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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Art of attracting crowds

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on July 29, 2012

As there has been so much hoopla around what has been called disappointing crowds at Jantar Mantar during Anna Hazare’s fast, I started to ponder and here is what I think, if you care.

You really need to be an expert in the art of attracting crowds and following are some near sure shot ways to do it.

  1. Short skirt: Nothing beats this. Tactics has been successfully employed by news channels during ‘news’ broadcast, companies at exhibitions, F1 with their grid girls and what not. A pretty face in an immodest dress can be a clincher.
  2. Money: This again is a tactics that has been practiced for years, generally by the politicians, where a lump-sum is paid to the leader of a fraternity who is then given the responsibility to bring in crowds.
  3. Free food: There is something about free food that strikes chord with every class of society.
  4. Fear: This is the most cost-effective method for obvious reasons. It doesn’t cost a dime but, might take some time to build the reputation before you can start scaring people off.
  5. Celebrities: India loves their stars. A celebrity on stage is a sure shot formula.

Now, lets see which of the options above could have been used by 75-year-old Anna Hazare. It would be difficult for Anna Hazare to scare someone off so, option 4 goes out of the window. It will be difficult for a man who sleeps in a temple to pay someone off or arrange free food so, option 2 and 3 look a bit far-fetched. Celebrities in general have too comfortable a life to come out of their cocoon just to earn a few brownie points. So, option 5 is practically difficult.

Now Anna can always ask his young female supporters to help the cause but, a movement to eradicate corruption might well turn into a desperate attempt to prevent crime if he does that especially with the knowledge of what happened in Assam. Thus point 1, while possible, will be foolish.

So, Anna needs to rely on people’s own willingness to get out of their beds, commute 10s of kms, bear the brunt of heat and rain just to support what for all practical purposes looks like a losing cause to most. While that is asking for too much, people thronged Jantar Mantar today and gave a brilliant riposte to all the naysayers.

Having said that, to fight the way they have despite the likelihood of thin crowds, has raised Anna Hazare profile more if that was possible.

Posted in Controversy, India, Motivation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dummies Guide to Indian Politics – Part 2

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on July 8, 2012

Continued from here.

Pundits will say, you are a good politician if you can slap someone’s bottom hard without hurting your hand and without making that someone feel too bad about it. Let’s quickly look at some of the planks this game is played on. Voters will be regularly referred to as ‘vote bank’. This is apt as an election win can take you laughing all the way to the bank.

Caste Politics: India has history of recognising people first by their birth, then by their deeds. So, you are first a dalit and then a bank manager. You are first a Brahmin and then a professional. Dalit considers other Dalits as ‘own people’ and brahmin considers other brahmins as its ‘own people’. Our heart generally goes out to our family, our caste, our region and our country, in this order. So, a Dalit’s leader vote bank is the Dalit community. He promises the moon for ‘his people’ and generally makes the promise with a straight face. This is key. You can’t be a good politician if you can’t keep your emotions in check and hide your true feelings. And you always got to leave the exit door open. So, in India you are a dalit leader, brahmin leader, muslim leader, backward or a forward leader. So, the formula to success is quite simple. Make sure the liquid stays insoluble (communities don’t gel), keep your flock together and if possible create division in your adversary’s vote bank. Simple.

Dynastic Politics: This is the kind of politics where the reins of political leadership is limited to a family. One thing that needs to be appreciated is that politics is not just a social service, if that. This is also a business where you try to make money and try to secure the future of your family. Thus, it is quite natural for a ‘Lalu Prasad Yadav’ to make his wife, Rabri Devi, as Chief Minister of Bihar and Congress making Sonia Gandhi its commander in chief. This country, some say, owes a lot to the Gandhi family with the fight for independence and all. But, there are also those daring mavericks who claim that in last few years, Gandhi family has started owning a lot to this country. Literally! But, who wants to get in the middle of these silly fights. Not me. Who cares if Sonia Gandhi is the most powerful individual in India. Who cares if she is Italian by birth and whatever Mr Subramanian swamy  has to say here. Aren’t we the proud largest democracy of the world? In that case, elevation of individuals like Sonia Gandhi, Rabri Devi, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh to the coveted political positions can only be jewels in our large democratic crown. If an IAS officer cleaning Mayawati’s sandals can appreciate this, why can’t we?

