Of CATs and dogs.....

With the nation's sexiest exam coming up and with 2.5 lakh more human heads set to roll, I am awaiting my debut. The Common Admission Test, conducted by the IIMs, takes place on November 18th and the tension is building up.

I don't know if I am a cent percent prepared to give the toughest exam in Asia, but I am looking and dreaming for the other side of this 2.5 hour odyssey - A life to cherish. It would be awesome to get in. But it is also one of the toughest things to do in our lives.

Greatness awaits people who can put the pencil marks on the right circles and steer ahead of thousands of similar others. And this greatness brings in honour and admiration. Who doesn't like that, damn it.....

PS: The dog in the headline meant that you have to study like a dog. Hey, what does that mean now?

Where is the love?

If any caring human has heard the beautiful number "Where is the love?" from American band Black Eyed Peas, it's definite that his heart would warm up with emotion. The song's lyrics speak exactly of the situation on hand.

Talking from an Indian perspective, I'd say that it is the highly irresponsible media that stands out in terms of brain corruption. They are like terrorists who let you live after corrupting your brain and thinking to such an extent that you will begin to doubt yourself at certain points.

Everything in life comes down to how much you can believe in someone's clean-hearted efforts. If you'll notice, most people doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the system, doubt their heroes even. It's getting worse. People are not willing to believe. Where is the love?

The media is like "civil war" in terms of battle. They love to generate stories and circulate terror. Remember, the morning newspaper you buy is actually a bomb ticking away.....

Sons of a step mother

With a few hockey players threatening to go on a hunger strike, it does hurt the soul a lot. The Indian obsession with cricket makes sure that heroes of only a certain kind are loved and respected. It was a great triumph but the hockey team's Asian Cup triumph was no mean feat either. To score 57 goals, concede 5 goals and go unbeaten in a continental tournament is as good as winning the Twenty20 World Championship.

The problem is that no one cares. It may be noted that the Indian national hockey team is the country's MOST successful sporting teams, but the least appreciated. Indian dribblers are hailed as great players by European nations but in India nobody cares. It is the step-motherly treatment dished out to them that hurts the most.

Given the kind of extremism that cricket will touch in times to come, I suggest India abandon the rest of it's sports teams and allow players to play for other countries in which they can live and settle in. At least they will love them and give them due respect and recognition.

The Indian media also plays spoilsport. The Twenty20 World Championship win was given extensive coverage, while the Asia Cup was almost ignored. The media has corrupted the mind that cricket is the greatest thing to happen in terms of sport. When it actually is the worst.

Cricket has had an easy take in India. Given the least amount of hard work done(in hockey and football, you have to first QUALIFY for the major tournaments) in getting to the tournaments, it is always easier to pull off a title triumph. It all hurts.

Even Shah Rukh Khan, who is an actor and who has nothing to do with sport directly, is given space in the sports pages just because he ATTENDED the final.

How worse can it get.....

So this is how it feels.....

Let me complete the title of this blog first. So this is how it feels LIKE TO BE A WORLD CHAMPION. Finally. Of all the things you'd want in your lifetime. To feel like and be a world champion.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh & the rest of the team emerge as India's newest cricketing greats after a power showing in South Africa. Is there anything to talk about after this stupendous Indian triumph? Apparently, yes.

There is only one sensitive moment to think about. What will be going on in the minds of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid? No, I am not talking about retirement. But the win would have pleased and hurt them the most.

Since our acquaintance with sports heroes is very short-lived, I am certain that Indians will be ready to put the trio into history. But this will hurt. Remember, that the combined contributions of the three greats over the last decade have been almost as good as this World Cup triumph. If not better. We all are winners. We all want to be world champions. But these three are not world champions. It feels like God sent them with a curse of being the best, but never winning the best. All three reached the final in 2003 and opted out of this sensational triumph.

We Indians have very short memories. But don't forget that India played as good cricket as in 2003. The only request from my side is that REMEMBER AND CHERISH YOUR HEROES.....

Rise of the Feminist Man

This is a very weird topic to blog. This writing is more observation, rather than a culmination of thoughts.

Pink shirts, Red t-shirts, Sparkling tight pants, Weirdly-colored hair. This may be ordinary stuff for girls. Maybe it is meant for them. But wait. Look on. Guys have joined the bandwagon.

