Friday, December 30, 2005

Abhinav Goyal on Saurav Ganguly

An excellent excellent article. Could not think of a better article on this burning topic. So repeating it in its entireity

On why Sourav Ganguly's exclusion is not a trivial matter
-Abhinav Goyal

There are those who contend that the entire debate over Sourav Ganguly is a waste of time. I disagree. The debate over Ganguly's fate is a critical question of the current times even though it appears to be a trivial matter on the face of it.

Cricket, the oft-repeated cliché goes, is a religion in India. In the face of poor infrastructure, bad roads, unhygienic water supplies, electricity blackouts, public transport vehicles that hardly ever run on time and ever so often crash, corruption in anything remotely connected to the government machinery- legislative, executive and judiciary, a nonchalant fourth estate that pays more attention to Karishma Kapoor's wedding and her legal battle with her spouse than it does to actual matters to public interest and the growing economic divide in society, Indians find their hope and their despair in the performances of the Indian cricket team. So it is that cricketers, especially those who give the Indian public something to rejoice about, are Gods in India.

And Ganguly is way up there in the pantheon. India's most successful test captain ever. The Prince of Calcutta who was once described by Rahul Dravid as being second to none but God while playing on the off-side, Sourav won over Indian hearts the world over by hitting a century on his Test debut at Lords. Since then, he has given us many, many moments to cherish and relive but the defining moment of Sourav's career came six years after his debut at, coincidentally, the same venue- the home of cricket- Lords.

The image of Sourav taking off his shirt and waving it above his head when India beat England in the finals of the Natwest Trophy became the symbol of not just Indian cricket but of a brave, new and resurgent India in the 21st century. Sourav epitomized a new generation of India, one that was unapologetic for its colonial history and was not afraid to fight to the face the world outside. Bold. Bare-chested. Under Sourav, the Indian cricket team, once a team of chokers and under-achievers, transformed into a team of fighters that on several occasions snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. He was the Indian captain who would take the fight to the opponent on their turf. In a mirror action to the rapid strides India was making on the global stage in the IT and ITES industry segments, Sourav and his boys inspired us all to dream big. A dream they delivered upon time and again, reaching the acme during the tour of Pakistan in 2004. My father may not be a great fan of cricket but one could see the pride (and joy) in his face when India beat Pakistan in Pakistan. Joy felt and shared by every Indian.

After the series in Pakistan, it was time to consolidate upon the platform created and to take Indian cricket to the next level. A level where performances were the only criteria for selection and prima donnas were disallowed for the one thing Team India lacked was consistency. If not, the momentum built up by the team would be lost and a whole lot of hard work would go down the drain. The problem was this- Ganguly the batsman had long vanished in a heap of paltry performances. In order to set a high benchmark, he would have to walk down that path himself and that was not visible anymore. A year later, it was clear that Ganguly was just not the right person for the job. He knew it. He also knew he could get away with it as long as Indian cricket was run by his godfather, Jagmohan Dalmiya and he used it to his advantage. By doing so, Ganguly transformed into a symbol of past glory. A has-been. A mascot for people who are unable to keep pace with the world and who blindfold themselves so that they dont have to face changing times, assuming that their past deeds would be sufficient to carry them through.

Ganguly was a God in India. A God that failed.

There is no denying Ganguly's legacy and his contribution to Indian cricket. There are many moments of joy that Sourav Ganguly has provided us for which we should be, and are, grateful. Do those moments, and the man who made those moments possible, merit a place in the Indian cricket team?

What makes the question of Ganguly's inclusion in the team such an important question is that it asks the bigger question that India has now, inadvertently, been called to answer. It is a choice between past glory and continuous improvement. Between emotion and merit. And India has to answer. If it chooses emotion and past glory and asks for the reinstatement of Ganguly to the team based on the past, India can go back to its unquestioning, uncomplaining life accepting all its problems and cricket as its escape from those problems.