Developmental Politics: This is the rare and risky form of politics where politician works towards the development of his/her jurisdiction and hopes to please people. Why is it risky? Well, strictly speaking, opportunity to make money for your family might be small if you are going to use that money for development. If people don’t recognise your development or choose to vote based on caste, you are stumped. You will not have money and might well get kicked out. That is pure dumb. So, what do you do? Rule is to make sure you don’t leave the first flavour of politics – caste politics. Make sure you don’t give everything to the public at once as you won’t have anything to offer when the elections come. So, you got to be very systematic in what you give. If you give a rocket to your son as his first gift, what do you give him next? So, you got to start with a cycle and slowly upgrade it all the way up to a rocket.

India is a proud country. Thats the reason any finger raised in its direction meets with an outrage. It’s our country to spoil. Leave us alone.

India is not a country of equals. Not by a country mile. Reservation based on caste at the pretense of promoting equality is a cynical political game that politicians love to play as if they have to make sure it keeps breathing as there is no value of a dead. They have to make sure communities don’t gel. They have to make sure liquids stay insoluble.

Posted in Controversy, India | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Dummies Guide to Indian Politics – Part 1

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on June 23, 2012

It is well known that there are three things that unite India – Cricket, Bollywood and Politics. You might ask, ‘Politics? Really?’.  While bandwagon of stars pull people towards Cricket and Bollywood, politics in India- on most days, is looked down upon. But, if we dig a bit deeper, we quickly realise that politics is engrained in every strain of our body. Lesson starts from a very early age right when we are at school. You are compelled to side with a particular group to create a stronger group dynamic to when you move to college where its all about getting a girl or a boy often resulting in gossips, backstabbing, fights and at times a compromise – you take that girl and I take the other one. And when you come back home, the fight is all about being the superior sibling either by growing on your own foot or cutting someone else down to size. How your life turns out depends on how well you navigate these social strains. So, by the time you turn 18, you are already well-oiled and are super confident to pass judgements and we do that without regret or remorse which is fair because we all have been well-trained, right? We folks in India are strongly opinionated. We have an opinion on everything and god forbid if you don’t listen. And why wouldn’t you listen because then its your turn to express yourself as we all are graduates of the same training school.

So, what happens when a nation of well trained, strongly opinionated fellas take the street? That’s right. While the strength of our nation, some say, is its diversity, those diverse communities live like different type of insoluble liquids poured in to a jar. While this might not seem very attractive, it brilliantly lays out ground for very colourful politics. I called it colourful but, some choose to call it dirty. To each his or her own.

Ok, so most of us are politicians in one form or the other. May be. But, what is that to do with Indian politics? And if each of us are so well-oiled, why don’t we enter the fray and try to take our country to where it belongs- right at the top? Aha! Now that I have been asked that question, you are exactly where I wanted you before we dive in to the “colourful” world of Indian Politics!

Part 2 continued here.

Posted in Controversy, India, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

JanLokpal vs SarkariLokpal vs SelfLokpal

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on August 21, 2011

India is waking up. 74-year-old man is making sure that people wake up. Anna Hazare, a known crusader against corruption of last 2 decades has taken it on to himself to wake people up from a slumber.

There has been frenzied debate over the three versions of lokpal.

  1.  Jan Lokpal:        The one Team Anna (Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi,  Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan et, al.) has proposed.
  2. Sarkari Lokpal: The one that our beloved government has proposed.
  3. Self Lokpal:          I created this to accommodate those voices who think that we don’t need these lokpals and subscribe to the view that it will all go away with self-cleansing.

Note: Link to JanLokpal vs Sarkari Lokpal is at the bottom.

Is this outcry really about being in favour or against some specific version of Lokpal? While that is definitely one of the issues, it is about people being fed up of scams after scams and living in a country where every form of fees comes with a surcharge/bribe. Students are fed up that either they have to be brilliant enough to crack IIT/IIMs or rich enough to pay donation that most colleges demand. People might be divided when it comes to detail but, they are united for the cause. There has been some ridiculous argument against this movement (e.g., murder of democracy) and avoidable exaggeration by Team Anna (e.g., Anna is India and India is Anna) but, when so many people have opinions, you are bound to have some regrettable ones. However, there is one fact and one fact alone. Corruption has kept this country with tremendous potential on backfoot for several years and needs to be urgently addressed.

Government has placed a version of Lokpal so, why not wait? Lokpal bill has been in the dock for 42 years so, it is reasonable to doubt their committment to pass the bill let alone a strong bill. Bribes and Donations are far too common to escape any eye that wishes to see. How many convictions have we seen? Media and agitations seem to be the only time when government appears to be all eyes and ears. “Lok Sabha TV” is probably the only adult channel on Indian Television so, excuse me if I doubt parliament’s intentions. Excuse my scepticism when people like Manish Tiwari, Digvijay Singh represent the ruling party.

