Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Bhutto Saga...

Benazir Bhutto, her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, her brother Murtaza Bhutto and now she herself. All victims of the savagery of the Pakistani political set up.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (January 5, 1928 – April 4, 1979) was the President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973 and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977. He was the founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). He arrested for allegedly masterminding the assassination of a rival political leader. He however had claimed that all the evidence was fabricated by the General Zia-ul-Haq, who had overthrown the government and arrested most of PPP's leaders. Further more Zulfikar Bhutto was also accused of rigging the 1977 elections, by the General. He was tried by an alleged "partial" judiciary and sentenced to death. In spite of numerous International appeals to commute the sentence, General Zia was executed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by hanging on April 4th 1979. This led to a widespread unrest in Pakistan.

Murtaza Bhutto (September 18, 1954 - September 20, 1996) was the eldest son of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He took to arms after his father was put to gallows by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. He shifted his base to Afghanistan, where a post-Soviet invasion communist government was more than willing to provide him with sanctuary and training.
In 1996, he accused police of unfairly targeting his organization and denied playing any part in bombings in Karachi. Several hours after the conference, he was shot and killed along with six supporters during an altercation with the police. The police stated that Murtaza and his supporters had refused to allow police to search their vehicles as part of security measures imposed since the bombings, and that they were fired upon first.The police officer commanding was shot in the foot from an angle that could only have come from his own gun. Shortly afterwards the police officer committed suicide by shooting himself in the head several times.

Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, having been twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai, in 1998 after charges of alleged corruption was filed on her. She returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with General Musharraf.On 18 October 2007, suicide-bomb attack occurred shortly after Bhutto had landed and left Jinnah International Airport. She was not injured but the explosions but killed 136 people and injured at least 450.However on December 27, 2007, in a combined suicide bomb attack and shooting during a political rally of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated in cold blood.

She knew the danger she was in, when she returned to Pakistan. Yet she did to rescue Pakistan from the hands of a iron fisted, arrogant, anti-democratic dictator. To do that, she was the most welcome and popular figure to re-establish democracy in Pakistan. Was it terrorists or does the assassination have another story to it? Something like this happening in Rawalpindi, a military stronghold, is a sign of either conspiracy or security failure. Considering that it happened in Pakistan one may never know. As with its many mysteries and political fiascoes, this shall go down as well into their dark pages of history. Benazir Bhutto would have come as a welcome relief towards the peace process between India and Pakistan. India considered her to be a much more idealistic and rational leader than the General. The consequences of the assassination will unfold in a few days and till then the future of Pakistan remains bleak and uncertain. For now all that can be done is express deepest sympathy to the Mrs.Bhutto's family members and the people of Pakistan.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas...!!!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Corruption - a sad reality

Corruption has become a part of modern life in our country and affects everyone, one way or the other, whether you like it or not. Either we are a cause of it or are forced to become a part of it, no matter at what level we are. Money for each and every thing. Even for something which is our basic right. Which is delayed or denied, due the lack of ability or unwillingness to pay up those in charge. On the other hand, money can bend the rules and make new inroads into the system or bypass it completely.There is a price for almost anything. Things can be as you want if you are willing to pay the price, no matter how many rules you break or inconvenience you create for others.

It is so easy for those with money and power to bring down the system to its knees. Dictate terms to their liking and get away with anything. It is a rather sorry story.Yet things go on in front of everyone, but nothing is ever done. Unfortunately everything is just assumed to be normal since it is seen everywhere around us. "Everyone pays to get the job done.Why can't I too?" is quite possibly the most natural thought in our minds. Mostly we are all mute spectators. Just watching things in front of us. Yet we seldom try to change or stop it. Rather we quite easily become a part of it. The more money you give to this system to simplify your things, the more the system demands from you. It is a vicious circle. In the end, who is actually affected? If not you then someone else is. Those who can lighten the pocket,all is well,but those with empty pockets have to struggle to get their voices heard.

