Thursday, 24 January 2008

French govt reins in Mittal to rehabilitate sacked workers: Will Indian government dare to pull up Ambani?

When Mukesh Ambani closed his Reliance Fresh stores in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of employees were shown the door. And there was nobody to speak for them.

The Centre appears to have surrendered to these tycoons who are hailed as 'wealth creators'. The business barons can get away with anything. The bureaucracy, politicians and the journalists have kowtowed to the industralists.

Now contrast this to the French government. Laxmi Niwas Mittal has to commit to the French government that most of the 600 persons who he had to lay off in his Arcelor Mittal steel plant, will be given alternative job by him.

Mittal had been 'summoned by the angry French president Nicolas Sarkozy over the possible layoffs' and the steelmaker was too pleased to bend backwards and commit that the retrenched workers will be given jobs, that will not be too far from their location.

Talk about our government, our bureaucracy and our press. It's all a big joke.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Sharad Yadav wants ban on Cricket, says it threatens diplomatic relations between nations.

Cricket has become a tool of market forces and it is hurting diplomatic relations, said JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav, who demanded a ban on the sport.

Media is creating a frenzy about the game. They are popularising it and giving unnecessary attention. "Disputes between sportstars are blown out of proportion and it is dangerous to link them to national honour as it can lead to major diplomatic crises".

Also, to save other sports, Cricket Must be Banned, thundered the former Socialist leader. What Yadav has said is nothing new. Long back Mahatma Gandhi also wanted a ban on cricket in India. He felt that the Bombay Pentangular caused communalism as teams of Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and the Rest played it, which was divisive.

A game played for five days was not at all healthy for a nation like India and it was meant for British imperialists who had brought the game to their Dominions and had the leisure to play it, he felt. Later also some leaders issued such statements, as cricket is said to be responsible for killing other sports.

Yadav's demand may be termed unrealistic. But it is true that cricket gets unnecessary hype and news channels waste hours over debates regarding cricket starts and analysing each and every bowl & batting shot.

This is damaging. But the nation is crazy about cricket. Millions of man hours are lost during matches. And nobody can do anything unless public itself gets bored of this cricket tamasha and media mania. After all, at Hindustaniat also we can't resist writing about cricket.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Inspired Indians again halt Arrogant Australians' winning streak

The Indian cricket team made history beating the Aussies by 72 runs in the Perth and halting the winning streak of the Kangaroos who hadn't lost a match for the last 16 tests.

After the unsavoury events during the Sydney Test, India gave a befitting reply to the Australian team, beating them on the fourth day of the test on the Australian soil.

At Sydney the mental pressure created on the Indian team and the controversial decisions by Umpite Steve Bucknor. One wonders would India have won this test had Bucknor umpited at Perth also.
Leaving that aside, Anil Kumble's men made a brilliant effort at Perth, which is one of the fastest pitches. Still, our young speedsters did a marvellous job, with the support of spinners, in bowling the Aussies out, twice. In the past never an Indian team or any team from the sub-continent has won at this location.

The fact that India was 0-2 down in the series and mentally under pressure after the episode surrounding Harbhajan Singh's alleged comments directed at Andrew Symonds, and still we won at Perth, proves the commitment of Kumble and his team.

In the first innings Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman hit 93 and 71 respectively & Irfan Pathan chipping in with 28. If RP Singh took four Aussie wickets, Pathan, Ishant Sharma and Kumble snatched two wickets. In the second innings again Laxman hit a 79 followed by Pathan (46), Sehwag (43), Dhoni (38) and RP Singh (30).

The wickets by Sehwag at a crucial time and Pathan's three wicket haul in the second innings gave India the historic victory, which is Very Special Indeed. Now Adelaide gives us chance to draw the series. In 1992, it was Adelaide India had won a historic match. [Photo: Irfan Pathan celebrates Indian win]

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Saluting Anil Kumble: The humble genius on his 600 wickets

For 18 years Anil Kumble, the present Indian cricket captain, has been almost the lone warrior for India.
Though the trinity of Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, hogged all the limelight in the 90s. The truth is that the bespectacled Kannadiga has played the most vital role in securing dozens of victories, especially in the Tests.

Without Kumble India could never have got the opposition teams bowled out in two innings of a single test. This great spinner had arrived on the scene when the legendary Kapil Dev's career was in his twilight.

