Monday, October 20, 2008

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya…..

Today in the newspaper, I read that Rajkumar Santoshi is planning a film on the play, Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya, Woh Jamiya Nahin. I've watched this play twice, once in the Jai Narain Vyas Auditorium (popularly known as Town Hall) in Jodhpur and then at IIM Indore. Both the times, I was very much carried away by the theme and the characters; not to take away any credit from the artists.

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya (placed in the times of partition) is both an emotional story as well as a strong comment on the then prevalent socio-political scene. It starts with a character named Sikandar Mirza who migrates to Pakistan, and is allotted a Haweli by the custodian. He and his family are shocked to find the old hindu landlady Ratan ki Maa – still in the house who didn't leave for India like many others did. A victim of hate, violence and tragedy, she had lost everything but not the ability to give love and affection. The story charts the relationship of Ratan ki Maa with the Mirza family at one level. At another level, the story shows us how goons try to use religion against Ratan ki Maa for ulterior motives and how priests are wood to get legitimacy for their intentions and actions. The story progresses on these lines and it is really difficult to capture the feel of the play in a blog post, and it becomes impossible when a mortal blogger like me attempts to put-through an immortal story. Anyways, to continue with the story, one day the old lady dies and this is when the narrative reaches its climax demonstrating the clash of greed and fundamentalism versus sanity and love for fellow human beings.

Jis Lahore nahin dekhya is a poignant story of the dark time called partition; a partition that stood testimony to hatred, intolerance and fanaticism; thousands were attacked and killed, a generation was rendered homeless with a total loss of national identity. The story tried to define what is the pain of losing your place, losing your identity and what is the pain of falling prey to the dividing mentality of few people at the top. The story explains home as a place which has all your precious memories, a place where you feel at peace, and a place you would never want to give up for anything because you are so deeply connected to it that you can't probably imagine yourself without that place.

Well, I found the play a parallel (though not-so-brilliant) to the current sentiment against so called 'Non-Mumbaikars'. The other day I was talking to someone who born and brought up in Maharashtra. Not only this but according to him, whenever the flight arrives at the Mumbai airport and he inhales the air filled with smoke and dust he feel that he is finally at home. He has read not only about Shivaji but he is also a great fan of pula deshpande and for him, gateway is the world's best place to hang out with his girl friend. So when someone says that he is an outsider, he feels not only hurt but also confused. He is not sure why he is still considered a Madrasi when the language he is most comfortable with (after English) is Marathi. He doesn't understand how Mumbai is not his home despite the fact that his memories from school to college to job to his sister's marriage, all have been associated to this place. What I believe is, this is as much his home as theirs; his ancestors not living here doesn't dilute the fact that he has spent the most precious years of his life here and he feels as much for this land as any 'Marathi Manoos' does. In fact what I believe is, even if somebody has not spent his entire life in Mumbai deserves to call this place his home if he thinks so.

And most importantly he (and a lot many so-called-outsiders in mumbai) belongs to India and thus belongs to Maharashtra. Whichever part of the country I go to I never feel lost and actually I should not. The dirty roads, the narrow by-lanes, the beggars, the buses, people helping you out with directions, the chai/pan shops and even the lecherous men :) It's all the same. So how can someone stop me from living in any part of the country when the whole is mine!

This is a question which may not look very relevant today, in the presence of issues like terrorism and economic recession but its significance is growing with every passing day. This is important and equally alarming because it forms the basic foundation of a nation. If we can't allow a person from other state to earn his/her livelihood in ours, then we can't be a part of the same nation. The roots of this nation are shaking, this is the time to think and act.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar - An Icon

"He has become susceptible to the short ball early in his innings"

"He is not a match-winner"

"He is uncomfortable in the second innings of a match"

"He can't play left arm pace with ease"

The list above is not exhaustive as there are a lot more points highlighted by his critics from time to time. Though, the best part is that these critics have been silenced all the time, some times by the words of his fans while most of the times by Sachin's willow. So, these all comments didn't restrict me from celebrating when I read during a live commentary on some site yesterday, that he has guided Siddle's delivery towards third man to surpass Brian Lara's record. Records are meant to be broken, no doubt about this but yesterday, it was perhaps the last time we saw a record getting broken by Sachin Tendulkar. So, this post of mine is dedicated to a person who has always been a sports icon for me, and will always be.

