Monday, 28 April 2008

KPS Gill goes, Hockey legends at the helm now

At last KPS Gill has been ousted from the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) after a 14-year-long despotic reign that ended in disgrace after the failure of Indian team to qualify for Olympics and the bribery scandal.

Gill had been given the chance to put in his papers and leave the organisation. But despite the popular mood against him, the stubborn supercop remained unmoved. The game has suffered enormously during the last 14 years.

The allegations of corruption were confirmed when a sting operation revealed IHF secretary accepting cash in lieu of promising berth to a player in the national team. This created an outrage across the country but Gill failed to gauge the anger.

On Monday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) took the much-awaited step and removed Gill and replacing the body with a five member ad-hoc committee comprising former hockey greats.

They include Olympians like Aslam Sher Khan, Ashok Kumar (the son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand), Ajit Pal Singh, Zafar Iqbal and Dhanraj Pillay. None of them needs any introduction and their dedication to the sport is known to everybody.

Former Australian hockey team captain Rick Charlesworth will the be the advisor. One hopes that hockey players will be in a better position to understand the problems afflicting our national sport and restore the place of Indian hockey in the international arena.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Now Salim Khan attacks Amitabh Bachchan: Shouldn't Big B do soul-searching?

Amitabh Bachchan needs to do a bit of soul-searching now. After all, writer Salim Khan, who scripted the most successful movies for Bachchan, has now attacked the star just a few days after actor-turn-politician Shatrughna Sina fired his salvo at Big B.

Salim, who is the father of Salman Khan, has not just questioned the advertisements which the actor did for Samajwadi Party in the runup to UP elections, but also said that he seems to be surrounded by people who give him foolish advices.

"When he is in doldrums and needs support, Amitabh wants everybody around him but when its an occasion of happniness like the marriage of his son Abhishek, he forgot everybody and sent invitations to just a few persons", wrote Salim in an article published in a local newspaper in Maharashtra.

The celebrity writer, who along with Javed Akhtar, penned scripts for the immensely succesful Zanjeer, Sholay and Deewar that turned Amitabh into a star, wrote further that Amitabh speaks English, which is the lone quality needed in a person to be heard in this country. Those who speak English are considered intelligent in India, he further wrote.

Salim also questioned Amitabh's stand on a variety of issues including the dispute over his land in UP during the current Mayawati regime.

When asked by journalists, Amitabh evaded the questions but appeared uncomfortably by this attack, within days of his former co-star Shatrughan Sinha's outburst.

Shouldn't Amitabh do a little bit of introspection. It is not that everybody is ganging up against him. People of the country love Amitabh.But there has been a bit of arrogance in Amitabh Bachchan (more in Jaya) that is visible to everybody after his second successful innings following the KBC.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Shamshad Begum turns 90

It's ironical that one of the greatest living playback singers, the legendary Shamshad Begum, who is alive and living an obscure life in Mumbai, has been forgotten and many websites on the internet and even Wikipedia page till today declares her 'dead'*.

Ten years ago a wrong report was published and on the basis of that many people believed her to be dead. But Shamshad Begum's family didn't issued a denial and the news agency's report still creates confusion, writes Dainik Bhaskar's features editor Rajkumar Kesvani.

"The air was cleared when I spoke to HMV, the company that pays royalty and they confirmed she was alive and living in Paowai's Hiranandai Gardens. With my friends Suman Chaurasia and Raju I headed for her house".

Kesvani writes how he had to deal with the guard and then persuade Shamshad Begum's daughter Usha and son-in-law Colonel Ratra to get to meet the grand lady of Indian music.

"She was sitting amid half-a-dozen women of the building and at the first sight of her graceful persona, the song, Sunte the naam jinkaa ham bahaar se/dekhaa to Dolaa jiyaa jhoom jhoom ke, came to my mind".

I told her, "Ek arsay se aapki qadam-bosi ki tamanna thii, meri zindagi ke chand khushgavaar lamhe aapki aavaaz ki den haiN....." in chaste Urdu. She appeared delighted. In her Punjabi accent, she spoke to the group and they had a nice discussion.