Pacers like Manoj Prabhakar spearheaded the Indian attack. There was no penetrative frontline speedster. And the age of the Spin Quatret of Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapallai Prasanna, Chandrashekhar and Venkataraghvan had become a forgotten story.

But this unusual leg-spinner who had little variation began to weave magic on the opposition batsmen. Through out the nineties, almost all Indian test wins under Mohammad Azharuddin were courtesy Anil Kumble, who inspired the other spinners like Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chouhan, and later Harbhajan Singh, made every visiting team fear the Indian team.

Along with Shane Warne and Murlitharan, Anil Kumble complets the great trio of spinners, a new golden age, in world cricket, the kind of which was never seen after the 60s.

The 37 year old Jumbo has his place secured in cricket history for attaining such milestones and winning most test matches for India with his bowl. His simplicity is a lesson for cricketers of today's generation.

In 1999, he had taken all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in Delhi test. He also has a century to his name in international test cricket. His graceful conduct during the recent controversy involving Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds, has earned me enormous respect.

If India wins the Perth Test, it will add another feather to his cap. He still has a couple years of cricket left in him. The Bangalore born Kumble is a thinking man, who is among the rare present day cricketers who have ensured that Cricket still remains the gentleman's game.

We salute Anil Kumble for his contribution to India and world cricket.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Colours of India-1

Flying kites is a passion in India. This season more kites fly on the skies of this country than in any other month.

On Makar Sankranti, patangs soar in the heights across the country. The kite flying competitions are also held in most cities.

In Western India, huge kites are made and flown. Excitement, fun and flavour accompanies the kite flying events.

In Punjab, Lohri is celebrated as the harvest festival. The kites are flown across Punjab on this occasion.

The photo on the left shows a Sikh rickshaw-puller carrying a huge kite on his rickhaw to the venue of kite flying competition.

Lohri has also gone abroad. In Dubai Lohri was celebrated by the Indian Association and kites were flown to celebrate the occastion.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Of Britney Spears' possible conversion to Islam, Bobby Jindal embracing Christianity & Obama leaving Islam

Celebrity pop singer Britney Spears is likely to marry Adnan Ghalib, a Birmingham based 35 year old who originally belongs to Paistan.

There are rumours that she will settle in Pakistan, start her life afresh after the two divorces and is considering to convert to Islam. Though Adnan Ghalib's parents have threatened that they will disown him if he marries Britney.

The couple is unmoved and ready with their marriage plans. She reportedly told a doubting relative of his over the phone that, "they were taking care of each other. He's the only one who understands me. It's serious."

2. Anything about a celebrity like Britney makes a good story. But when it is about conversion it becomes big news. Just the other day there were reports about Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who had converted to Catholicism.

Jindal, son of a Hindu parents, quit his religion when he was in High School. A reporter spoke to his uncle Subhash Gupta, who said that the family was quite at ease with the decision.
His wife says that it is difficult to instill Hinduism and its teachings in the mind of a child who is growing in USA. Hmm. Another aunt, Nirmal Agarwal, termed it natural and spiritually healthy.

3. Of course, the third story is about US presidental candidate Barrack Hussein Obama whose father was a Kenyan Muslim and who is allegedly to have studied in a Muslim school in his childhood and prayed in the mosque.

But then the young Obama became a Christian. Surely he is no fool. Barack Obama has chances to win election but the name Barkat Husain Obama would never have taken him to where he stands right now in US.

The bottom line is that conversion is no big deal. Bobby Jindal must have set his eyes on his ambition when he decided to 'convert'. For those who take religion seriously it's important and they are shocked but for the opportunists, it is as simple as changing their clothes.

It is also true that most people frown at conversions but love to read the stories of celebrities. And when someone of our religion changes his faith to embrace other religion, we don't feel too happy. But those who consider every conversion as a Minus, have reasons to feel secure.
For those who are really worried about a person leaving their faith and get concerned about 'dwindling' population, the following equation may give some solace:

If Islam gets 1 Britney from Christianity
Christians can take solace in getting 1 Obama from Islam
Hindusim may have lost Bobby Jindal to Christianity but
Hindus gained 1 celebrity Liz Hurley who married to Arun Nayar recently.... and so on and so on... (if you consider that marrying a male, a woman automatically switches her faith)

So nobody needs to worry about their declining numbers. Conversions, for various reasons will continue, and nobody will be a loser. There will be pluses and minuses but end result will not hurt the population too much.