From food to national defence. Everything has been tainted by corruption.It has throughly vandalized the souls of those who sell their honour for a few rupees more. In our poor nation, where many don't even get one square meal a day, our "leaders" are quite wealthy. Obviously they have ways of getting rich. Somehow all the poor man's money is getting to their laps quite conveniently. They get rich quickly, and that seems to be their ultimate aim. Getting into politics for serving the people seems just like an after thought. I do not wish to generalize here. Not all are corrupt. There still are a few who do what is right, without expecting anything but gratitude. But they are a very rare breed now. It becomes quite difficult to distinguish them. Probably the most popular and widely accepted image of a politician is that of dishonesty and greed. There are far more instances of shame and disgrace that they bring, which overshadows anything good that they ever do. When you think that they can't go any lower than this, there comes anther instance where we are proven wrong. It is a pity.

Then what about our "highly esteemed" judicial system? That which is supposed to protect the
rights of everyone and serve justice, irrespective of who is rich or poor. As it is, our judiciary is very "fast" in delivering justice. But at least it should be justice after such a long wait. However we see that when any high profile case is involved things out of the ordinary never fail to happen. People get bought and stories change. If you got money to give, things go your way and rules start to bend. The guilty is made a victim and the real victim is denied justice. Either the witnesses, prosecuters, the police or who knows, maybe even the judges might be a part of it. For all i can say is these things do happen. Someone with enough money and power can pull a few strings here and there.

If this is the case of the judiciary and the legislature would the law enforcers be any far away. The same story here too. Pay money to get away with anything or to even get your voice heard. But that ain't the worst bit. The police have the authority and the resources to make anyone look like the bad guy,and deal with them in a variety of ways. Often used as a tool to by big shots to get things done.Kind of an alternative to hiring goons. It sort of makes things look very legal, though they are just following the orders of their pay masters. Indeed not everyone is rotten. But serving at such respectable positions, acts like these bring down the credibility of the entire institution, to the ground. People should look up to the cops as protectors and not as a threat. As it may seem, the later is more prominent.

This does not end here. Bureaucrats, civil servants, government contractors and everyone is into this upto their neck. One pays the other above him, who pays the one above him and it goes on till the very top. Here to, this may not apply to all but it is quite difficult to pick the good apples from the lot. To bribe and corrupt has become a way of life and kind of a survival technique. Those who play it well, sadly, get what they want. As for those who still believe in principles of honesty, integrity and righteousness have a very rough time. Our corruption is a matter of national shame. I don't see us becoming a prosperous nation any time sooner with this kind of a scenario. Is money is the only thing important? Is it enough to disgrace your country and those who trust you? The thought of reform must rise from the lowest level in the system....the people. Think. Why do you have to give money for something which is your right in the first place. Your actions may seem inconsequential but in the larger picture it all adds up. The corrupt breed more corrupt. It is a plague. A crime which is nothing less than treason.

Probably one of the simplest thing to ever do is to complain about something. Anyone can do it but rectifying the problem is no easy task. Especially if it is something like the corruption we see today. A start must be made in that direction. When people stop to give, things will, or at least should fall ino place. It will take time. Something so radical as a corruption less country is quite difficult to imagine. After all there is no harm in dreaming.

In the words of a fellow Indian: Corruption is like grease in the machinery. It gets your hands dirty but makes everything smoother.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Kangaroo's Hat - Trick

Finally the seven week long cricketing carnival is over and the Australians get to keep the cup....again.That makes it three in a row and four in all. Somehow it was not too much of a surprise for me or anyone else. It had to be them. Actually i don't know What could have prevented them from getting it this time. Sri Lanka could have been considered as a remotely possible hurdle ( some might disagree ), but that was not to be.