I promised that on every visit to Mumbai, I would meet her. "unki duaaen maa ki loriyon jaisi thi". The pioneering queen of melody was born in Amritsar on April 14, 1919. Her father was deeply religious but a gramophone in the house on which 'naats' were heard, initiated her into the world of music.

At the age of 12, a youg Shamshad Begam had her first audition for the company of Mater Ghulam Haider, who also gave two other great singers Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar to us. In 1940, her song was recorded in Punjabi movie Yamla Jat.

Later in 1944, she reached Mumbai. It was the era of Amirbai Karnataki, Rajkumari and Zohrabai Ambalewali but soon Shamshad became a household name and her songs were heard across the country. She became the most famous singer of her times.

Wishing her Happy B'day and a long life.

(Excerpts from Mr Rajkumar Kesvani's article)

[*The other Shamshad Begum, who died in 1998, was the grandmother of Saira Banu and the mother of Nasim Bano. She was known as Shamshad Begum alias Chhamia who was a singer but never sang for movies.]
PS: I also checked the Wikipedia page and it seems some netizens have tried to correct the mistake but still there is confusion. Music lovers must take cognisance of such a serious error.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Kolkata Knights beat Bangalore in inaugural IPL T20 match by 140 runs

The atmosphere was electrifying and the Chinnawamy stadium was packed to capacity when Shahrukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) took on the Bangalore Royal Challengers, a unique experience for Indian spectators to see their own teammen pitted against each other and Zaheer bowl out Ganguly.

The KKR batted first and Brendon McCallum's stunning knock of 158, the highest score in T20 cricket till date, of just 73 balls, propelled the team to 222 in 20 overs.

However, the Bangalore boys simply crumbled under pressure and lost the match convincingly. Sourav Gaungly didn't do well with the bat but took two wickets with the ball. For Rahul Dravid it wasn't a nice day. Kolkata won convincingly in the end.

The spectators may not be exactly sure how to enjoy the match. And whom to cheer. But one match is not enough to judge the fate of a tournament. Still, the IPL tournament took off well. It had got ample publicity. It could go both ways.

It may fetch crowd. Or such an overdoze sans patriotic feelings may even turn off the cricket crazy Indians as novelty may wear off after a few matches. The laser show, the cheergirls, Shahrukh supporting his team from the stands and the coloured clothing--the tamasha was perfect.

But Kerry Packer did all this long back and failed. One thing is sure. It will consume millions of manhours that will got waste in this country. On a second thought, its good for couchpotatoes to pass the Indian summer, with their eyes glued to TV screens.

[Photograph of Shahrukh Khan, ecstatic after the win over Vijay Mallya backed Bangalore boys.]

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Calling pilot 'glorified driver': Should the pilots get so enraged?

The remark of a Member of Parliament (MP) that a pilot is nothing but 'glorified driver' has led to an outcry from various quarters including the pilot's organisation.

The conduct of the MPs and our leaders is often disgraceful. But hasn't the pilots' organisation gone overboard in its reaction and their plan to file defamation suit. What defamation? Is being a driver, a disgraceful thing?

Doesn't a driver earn his living respectfully. When it comes to politicians we are cynical and love to brand them as uncouth but it is a social problem in this nation that jobs are considered good or bad depending on how fat your pay packet is.

The Kerala MP Abdul Wahab should be taken to task if he did something wrong or flouted any law. But it is utterly unacceptable if somebody feels that a driver's job is not respectable. Hindustaniat believes in equality of every individual and strongly opposed any discrimination on the basis of class.
Pilots like Rajat Rana should also shed their arrogance. Thousands of drivers in India are graduates and numerous pilots have just the basic qualification required for pilot (it is a mere intermediate/XII).