Britney's case is different, as she may have found emotional support with Adnan. Earlier Jemima tried hard to adjust to the life of Pakistan and then returned to Britian. People do read such stories even though Britney isn't married yet, let alone converting.

Still, there is something about Men from the Sub-continent that Western women are attracted. Perhaps, it is their commitment for a life-long companionship that goes well.
[Photos: Britney Spears on top followed by Jindal, Obama and Elizabeth Hurley]

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Bharat Ratna: Do Vajpayee, Kashi Ram, Jyoti Basu deserve it?

Recall the name of CV Raman, one of the first Indians to get the Bharat Ratna. Or the great engineer Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya. And then think of Kashi Ram, Vajpayee and Jyoti Basu, the three personalities for whom demands for the highest civilian award in India has been raised.

No. I am not belittling the contribution of politicians. But I am sure this nation is not so devoid of great personalities that we ought to think of politicians alone when it comes to the Bharat Ratna. It was during the era of Indira Gandhi that the devaluation of the award began when K Kamraj was conferred the Bharat Ratna.

For garnering votes, regional satraps were awarded. And the situation came to such a passe that Bharat Ratna seemed to have lost its real value. Mercifully no award was given for the last seven years and the prestige of this award has been restored to an extent.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The most acceptable face of Sangh Parivar and BJP but notorious for his flip-flops. His role in Indepence movement was controversial especially the confessional statement before the magistrate that 'he didn't participate in the struggle' during the Quit India movement. He had allegedly become approver against freedom fighters and as a result, Kakua alias Liladhar was convicted and jailed. In later years of his career and during his tenure as Prime Minister, his stature increased considerably but he failed to take a proper stand on Gujarat riots and Narendra Modi.

Kashi Ram: The founder of BAMCEF created a social change in the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh. The daughte of a Dalit, Mayawati, became the chief minister of the State thrice. His contribution from the Dalit point of view is astonishing. But he did little to awaken the Dalit consciousness or create any change in their educational sitatution. He remained focused on attaining political power. Falls way short of Dr BR Ambedkar or Periyar.

Jyoti Basu: The Communist patriarch ruled West Bengal for a quarter century. It was during his reign that West Bengal became a rare state to be ruled by a non-Congress government for successive decades. His role in the empowerment of peasants and holding land reforms is unique. Still, he remained restricted in WB though he had come close to becoming the Prime Minister of India.

Now about Tata

In a nation starved of heroes, Ratan Naval Tata stands out as the odd-'bania' loved and admired for his commitment to the nation and social concern. He promised us a car for Rs 1 lakh. And he delivered. He could have gone back on his words or simply pushed the price up to Rs 1.5 lakh. Even then it would have been a success. But he took the risk, defied the existing rules of business and ignored the lure of huge profits, to come out with the car.

For all these years, hundreds of Tata workers and engineers were working on this car, nobody could get an exact idea abouts its make until it came out in the market. That's the sort of respect he gets from his workers and also, the rest. For his commitment to business without dirty tricks. The Rs 1 lakh car has stunned the world. Can the Ambanis ever get this level of respect?

In 60 years, Indian Republic has given Bharat Ratna to 40 personalities. This list included names of great personalities like:

Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Pandit Nehru, Maulana Azad, Vallabh Bhai Patel, DK Karve
Zakir Husain, Nelson Mandela, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Vinoba Bhave, APJ Abdul Kalam,

Amartya Sen and in peforming arts Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, Subbalakshami and Lata Mangeshkar.

Also, JRD Tata was given Bharat Ratna in his life time. India may not give Ratan Tata the award. Think of Baba Amte, the face of poor India's resistance Medha Patkar or someone who inspires the millions. Surely the politicians of this era don't deserve it. No way.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Tata launches Rs 1 lakh car Nano: Initial impressions

At last, the wait is over. The Rs 1 lakh, Nano, was unveiled at the Auto Expo on Thursday.

The car is air-conditioned. It is 8% smaller than Maruti 800 in size but has 21% more space inside compared to the Maruti's basic model. Ratan Tata said that three models, a standard and two deluxe, have been launched.