The rise of the feminist man is currently inexplicable. I don't understand why males are resorting to such open expression of female characteristics. Is it attributed to an apparent lack of understanding of what differentiates men from women? Or maybe lack of quality resources?

But this is definitely scary. Feminist men, apart from their dressing sense, are resorting to female behaviour too. Gone are the days when Men led from the front. Today, men are beginning to lose out on the virtues that held them so strong.

Females will be delighted with this male tilt towards their lifestyle.....

A big loss

While most of the Indian sporting world is focussed on the World Twenty20 Championships(and is likely to remain more focussed, owing to Yuvraj Singh's histrionics), an interesting development in the way-more-global-than-cricket world of football has turned it upside down.

The departure of "character manager" Jose Mourinho from Chelsea Football Club in England has been a big shocker to football followers. The Portuguese boss is rated as one of the best managers ever and his resignation asks more questions than the answers it gives.

Mourinho was a classy, shrewd tactician with immense self-belief(IMMENSE) and turned Chelsea into a worldclass team. We have to wait and see what happens, but English football has lost a man who impacted football in a very unique way.

Miss him.....

Of B-Schools & Leadership

Outlook's definitive survey-based rankings of India's top B-schools have come out and IIM, Ahmedabad leads the pack as usual. The founded-in-1961 premier B-school remains top in most categories of judgement, except in infrastructure & facilities. IIM, Bangalore & Calcutta finish 2nd and 3rd respectively while XLRI, Jamshedpur leads from the front for the private B-schools.

In other stories, Rahul Dravid's resignation as the captain of India's most loved sports team was a shocker. No doubts. Dravid has essayed a great role since he took over, with the WC debacle being the only dark mark in a respectable reign from the worldclass batsman. It's a sad day for us, as is this is also an indication of the beginning of the end of his career.

The pressures on sportspeople are immense. Expectations, both on personal and team-related fronts, from the huge fan base take up a lot of energy and thought.

Let's hope the BCCI think tank can make a wise decision and appoint a successor capable of inheriting the legacy of Dravid. What makes this time's captaincy hunt more freaky is that when Sourav Ganguly resigned, Dravid looked very capable of taking the post. But in the current set-up, that seems highly unlikely.....

India runs riot!!!

Has Chak De India actually cast a spell on Indian sports? Considering the performances of various Indian sports teams, I was forced to think over the above stated question. Suddenly, India is seeing a host of positive results in various sports.

Starting with the world's most important sport, India clinched a classic Nehru Cup title. This is definitely the stand-out achievement in football so far. Nehru Cup winners include prestigious teams like Uruguay and the Soviet Union and India's addition to that list definitely brightens up the footballing stratosphere.

The Indian hockey team, both men and women, have conjured up results in double figures in their respective Asia Cups. The men have won 1-0, 20-0, 3-2 and 6-0, making it a remarkable 30 goals scored in 4 games!! The women notched up wins of 16-0!

Sania Mirza has broken into the world top 30, while the cricket team is in it's best form ever, except that the opposition currently seem equally capable.

Revolution, indeed.....

Terror again? Hehe, nothing new.....

I chose this particular title for my 50th post on this blog because it reflects the attitude of the Indian government and people towards what is fast becoming an ignored sector in people protection and security.

Terror, with it's wings wide open, stuck yet again. Another attack. Another city in crisis. More people dead. Does it matter? I seriously doubt it.

The irony remains that the UPA is well aware yet again that dreaded PoK outfits LET & JEM are behind the attacks. India's policy of handling terror, which is becoming increasingly annoying and irritating, comes under the scrutiny yet again.

Being aware of terror and thwarting it is as smart as the country can get now. Because once terror is in action, we are embarassingly powerless to handle it.

Despite being a military powerhouse, our political system and approach towards sensitive situations just don't make us capable of handling terror by the struff of it's neck.

In the end, all one can do is look up to God and hold hands together, praying that justice will at least come from the heavens.....

Chak De stands out.....

I repent something. I regret something. I only spent Rs. 50 on Chak De India. Damn.

Going for an early showing of what close associates and friends were describing as a stand-up-and-salute movie, I put aside my anti-Bollywood feelings and must admit that it was worth it. It wasn't a movie that I saw. I saw a dream. A dream to see India become a world leader in sports and bring unlimited ecstacy to the people.

Arguably, sports remains the most mystically unattached art that India is yet to fully associate with. Or rather, an art that is forgotten despite past glories. Chak De India showed exactly what is to be done.

