What It Means to Be A VVIP

May 3, 2007

The acronym VVIP stands for ‘very very important person’ and it is a highly cherished social designation. For a VVIP, life is indeed very smooth-sailing. But one has to attain this special social status in the first place and the fast way is to get elected as people’s representative. Better still, if one can wrangle a ministerial post. Even a deputy minister’s job for a few months (till the next ministry reshuffle or the dismissal of the government on no-confidence voting whichever is earlier) will do. If you are a celeb or you excel in music, sports and any other field, you qualify for the privileged class. Moreover, just being a kin or a friend of a VVIP, one also gets bestowed with the social power albeit in a diminutive way.
 VVIPs do not have to queue up for anything. Their movements are facilitated by others – security men, hangers-on and officials. When they go to airports to catch a flight, the normal traffic in the city is diverted or held up for hours to make way for the cavalcades to pass. They always board trains or planes last and if they are delayed in reaching stations or airports, the officials oblige by delaying departures of trains or planes. For travelling abroad, their papers are not even examined. Such preferential treatment helps some VVIPs to carry out human trafficking without any hindrance or murmur. They can walk up to any police station and get their men released after giving a mouthful to the officials for daring to arrest them. All rules made for ‘aam admi'(common man) are flouted with a vengeance so that everyone can feel what it means to be a VVIP .
 Even while seeking blessings from God, they offer their prayers from special enclosures.While visiting Tirupati temple, for example, one may have to stand in queue for 8-10 hours to get ‘darshan'(glimpse) of Lord Venketaswara. But for Bachans of Bollywood, they could seek blessings at the closet distance from the deity without wasting time by making a token donation of Rs 51 lacs and that too taking along their family friends from the political and industrial world who also made equal donations promptly. Thousands of devotees waited unlike the VVIPs as the latter always have the right of way – even to God.   
   I am unable to list down other benefits of being a VVIP due to lack of space. However, next time you pray, please ask God to make you somehow a VVIP in India. It would then be like living in Heaven.


Weather Forecasting – The Wrong Way

April 23, 2007

Weather forecasting is a tricky job. The experts and meteorologists know it. That the forecasting is statistical interpretations of observations made using various parameters is not appreciated by the common man. The poor experts, as a result, sometimes become the subject of public ridicule whenever the margin of error for their forecasts widens to a yawning gap.
Be that as it may, forecasting monsoon – its timing and accuracy is also a highly politically sensitive issue in India. Cautioning or warning the masses about impending drought conditions can trigger chain reactions. Hoarding of foodstuffs may take place, prices may rise causing inflationary pressures on the growth of the economy and share market prices may nosedive. So the politicians particularly those in power do not want such unsavoury news to disturb the status quo. The latest forecast on the monsoon by the Indian Meteorological Department reported in The Times of India was apparently subjected to such extraneous considerations.
Politics is deeply embedded in our minds. Be it education, sports, entertainment, scientific research or anything under the sun, the blessings of the omnipotent and omnipresent politicians are necessary for making progress. The rain gods and nature, however, do not play second fiddle to anyone. So hold your breath till dark monsoon clouds gather in the sky .

The Obsession of Media With Private Lives

April 18, 2007

Marriages are made in Heaven. But celebrations are made on the planet Earth. The prayers for it are made in the temple of Tirupati and the media splashes it as headline news. Finally, the audiences enjoy it as sumptuous morning breakfast or dinner and all live happily thereafter.
 The marriage of Abhishek Bachan and Aishwara Rai has come as godsend as the media looks hungrily for any news involving celebs and what better opportunity it could get than covering the ceremony. Having got a drubbing very recently at the sad turn of events in the cricket World Cup, 2007 with India Team letting them down, media expects it stands a chance to cheer its audience. What if it is a private and personal event? What if the host and hostess have already announced that there would be only few invitees. Those who call themselves investigative journalists ‘risk’ being shooed away from the premises (as it happened in the other celebs’ marriage of Arun Nayar and Liz Hurley with which the media was so deeply engrossed) just only to carry out their basic duty of reporting faithfully information to its audience! Who cares whether the readers of print media or viewers of television want such information in the first place or not and whether any other information they consider useful could have been provided by the media in stead.
  I think it just exposes our intellectual impoverishment. Is it not?  

Crisis Management – BCCI Style

April 9, 2007

The dismal dismissal of Team India from the cricket World Cup 2007 hit India like an earthquake.  Although it brought down in its impact the players from their high pedestals, the media and advertisers are still struggling to rally all the cricket fans who had developed aversion for the game after the ignominious defeats. Instead of learning any lessons from such experiences, columns in front-pages of dailies and prime-time news of TV channels are continuously being devoted to cricket – be it controversies surrounding Greg Chappel and Sachin Tendulkar or deliberations of BCCI working committee.
 Whenever public anger and dissatisfaction appear uncontrollable, the typical approach of authorities is to huddle together and announce a slew of measures that invariably include setting up of Inquiry Commissions or Advisory Panels or investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Once the adverse public reaction peters out, the reports of such inquiry missions become redundant and never see the light of the day.