Of course, money is needed to get the licence and that makes it a so-called elite job where the sons of the rich often try their luck. The Indian Commercial Pilot Association must ignore the issue as it will be more graceful.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Price Rise: Angry Citizens, Policitians Feel the Heat

When prices rise, the governments feel the heat. The politicians, who are most insensitive to issues, suddenly get restless.

As they know, the millions who are suffering, will exercise their only effective right during the elections.
The onion case is a now classic in India. The National Capital was a BJP stronghold but when onion prices soared, Congress swept the elections in Delhi.
UPA government seems concerned but hasn't been able to take firm measures on this front. Kapil Sibal's statement that 'The government has no magic wand' is only going to hurt his party.

The voter doesn't like this arrogance. Yes, you don't have magic wand. But you are in power and you have to take steps. At least, you have to reassure and not express your helplness.

I don't like using the word 'inflation'. It doesn't convey the sense and is more a word for the economists. For the ordinary Indians, it is 'mehengai', a question of their daily bread (forget the butter).
The increase in prices of essential goods, food articles, grocery items and other household needs have hit millions of families in India. Prices of egetables, cooking oil, grains and mutton are all up.
The measures to reduce the duty on few items won't make an affect, rather the government neeeds more serious steps to tackle the issue and must go for a crackdown on hoarders. It will take a few more days and if the steps are not taken, the same politicians will feel the ground slipping below their feet.
Photo by mfitch courtesy Flickr

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Fifteen Indian cricketers selected in Wisden's annual list of five players in 75 years: From Nayudu to Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan is the latest Indian cricketer to have been selected by Wisden in its annual list of five best cricketers that are chosen from all over the world.

He is not in the team right now, due to injury, but the Wisden that mainly focuses on players' performance in England, has selected him for his 18 wickets in three tests against England last year--the series which India had won.

He is probably the 15th Indian cricketer ever to have been selected in the list of Wisden Cricket Almanac, the oldest sporting yearbook, which is in is 145th year.
The list of Indian cricketers who were selected by Wisden includes:
1. CK Nayudu 1933
2. Vijay Merchant 1937
3. Vinoo Mankad 1947
4. Nawab of Pataudi Jr (Mansoor Ali Khan) 1947
5. Bhagwat Chandrashekhar 1972
6. Sunil Manohar Gavaskar 1980
7. Kapil Dev Nikhanj 1983
8. Mohinder 'Jimmy' Amarnath 1984
9. Dilip Balwant Vengsarkar 1987
10. M Azharuddin 1991
11. Anil Kumble 1996
12. Sachi Tendulkar 1997
13. Rahul Dravid 2000
14. VVS Laxman 2002
15. Zaheer Khan 2008

Apart from them Indian-born players who were included in the list: KS Ranjitsinhji 1897, Iftikhar Ali Khan Nawab of Pataudi Senior 1932 and KS Duleepsinhji 1930. Also, Raman Subbarow's name figured in 1961.

[Over the years Wisden has tried to lessen the impression that it mainly choses players who do well in First Class Cricket in the counties but it still gives more importance to any foreign players' performance on English soil. It has faced lot of flak over the years for this discrimination, but for cricket-lovers, its always a good pastime to go through any such lists. Just don't take it too seriously.]

Monday, 7 April 2008

Rahul Gandhi takes bath with special soap after meeting Dalits: Mayawati

With the general elections drawing nearer, the political atmosphere is hotting up and BSP supremo Mayawati fired her latest salvo in a rally on Monday where she made a 'revelation' that the 'prince' of Congress party, Rahul Gandhi purifies himself after meeting Dalits.

The political rhetoric hit a new low when she said: 'I have come to know through my sources that Rahul cleans himself, taking bath with special soap and using incense sticks for his shuddhikaran after meeting the Dalits'.

Feeling cornered and fearing that everybody has ganged up against her, Mayawati is getting aggressive. She earlier hit out at Mahendra Singh Tikait, Buta Singh, Shri Prakash Jaiswal and Sonia Gandhi apart from making harsh statements against other leaders including Rahul in the past.