There is a saying, a great batsman can handle any delivery, but a genius can punish the great delivery. This saying can be true for many batsmen from Sir Donald Bradman to Sir Garfield Sobers to Sir Vivian Richards to many more; but for me, the word "genius" has always echoed only one name – Sachin Tendulkar. For me, even the word "cricket" has been resonating with the same name since the day I could connect myself to cricket consciously. There were times when I felt disheartened with the religion of cricket, whether during match fixing scandal or during the 1999 world cup performance or during our early world cup exit in 2007; but I never felt disillusioned with the Cricket God. Sometime in the last week, two people asked me same question, "Tell me any wildest (but censored) fantasy of yours" and my reply was the same, "To open an inning, with Sachin Tendulkar standing on the non-striker end." If that day ever happens, I won't mind even getting a first-ball duck (which I hate the most), though I would definitely love to spend more time on the pitch. Anyways, that is a very distant dream and for time being, I want to just see Sachin completing the story in 2011 (again I'm acting very optimistic) which he left incomplete in 2003 WC final.

I don't know about others; but to make me feel happy from saddest of the moods, all it takes is a century by Sachin. I can recall those times when at home, we made a deal/bet about our respective players. It was like- the person whose favorite player would hit a century; he/she shall treat others by preparing the breakfast of their choice on the next day. I took Tendulkar (pretty obvious), my sis's favorite has always been Dravid, and similarly mummy's favorite has always been Saurav. However, papa has been changing his players (because his favorite has been Tendulkar and when I'm there in the bet, he has to select someone else) from Azhar to Jadeja to Sehwag so as to remain in the deal. That was the year of 1998 and it doesn't require any mathematics to deduce that I won (or lost, I don't know) that deal the maximum number of times. This is just a very small sample of my life which I spent with Sachin's performances. And I am sure there are lacs, if not crores, of people like me who have spent a big part of their life watching Sachin hitting the balls across the ropes.

At times when our heroes struggle and when they need our support we are out to crucify them. Perhaps age is catching up on him; perhaps his body has taken a toll from 17 yrs of test cricket. But instead of uniting and supporting our team, we are all out to discredit everyone else but our heroes. The tragedy in doing that is we as individuals deprive ourselves of enjoying great players. Whether Sachin ever recovers his magic is not important anymore, what matters is that India keep doing well and Sachin play his role. His role has transformed a lot, and till date, he has not disappointed. I won't suggest him, unlike most of the critics, as how to play because you simply can't teach the best; and at least I'm not competent enough. Anyways, what I think is that a day will arrive soon when Sachin would walk away from the pitch forever and 20 yrs from now we will be complaining how India never got a great opener in ODI and #4 in Test to replace him, just as we are still trying to find a half decent all rounder to replace Kapil.

We have many demands from him; most of the times he has paid heed, but when he doesn't, we cry in anguish. Life has many experiences in store for us, but it leaves very few permanent imprints. Those exuberant celebrations after the final ball of the Hero Cup semi final or those feats amidst the Middle Eastern desert storm and violating the dreams of Shane Warne or that 6 of Shoaib Akhtar in the World Cup match were such imprints.

We grew up being fanatical about our little champion and I can't help it but just growing old in those memories. So, if they ever tell my story, let them say that I lived with legends, with icons. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say that I lived in the time of Michael Schumaker, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps. Let them say I lived in the time of Sachin Tendulkar.

Monday, October 6, 2008


YAM is the term recently been discovered, if not invented, by me. It stands for "Yet Another Monday". Now I know you must be feeling like killing me for these kinds of nonsensical things. However, I think if there can be TGIF (in our case, TGIS) then there must be YAM too.

Anyways, after one full day of legitimate sleep, there comes the cruel monday morning. And same old routine starts all over again, controlled by a mesmerizing term called "Corporate Life". Though, I was on the driver's seat just few months back. This is probably the most killing difference between college life and corporate life. Your life becomes packaged. Throughout the week you wait for the weekends. After every four weekends you wait for the day when your bank account becomes a bit healthier. And then whole month goes in the realization - "Nothing is immortal, not even your bank account". And this goes on and on and on........ Want some thrill in your life???? All the best.