 One of the few sensible decisions of the working committee of BCCI is to form a Cricket Advisory Panel consisting of ex-captains under the chairmanship of President and will include all office bearers. This is the first instance of BCCI trying to seek advice from those who know the game best. Very soon, as it happens with most organisations headed by politicians, I am afraid, we may be informed of forming of a cricket Advisory sub-committee and then of a cricket Advisory core committee and so on. Such strategies are intended to dilute and delay their unfavourable findings. The other strange decision is to appoint 3 coaches including one for bowling and one for the fielding.
 Sports and politics are strange bed-fellows. If India has to recover from the shock of its defeat in World Cup, experts and experienced players should be called upon to give their suggestions which should be implemented earnestly. The game should be freed from the clutches of politicians and bureaucrats who always have their own axes to grind and are part of the problem.

Putting All The Eggs In One Basket

April 4, 2007

 After India failed to make it to the Super 8 in the cricket World Cup 2007 and its humiliating defeat by Bangladesh, I thought there was going to be a long spell of soul-searching to identify our mistakes and weaknesses. Instead, the blame-game is being played with full fury. I wish if the players had used the same power in the fields, the fate of Team India would have been quite different.
 The media which was busy building hype about the cricket World Cup 2007 until Team India crashed out has landed itself in a ridiculous situation. Having put all its eggs in one basket (read cricket), the media does not know how to fill up its space when there is nothing of Indian cricket to write home about. So we continue to see in the front-pages of dailies the photograph of Rahul Dravid holding on to his towel at Kovalam beach. I thought India Team had already thrown away the towel at West Indies . Likewise, one national daily had devoted more than 50% of the front-page for ‘news’on Indian cricket today besides the four pages of daily news on cricket. All these appear to be desperate bid by some to put down cricket everybody’s throat. The advertisers, too, are also a worried lot for having put so much stake on cricket.
 The sooner the realisation dawns on the media, the advertisers and the fans that it may be wise after all not to put all the eggs in one basket, the better could be the performance of India in the world of sports including cricket.     

The Weird World of Cricket Fans of India

March 25, 2007

Cricket is said to be a gentlemen’s game. In colonial days, it was introduced in India by the Britishers. While the players were always impeccably dressed in white from head to the toe, the spectators were mostly ladies who came to the clubs to cheer them. However endorsements, media hype, betting, match fixing and now murder have slowly vitiated the game and changed its total character altogether.
 Some cricket enthusiasts believe that the game has the largest number of fans in India. With media hype and glamourisation of cricket, it has became fashionable to take interest in it forcing millions including housewives, daily wage-earners and rustic illiterates to delude themselves to be sincere fans of the game. Cricket has been cleverly made an escapade from the daily grind of life. Soap operas and films shown in TVs take at the most 2 hours of viewing time whereas cricket matches can hook viewers for 6-7 hours for ODIs. Since the World Cup matches are going to be played over two months, TV channels and newspapers do not have to work hard to fill up their spaces. Concentrating on one single subject, their commercial interests are going be rewarded any way.
After the disastrous defeat of Team India against Bangladesh, TV clips showed houses of players like Dhoni getting demolished by angry fans. A photo in the front page of a daily showed women in saris demonstrating with placards reading “You come back, we will play”. There have been other types of protests like burning of effigies of players.
Indian fans accustomed to fantasize victory for Team India regardless of its weaknesses and strengths of good teams like Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka had a shock of their lives when India was beaten very convincingly by Sri Lanka. India’s dream of becoming World Cup winner was not only shattered, but also the spectre of not making it to Super Eights haunted millions of fans. Even after a few shock deaths and suicides which followed the defeat, the media is still continuing with their hype about the game. India is hoping against hope of sneaking into Super 8 which can happen if only Bermuda can defeat Bangladesh. The Bermuda team has, in the whole bargain, unexpectedly won the good wishes of one billion Indians! If only (some cynics may still be hoping) Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and others get eliminated, India could play against Bermuda in the final and somehow win, then World Cup 2007 would be ours. Then Team India and millions of cricket fans could live happily thereafter.
If cricket is no more a gentlemen’s game, why then so many millions are still glued to TV to watch matches? Someone had sarcastically described cricket as the game which is played by eleven players and is watched by eleven thousand fools. Today, eleven players still play the game but many times eleven thousand fans keep watching them. I am happy not to be a fan even if the ‘real’ fans consider me as sub-human species. 