The rain interfered match had its share of excitement. Though it got delayed by several hours due to rains and the overs getting reduced. Yet it had a lot of action when it finally started. Gilchrist, who didnt have a very good run at this World Cup so far, showed his abilities mercilessly against the Sri Lankan bowlers. The Aussie fans had a lot to cheer for. I think it was his innings that made the difference. Sri Lanka did make a descent start with Jayasuriya and Sangakara showing good temperment. Unfortunately they were not good enough. With the rain playing hide and seek things just did not go the Sri Lankan way. The game ended amongst comical circumstances, with bad light stopping play and the Aussies celebrating early. However play resumed in the dark and the inevitable result was the same. Anyway things always seem to go Australia's way. I wont say that they are very lucky but they dont quite seem to have a bad day very often.When the Aussies got beaten before the world cup by England and New Zealand, people realized that the champions were not invincible. At the World Cup they rubbished such claims. They are certainly beatable but most of the time they are too hot to handle.

As for this World Cup is concerened it was no less than an emotional soap opera. Lots of action. Several records broken. Some of the greatest batting and bowling performances. Lots of criticism about the way it was conducted by the ICC. Depriving the West Indian flavour of music and passion from the whole event. The high prices of the tickets kept the local populace away from the game. The early exit of big teams created furthur loss of spectators and revenues. Big sponsors lost money. Tragical events and unsolved murder mysteries. Other than this, World Cup 07 marks the end of the careers for many great legends and will most certainly be the last one for many others. So there were many who wanted to be crowned the world champs on their way out. Some announced their retirement or stepped down as captain out of sheer disappointment and despair.

The Aussies are in their league of their own. They are ruthless and perfect cricketing machines. They have stamped a mark of authority on this game. Psychologically, they literally own it. They set the standards which others can only try to follow. Their professionalism and commitment towards the game is unparallel to any other team. They belittle the most tough of situations and come out even stronger. Blowing away the puny opponents that stand up against their god-like prescence in the game. The mark of real champions. They deserve to win and settle for nothing less. With such a reputation, along with it comes a lot of arrogance and pride. Which is quite normal i suppose.

The Australians are indeed very good but they are not my favourite team. I along with so many others were quite eagerly supporting any team that went up against the cricketing giants. If only wishes would come true. The Aussies dont leave anything to chance or luck. Unfortunately the other teams do need a lot of it especially against the Aussie juggernaut. What does it take to beat them is not a simple question to answer. Lets hope we have a different outcome in the next one in 2011 for the good of the game!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

America's obsession with guns

The Virginia Tech horror

It has happened in America time and again. Senseless violence in an educational institution. It is claimed to be the worst ever such shooting but it certainly was not the first. My deepest condolences to all those who died at Virginia Tech. And also to their family and friends. But no matter how much i feel sorry for them things can't be undone. However, lessons can be learned from it. Such that similar incidences do not occur again.

As for the assailant, I don't know in what way killing so many people, some of whom he probably never knew, would satisfy any of his grudges or problems. Surely it was not a spontaneous action. It was quite well planned. With videos and pictures of his intentions being sent to the media before he did the heinous deed. He was most certainly psychotic and needed to be handled carefully. It seems he did show signs of a crooked mind, which were unfortunately ignored. A timely action and this terrible event could have been possibly avoided. But what could drive a person to kill another for absolutely no reason at all? Is society is to be blamed for not understanding a person properly, for discriminating him, for being insensitive to him? Or was he born with a messed up head? Who knows?

The point that i would like to make is, it is not possible to identify all the maniacs in a place and lock them up or counsel them. What could be done is reduce the damage that they can cause. What I mean is, not letting them, or as a matter of fact let anyone get their hands on guns so easily. America is a trigger happy nation and acquiring a gun is so very easy. It is available off the shelf in a nearby store. No fuss, no checks. As simple as that to get armed and ready to shoot. Actually the whole of American culture believes in guns. From their movies to video games. It is a part of the American way of life.

Even an average house would have a hand gun. For what? Are they so insecure about their safety? The basic idea of a handling a gun might be to "shoot to protect yourself" or to "shoot to protect someone else" but basically it is the freedom to shoot, kill and violence. That too if it reaches the hands of a deranged lunatic like in this recent incident. Here too only the motives of the killer are only being investigated but not how he got the guns or any such details. I believe the person who sold the guns is equally guilty and prosecuted. However i believe that would not happen.