She termed Rahul's stay in a Dalit house as a show-off. With Samajwadi party supremo (SP) Mulayam Singh getting closer to Congress, Maya is feeling the heat. Besides, she doesn't want Dalits to get back to Congress.

After all, she eyes the post of Prime Minister of India, and for that she needs to keep Dalits all over the country, away from Congress. The sharp rhetoric is part of the same design. After all, her constituency--the Dalits, believe her.
As far as the kind of language used in the politics, the lesser said the better it is. People on constitutional posts have forgotten how to maintain the dignity of their office and their position. And she is no exception.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Do Indian sportswomen cover themselves too much?

The Indian women don't wear short dresses in sports. Ofcourse, it is a known fact that most males are more interesting in seeing the skin.

And isn't this a reason for lack in women's sports in India. The players don't wear skimpy dresses that would appeal to the voyeur among Indian men.

What else explains the general disinterest in sports, except when it comes to Sania Mirza. The two photographs here will probably explain that a bit.

Here is an Indian girl playing a Kazakhastan woman in the beach volleyball, a sport that is termed an eye-feast for many male spectators due to the bikinis worn by the players.

The Kazakh woman (isn't that a Muslim country) looks perfectly dressed for the beach in the 'itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini' as CNN described it. And the Indian girl returning the ball is dressed quite traditionally.

Now comes another contest in the same championship that was recently held in Hyderabad. Here comes the Hong Kong player and now it's going to be tough for the spectators, whom to focus their eyes on.

The photos are of the competition that was recently held in Hyderabad. Those who went to see the game, loved it, for obvious reasons. Why don't we have such sports regularly and why our girls wear don't show skin, they rued even in this era.

But shouldn't they thank their stars that such events are now beind held in India. Our culture police hasn't turned attention towards it as yet.

And at least, there is some further action to look forward in the sporting arena apart from Sania, who is fed up of the constant hounding and the eyeballs surrounding the star tennis player, forcing her to take the decision of not to play in the country for a while.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

'Khuda ke Liye' released: After four decades a Pakistani movie screened in India, audience laud sensitive film

Shoaib Mansoor's internationally acclaimed movie Khuda ke Liye became the first movie from Pakistan to be released in India after a gap over forty years.

The thought-provoking movie 'In the name of God' deals with the dilemmas of Muslims in the wake of 9/11 and the International War on Terror.

The film succeeds not just because it depicts the trauma of Muslims who are often viewed with suspicion and branded fundamentalists but also because it asks tough questions and forces Muslims to introspect as well.

On one hand it is the liberal father who has no compunction in having a live-in relationship but doesn't want his daughter to marry a Christian and forces her back to the ancestral town in Afghanistan.

And on the other hand there is the story of the man who is wrongly arrested in United States of America (USA) and the police keep him in detention, just because he is a Muslim.

The liberals feel marginalised as they are mocked at by fundamentalists. The latter have their own grievances. But the movie does portray well the complex emotions. Is singing un-Islamic? It targets the stereotype of Muslims--the man wearing skullcap and the kurta-pyjama.

The previews of the film had all been quite positive. The film had been released in Pakistan long back and owing to reviews it was awaited. Shaan and Iman Ali, the lead actor and actress, have done well, apart from Naseeruddin Shah's role.

For the sub-continent, this release is historic. After 43 years an Urdu movie from across the border has been released in India.

The two nations have similar set of problems and this cultural exchange will help citizens of both countries in understanding each other. Recently a couple of Bollywood films including Taare Zameen Par were screened in theatres in Pakistan.

Though its a serious movie and Khuda ke Liye may not become a blockbuster on lines of other song-and-dance movies we are used to watching, it will hopefully attract the cine-watchers for venturing into a tough territory and touching a bold subject. Link to the website of the movie In the Name of God.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Train stranded as guard goes out and falls asleep

Hundreds of passengers got delayed by several hours when the guard of the train went missing and it was later found out that he had fallen asleep.