Even with the worst facilities and training(although these should be bettered of course), people can emerge winners. Adversity breeds team spirit and a will to perform outside expectations. It takes more than just talent to create winning teams.

A special thanks to Shah Rukh Khan, who is fast emerging as an icon with a difference.....

60 years, but the past still hurts.....

On the eve of the 60th Independence day of the country, I read a totally heart-warming piece in the The Week. Actually, it was the national magazine's cover story. It was on 25 battles/wars/controversies/events that still hurt and haunt us. These included everything from the Kargil War to the Emergency, the Babri Masjid Demolition to Godhra, the Mumbai blasts of 1993 to the Chinese Invasion of 1962.

The magazine printed an excellent image on the opening page of the cover story. An India drawn up in blood. I have never felt more emotion over something sensitive before. But it is evident that the events of the past do relate with us today. Communalism remains at the top of the pile. It has single-handedly disunited the country and led to so much bloodshed, that most of us would prefer a war over the riots that communalism causes.

Terrorism would come second. Government bureaucracy third and so on. I spent upto 2 hours imagining how life could have been without these 25 "wars". And I saw a utopia. A beautiful nation. But since that isn't true, let's do justice to the present by learning what we should from a very dreadful past.....

Return of football

The English Premier League, one of the world's finest and most marketed sporting events, kicks off amid as-usual hype and expectations. The football event is said to attract a huge global audience and a new seasons kicks off tonight, with fans returning to support their respective teams.

The football leagues of various countries will start in the upcoming few weeks and the mother of them all - UEFA's Champions League - would start in early September. And we will return to enjoying the spectacle of a sport that is no longer just a sport.

I'll get back to supporting my favourite team - Spanish club Barcelona, once La Liga kicks off. The team has been enforced by some sparkling new players, with French forward Thierry Henry standing out.

Not for nothing is it called the Beautiful Game, eh?

Dutt's the way

So finally Sanjay Dutt is handed a 6-year RI by the 1993 Mumbai blasts verdict. And people have reacted in the weirdest of ways possible. Just one question to the masses of the sovereign, socialist, democratic people's republic of India - whose side are you on?

I agree the guy has changed since the events of 93. But that doesn't mean the actions have changed. And that definitely doesn't mean that the wounds have healed and the scars have faded. It is ridiculous that he's getting so much support.

In a country like ours, opinions can exist on such a large scale that even morality is questioned. Who the hell in the world would side with a person who was indirectly involved in a state of attacks that have left such a dark mark on the nation's history?

It begs the question that we place our own cause for being entertained by our so-called heroes than to offer justice to the deserving and the suffering. It's not what we want, do we?

Stand up and salute Iraq

Iraq's totally fabulous AFC Asian Football Cup victory against Saudi Arabia has left my emotions seeking sanity. I could only stand up and salute their team and fans, who are hungry, thirsty, dieing and yet emerged winners.

The buck doesn't stop there. The national team haven't been allowed to play at home, don't have training facilities and are not even heralded or cherished by their fans. But now, every Iraqi would feel deeply happy with this triumph.

This isn't the triumph of sport. This is the triumph of human spirit in times of adversity. It is a triumph of hope. To top it all off, an Iraqi mother dedicated her dead son to the team as a sacrifice, which was too much to take in all at once.

So before going to sleep tonight, I will only think, dream and be inspired by this truely Godly feat. It even makes the impossible seem possible....

Developing or Transforming

The US has recently claimed that due to India's higher growth rate, the country shouldn't be called "developing". Rather they have coined a new term for us, a fourth category called "transforming".

Considering how unpredictable the Western "powerhouse" is, you have to be cynical about this particular comment. Certain purists argue that this could be because they want to refuse aid to the nation from on, or at least reduce it, under the UNO's programme.

India is definitely racing ahead, leading to all the "positivitism" in our less-than-gifted lives. But I had rather be developing than developed. Because once your developed, you never know how to improve more. In the case of developing, you have no boundaries and success is no destination. That way, maybe your more successful than even the developed.....

A Woman President

So finally the crisis paved way for the elections to take place and Pratibha Patil has emerged as the first woman President of the country. A remarkable era initiates, then. With the currently-ruling Congress also powered by the brain of a woman, India is now heavily reliant on these two to set the pace.

But, the race dragged on for too long. Eventually, what was to happen happened. Despite all the crises and controversies surrounding her appointment, it did happen. Congratulations to her of course.