Initial reactions were again mixed. Some felt that it was too small and may not be comfortable enough. The car adheres to Euro 4 standards.

The 624 cc Nano has only one wiper. Along with taxes, the Nano standard may cost you around Rs 1,15,000 (after taxes). Most of the car-owners who naturally own bigger cars dismissed it when they watched it getting unveiled live on television.

But it caters to a different segment and whether Indians reject it or accept it will be known only once its rolled out of factories. The challenge will be to produce lakhs of cars.

The car may be a hit with the youngsters. Those aspiring to have their first car will surely go for it. Tata deserves a standing ovation for bringing out the car. For millions who only dreamt to own a car, it has surely made it a possibility now to buy a four-wheeler.

One thing is sure Ratan Tata has reposed the faith of public in him. Of course, the company can't come out with a grand luxury car at this cost and it has to stay an business. Experts from the automobile industry termed it as 'competitive', 'fantastic' and 'ideal mini car'. Available in Red, Yellow and Silver, the Nano will give run 22-23 kms per litre.

Given its track record people trusted Tata. The company also managed to build an unprecedented hype.

And the company seems to have delivered. People's car will also force other companies to reduce the prices of their existing models. At least for Rs 1.25 lakh, it is not going to be a bad deal.

Also, the car with metal sheet body is quite strong. It can withstand accidental damage to a large extent. Much safer than Maruti, claims the company that conducted severe tests to test its strength. It has been tested for full frontal crash test. The engine is in the backside of the car. It will cause less pollution and though there is no power steering, such things are a small issue. The humble People's car definitely will have an edge on other cars in terms of manoeuvrability due to its small size.

Thumbs up to Tata for turning dreams into reality.
[ Pictures and Photograph of Rs 1 lakh car]

For complete details and specifications of this car Click on the website of Tata Motors here.

Don't hound Sania Mirza

It is not long ago when Sania Mirza had protested in the course of a match abroad when the Indian flag was not properly hoisted and she had resumed play only after the mistake was corrected.

Then the media was all praise for her. But that's history. The media has conveniently forgotten that episode.

Now the same Sania Mirza is in the midst of a controversy surrounding her. She is accused of disrespect towards the national flag due to this photo (link).

The truth is that a publicity hungry person or a lawyer with hardly any clientele can get lot of media attention through such tactics.

Filing cases against Sachin Tendulkar for cutting a cake of the shape of India or filing a case against Sania Mirza is nothing but a useless activity, which the media unnecessary laps up. It is a favourite pastime for many persons to file such cases to get into limelight.

The electronic media gives good publicity to such pranksters as it gets good TRPs for showing scandals and controversies surrounding the celebrities of sports, Bollywood and other fields.

But do such lawyers, who care a lot about India's honour, ever think of taking on the corruption in court premises where the clerk openly takes bribe in front of magistrate and to which nobody can protest for fear of contempt of court.

Across India it is a common sight in all lower courts to see the court babu or munshi taking money for extending hearing dates in court room itself but no lawyer seems to have ever given thought to this disgrace in the temple of justice?

Monday, 7 January 2008

India outraged: Does Steve Bucknor hate India?

The headline 'Umpires beat India' summed up the mood in India. As millions of fans once again saw Steve Anthony Bucknor give decisions against Indian team that cost them the match, the anger was building up fast across the nation.

The ban on Harbhajan Singh came as a shock. Mike Procter didn't accept the testimony of Sachin Tendulkar, there was no evidence and the Umpires had heard nothing. It was just Symonds claiming that Turbanator called him 'Big Monkey'.

And Bhajji was banned for three tests. Another harsh decision. The headline in Indian Express 'India caught Benson bowled Buckner' was indicator of the mood that swept across the nation that our team had been wronged at Sydney.

TV channels were screaming and former cricketers from Ashok Malhotra to Navjot Singh Siddhu and Kapil Dev were lambasting the Indian Cricket Board. Siddhu even went to the extent of calling the Board 'impotent'.

The question is how long are we going to tolerate this? Last series Down Under we had a similar experience. In 2002-2004 series India was close to victory but he denied LBW appeals that helped Aussies draw the test.

He has been harsh on Tendulkar in the past. In this series it has been confirmed beyond doubt that Bucknor has a bias against Indian team. People joke that may be an Indian girl had ditched him in his prime but there is surely substance in these charges. We have been Bucknored for long.