If things like this continue, students instead of worrying about their studies, would be worrying about their life, from fear of being shot at by their own classmate. Such a fear in a place of learning is not at all acceptable in a civilized society. An educational institution is a place of harmony and peaceful co-existence. Where young minds come with the purpose of learning, and not with intentions of hate, revenge and violence. Someone a little upset over some frivolous issue is not expected to whip out a gun and start shooting. Is that all the principles and moral values a person will have? Can nothing restrain him from taking another's life? It is probably that few seconds of thought that is eliminated by the gun. Where all it takes is a fraction of a second to pull the trigger.

Things have to acted upon now. The American law and views regarding guns must be changed. If not done so, more innocent lives will be lost for absolutely no reason at all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reservations is not the solution

It is one of the oldest debates that is held in our country. A country of diversity, social taboos and discrimination. We still classify our country-men into categories and read them out their privileges. Surprisingly, the entire system is very happily accepted and the nation is quite willing to continue this on for ever. It has been over fifty years since the country got independent and yet to certain miserable souls it means nothing, since they are enslaved by their social restraints.

We see political parties become "champions" to the cause of the upliftment of the "socially backward". Quite strangely all the politicians somehow unite and share the same view point on issues like these. The stay on reservations by the Supreme Court for OBCs was one such instance. I mean, there are so many atrocities that take place against the so called "lower caste" that really are demeaning to the basic human dignity. Women and children are abused, treated worse than stray dogs. I don't see any politicians rallying for these causes. They simply turn a blind eye toward these things, pretend everything is all right. That is because people are use to the politicians only in large numbers, like cattle. They will feed the herd which gives them the maximum returns and let the other herd be sent off for slaughter.They will support only that which churns up the maximum votes for them.

Such moves to enable such reservations is a trump card which does so without having to be specific about who their intended target is. Everyone wants to be counted as belonging to some category which entitles them to certain privileges. This way they get to be in the good books of everyone. They would not even dream of changing this social system which works miracles for them. It does not a take a genius figure all that out.

How is a reservation in an IIT or an IIM going to help out a certain person who has been mentally and physically abused his or her entire life? There might be few who are lucky enough and have gained descent education. But there still are many who cant get one square meal a day. Not because there is none available, but because they are supposed to eat only after all the cows and dogs in the entire village have had their fill. Punished and abused for something over which they had no control over. Being born in a certain family is no control of theirs. Everyone is born the same way and dies the same way. So why not we judge a person by the way he or she lives his life and not by their birth. To look down on someone and worship another based on a thousand year old tradition/religion is in no way justified. Shameful rather.

The point is, the problem has to be addressed at the grass root level. The underlying belief and way of thinking which has been so strongly embedded into the way of life, has to be changed. The more emphasis given by our "wise" policy makers on such issues ( like reservations ) further enforces the ideas of caste and discrimination. In fact that is what they count on. Our petty differences fuel the ambitions of our politicians. Why not take steps to have good standard schools even in the remotest of villages? Those that will help everyone compete on the same level and cater to all, irrespective of any differences. But no such thing seems remotely possible in the near future, because there does not seem to be any significant effort taken so far. Just easy ways to fool the poor people, who are so desperate for a change.

Our generation does not care too much of these social branding ( at least i think so ). However when issues like reservations rise, suddenly, all that seems needlessly important. I am not against aiding the deprived but there should be other factors to be considered too. Factors like financial position, background and current privileges enjoyed should also be considered. If that person has already received the fruits of his or her "lower"social status and lives with dignity then the purpose has been achieved. He or she must then not be considered for any special privileges, any more. However there is no talks on such an arrangement.