Why not Self lokpal? Self cleansing is not a new concept but, unfortunately we live in a “real” world and not “ideal” one. This revolution is not just about calibrating our own moral compass. It is more to do with coming up with a system which will prove deterrent for those who don’t have any moral compass to calibrate. While it is all too well to say that it should start with self cleansing (and it should), people more often than not get coerced in to doing things that they otherwise would avoid. Bribe often is extortion and donation the norm. If every one voluntarily plays their part sincerely, we wouldn’t have murderers in the society (thus no need for IPC 302) and there wouldn’t be people looting the luggage of victims of train accident. It has to start with you and us but, a country must have provision to hold guilty accountable. I haven’t bribed anyone and still there are scams worth thousands of crores. I pay my taxes honestly and still I can’t expect half decent roads. So, to think that SelfLokpal can eradicate corruption is naive and too simplistic.

To have your doubts regarding the movement is one thing and to undermine completely another.

Read here: JanLokpal vs SarkariLokpal

Some other interesting take on the issue (Following are two opposite views):

Swapan Dasgupta: UPA’s credibility is now History.

Tavleen Singh: Making of a hero

Posted in Controversy, India | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where are all the ladies?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on May 18, 2011

This is not directed at anyone and is just an observation. Accurate or not, you decide. 🙂

Doesn’t it feel that girls these days are increasingly appearing high on ‘testosterone’? It’s cool to swear. It’s cool to take multiple takeela shot. It’s cool to make circles from puff of smoke. Obviously, my observation is skewed as it is based on what I see around and up to a certain extent on the content of tv shows targeted at young audience but, we have definitely come a long way from the days of Indian naari (Indian woman). Arrogance and rudeness is not any guy’s prerogative if that’s how one argues in its’s favour but, it’s definitely not ‘cool’. It’s a big turn off. Thankfully, it’s not the norm. At least, not yet. And no, I am not sexist. 🙂

PS: Swear is slang and means ‘to use abusive words’. E.g. ****, *****, ******** etc’

Disclaimer: Again. This post comes with lots of asterisk and is not directed at anyone in particular or girls from any particular region, company, planet etc’. It is not intended to be provocative but, if you do feel that way, feel free to express yourself in words that you feel appropriate and I promise I won’t delete any comment! And you don’t even have to beep out your favourite words like I have done!

Posted in India, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Is this News?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on December 2, 2008

Recent events of Mumbai have given Indian news channels another low hanging fruit to latch on to and they have seized the opportunity with loudest possible bang. Emotional story of a survivor is shown with melodramatic tunes and loud gunshots and bomb explosions playing in the background. Same images are flashed again and again. Brave “citizen journalists” who went back inside the hotel amidst attacks to capture memorable footage is now broadcast on every channel and the citizen is now a celebrity. Narration has hit its lowest and news feels more like trailer of a bad, very bad, Hollywood action movie. If content has gone down the drain, quality of presentation is in a free-fall. Every piece of news is claimed to be exclusive to the channel brought to you in record time.

But, this is probably the curse of round the clock news channel with fiery anchors who always seem to be on adrenaline inducing drugs.

If there are any recommendations, do let me know but, every channel that I have tuned in to leaves me with flashing images and high pitched voice of loud-mouthed anchors.

Posted in India | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Bihar Floods – What can you do?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on September 3, 2008

How bad is it?

It is bad enough to be declared a national calamity and 5 million (50 lakh) people are said to be directly affected. Worst hit are children who are estimated to be more than half the number. Some news coverage:

On how children are being affected
Google News

What can you do?

If you are religious you can consider this as act of god punishing people for their sins. If you don’t believe in god, you might feel vindicated. And if you are not comfortable taking sides, you can just sit back and watch the drama unfold.

What is being done?

There are a few people who are doing great job in co-ordinating some of the activities like managing funds and sending relief materials (medicines, cloths etc) to the affected region. It is a network of some NGOs and personal contacts based at relief camps.

How can I contribute/donate?

United Kingdom: If you are in UK, you can get in touch with me and I can arrange transfer of funds. Every amount is accounted for and every contribution will be posted publicly (unless instructed otherwise).

All funds in UK will go in to the account of BIHAR FOUNDATION UK. It is member of British Overseas of NGOs for development and thus is regulated. News coverage of the effort by Bihar Foundation.

India: You can again get in touch with me if you want and I can guide you. However, you can also look at following locations who as I said are also involved in such activities. I am in touch with some of them.