The Glossary of India

Here's a set of definitions that I've come up with in relation to what are said to be the passions of the nation :-

Cricket - A 12-hour "sport" played by 11 of our own breeds against 11 foreign breeds and watched by approximately 1 billion people on the minimum, leading to a total loss of an estimated 12 billion man-hours of work. It was willingly played in either our land or their land, but now seems to be moving towards no-man's land.

Bollywood - An enterprise controlled by a set of families, whose sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters will automatically inherit their legacy, irrespective of being talented or not, and will churn money out of the pockets of a billion so-called "fans" to break their own bread, and that too on a silver platter.

Superstars - People conceived as "special", but their only basic contribution apart from Income Tax(which I am not certain about each and everyone of them) is adding to the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.

More later.....

The Kid is The Man

After one of the most exhilarating finals in the history of Wimbledon, 5 times straight winner Roger Federer should be more afraid than pleased and happy. Because the inevitable looks to be approaching sooner rather than later.

The amazing show by Spanish "superkid" Rafael Nadal will have left Federer stunned at how good he is becoming on grass. With Federer highly unlikely to ever push Nadal off clay, it seems like the prey is getting the better of the hunter's familiar territory.

Federer did give an amazing tribute to Nadal after the game, which speaks for the Mallorca man's brilliance at just a mere 21 years of age. One of my friends recently told me that he believes the Federer-Nadal era is similar to the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi one. But the difference then was that Sampras always ended up winning. While now, the equation seems to equal to Federer, but is slowly tilting towards a certain young talent, who can happily say that "the show has just begun".....

Defying Realism

If you can pack truckloads of pure bullcrap into a 180-minute nightmare and still earn a glaring profit out of it, then you must be definitely having more magic in you than David Blaine, huh?

After reading the total gross income of Bollywood movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (something I dare not see) and seeing it make a healthy profit, the guys in Mumbai have certainly devised a formula more powerful than Einstein's E=mc2, I guess. The total gross stands at Rs. 12, 57, 64, 120 so far. Amazing. Mind boggling stuff.

And when you consider the fact that the tens of thousands of engineers in the country struggle to make a living, after having stretched their souls out in search for a livinghood, you can feel the imbalance of life.....

Quote Unquote (Original)

- Beauty lies within. But that is something that only doctors and surgeons can see. So I rely on the outside one.

- In actuality, the only purpose of life is to delay death for as long as possible. To speed up this process, indulge into smoking, drinking etc. Or else, just be calm, cautious and healthy.

- I sleep in the night's darkness, looking forward to waking up to a better day's brightness.

- The best part of an experience, whether good or bad, is that you learn something, again whether good or bad, from it.

- In the end, only the truth makes a difference. Lies just fade away.....

Whipping the hockey stick on ourselves.....

I picked up the paper today morning and went through an interesting piece. It was about Bollywood bad shah(sorry, did I leave a space ;-)) Shah Rukh Khan and his soon-to-be-released movie Chak De India. The movie is about him being a coach of the Indian women's hockey team.

It is with despair that we can note the fact that we need a movie to promote a national sport. India must be the only country in the world, which is imbalanced in such a way. We have our own hockey stars but most of the country doesn't even recognise them. Only keen followers and GK enthusiasts know something about the game.

Imagine this situation. You play hockey for your country. Your a star. You just helped the team finish 3rd at an international tournament. And still if you walk down the street, no head is going to turn in appreciation. It hurts, doesn't it?

Well, that's reality for you then. But my ego definitely hurts. To see a fake, hypocrytic and apparently useless industry about to help promote the national game is something that cannot be digested. Even the fact that they are bound to earn crores of rupees from the movie's success. But our hockey stars will still walk in the open at night, with life as normal as can be.....

Learning from China

My father recently shared some interesting titbits from a trip of his to our great "world's fastest growing economies" rival, China. He visited a few cities in the country(which are difficult for me to name completely, you can ask him for the exact names) and a few of their industries and factories.

The points he shared with me left me wondering whether we are even capable of considering rivalling them, despite all the talk of us being head-to-head in the race to be Asia's No. 1. He visited a few factories and admitted that people are so transfixed to their work that they dont even look around to see what's going on. Since he arrived in a delegation, you would normally expect the workers to throw glances. But such is the commitment of the Chinese, that they dont give an absolute damn to what goes on. All that matters to them is their work. And work too in such a professional way.