This must not happen anymore. Coming back midway is no solution, as we are already down in the series and this will not help our team. The BCCI has to take this issue seriously and settle it for all. We are not going to tolerate Procter's one-sided decision.
And we don't want Bucknor officiate in India's next Tests and in future. After all, there has to be a limit of incompetence. Any person would be shamed by such criticism but he is unmoved despite giving wrong decisions.

It is because Bucknor certainly has a hidden agenda, to hurt the chances of Indian team whenever he gets a slight opportunity. And he must be punished. Darrell Hair was incompetent, harsh on teams from sub-continent and gave controversial decisions involving Muralitharan, for which he was punished.
A dozen bad decisions by Bucknor and Benson hit India badly. Times of India headline screamed 'Umpires give Oz 2-0 lead'. For years Stephen Bucknor has been getting away with his 'bias' against India. Now it's time to ban Bucknor or demote him to First Class Cricket.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

80 ill after eating dog-bitten goat's meat on New Year

After the New Year, the villagers in Multai decided to eat a goat though it was bitten by a dog. Almost 80 persons became sick and many even showed signs of rabies.

The story is quite intesting. One, Kundlik Rao owned the goat. But a mad dog bit this goat and a buffalo the same day. Three days after the buffalo died and later the condition of the goat also worsened.

But Rao sold the goat to some persons of the same village who slaughtered it for a grand bash. They ate the mutton curry. No less than 80 persons consumed the mutton. From January 3 onwards they started falling sick one after the other.

From vomiting to fits, the victims' condition began to deteriorate. But in remote village in Multai (Betul) in Madhya Pradesh, there was no doctor anywhere near their village. The closest town was also far away.

The 30 persons whose condition had worsened were taken to a place near the village where a witch-craft practitioner gave them 'medicine', which was nothing but bhabhut (holy ash). Villagers developed signs of rabies.

Now when the condition of most these persons became critical, the district administration realised the gravity of situation. Their blood samples are being sent for test though doctors admit that such delay can cost them dear and some of them may lose their life.

That's a weird story, which doesn't gel with the flavour of this blog. But it reflects the condition in which tribals and villagers live in India far away from urban areas and at the mercy of Babas and quacks. Recently we had posted the story about doctors on this blog.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Will Shia Benazir's legacy survive in Sunni-majority Pakistan?

Never in the past so much emphasis was laid on the fact that Benazir Bhutto was a Shia. But, in articles on sites, blogs and converstions I got a feeling that it may be a factor in the politics of Pakistan.

Pakistan has become a more divided country. There is no love lost between Shias and Sunnis. And the radicalization of the population in the Sunni-majority country, will not help PPP.
Benazir Bhutto was a Shia. Her parents (Zulfikar Ahmad and Nusrat) were both Shia and her husband Asif Zardari is also a Shia. It is a spculation but will that be a factor?

In a country where sectarian tensions are deeply rooted, it is not surprising either. People say that Benazir's family always played down their strong Shia leanings, but they are well known.
Emotional reactions apart, the common Pakistani Sunni may not be tempted to vote for PPP and could go for the Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League. Pakistan has more than 80% of its population belonging to Sunni sect.

An acquaintance, who happens to be a Muslim, also shared this view. I have also just seen a You Tube video that refers Bhutto as a 'true Shia Muslim sister who was killed my monster Sunnis'. Benazir was not as popular in Pakistan as the media has made her to be. She had made the deal with United States and was soft towards General Pervez Musharraf.

The sympathy wave after her death can't be discounted. But contrary to what the newspapers in India are telling us that her party may now sweep polls, I think it would not be that easy for Pakistan Peoples Party. Asif Zardari's doesn't have any reputation. He is believed to be a corrupt guy.
The election of a nineteen year old boy, Bilawal, just because he is Benazir Bhutto's son, but who is not allowed to speak and his father presents him as trophy, may not cut ice with electorate.
(Though talking of voting and election in Pakistan is also a joke, given the track record of Army and their ability at rigging). That's all conjecture and the true situtation on the ground will be known only to the citizens of that country.
In the past Pakistan has had Shia leaders including premiers. Even the founder of Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah was also a Shia. But later years saw growing tension between the two sects .

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