Ways to get in touch

1) Leave a comment

2) Use this form

3) +44 780 944 1527

Post script: Please note that if you have doubts about credibility of this effort then you will not be the only one. It won’t hurt though to get in touch.

Posted in Bihar, India | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cricket Fiasco: Bottomline

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 10, 2008

You need to close your eyes in order to see clearly for there is so much chaos. At a time when we needed to show highest degree of restraint, we have gone berserk. If as a nation we want to play an important role on the world stage, we will need to show far greater maturity.

Australian Cricket: Australia did get carried away in the dying moments of the game when they were beginning to realise that their dreams of most victories in a row might remain a dream after all. But, are we trying to suggest that the Indian team would have not appealed had it been in similar situation? I am hurt because Indian lost the game but, the damage that is taking place outside of game is far too lasting than a game of cricket will ever be capable of. We are risking quite a lot.

BCCI: Its all about money. Look at the state of the Indian cricket. Why can’t we produce a team which can win or at least put a decent fight with the kind of budget it has?

Umpiring: Bucknor should have been asked to leave (or asked to voluntarily resign) simply for being incompetent in a job for which he is being paid handsomely as would have been the case in any other job. Not because he is a cheat or anything else that Indian media will like some of us to believe nor because BCCI likes to flex its muscle like some foreign media is getting obsessed with.

Media: What a joke. Majority of them thrive on being cheap and sensational. Screw them.

Now lets look at the case of Harbhajan. Comments like “We told you the first time not to call him monkey” is ridiculous. Its like don’t tell us that because we don’t like it. Who the hell likes when you sledge even if it is not racist by definition? The whole basis of provocation is the opposition not liking what is being done to him. There is no place of racism in sports. But, what makes sledging any more attractive?

To be honest, I personally think that Harbhajan might well have called him a monkey. But, it can’t be because some prejudice leading to racial taunt. Its because he did not like what was told to him and was hurt. He wanted to hurt Symonds and for a volatile and intemperate personality like Harbhajan, only one thing would have come to his head. Not because he is racist. But, because he wanted to hurt Symonds. That does not give mileage to Harbhajan mind you. In fact he along with Sreesanth should have been brought to task for indulging in such lose talk time and again. But, lets not make one person more equal than other because the other person was able to qualify the remark as racist. Ability to see the big picture will hold us all in good stead.

Bottomline: None of this was to protect national pride. Far from it. Different interested parties have blown everything out of proportion to ensure that we lose sight of the real problem because their best interest lies in it. To the Aussies: We don’t only burn effigies of foreign umpires and players. Our players and selectors are not spared either if the player from a certain state is not selected or if a player bats too ‘slow’. But, they do not represent all of India. In a vast country like India with one-sixth of world’s population it will not be wise to expect common sense from all of them when even three commentators sitting in the comfort of their air-conditioned box cannot come to a consensus. We are not racist, we are emotional. We are not stupid, we are passionate. If there is a line amongst all this, we are bound to stumble time and again. Lets not make a big deal and do what we do best. Wait for another scandal. Enough said.

PS: Here is what a comment read in one of the responses.

If my Mum had been in charge of international cricket, this would have been sorted easily. Every time I was in the garden playing with my friends and a game was threatening to get out of hand, she used to stick her head out of the window and say , “If you can’t play nicely, don’t play at all. If it carries on like that your friends can go home and you can clean the toilet.” It always did the trick.

Related Posts:
Shocking Journalism. Worst Protest.
Australia-Great Team Lacking in Spirit

Posted in Controversy, Cricket, India, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Shocking Journalism. Worst Protest.

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 7, 2008

I was hurt like any other Indian when India lost Sydney test and the manner of loss made it harder to digest. But, what disappoints me more is the way it has been captured in Indian media. Rise of Internet has ensured that people don’t have to wait till the next day to go through the newspaper. This is being exploited by the media who keep coming up with cheesy headlines and controversial stories – mostly concocted, to increase their popularity. If print media is bad, electronic ones are worse. 24 hour news channels have ensured that it is full of rubbish. Every channel tries to tap in to mass’s sentiment twisting every piece of news to spice it up as opposed to making an effort to present accurate information.

Cheesy Headlines, humiliating remarks, everything blown out of proportion. What is happening? The way Indian public has responded to this is shocking. Its one thing to criticise. Its another thing to humiliate. People have been posting absolutely absurd and mindless abusive comments in response to articles. And all this in the name of protecting our pride. Is this the impression we want rest of the world to have about us? My pride is far more injured by the events that is taking place in India as compared to what happened in Australia on the cricket field. What happens to the pride of these people when India gets named as one of the worst countries in the way children are treated here? This rarely forms subject of intellectual discussions because dealing with it will require them to be far more proactive as compared to showing anger in chat rooms.