I am a strong believer of equality and firmly regard it as one of the epitomes of modern India's progress. Reservations in higher educational institutions or anywhere else for that matter, is not the solution for social upliftment. It is like a temporary arrangement. Our "wonderful" politicians though consider it to be the solution and want us to believe in that too. It is an easy way to please the people, rather delusion them. The more difficult but the right way is trying to bring about equality among the citizens, which i hope should and must be the motto of the modern youth. Especially, as students and the future generation, we should not be mislead by these consolations and must make our policy makers focus on the real issues in our society.

The views and opinions are all solely my own. I express deep regret if any of my comments have hurt anyone. Any provocation to any one's feelings was totally unintentional. Unless you are a politician of course. In which case I am happy that you access the Internet, and that you can read.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Great Indian Cricket Tamasha

As expected the debates and the blame game is on. Indian cricket is being analysed and dissected by experts, the cricket board, former players, the shop keeper down the street, the milk man, the bike mechanic, my neighbours and almost everybody ( Not my mom though. She hates the whole game.). Everybody who has a mouth has an opinion. Who is to be blamed for the poor show at the World Cup? One or all? What changes should be done in the team? Should X quit and should Y be the captain? Many questions to answer and every one ready with one.

Quite surprisingly Greg Chappell had a very neat answer. He had a lot to say regarding the pathetic performance.Chappell had claimed a lot during his unabated bashing of senior Indian players a couple of days. For one thing he blamed the Indian seniors for poor sportsmanship. He said that the seniors operate like the "mafia". He also claimed that "They hammer and abuse them because they feel threatened by the junior players and don't give them a chance".

That too against players of such experience and reputation.Sachin, Rahul, Sourav are good role models for the youngsters in the team. I don't know in which way they could have possibly hampered their development. Cricket is a team game and I don't think anyone will be foolish enough to depend only on the talents of a few. It needs all the players to play well and everyone knows that.

I don't think it was right in anyway to blame anyone person or a group of players like that. Questioning their attitudes towards the game and the team like that was in no way justified. That too by the ( now the former ) coach of the team. It has been high drama in the past couple of days. Causing a needless controversy at a time when already the team morale was so low. Chappell just wanted to show that none of this was any of his fault. Though he is to be equally blamed for this. Maybe his strategies and ideas were worthless in the Indian context. Who knows? In any case he wants to wash his hands off the issue now. Following the outburst of Sachin to an Indian news agency, Chappell thinks he has had enough of being the coach, and tendered his resignation. In fact by all of his needless allegations he has made himself totally unworthy of the little sympathy I had for him. One good thing that he did with his outburst was that he diverted some of the cricket fan's anger on to himself. Now everybody is all so suddenly supportive of the team and the players! The same crowd that was threatening and abusing then not so long back.

Even if the players are to blamed, this is no way in which it should have been done. No one wants to lose a game on purpose. They did not deserve it so bad. As it is they were being tormented by their crazy fans and now this. Being humiliated like this by the coach himself, is very unfortunate. Oh! and don't even get me started on the media. They compete amongst themselves for ratings. To get the most juicy bit of information and force out a statement or a reaction even where none are available. But lets talk about the media some other time.

Anyway, it is good riddens to Mr.Chappell ( As the coach at least. I think the board has other plans for him ). Who is going to be the next coach is still an open guess. Indian or a foreigner, only time will tell. Whoever it may be will have quite a tough task at hand. There is a lot of talk going around about it. Lots of speculations but i personally feel that anyone who undertakes the task must be well known with our typical subcontinent attitude. It means, he must be prepared for some amount of politics, hero ( player ) worshipping, tackling the relentless media and the psychotic fans.Oh! and also be able to coach the team to able to WIN MATCHES.

Other than that it seems the our poor players are going to see a cut in the number of products that they can endorse. That too only after the permission of the BCCI. As well as of the salary paid to them depending on their performance. That is so cruel!!!!! How good or bad ( well...cant get any worse from here ) it does to Indian cricket will have to be seen as time goes by.

As for now, Indian cricket remains "exciting" more off the field than on it. Keeps us all amused and keeps our minds occupied with our ideas and arguments.

