about. Rest 20% who might have some idea what it is, don’t ever vote for left parties. So why do we have a situation that a party of men stuck in past and confused by manifestos of last century denying us a deal of mutual benefit? All for an ideology!!
There can't be an ideal situation. America might not be the best loved country in world but if nuclear deal is inline with country's strategic objectives, then why not pursue it by cold logic of self interest, keeping ideologies apart.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Speaking Sai- India TV gone bonkers

It is difficult to gauge where does India TV stand in plethora of Hindi news channels in India, which mostly cover nothing else than banal to Bollywood. Is it news channel or is it gosssip channel or is it live circus ? It frequently runs stories which verge on sensationalism, presented in most bizarre fashion by presenters who are TV equivalent of quacks. While browsing Tele for news, I came across two stories on this channel. One breaking news story was showing a video grab of dark, rain heavy, clouded sky and anchor was claiming that cloud was a giant demon (daitya) in sky. The cloud indeed vaguely resembled face of a man. Anybody who has ever looked at clouds in sky would know that traveling clouds can take many shapes. You can see dogs, cats, humans, war scenes or anything you can imagine. But India TV would have you believe that there was a Giant in sky in form of clouds. Story Anchor (are these guys worth calling journalists?) was repeatedly insinuating that cloud was a giant in sky and then it was asking viewers to call teh cahnnel and discuss if this was indeed a Giant in sky?

"Kya ye eak Daitya hai?"
"Kya apne kabhi aisa Daitya dekha hai?"
"Dekhiye kitna daravna hai iska chehra"
"ye deikhiye dataiya ke hoth, uski aankhen, kya ye hum se kuch keh raha hai?"

The very next day, in another breaking new, India TV ran another video which was sent to it by some viewer (picked from YoutTube as posted above) and which had Sai Baba moving his lips and ostensibly speaking. The Breaking story ran for good 3 hours and Channel was asking its viewers to call and discuss the speaking Sai baba video. What was most bizarre and ir-responsible was the way in which whole story was run with sensationalistic headlines, a ludicrous anchor and equally ridiculous voice over.

Dekihye , Sai baba ke hoth hil rahen hain. Unki Ankhe bhi hil
Rahi hain. Kya Kah Rahen hain Baba?

For an un-initiated viewer, the story would have come across as some sort of Miracle that Sai Baba was speaking in video. It was very obvious that Channel had clear intentions of grabbing eye balls by playing on gullible viewer's religious sentiments by hiding facts and presenting them in a way which would have a Sai baba devotee think that some sort of Miracle had taken place. In a country where large number of people can believe on anything in name of God, running such a story was tantamount to deliberately creating sensation. The height of stupidity was reached when competing news channel AajTak also picked the story and was keen to declare that it had reached the truth of "speaking Sai".

Towards end of the story India TV started claiming that it was showing the video in interest of nation and devotees of Baba and all it wanted to do was properly investigate if this was a real video. So is this what India TV finds worth investigating? An Animation posted on You tube? A video which anybody in first look would have said was work of an Animation? A video which is posted on Youtube with heading of "SaiBaba Animation" ? The very next day Channel again ran same story with "fresh claims" that after its pain staking investigation the truth was finally out and that India TV can now proudly say that it had found out the truth that Video was an Animation. And then it claimed that Saibaba is real and so is this video.

"India TV ko apni Tehkikat par garv " (India TV is proud of its Investigation)
What Investigation? If there was anything to be investigated, why did you moron showed the video before finding the truth? What was the urgent need of showing video? And why present a simple story in a way that it will sound fantastic? Why to run Animation with Sai Baba Bhajans in background? Would India TV show any video sent to it by any viewer and run it for 3 hours in name of investigation?

"Age bhi jari rakeha a jung" (Channel will continue this in future.)
Of yes. Grab animated videos from You tube and start investigations and run them as breaking news.

"karodon bhakton ne abhar jataya" (Millions of Devotees thanked India V)
This is as preposterous as the story channel ran. Do they know how much is one crore? How did channel find out that there were Crores of people thanking it? Did it talk to crores of people? And what were devoteed Thanking India TV for? Pointing them to YouTube?

