Monday, December 24, 2012

Beyond the rapes

The past few days have been particularly traumatic for the psyche of Indians, and particularly females. Tempted as I am to make this blog a medium of venting my anger, which by the way stops at nothing less than wanting the accused to be released among the crowds at India Gate and letting the 'things take their course', I intend to write on some of the other, more subtle but more dangerous facets of this chronology. 

The dastardly acts of the men on a moving bus need no more specific mentions. But let us face the facts. A rape is a rape, irrespective of where, how, when or by whom it happens. So this case, outrageous as it is, was neither the first one nor the last one. It was also not the most condemn-able one. There are rapes happening all over the country. As I type and as you read, for all we know, there might be one happening within walking distance of where we are. And this really scares the shit out of me. 

However, if we manage to look beyond the maddening haze created by the protests and the aftereffects, there are much more frightening things going on, pleading for an answer. Sharing some of those

  • Attitudes of the Leadership - In hours of distress, public looks up to leaders. People want to know what the establishment thinks about things. What we have been seeing is a leadership lying low, burying their heads in the sand like a crazy ostrich and just waiting for this phase to pass, so that once again rapes can be delegated to the side column stories that appear on page 4 of the regional newspapers. 
  • Silence of the political brass - When I see Obamas of the World striking a chord with the common public, I long for such a figure in my own country. Alas, all we get is a rehearsed recorded message which I feel was better off not being there. It is amusing that whenever the PM talks, news reads 'PM breaks his silence'. The opposition is equally silent. Utterly shameful. 
  • Irresponsible Journalism - The less said the better. The drunken lumpens was a real abyss. The publicity stunt of Times of India, even giving a 'sensational' name to the girl, is unwanted and unwarranted.  
  • Labels and Responses - Comparing protesters with Maoists, asking why they need to be responded to. Action against VK Singh. Justification of Lathi Charge and tear gas shells. Shutting down of Metro Stations to force people away from protests. How are all these things justified in a civilized society?
  • Questions on the basics - Trying to fix the blame on provocative girls rather than the animals who rape them has become a fashion in the name of pragmatism. Focus should be on instilling fear in minds of rapists. Most of the rapists will never even be reprimanded. This must change. And ultimately, the answer is nothing but education. Not degrees, mind you. Education. 

End of an Era

There are two types of ODI matches. Ones with Sachin in it, and Ones with Sachin not in it. Alas! There would now be none of the first type. 

There will never be the conviction of things being fine because one short, unassuming genius is still out there on the pitch. There will never be the madness, the euphoria and the craze that accompanied each shot that raced to the boundary, each dive that saved a run, each ball that trumped the batsmen. And of course, there will never be the trademark grin that came to be feared by bowlers all over the world. 

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how one sportsman could inspire such fanfare, close to worship. However, anybody who fell in love with Indian Cricket in 90s will agree that it all started because of one person. He was the one who symbolized not just an escape from defeat, but a surge for victory. With him at crease, Indians believed that all bowling attacks are manageable, all totals are achievable and all series are winnable. There was aggression in his unassuming style. There was steely resolve in his subtle frame. There was an unending desire for dominance in his mild manners. He was the symbol of a resurgent India, looking desperately for symbols of pride in the midst of economic, political and social turmoil. He was the only good news in the gloomy newspapers. He was the stuff dreams were made of. 

What can I say today that has not already been said, as a fitting tribute to the man who gave me millions of little joys, over and over again? Just going through the earlier days when I blogged about him...

I wrote about him when the Wankhede crowd booed him, later holding 'Sorry' placards, when he completed 20 years, when he completed 100 centuries, etc... just wish to recount the same...

To sum up, there was a 'troll' going around on Facebook... Mayans were right... the world did end in December 2012!!

We will miss you in India colours, Sachin! Hope the team finds someone worthy of the No 10 Jersey soon!

Monday, October 29, 2012

O Captain, My Captain

There are players and there are heroes. And then, once in a blue moon, along comes one legend who changes the way a country looks at a sport. I could write endlessly about his classy cover drives and lusty sixes over long on. But what this man gave us was much more than pure cricketing joy.

Indian Cricket in early nineties was a classic case of a mediocre team whose fans preferred to shut down their TV Sets once Sachin Tendulkar was out. Winning was not a realistic expectation. It was a fantasy that we all lived when we won. To make things worse, there was the match fixing scandal in 2000, Hardly a great time for someone to take charge of a team. But this man was different. This man was Sourav Ganguly. Things were about to change.