One of my friends was complaining about his boring and monotonous corporate life. These days he is enjoying (???) a thrilling life and exploring new ventures. Actually he has fallen prey to another horrifying corporate buzzword "Right-Sizing" which further came into play due to the recent debacle of people having green as their favorite color, popularly known as "investment bankers". Anyways, leave aside my pain of being a wanna-be banker, let's talk about my dear friend who aspired for thrill and managed to get it. Now, he is meeting new job consultants every day. Once in a while, consultants arrange an interview for him to keep things interesting. And interviewers make sure he does not get back to same old boring life. Someone has rightly said "But be careful what you wish for. You might actually get it."

Whenever one gets fed up with this boring life, memory goes back to college days. I do not agree that life at college is extremely thrilling. But it's not monotonous and you know it has a definite end (you can extend it, but that needs real talent). College life is like 'ek chidiya anek chidiya' video....sweet, short and always memorable. Corporate life is like Subhash Ghai's recent flicks especially 'Kisna' – while watching this, I spent more time looking at my watch then looking at the screen. Corporate life is like Glen McGrath is bowling to you. You know where he is going to pitch, what line he is going to bowl although there may be an occasional bouncer or yorker. Everything is so predictable yet it's extremely difficult to score off. And to worsen this, McGrath can bowl in loooooong spells. College life is like Shoaib Akhtar bowling to you. It's going to be fast but with a bit of courage and luck, you can definitely score. It can be wayward most of the times, occasionally unplayable but the best thing is you would love to play against him even after being clean bowled and better than the best thing- Shoaib does not bowl in long spells.

What crap?? It's human nature, think about your past, dream about your future and do not give a damn to your present. So, let me not follow that and come back to present; it's already getting late for my Teach India class.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happiness & Success – A Chicken-Egg Phenomenon?

Often a question arises in my mind about the relationship between success and happiness. Whether success leads to happiness in life or it's the other way round, means, happiness gives success in one's life. It's a debatable issue and one can have views on either side.

First, let's see what success means in one's life. Most of us would certainly agree that success doesn't mean just to earn lot of money. What I feel success means to obtain things that society values, it can be wealth, good job, happy married life, close and well knit family, sincere friends or longevity or/and may be 'peace' in day to day life. It can be different combination according to one's ambitions or desires to achieve in his or her life.

One the other hand happiness is the sum total of one's well-being or feel-good factor at given point of time. Happiness also depends on general atmosphere about one's family or organization where he or she works/lives, or even city/nation where one resides. There are many prescriptions for happiness as being advocated. However, I feel that 3 things are very important for leading a happy and purposeful life. First, one must live and enjoy present moments of life by de-inking oneself from past memories specially the negative ones and to minimize future's anxieties. Second, involve passions in whatever one does even during day to day activities and also try to engage oneself with doing something when one feels happy and passionate. Lastly, maintain good physical and mental health.

If we see on international front, Indians are the fourth happiest race in the world, as claimed by The Economist. The reason behind such a high of happiness level has been that India, despite all the advances, remains a deeply philosophical society, as commented by noted sociologist Prateek Das. Rather than material goods, Indians have deep faith in time-held traditions and they have less desire for material goods. This is the reason that in developed nations, most people's desires for material and luxury goods are fully saturated so now look for alternate avenues for happiness.

Coming back to the relationship between success and happiness, according to the latest findings, happiness is the key to one's success in life. The reason is that happy and cheerful people are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves, which reinforces positive emotion and leads to success in work, good relationships and better health. The findings further claim that happiness extend across an entire nation with people in 'happy' nations being more likely to have pro-democratic attitudes and keenness to help others. One other study corroborates that happiness leads people to be more sociable and generous, more productive at work, to make more money and to have stronger immune systems. So, we can say that happiness is the key to many treasures, including the one which is carrying 'success'.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Being Busy

I am not so sure if I m really brilliant and finish off my work earlier than expected or my bosses/lecturers have been shrewd enough to realize my true potential. Because "being busy" is the state of life I have always wished for and it has always eluded me. Be it my days in school or engineering, be it IIM or RIL, be it under Head, Treasury or under CFO, I have always had more free time than most of my other friends. I wanted to use all, but used 'most' because there is one friend of mine who has just left the job on account of not having anything to do- can you just imagine this??? Some of my friends claim to be so busy that they find it difficult to even reply mails or IMs. And here I am getting sick with boredom and hoping that someone is kind enough to drop a mail to me or a IM will popup but all in vain. When I started writing blogs, I thought I had found out a very good tool to utilize my time. But I've been so much without work that I am even running short of topics (suggestions invited, I desperately need some).