"India TV ke tehkikat ka asar" (Effect of India TV's investigation)
What effect and on whom. Does India TV think that showing videos of vanishing statues, magicians, flying men and animations amount to Investigation!

"Sai bhi Sach or Video bhi Sach" (Sai Baba is real and so is video)
How did Channel reached on conclusion that Sai baba is real? Was that under investigation at all?

Rajat Sharma, perhaps its time that you retire or perhaps you have lost it. Otherwise how can you be in channel which seems to be infested with dementia stricken people in guise of journalists? But the malaise doesn't seem limited to India TV alone. Other Hindi News channels like Aaj Tak and even IBN7 are equally culpable. At time when India TV was showing Speaking Sai as breaking news, IBN7 had "messages from aliens" as breaking news.IBN7 claimed that it was doing "Duniya ka sab se bada khulasa", "world's biggest expose". Well. What next are we going to see as breaking news ...UFOs, invading aliens, Barmuda Triangle??

Shame on you India TV. Shame on your journalists. You don’t deserve privileges granted to Fourth Estate. If you don’t have anything worthwhile to show as news, you can do a little favor by not creating controversies and feeding on them.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Attack on Loksatta Editor

Somehere in rural Maharashtra, near a tiny dark hut, a woman is sitting , using her pallu to fan her little baby to comfort her from crippling heat and darkness, occasionaly looking at the shadow of tree in courtyard, with hint of tears in her eyes. There is no power in the village and the tree in the courtyard sometime metamorphoses and looks like her husband who hanged himself on it , just a month back. Hanged himself on same tree, when he was driven to penury, when his sugarcane crop was not bought by the sugar mill owner to avenge the caste which had not voted for the mill owner's politician father. In distant corner of the village, near the small cluster of shops which are unlit and dark due to perennial power shutdown, stands a tall statue of great marathi warrior Shivaji.

In a democratic setup, everybody has right to have an opinion and say. But increasingly, in this country, fringe lunatic groups have shown that they can shout few slogans, hurl few stones and generally have thier way to stifle any voice they precieve being in disagreement . Yesterday's attack on Loksatta editor Kumar ketkar is one such example. As reported in Media, his satirical political piece on present Government where he questioned rational of building a 100 crore statue of Shivaji instead of solving real problems state is facing, was picked up by "Shivaji" brigade as insult to Marathi pride and Shivaji. Some unknown group then marched to his house and almost killed him in front of TV crew which they themsleves had brought to scene.

What a bunch of jokers, these men. They can't find any other source of their manhood than a dead hero of past. In text books , childern of this country read about Shivaji as an indian hero. But some people in Maharshtra have hijacked him and have almost turned him into a provincial God. So much so for pride!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nepal - new Secular Republic

What a monumental day of hope and new beginning for a country of brave men and beautiful mountains.

Nepal, the only Hindu kingdom became a secular republic by abolishing monarchial rule of hundreds of years. The royals of Nepal who were once worshipped as reincarnation of Lord Vishnu have now become ordinary citizen and have been asked to vacate the royal palace. On a trip to Nepal recently, I could sense a general mood of a hope. The current king is widely hated but previous king Birendra is still respected. One can see his photographs in Nepali homes and shops. It has been general hatred of King Gayanendra among Nepalis that has made Maoists do away with royalty so easily and quickly. Even though Nepal has been a functioning democracy for sometime, the political environment has never been stable with many governments in few years falling due to internal bickering and cheap politicking. The Maos who have been waging a battle for long time in hinterland have won handsomely in recent elections. This had made people of Nepal believe that a new era is upon them. A new communist government in times when communism is on wane sounds ominous. Prachanda, the leader of Maoist has said that they will allow private business to go on until a time is reached when a true communist state with public ownership can be created. It means that one can start and own a business now but later state can come and take away the ownership. I dont know how many businessmen would be excited about that. But at this moment of their history, Nepalis perhaps want to be optimistic about their future and they believe that Maos would deliver on their expectations. As one, who likes Nepal, one can only wish that it happens and those land of Brave Gurkha warriors, friendly people and snow clad mountains become prosperous.