When a few Australians did not carry themselves as we would have liked, we responded in the way we did. What about thousands of Indians who are proving to be no different? This is specially surprising when majority of the neutrals and quite a few Australians have shared our sentiment.

Same Australian public gave rousing reception to VVS and Tendulkar when they came in to bat at SCG and gave a standing ovation when they scored their centuries as if they were playing in front of their home crowd. It is one thing to be disappointed. It is another thing to be stupid.

Its true that we did not like what we saw in the test and what transpired thereafter in Harbhajan’s case but, our behaviour and that of quite a few journalists has not been very appealing either. Everybody is wrong but for us. Talk about fairness!

There are lots of decent ways to lodge protest and put your case forward. Calling names and posting abusive messages in the forums is definitely not one of them.

Update: All is not lost and I am not the only one to be incensed by the nonsense that is going on in Indian press which by its very nature demeans the cause Indians are fighting for. Here is an extract from an article in The Guardian that states as to what this post is about.

India is blessed with an extraordinary capacity for indignation. But occasionally there is cause. So even if it was a little tiresome to have to hear Harbhajan Singh’s mother on every news channel, watch donkeys with name-tags of the umpires Bucknor and Benson dangling around their necks, and find that 94% of viewers on one network wanted the team to return from Australia, it did not fully detract from the issue.

A few other people have written about the quality of journalism which they call over the top or in other words nonsensical. In Guardian, Dileep Premachandran calls it India: Where truth is up for grabs. (Cracking title but may have overcompensated by launching a scathing attack) and on Cricinfo Suresh Menon pleads for some balance.

Posted in Controversy, Cricket, India, Journalism | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Importance of Being VVS

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on January 5, 2008

If you are an Indian, Cricket is quite likely to occupy some portion of your heart. And it felt nice to have done justice to that Indian spirit of mine when I chose to watch cricket late at night even if that meant the prospect of high dose of caffeine during meetings the next day. But boy, it was so much worth it. Laxman stayed long enough to ensure that it was every bit worth. Every shot that he played could be watched several times but still would generate the same feeling of ‘wow’ on each occasion. It is true that Tendulkar played a bigger and an important innings the next day but, in the context of the series, Laxman once again reversed the fortunes of India from psychological point of view after they lost very badly at Melbourne and conceded a huge first innings score to Australia. You have to take bull by the horns in such situations and it was so nice to see the most elegant batsman in the world destroy the most potent attack with most delicate of touches. He saved the day and probably the series for India but, as a player he has earned himself just another inning to fight again because the next time he goes to bat, he will have to “prove” himself once again.

There rarely is a cricketing reason when he gets dropped. But, you don’t look for reason when somebody is more equal than others. Most make convenient choices and not the right one. Dropping Laxman is one such choice they make time and again because they know that their names will not be trashed in the newspapers and effigies not burnt on the streets. Best of games is played in the minds and not only on the field. But the game that Laxman has to play in his head every time he goes out to bat is more to counter the attack of people on the same side and not that of his rivals.

Sports unifies you as a nation. But in India for that to happen Saurav Ganguly has to be in the team otherwise Bengal becomes a different nation altogether. The most famous Australian we had on our soil is unanimously considered a legend. But, he, Mr Greg Chappell is now more famous for being the Indian coach who managed to show Saurav Ganguly the door. Now, thats probably the Australian way of doing things. Perform or perish. One year hence, Saurav Ganguly does nothing impressive on the cricket field and makes his way back in to the Indian cricket team. Now thats the Indian way of doing things. We reach greatest of heights with least of effort. You just need to know the right set of people. To be fair to him, he has shown greater resolve to perform ever since he returned. But, that in a way proves Chappell’s hypothesis based on which he argued the case of him being a destructive factor in the team.

Every country that India plays knows the importance of VVS. Its such a shame that his own country-men don’t.

Posted in Cricket, India | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

IITs and IIMs Spared

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on March 30, 2007

Supreme court stayed OBC reservation at IITs and IIMs. This will definitely bring smiles to the faces of those who dream to see India as the nation of dreams.

When the whole world has woken up to the noise India is making, politicians it seems are determined to remain fast asleep willing to stoop as low as possible to meet their political ambition of ministerial post with several opportunities of under-table transactions. When it is impossible for most intellectuals to see the rational behind such reservations, politicians have always considered reservations along with religion as short-cut to “success”.