As an Indian cricket fan ( me of course ) once said "Let the tamasha continue....."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Caribbean Dream is over

As far as I know, it was India's most terrible performance ever in the World Cup(I was not born when it supposedly happened the last time, so i can't be a judge of that). The Indian team has certainly shocked the entire nation with their pathetic performance. It was unbelievable the way they went down so meekly against their opponents. Even against average opponents like Bangladesh, their loss was very disgraceful. No one expected them to be beaten by teams of such caliber. It really is very embarrassing when something like this happens.
Seriously, the only team that they were able to beat since the tournament began was Bermuda - a team composed of part time players and weekend cricketers. When it came to playing against professional players we had our backs against the wall, waiting for the trigger to be pressed and our heads blown off.

India was considered to be one of the strong contenders for the world cup. The reality was quite the opposite. Not even being able to make it through the first round and getting the ride home so soon speaks volumes of their abilities. There were a lot of hopes of this team doing well at the tournament but, unfortunately the Caribbean dream is over even before it began.

We boast about the "best batting line up","greatest batsman in the world","good balance in the team" and so on and so forth. Now we all know what the team is really capable of. Lots of promises but little was delivered. There is a lot of talent and experience in this team. I wont deny that. But what use is it if put to no use at all? Is it only good for winning matches back at home? We hardly looked like a world class team. Even in the last world cup we were totally outclassed and crushed by the Australian juggernaut. Only consolation was that we made it to the finals last time. The final, however was not at all worth watching. Shouldn't it have been like the clash of the titans, with both teams battling out till the end?

Let me see now. We are not short of talent, experience or even the resources to afford the best training for that matter. The BCCI has a lot of money you know, but that is another story. But i guess there is something else which still lacks in the team. Is it professionalism, commitment, the drive to win? Or is it just the case of too much expectations? Or are they just not worthy enough. I would not blame one player or a group of individuals for the defeats. I guess everyone has their own of "who deserves to die" list. What I believe is that it was a team effort and everyone contributed to the best of their abilities for the cause of losing.

I mean they hardly looked like a world class team when on the field. Only the ads ( which have quite mysteriously disappeared from our TVs ) give us a glimpse of the mythical glory of how they could have played. If only our players played as well as visualized by the creative advertisement makers. They do have a very good imagination though. Because i don't think they will be getting any ideas from the real thing. Good thing those ads are off the air now or who knows how many television sets would have been broken across the country.

So now what needs to be done? Well everyone is a cricket expert so i guess everyone has their own opinion on the changes that they want to make. Some insanely ridiculous, some quite logical. As for me the only positive out of this is that team India saved itself from being humiliated further down the tournament. With their current performance as an indicator i don't see them being able to match up to any of the world class teams ( quite few of them actually). They would have got their tails kicked quite badly.

It would probably be last world cup campaign for many of the players in the team. This would not have been the ideal way for them to end their world cup hopes. From the looks of things to come, this probably might be the last time some of them even play for India. This shocking exit would be hard to remove from the memory of the players and their fans for at least some time to come. We fans do have a bad memory though, and quite easily forget our convictions.

To end up on the losing side is even more difficult than being on the winning one. Especially if it is the Indian team. The reaction was quite obvious. We Indians are too passionate and crazy about the game. Sometimes even forgetting that it is just a game after all. Not a matter of life and death. Yet we idolize our players. Make them god, literally worship them and when something like this happens we dethrone them. Curse and abuse them and try to break their homes. I don't know in what way all this is going to help the team in any which way possible. Anyway don't these angry "fans" have jobs or some other useful work to do? Like worrying about their unpaid bills, family or something like that.

The future of Indian cricket looks very bleak. What lies in wait for the team now is quite uncertain. How many still remain in the it and how many are shown the door only time will tell. As for the World Cup being played by teams who deserve to be in it, i can only hope that we get to see some really good games by them. I wish we get to see some closely contested matches and not one sided ones. That will keep the tournament interesting till the end....hopefully.