Media Hypes Create Vicious Cycles

March 14, 2007

Media many times is found behind hypes which form vicious cycles. Whether it is sensation-seeking media which chooses to focus on a news or it is exaggerating the same which causes a hype, it is debatable. All the same, the media owes a lot of social responsibility to ensure that hypes are kept under leash and only news which are useful to the masses are given proper coverage. The marriage of Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar has recently come under media spotlight. Their marriage had already been solemnized earlier as per a case filed against them for insulting Hindu traditions. So, when the last event was merely meant to showcase their wealth and influence, what was the need for the media to bend backwards to report ad nauseam about the invitees to the function, the extravaganza in hospitality and even the incident of lathi-charging of over-zealous journalists covering the ceremony. What purpose it served our society which has 300 million people unable to afford two square meals a day? The media should use such spaces for
highlighting the efforts made by unknown heroes who fight against all odds to eradicate deep-rooted social evils. Feeding the minds of the unsuspecting masses with worthless news turns them hungry for such news only.
The sooner the media dumps its old habits and begins on a clean slate, better days will be there for all of us.

Sourav Ganguly – The Phoenix of Indian Cricket

March 13, 2007

The phoenix is a mythical bird of the Arabian desert burning itself and then rising again from the ashes. The much-maligned and controversial ex-skipper of India – Sourav Ganguly who has electrified his fans again by his heroic comeback can be justifiably given such a comparison.
 Cricket fans make heroes out of players in a gusto just as they dump failed heroes without shedding a drop of tear. Sourav has been around for 10 years, scored over 10,000 runs in ODIs besides playing in many tests. But his captaincy was in question when Indian team performance had repeatedly poor showing. To add insult to injury, his own personal form became poor.
 Greg Chappell – the coach had no choice but to show him the door. Sourav was a shinning star in the eastern sky seen after a long time. He hails from the state West Bengal whose people love the game and his sacking was taken as an affront to the Bengali pride. The whole development was made to appear as a personal spat between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell rather than as a professional decision taken in the overall interest of Indian cricket.
 Instead of sulking for the ignominy, Sourav had the steely resolve to fight and win back his lost reputation spreading over 18 months during which he slowly and relentlessly regained his form. His superb performances in the recently concluded matches against West Indies and Sri Lanka and getting the Man-of-the-Series left no choice for the selectors to keep him out of the Indian team. Greg has welcomed him to the team and said “For me, as a professional coach, the team always comes first. Sourav did what was asked to do in South Africa and did it rather well”.
 An experienced player like Sourav can do wonders for India in the World Cup, 2007. If he fails again, he will walk into oblivion where he was heading before he took the U-turn. 

Who Will Be The World Cup 2007 Champion

March 12, 2007

It is a million dollar question. If only I knew the answer before the tournament which starts in a few days, I would be making millions by betting. The betting has not started as yet and perhaps odds are being worked out by sharp brains and super fast computers.
 On the face of it, the defending champion Australia will be fighting for an unprecedented hatrick to achieve three successive wins. However, their performances in last five one-day internationals has subdued them. Their ace player Brett Lee is out of the tournament due to injury and it is doubtful if Andrew Simmonds and Mathew Haydens would be fit to play. Despite these setbacks and their poor form, the Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar has warned that Australia should not be written off as spent force.
 As far as Sri Lanka’s chances, their captain Mahela Jayawardane is beaming with confidence. He has reportedly said “We have a great team and I am dreaming of winning the Trophy again. We won back in 1996 and the people are expecting great things from us again.”
 Going by what people are expecting in India, the Trophy must be won. India had won it only once 24 years back in 1983 and lost the final in last World Cup tournament. The skipper Rahul Dravid sounded confident this time after recent victory over Sri Lanka and said “I am quite confident and ready to go”. India has Kumble and Harbhajan who can play havoc with the balls provided the pitch helps. No one can be sure if the pitches in the Caribbean will be fast and bouncy in which case India may have problems.
 Pakistan Team without the world class bowlers Shoib and Asif because of their injuries will not be so formidable more so when Abdul Razzaq also is out of the tournament. One thing great about host West Indies skipper is his candid remark “We are looking to get to the semi-finals and then take it from there”. Lara added further “We have a very good record at home, and players are really looking forward to this major event. We have a fit team that is ready to go. We have the ingredients to do well”.
 Fans support their teams often blindly without weighing the strengths and weaknesses of their teams. After all, cricket cannot be reduced to ‘SWOT ANALYSIS’ exercises common in management studies. That is because there’s too many a slips ‘twixt the cup and the lip.
 So just sip tea and relax! 

Welcome Message

March 12, 2007

Welcome to my yet another address in the blogosphere. Ever since I started blogging about six months back, I had tried to make contents interesting for you despite many suggestions doing rounds that one should only try to draw as many visitors as possible by hook or crook to satisfy AdSense.
When I crossed 90 posts a month back, I had a desire to hit a century before the first century in cricket World Cup 2007 was scored. Unfortunately, I was stuck at 93 as repeated attempts to publish new posts failed.
As there is cricket in the air, let the first post be on cricket. Keep reading!