Indians still have a tough battle to fight if they yearn for times when right will be right and wrong will be wrong.

Posted in India | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Cricket, Crime and Passion

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on March 23, 2007

If cricket is considered to be a gentlemen’s game, we need to think again. Sport does not only get its weight from the players who take to the field but also from those who are off it. And the people off the field, it seems, are finding it hard to behave like grownups. Very hard. As one of game’s most passionate exponent, Bob Woolmer, was quitely eliminated by what can only be called another act of passion, it is time to take a pause and reflect.

As India plays its do-or-die match today with Sri Lanka, it might very well be the case of do or you will have to die. Thats what we are being made to believe.

Posted in Cricket, India | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Idiot’s Guide to Cricket World Cup

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on March 19, 2007

(Published on 17th March)

Being an Indian you are obligated to share the excitement generated by Cricket. What more, its World Cup! So, I was feeling a bit low when I was required to be reminded of India’s first match today. I don’t do well when I am at my memory’s disposal. In India, it would have been so different when cricket takes over the entire nation and deserted streets scream of an on-going Indian match. This is the tournament where eight cricket playing nations (and the rest who have made the numbers on first come first serve basis, it seems. Canada and Bermuda?). India is playing their first match today with Bangladesh. Mind you, Bangladesh have beaten Australia. But, everybody beats Australia these days. Anyways, not having prior knowledge of this game almost gave me the feeling of having cheated my Indian spirit. Come on, after all, cricket is one thing that unifies us- the Indians. Ofcourse, Saurav Ganguly has to be IN the team otherwise Bengal becomes a different nation altogether. And it helps if India is winning every game or else a couple of players might get attacked. But, considering the number of people who sanction this game’s patriotic spirit far undermines these couple of exceptions. (Note: We never considered Shiv Sena part of this mass as they are very eager to destroy every cricket pitch where Pakistan will (or might) play. This goes against our moral conviction to build a secular country. And moreover, they don’t like Valentine’s day which is simply unacceptable when we are trying to build an image as a tolerant nation.)

Talk of cricket is incomplete without the mention of Australia. The most famous Australian we have on our soil is unanimously considered a legend. But, he, Mr Greg Chappell is more famous for being the Indian coach who managed to show Saurav Ganguly the door. Now, thats the Australian way of doing things. One year hence, Saurav Ganguly does nothing impressive on the cricket field and makes his way back in to the Indian cricket team. Now thats the Indian way of doing things. We reach greatest of heights with least of effort. You just need to know the right set of people.

So, whom will I like to win the World Cup? Being an Indian, I will love to to see India win and it seems like they have almost got the right combination. But, have they got the right attitude? Thats for us to wait and see. If India fails, I, like most others go for the underdogs. So, it has to be Australia. Now, before you take my right away of tagging them as underdogs go and check their record in last few matches. I mean I know that there has been lots of Australian action but most of that has been off the pitch. And our very own Mr Gavaskar has given them a crash course on good behaviour. Gavaskar has been so energetic to air his concern when he has got chance to do so that it is almost difficult to believe that he is the same guy who managed to stay on the pitch for entire 60 overs and failed to score the century! Hey, nothing should surprise you. We are Indians!

PS: I have to talk about England. I am sure they will win the World Cup but, not this time. The good thing is that they seem to be least bothered.

Update (18th March): Well, so India did it again. Good thing is that so did our neighbours. For Pakistan world-cup is over. For us, we are almost there. Unless, I have spoken too soon. Well-done to Bangladesh. Honest passion that they have for this sport owes them several great moments like these. And what about Irish?! Seems like these countries are doing more than making up numbers. Far more than that. Ask a Pakistani fan. Or an angry Indian for that matter if they are not busy destroying “hard” earned assets of our beloved cricketers.

Posted in Cricket, India | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The day I agreed to get married – Part2 (Finally)

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on March 8, 2007

(Flashback: Continued from here . Delay in this post was caused due to my employer showing me the contract that I indeed have been hired to work.)

If for Jane Austen (Ref: Pride and Prejudice) single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, for parents, its jobs.

A conversation/argument with your dad probably ranks only next to waking up early on a winter morning in terms of difficulty. I have tried to be an obedient son and I was being put on trial here. Say, but make sure you are not disrespectful. Stay quiet and “Yes” will be taken as the implied answer. There was no way out. Chances of success were looking bleak. In the past I have dealt with desperate situations like these by estimating the worst case scenario and convincing myself that it was not bad enough. I was struggling to convince myself here. Its interesting how your most significant qualities desert you when you want them most. I have generally tried to latch on to humour to get me off the hook but, here I was not finding anything funny. It was getting serious.