If, instead, it chooses to take a step forward to a system where merit and performance are not optional, it will have to answer even bigger questions. Why doesn't the same apply to every sphere of our life? Why do we accept corrupt politicians and a highly dysfunctional government machinery? When India dismisses the Bengali sentiment running high in Ganguly's favour as blind emotion, it will need to answer why it votes on the basis of language, caste, creed and religion. When it demands to know the credentials of the five selectors who choose the Indian cricket team, why doesn't India ask for the qualifications and the bonafides of its elected representatives who make decisions on its behalf- decisions that affect its daily life.

And this is why the media (for whatever reasons- TRPs, pressure from Ganguly's sponsors whose crores of Rupees are now effectively down the drain, etc) must continue to ask the question each and every day till India knows, for sure, the choice it wants to make. A choice we all have to make for India. Of a secure, known past or an exciting, potentially promising future. India, Deal Ya No Deal?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

State of the Person Address

It's that time of the year again. This time next week, we shall be counting down to the new year. It'll be time for the resolutions again. I don't know what I had resolved for this year. Actually I could check. Gimme a sec.
Well, turns out I resolved not to make any resolutions. So I guess I am ok. If I was a corporation, I guess I could say I met my goals during my annual review. So let's leave it at that. I quite like the idea that I did not make any resolution and I think it will be my resolution for next year also.  Oh wait a minute, using the rules that corporations should aim to do better let me resolve not to make resolutions for the next two years. Ha, personal stock should be up by this announcement.
Things otherwise are going swimmingly. Other than the fact that I can't swim. It's our anniversary in the coming week, and we are heading off to Vegas to celebrate tomorrow. Also, there's four days of paid vacation thereafter. Plan to relax and make some plans for the new year coming. It promises to be one of lots of challenges and upheavals. You know the time that you feel is going to be one that is going to change your life 180 degrees? ( A lot of people say your life changes 360 degs. But geometry suggests that if you turn 360 you come back to where you were. But more on that later) Will be posting the most news worthy ones on this blog as time goes by.
That's about it for now. Shall post stuff as things go by

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two sides of the same coin?

George Bush says Osama Bin Laden is evil. OBL says George W. is evil.
If you take the emotion out of it and were to run it like a court case, who would win?
Over 3000 were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Over 2000 have been killed due to the "faulty" intelligence for the Iraq war and we are still counting. OBL wants Muslims (for sake of arguments, let's call them his "mandate") to be good Muslims and do their duty and follow him blindly on the path to victory. GW would like Americans to "trust" him on the war on terror (another word for following him blindly). You can argue, both are equally religiously fanatic in their own right. The point being, on paper, how do they differ? Can't think of one way in which they are actually different. In this case who will win?
I don't really know. All I know is that GW knows what I talk with my parents in India

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Steps to improve Indian cricket

Ever since Jaggu Dalmiya got booted out of Indian cricket, things are going crazy. Our man Pawar and his guys are coming up with radical new ideas. From paanwaalas to premiers, all Indian cricket fans have their own 25 paise to add for improving the whole show. Since I happen to be one (cricket fan, not paanwaala nor premier) as well, thought I should add a few bits of my own. So here goes:

- Make the BCCI a publicly traded company. I bet there's a lot more money on the stock market for the head honchos. All current "posts" at the BCCI are currently honorary. Make them all salaried employees. There's a certain accountability with them. Let's run the damn thing like a company. Let's trade it on the BSE. Currently the BCCI is not answerable to anyone. This way, it is truly answerable to the people of India who spend an amazing amount of time and energy following the team around. If Manchester United can do it, why can't the BCCI?

- Sharad Pawar (hereinafter referred to as SP) had mentioned the need for a CEO for Indian cricket. I have a candidate for the post. And even though I say that I could run it, it's not me. I would like to propose the candidacy of Harsha Bhogle for the position of CEO, Indian Cricket.

Plusses for this candidacy :
--- Qualified. If an IIM graduate is not qualified to run an organization, no one in India can be.

--- Do you know a greater fan of Indian cricket?

--- Has a good rapport with most cricket players of the country.

--- Has seen enough cricket around the world to know best practices.

--- Definitely knows how to make money. He is a superstar journalist with sufficient name recognition. Beat that.