The Tapti Ganga Express had arrived at Varanasi railway station. The guard whose duty was fixed on the train had come from Satna.
In the absence of the guard, there was no signal and the train remained at the Cantt station.

Angry passengers came out on the platform and created a ruckus. The driver kept blowing whistle but there was no sign of the guard, UP Singh. The driver Harsh Prasad went out looking for him and through his walkie-talkie informed other railway officials.

The search led them to the running room where in a corner Singh sahab was fast asleep. Though the passengers must have faced inconvenience (we all can imagine if a person is sick or someone is in a hurry to reach his destination), the guard couldn't be blamed either. The running staff is often overworked.

Poor guard was tired after a long duty. He hadn't been able to sleep for days and the moment he decided to take a short nap, he went into deep sleep. At last, he was located and after the signal, the Benares-Surat Express train chugged out.
[Photo courtesy Mr Willikewonker at ]

Thursday, 3 April 2008

India 76 all out: Remembering lowest score 42 in Lord's Test in 1974

The Indian cricket team got out for a mere 76 in the second test against South Africa at Ahmedabad. The batsmen fell one after the other, failing to come to terms with the Proteas' bowling attack.

But that's not the worst in India's cricketing history. It was 34 years ago in the series in England when Indian team had got out for just 42. The famed Indian batting line up had crumbled in front of Arnold and Old, who tore through Indian middle-order.

The Indian team had arrived in England in the season that came to be known as 'Summer of 1942', carrying a reputation, after beating West Indies and MCC (England) in the early 70s. Gavaskar had arrived on the international scene as a world class batsman and the spin quartet remained as lethal as ever.

However, India lost the first test at Manchester despite Gavaskar's century. In the second test, Dennis Amiss (188), Mike Denness and Greig's centuries along with John Edrich's 96 propelled England to a total of 629. Bedi took 6 wickets but gave 226 runs. Prasanna and Abid Ali took two wickets each.

India scored 302 in reply. Engineer top scored with 86 followed by Viswanath and scores of 49 and 43 by Gavaskar and Solkar. In the follow-on, Indian batting fell like a pack of cards. Gavaskar, Engineer, Wadekar, Viswanath, Brajesh Patel and Ali all got out without reaching a double figure.

Solkar remained not out at 18*. In 17 overs, India was all out for 42. It was the second lowest total in the history after New Zealand that had got out for just 26 in 1955. Again the next test was won at Birmingham by an innings and India lost the series 0-3.

Indian team returned home. And Ajit Wadekar had to resign from captaincy. His house was stoned. Due to a movie that won Oscar, it came to be known as the 'Summer of 42' and India's lowest score (42) also became synonymous with the summer.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Tikait brings anti-Mayawati forces together

The Jat leader Mahendra Singh Tikait has suddenly hit headlines. As 10,000 policemen and PAC personnel surround his Sisauli village in Muzaffar Nagar, the heat is now on Mayawati, who not only faces the threat 0f losing Jat farmers' support but also a united opposition against her 'autocratic ways'.

In Sisauli, it appeared that the town had become a battle zone. All the lanes were turned into 'Morchas'. The handcarts were turned upside down to stop the cops from entering the village to arrest Tikait, who made casteist remarks about the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister.

With entire UP police top brass making strategy to arrest him, the 5000 strong Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) activists' force was ready to take on police and Provincial Armed Constabulary of UP police.

Mulayam Singh Yadav was quick to extend support to the Jat leader. Ajit Singh is already behind him. His lieutenant Anuradha Chaudhary was by his side. And Mahendra Singh Tikait, buyoed by the support of Congress and the cadres of even BJP, roared that he would not surrender.

Tikait's second hoorah may prove difficult for Mayawati. Long back he had come to limelight when all of a sudden he became a household name when he organised a huge rally at Boat Club in Delhi, the size of which had shocked political parties. With Mayawati antagonising every other party and all the leaders in UP, it seems Sisauli could be her Waterloo.

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