Me: Do I have to answer now?

Dad: Why, who do you have to ask?

Me: No, but I mean there were so many things I wanted to do.

Dad: Well, Isn’t marriage one of those on your sorry list?

Me: Well, yeah! I think….But –

Dad: (Without letting me finish) This is the problem with today’s generation. They think more and do less.

(I kept quiet hoping that the conversation would end on this note as any answer might provoke him to speak.)

Dad: Do you realise that most guys of your age and from your batch are married? Or is there somebody you have in London you are not telling us about? (Without waiting for me to answer) Listen, I understand that there is some generation gap here. If you think that I don’t understand that then you are wrong. I understand. I understand more than you think. I will not impose my thinking on to yours. I am quite liberal when it comes to that. I don’t believe in telling people what to do. If there is a girl there, I have no problem with it. Why will I have problem? After all its you who has to marry and its you who has to live with her. Why do you think we will have problem with that? (And I was thinking ‘wow!’ and he goes) Just make sure that it is not one of those white girls. After all there is something called society that we have to consider and keep in mind. After all people have been following these traditions for ages. There must be some meaning to it. So, just make sure that she is a decent maithil brahmin girl of a different Gotra to ours. (Background: Maithil Brahmins are one type of Brahmins belonging to Hindu religion. There are certain rules that you need to follow. This link has something to say about it. Quality is a suspect.)

Me: There is nobody in London! (‘who fits your profile’ I thought in my head)

Dad: Then what is the problem then? Haven’t you heard that behind every successful man there is a woman?

(Flashback: This almost made me laugh! I never thought this will be used as an argument to convince somebody to get married! Moreover, this was one of the (in)famous old adage we used to amuse ourselves with during our fun-discussions in student life! I never thought I will have to argue this point with my dad. And what more, I did a terrible job!)

Me: But papa, I don’t consider myself successul yet!

Oops! It doesn’t take time for you to realise when your sarcasm is badly timed. This was one of those and I was almost sure that I will have to pay for it dearly. I was right. My dad went quiet. My mom came to my rescue.

Mom: Beta, koi bhi kaam sahi samay par hi accha lagta hai! (Son, everything should be done at the right time!)

At the same time dad got in to action not willing to let this go that easily.

Dad: What the hell in this world is wrong with you? Do you realise that all good girls are married off at an early age?

Surprising it might sound, no answer in my head sounded appropriate for this question.

Me: So, do you have anybody in mind who you think might be suitable for me?

Dad: There is no shortage of well-educated, beautiful girls in our caste. I tell you that. We just need to start looking.

A sudden spark of genius made me realise that the actual event is probably not as important for my parents as the whole process itself.

Me: Okay. If you think thats the case then I don’t mind you looking at proposals. I mean, I don’t think I want to get married just as yet, may be late next year or something (keeping my voice low here) but, I don’t mind you looking at proposals.

And my dad goes(looking at my mother).

Dad: Didn’t I tell you that he will understand? And didn’t I tell you that he has nobody in England?!

And I was thinking “What???”.

Dedication: This is dedicated to my dad who has made sure that I never had to look far for an ideal to draw inspiration. He has shown great faith in my ability to grasp his teachings and has left, for most part, to lead my life on my own terms allowing me to experience all shades of life. This is also dedicated to couple of my very dear friends, Ramanshu (no effort made to protect his identity) and Ahmar, who got married recently. Their names have been published to embarass and punish them for not staying in touch after marriage.

Not-so-useless post article commentary: It is quite obvious from this post that I belong to Bihar and I wear the badge with pride. I don’t do so because of its bad roads but, inspite of it. Bad roads don’t represent Bihar neither do high illitracy rate or poverty. I do. And several thousands others who have done very well in their chosen field inspite of what the then government of Bihar had to offer. Bad infrastructure etc’ are mere symptoms of bad governance. People of Bihar being subjected to ridicule merely suggests the ignorance of those who do it.

PS (Post-script): Was very tempted to address the dowry issue but thats for another day.

Repeat: Please note that although the event is real, conversation is totally fictitious.

Extra: There is no mention of Maithil Brahmin in Wiki (I didn’t know there were so many types of Brahmins!). There is no mention here as well. I wonder if its bad editing. Hmm..