--- Got a better candidate?

Other steps:

- Make it more fun for the fans to attend a game. Trust me, with all the security and all, it's not much fun to attend a game. Couldn't part of the reason that the new players are coming from the smaller towns, is that they love the game more? Anyone in the big cities who has gone to an international game, would definitely swear off the experience thereafter. I guess the shareholders definitely would improve this requirement.

- Try to have the Pakistani teams as part of the domestic competition. They have the best new fast bowlers always. Let our bachcha players get used to the fast ball.

- Try to get some baseball coaches for fielding practice. Ever seen the baseballers throw / catch? amazing.

ANyway, I am only rambling on now. This is it for me, for now.

Till later,


Friday, December 09, 2005

Long years ago

As usual was browsing the web while waiting for dinner. Came across this article. ( I guess you can figure out by now that I surf the New York Times a lot)

Anyway, this article reminded me that the Football World Cup is coming up. I know it says soccer, and now I am in USC nation and that football here is different. But football for me will always be the game that had Maradona dribble past half a dozen Englishmen and score past Peter Shilton. It will be the game that had Andreas Brehme score past Goicoichchea (I know I got the spelling wrong) to give Germany the World Cup.

Next June is the World Cup. There is hardly any anticipation in the US for it. There hardly was any fervour here even when they hosted the tournament. I have my own theory for it. I don't think it is going to be successful in the US, as long as they call it soccer. It's football stupids. You use your feet. The Aussies also have their own version of football. But at least they kick the ball!!

Anyway, back to the main point. I can't wait for the World Cup to start. My main worry is that I won't get to see much of it. German time is 8 hrs ahead of here, most games take place at night, so chances are it's gonna take place around the noon time. So, unless I take a month off / travel to India / travel in person to Germany, chances are I won't get to see most of the games. I am so used to watching football in the night. Luckily the last time around it was in Japan / Korea and the feeling of watching the games at night felt like old times. It all started 20 years ago, when it was held in Mexico. My cousin and I would sit up nights and watch the games. Each of us would have our own favourites. We were so enamoured of the whole process, that we played our own version of successive World Cups in anticipation of the next one in Italy. I think we went up to 2024.

It is my dream to watch a World Cup game in person. Don't think this year that is gonna be possible. But some day I have promised myself to watch one in person. I would live to go for it with my kids. For that I need to have kids first. Then I should have them hooked on sports (I know D's gonna kill me). Not just football or cricket. But everything. Tennis, badminton, heck even cheerleading is a sport. And it's fun.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Nice article

I liked this article on the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago. I believe copying in totality is not considered plagiarising. Also, I have named the source. Anyway, this article is about forgiving. Therefore I believe I should not get into any legal trouble. Here goes.