Well, one cannot be getting intelligent and brilliant bosses and lecturers so consistently, so it must be my own skill and talent which has blessed me consistently with so much of free time. One day, all my friends who have been or claim that they have been very busy will reach the level my bosses have been. If first sentence is true, they are not that much skilled and talented. And this proves the point that one cannot be getting intelligent and brilliant bosses so consistently. And this proves that I am exceptionally brilliant. And there starts a cycle which will again and again prove that I have been intellectually better than my bosses. But this is a fact and you do not need to prove a fact. After all, do you need to prove that sun gives us heat? Or do you need to prove that color of our blood is red? Answer is simple…No.

It's not because facts do not need any proof or no proof could be provided for them. It's because they are too obvious to be proved. And………..forget it….someone has been kind enough to drop me a mail and save you all from the wrath of my boredom. Now I am going to bug her till she realizes that it was probably the biggest mistake of her life to do so….Haa Haa.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Anniversary of T20 WorldCup

I know that it is coming a bit late because the anniversary was on 24th September but as they say, "Better late than never". Actually, today morning I was discussing about all this with my friend so thought of scribbling something on it.

To start with, for all its shortcomings, team India is exceptionally consistent in one thing, proving the expectations wrong. When you expect the team loaded with most formidable middle order to murder a rookie spinner who had just sent tremors in the Gen-Next to follow, they fall flat to him. Few months back when you expected the same team to surrender meekly in the most deadly track against two lightening fast quickies in Perth, they came out winning. Be it 2007 world cup debacle or charismatic come back in 2003 world cup, they have always flourished when very few expected them and floundered when very few did not expect them to do so.

Hence, when a year back when Dhoni was handed over the captaincy for the T20 world cup, team India was written off even before the members got their security checks done at the airport. The experienced spearheads of batting line up opted out of the tournament – one because the format was almost alien hence not taken very seriously and two because they considered themselves too old to play a bang-bang game. It was taken as just a platform to test the new generation players. For any tournament which consisted of teams other than minnows, a team without Sachin, Dravid or Ganguly could not be imagined in last 8-10 years. If there was a team like this, it was a second string side like that sent in commonwealth games (remember? the schedule-clash with Sahara cup). However, this time the reason given behind choosing the young team was that it's the fastest version of the game which has no place for people over 30. While on contrary, critics' view was even more interesting, they said that what the team will do by saving runs as no one in the side is capable of scoring them. Anyways, they did leave for South Africa.

India had just played one T20 match before the tournament and there was not much in the domestic cricket as well. The batting was relying on the shoulders of Sehwag who was making a comeback after a consistent inconsistency in ODIs, Yuvraj Singh who was struggling with his form since world cup, Dhoni who was considered to be more of a pinch hitter, Gautam Gambhir who had a habit of pulling a short ball to boundary and getting out on very next short ball, Robin Uthappa who was hardly an year old in international cricket, Rohit Sharma who was, well just a name. Bowling department did not have a Zaheer Khan making it look completely inexperienced. Although, it did have RP Singh who bowled exceptionally well in England and a promising Shree Santh but they also had an ever inexplicably selected Ajit Agarkar (sorry, I meant Sir Aggi) and Irfan Pathan who was restarting after his journey of next Kapil to nobody.

Australia was the most favorite contender for the cup for the reasons well known. Apart from South Africa and New Zealand, England was another favorite and seen as dark horse because they did play a lot of T20 games in their domestic cricket. India was considered good enough to get the title of "also ran". What followed in next 13 days was something which was going to be a miracle.