Posted in Bihar, India, Me | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

The day I agreed to get married

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on February 28, 2007

[PS (Pre-script): The text has been edited to make it fit for under 21s. No effort has been made to protect anybody from embarrasment to make it “sound as real as possible”. No attempt has been made to make people tickle. Any humour, if at all, is inherent in the content. Any joke at anybody’s expense is purely coincidental. This is account of an actual event which I have used to present a “fictional” conversation between me and my dad. This is how most conversation of this nature goes in real life. My dad was generous and I turned lucky. I didn’t have to go through this.This has been broken in to two parts to account for the short attention span of today’s generation, me being one of them.]

All my fallen comrades had told me that their life after marriage has changed for better or for worse. Not in position to analyse the statement objectively, I requested them to elaborate. They didn’t. I had heard that ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. With no opportunity in sight to fake my intelligence, I decided to think. I thought hard about the conversation I had with my dad during my trip to India, Bihar to be specific, about couple of weeks ago.The context in this case justifies a mention of the background and merits some space for it felt like a cruel joke at that point. It was worse. It was a well-thought plan devised at getting the desired result, by hook (read: emotion) or crook (read: force).  

Me, my brother, mom and my dad were returning from Deoghar, a religious place in Bihar. Trip was made to acknowledge god’s contribution in my recently achieved professional success. The trip was 250kms long (from Darbhanga to Deoghar) and we were anticipating to clock atleast 10 hours to get there considering the condition of the roads, where there was one. We got there late in the evening that day feeling very religious with the general concensus amongst us of some kind of divine presence in the air. Complaining about the roads would have been a grave sin considering the troubles people go through to show their faith. (Background: People walk 100kms from Sultanganj, a place in Bihar on the banks of river Ganga, to Deoghar barefoot! Time to boast: I have made this trip twice. Although, I wonder if I realised at that point the generally perceived significance of it or was it just the sense of adventure. I was just 11 then.)  After paying our respects next morning, we started on our journey back amost certain that all this pain was worth it as we managed to stay in the temple longer (4 minutes) than usual (1 minute) due to the relatively less number of devotees, that being the “off-season”. I was driving with my brother seated next to me, mom and dad having occupied the seats at the back.  The rear-view mirror made sure that I didn’t forget their presence with my dad keeping an eye on the speedometer to check if it stayed within the “safe” range despite being confident with my inability to go beyond it due to impecabbly destroyed roads which ensured that even a four feet wide car was not able to escape the reality of the road condition. I don’t consider myself to be foul-mouthed, always in control of my emotions. But, I was getting overdose of reality. Bumps were so regular that I had almost got used to it. Well, thats what I thought till I spilled something which made my dad say, ” how do you expect these roads to be fixed in one day? Thats how it was yesterday, isn’t it? In fact it has been this way for years. This is not London.” which was enough to suggest the standard I was to expect for the remainder of my journey. I decided to keep quiet trying to see the positive side of all this and thought it could have been worse. It did turn worse.

Dad: So, what kind of girl will you like to get married to?

‘What???’ I thought in my head and decided to keep quiet hoping that it was some figment of my imagination or it will slowly fade away in all these car bumps and the priority of the conversation will change. Didn’t work.

Dad: Say something for god’s sakes!

It was for real! My dad was thinking of my marriage!

(Continued here .)

Posted in Bihar, India, Me | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Racists or Emotional?

Posted by Neeraj Kumar on February 8, 2007

Shilpa Shetty won the reality show Big Brother and received whopping 63% of votes. It would have been interesting to find whether those 63% of votes she received was due to people of Indian ethnic origin in UK (about 3 million people of Indian origin live in UK) flooding the show with calls or was it a gesture from the general British public to let Indians (and others) know that they don’t condone shocking remarks made by Jade Goody and her fellow housemates. In either case, it does make you wonder whether remarks made echoes the sentiment of large section of British society. Education teaches us to be tolerant but, emotions more often than not has the final say. So, was that just an isolated outburst or does it go far deeper than that.

I have been in UK for more than five years (four years as student) but apart from isolated heated exchange have had quite a pleasant stay. However, recently India has made its presence felt on the global map by being one of the fastest growing economy and has taken big strides in most sectors. But, with stories of Indian success ( Tata taking Corus, Shilpa Shetty winning Big Brother etc’) flashing across the television screens, sentiments are bound to take over. It is further compounded by the fact that major section of this demographic share the belief that Indian economic surge has been at the expense of US and European economy.

Well, I am not ignorant enough to call them racist but it will not be entirely misplaced to call them emotional.

Posted in Controversy, India | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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