Why is it so difficult for us to release the pain of yesterday and move forward with our lives? It’s not as though we enjoy being stuck in painful memories.Rather, the longer we remain stuck in them, the more deeply they wound us.
Someone very close to me refuses to let go of the pain her ex-husband inflicted on her years ago. I admit it was a horrible time for her, and left very deep wounds. It is understandable that she would have trouble letting go of these memories, as they are a part of her. Yet,
they are not just a part of her, they are the biggest part of her. Why? Because she chooses to make them so.
She has been divorced from this man for nine years now. She hasn’t laid eyes on him since, as they had no children together and have no reason to remain in contact. She is remarried to a wonderful man now, and generally lives a happy, contented life with him. But the very mention of her ex-husband’s name sends her into an instant rage.
This very thing happened not too long ago, while I was present. As she fumed and carried on about what a snake he was, I quietly asked her, “Why do you continue to let him hurt you?” This seemed to surprise her.
“I don't,” she said defensively, “I'm talking about what he did in the past. I couldn't care less about him now.” Is that true, really? If she couldn’t care less about him, why does she still get so upset when his name is mentioned? In my own opinion, it’s because she hasn’t fully let go of the pain from her past. She is still stuck in echoes of agony. There is also the issue of forgiveness. If she were to forgive her ex-husband for what he did, would that absolve him? She can’t
allow that to happen. So she clings to her hatred and bitterness.
Let’s be honest: it is not okay that he did what he did. It’s not okay that he hurt her like he did. But does clinging to the pain and refusing to forgive him help matters? Is he even aware that she still harbours such heartache over the past? I doubt it. She is not punishing him, she is punishing herself. But she’s afraid to forgive him because doing so might mean she condones what he did.
I tried explaining all this to her, but I don’t think she got it. I don’t blame her though, I have been there myself. Haven’t we all? Sometimes we are too blinded by the hurt to see things clearly.
I do believe she will work her way through it eventually. Most of us do.
However, if a person wanted to speed up the process, there are two things that can be done immediately to take a more active role in releasing the past.
Embrace the pain. I know it’s not a fun process. But it is freeing. One of our most destructive habits is running away from pain. Denial. Pain isn’t fun. It’s, well... painful! It’s not surprising that we’d want to avoid it if we can. Avoidance might work for a while, but pain doesn’t go away unless we deal with it and work through it. It will continue to fester if left unacknowledged.
One of the simplest ways to work through old hurts is to relive them. Bring up a painful memory and allow yourself to feel what you avoided the first time around. Heartache, rage, horror, sadness, grief — let it run its course.
Cry as hard as you need to. Scream into a pillow. Punch a pillow. Write out your rage in a notebook. Tell that person exactly what you think about them. Don’t hold back, no one is going to see it but you.
Forgive. Forgiveness is not a oneshot deal. It is a process. It takes practice, just like resentment and anger do. However, it does begin with a choice, and the realisation that forgiveness benefits you, not the one who hurt you.
By refusing to forgive the other person, you are keeping yourself where they put you: in the victim’s role. Forgiving someone does not mean you are condoning what they did. It does not mean you absolve them of their guilt. It means you no longer hold yourself at their mercy. You release the hold their actions have on you.
Why do all this? The past is gone, why dredge it up again? Why not just let it go? Because many of us really haven’t let it go. We trick ourselves into thinking we have. We squelch the memories deep down inside and pretend they're not there.
We don't allow ourselves to think about them. But if a memory can still cause you such pain and rage, it's a sure sign that you haven't healed and moved on. There is a big difference between avoidance and letting go. Letting go is a healthy, conscious decision. Avoidance is a subconscious act of fear. Which do you choose?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Random musings

Let me start off by apologizing in writing to my wife for making her watch a movie called Tango Charlie. I had heard somewhere that it was a good movie, so I kinda insisted for quite a while that we should watch it. The fact that I am apologising for it, should give you an indication of what sort of a movie it was. It was still different from the usual Hindi movies, but it was a drag. Noble idea, but bad execution. Nuff said.
Browsing the web, came to this wonderful article about India's golden quadrilateral .

Another prominent website I have been browsing for quite a while has been Prem Panicker's blog on blogger. You may or may not know but I had created a cricket fan blog of my own for a while, but I think this is the best blog around about Indian cricket. Prem has been for quite a while the most logical voice in Indian cricket. I really miss his musings on rediff. For a while he took a sabbatical from cricket and was based in NYC for something. I don't know what, but the quality of cricket coverage on rediff definitely fell since his departure. He still writes once in a while on rediff, but this blog is definitely a step in the right direction. It also helps I guess that with the blog, he doesn't have to to worry about deadlines and be a lot more frank with his opinions. Also helps that there are some other contributors to the blog. So the opinions remain fresh and the topics current. (Too current if you ask me. The posts change before I have a chance to write a comment). I am amazed at the power of the internet. So many people write comments on the site, and it is almost like a chat room. You'd think there are people getting paid to follow this blog.
On other news front, there is nothing to note. Sudeep is going to India, so will be sending some stuff with him to Pune for my parents. Photos and a small note, that's about it. There's hardly any news to pass on, since telephoning home is so easy and convenient, we speak about 2-3 times a week (phone / chat / email, its all the same)
Anyway, that's about it for this week. Here's some snaps from the time my uncle and aunt spent here for the Thanksgiving break.
Signing off,