First match against Scotland should have been taken as more of a formality to reach the Super eight. But team India has recently had a casualty in form of a formality in WC2007. The match was washed off meaning India was almost certain for the next round. "So what, reaching super 8 was not a big deal by any means in this format" was a typical remark. Though the same format cost a great deal to West Indies cricket board's revenue just 4 months back.

If team batting first set a target of 142 in IPL, the match was considered to be lost for them. But IPL was not invented yet. No one knew how to approach a target in these games plus wet conditions, good tight bowling and exceptional energy shown by Indians on the field made it look like a real tough one. After a lot of twists and turns, when 1 run was needed of last 2 balls, match ended in a tie which India won in a bowl-out (most of players on either side didn't even know that there is something like ball-out coming their way) Most of Indian supporters, as the tradition has been, considered it as the world cup win. When they did not know was that their team had not only won the match but also a very good friend in Misbah-Ul-Haq.

When India lost next match to New Zealand, it looked as if the team had run out of fuel after the last match. As always, every match in the cup became crucial for them. Yuvraj Singh's six 6s won India the next match against England. Yuvraj Singh created history but since then he has been living in the memory of that one over. Very next day India played against the hosts South Africa which not only had firepower in bowling line up but was also an exceptional fielding side. India needed to win this match to stay alive in the competition. South Africa could do even without a win but the margin of defeat needed to be small. Just before the start of the match, India lost Yuvraj Singh to an injury. "Ah, same old bad luck and it's the end of tournament for India" was a typical reaction looking for an excuse in a perceived defeat. After a decent start, India slumped to 61/4 with Yuvraj Singh's replacement Dinesh Karthik scoring a first ball duck. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma took the score to 153 and India had defended a score lesser than this before. Well, South Africa clearly showed why Steve Waugh allegedly called them Chokers. Brilliant bowling and superb fielding suffocated their batting. Dinesh Karthik might have scored a duck but he did take a splendid catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.

India was into the semi finals. But it was to be till semi finals because they were meeting Australia there. Circa 2003 WC? Someone needed to do something spectacular in all the departments of the game to beat Australia. Yuvraj Singh scored 70 off 30 balls and India set a mammoth target of 189. Sreesanth gave away only 12 runs in 4 overs and clean bowled both the Australian openers with his pitch-thumping celebrations at peak. Team fielded brilliantly. A team which was not given any chance by most of its supporters had beaten the mighty Australians to reach the finals.

The Finals – India V Pakistan. Organizers of at least 6 world cups would have prayed day in-day out for this but God did not listen to them. South African organizers must have prayed really hard this time. Like the first match between these two sides, the final too went all the way to the wire. When the middle order failed, Gambhir's 75 took India to 157. When Pakistan was reeling at 77/6, their friend of the first match Misbah took the center stage and looked like winning the match alone. When 13 were needed of 6 balls, Dhoni gave Sir Jogi (second knight of the team) the last over – I know, people would not have stopped cursing Dhoni for this decision at that time. May be Chetan Sharma was to be reincarnated after 1986. But just then Misbah failed second time in a row when he must not have and his dreaded scoop landed in Sreesanth's hands.

India had won the inaugural T20 world cup. The miracle had happened. But no doubt, the team deserved this miracle.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Economics can tell you things which you never really imagined. If you talk to most middle class people in India (yes my and your families) then they will always crib about how the tax in India is very high, how at one point tax rates were as high as 90-95% and a lot of stuff. If you talk to an employed person today then he will say that Government is taxing him so much and others are getting away with black money quite easily (even I used to think that way). But the picture above shows a completely different scenario.

  1. The Direct Tax's contribution to GDP has almost been constant since independence (around 2.5%) and only since 2000 has it increased slightly (to around 5%)
  2. The Indirect Tax has been moving up and is a very major contribution to Government earnings. It contributed around 4% in 1950s and is now at around 12%.

What does this imply?  Simply put you and me are not paying much because of tax but each and every citizen of India is paying extra through indirect taxes, this includes the people below poverty line as even when they purchase some food it will a share of indirect tax.

It is expected that the taxation system will take more money from the rich and less from the poor, right? In India that is not really happening to a big extent. Everyone is paying a lot because people avoid direct tax by black money methods; the result is when Government needs extra money, it simply adds another indirect tax.

Just a thought which made me think a lot and deserves a spot on my blog.