In 2000 itself, touring down under, at 68/3 with Sachin back in Pavillion, the script seemed familiar. But Ganguly had other plans. There was no retreat into a shell. There was counterattack. Suddenly, Indians looked different. Slowly but surely, a new Indian team was taking shape. The greatest opening combination in ODI history was formed. The best middle order in a long while was taking shape. Our pacers were charged up and spinners were aggressive. Suddenly, Team India was transformed. The surge that started in Natwest Final at Lords went all the way through to 2003 WC finals.

With Dada at helm, India played for a win. India played for pride and glory. Something that refuses to die out even today and, hopefully, will never die out. Thanks, Dada, for giving all this to Indian Cricket.

Captain Courageous. Bengal Tiger. Mercurial. Irrepressible. Fighter. Legendary. Or, in other words, our beloved Sourav Ganguly. Indian Cricket will miss you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Suitable Dream

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee 
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

As a proud Indian, there are many dreams that I see. I call them ambitious dreams. I dream of India as an economic superpower. I dream of prosperous villages and dazzling cities. I dream of visionary leadership taking India to the crescendo of diplomacy. I dream of Indian culture and way of life being recognized, appreciated and celebrated across the globe. 

And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, there comes this wake up call. A lone girl molested in public. Social systems held at ransom by Maoists and Naxals. Another wave of farmer suicides. 

Then, sometimes I think that we are not destined for the ambitious dreams. Maybe what we need are suitable dreams, that will be restricted to reducing the number of people who sleep hungry by a few hundred, or probably people feeling safe enough around their homes. 

But I still dream. Sometimes it is an ambitious dreams. At other times, a suitable dream.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Great Sportsman, if there was one

This is what I commented on Lakshmi Priya's post... thanks to her for inspiring my thoughts.

It is indeed amusing to see whole battalions of self proclaimed sports experts worrying more about a batsman’s retirement than their own. It is equally amusing to see comments demeaning the greatness of a humble human coming from much lesser mortals who probably will never touch an iota of greatness. And I find it absolutely outrageous that the man who travelled half way across the globe to play for India on the next day of his father’s demise is accused of playing for himself.

Ironically, though, this is the way world works. The great men (and women) receive more brickbats than they could ever deserve.

For me, Sachin Tenudulkar signifies an endless pursuit of excellence, an epitome of humility and an opportunity to see history being created, one run at a time.

He signifies a joy unknown otherwise, even though I know that a time will come when I will miss the flutter in my heart every time he goes out in the field to bat. I will miss the thrill of seeing him employ his cover drives and paddle sweeps, making us believe that we will win this match, because he is playing. I will miss the feeling of assurance of seeing him at work and no target seeming too high.

But long after he is gone, it will be remembered. “Sachin was at the crease, and all was well for India”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No rape before 8pm. We are a Metro

There are thoughts that are practical and rational. Others are impractical but rational. Then there are some which are so outrageously stupid, they make you want to blow your brains out of your nose.

In Boston, when crime rate went through the roof, the best crimebusters of the US were posted there. Back home, officials are busy blaming the girls' dresses, late shifts, will to live a life, etc for all that happens, or could possibly happen, to them. And then the unthinkable happens. A girl is raped at 8pm, by no means a 'late night' for a city like Gurgaon, and the police issues an advisory to girls. Don't work later than 8pm (or be ready to get raped and then don't blame us).

Probably, for all the hype around it, this might be just a stray remark by an irresponsible top guy (we have an awful lot of them). Probably, the social security system lacks the resources and willpower to develop itself.

But my question is, Where are we as a civilization taking our society? Do the lawmakers want parents to teach their kids to restrict their dreams because of personal safety? Shouldn't the perpetrators of crime be made to hear 'Guys, one of these days u r gonna be sc***ed' rather than 'Guys, keep doing your thing, just make it convenient to time them after 8pm'?

And what happens if a rape takes place at 6pm? Time limit revised?

Respect, Sachin, Respect

As the cricketing world celebrates the towering landmark reached by Sachin Tendulkar, what can I say about the great man that hasn't been said before?

Sachin Tendulkar is a rich man. He has the honor and respect of his teammates as well as opponents, love of the common man, blessings of those whose lives he has touched through philanthropy. I, today, wish to give him something that he probably does not have enough of.

I want to say, Thanks to you for doing your best, all the time. Thanks for making us believe that we can also win. Thanks for literally carrying the Indian batting for long phases. Thanks for giving us innumerable reasons to cheer. And more importantly, thanks for taking the undeserved brickbats that we keep throwing at you and you continue to take them in your stride.

Enjoy the ton of tons. This one is for you more than anyone else who kept demanding it from you. To quote your own role model, "Respect, Sachin, Respect."