They have perfect timings for arrivals, their lunch breaks are not peppered with gossipy conversations and their tea breaks are way too short for us Indians to even imagine. Maybe, this is what we lack. A true professional approach, a whole-hearted one too.

Even if most of us spend half the time that we spend on gossiping and fooling around in the way that the Chinese do, then definitely they'll have a strong rival.....

Maximizing yourself

The release of Bollywood movie (or should I say a self-promotional Indian film) Aap Ka Surroor speaks a lot about how the Indian mind works. Taking advantage of a certain monopoly over a particular industry and promoting yourself to do something that is clearly not within your set of talents is what Mr. HR has unsuccessfully tried to do with his film.

When I first saw the promos of the movie and there was a different name in the Producer slot, I wondered whether HR had used a pen name this time. Because it is ridiculously clear that it was his movie through and through.

Self-promotion has been taken to a new level through the release of this definitely do-not-see movie. With this emerges a new concept of selling yourself, but definitely not a pleasing one.....

Progressing towards a new horizon.....

1 $ = Rs. 40.something
Inflation - drops to 4.8 percent.
Sensex - continues to boom.
Growth rate - Crossed 9%.

The above statistics are beginning to implicate India's stunning recent growth and progress. And leave me, for one, very pleased. In the age of rapid globalization and liberalization, India is beginning to emerge as the focal point of the spectrum of progress in developing countries.

Add to that, justice being imparted to the victims of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, a Formula One race track in development at Delhi by 2009 and the potential return to form of both the national hockey and cricket sides and you feel like there's positivity flowing all around.

In the end, the country's vast talent pool is all that makes the difference.....

Graham Ford's retrospective

The hunt for the new Indian cricket coach has come to a standstill, with prime candidate Graham Ford's withdrawal from the race. It takes more than just vast cricketing knowledge and experience to be at the helm of the job that has become cricket's answer to Real Madrid, the Spanish football club which has become unmanageable over the past few years.

The job pays very well, undoutedbly. But the pressures and expectations associated with it outdo any kind of financial satisfaction that a coach can gain. The Indian cricketing system is way too complex for coaches, who have to come through a thousand influences and interferences before making their mark.

Ford's withdrawal is also a sign of how the BCCI has actually "hyped" the job into the cricketing stratosphere. English hope John Emburey has also rejected the offer made to him. I think a home-grown coach, who has seen and done it all, should be in the mainframe for the job. But even yesteryear heroes want to stay out of the pool of controversies that it generates. The lack of applications speaks for that.

In the end, it will all come down to the players getting back to their best. A rejuvenated India did produce a commanding show in Bangladesh, but the challenges that lie ahead are way tougher.....

We do know something about sport.....

Focussing on the success of India's much-pilloried national hockey side, I'd like to raise a point that we do know a thing or two about sport. The tactics and gameplay implemented by new coach Joaquim Carvalho on the inexperienced young side would leave the founder of hockey stunned. He has had a superb impact on India's hockey team, turning around the fortunes in style. His off-field appointment of badminton coach Ganguly Prasad to help out the goalkeepers (shuttling) was a managerial masterstroke.

The uncharacteristic grit and valour shown by the team during the Azlan Shah tournament in Kuala Lampur has been added into a side not short on talent and skill. In sport, they say, it takes more than just skills to touch greatness. It takes a strong mental attitude and approach from every component of a squad to succeed. Carvalho has done that very well, and in a professional manner.

Indian hockey is now back on track. With the seniors now coming in, the team could become stronger than ever. I think they can aim for Beijing next year, especially as the memories of good have been dirtied by the Doha debacle. Till then, more legwork for better stickwork.....

Feeling feelings

Feelings are a wonderful thing. Being a subset of emotions, they can really help you look positive and happy. Especially, when they come up at such crucial phases in our life.

For example, I just got placed into Infosys through a campus interview and it feels like winning the world. The feelings that you feel when the "moment" happens are absolutely amazing. You want them to last forever and ever and ever.

Interesting though, as they die down soon. They do not last forever. That's what life is all about. Live it when you have to and try living it when you don't.

On a positive note, congratulations to all my friends who made it and to the Indian hockey team for finishing third in the Azlan Shah hockey tourney, which is such a slap on the face of the Indian government which doesn't consider the national sport a priority anymore.....

Anatomy of a Dead Man

I don't know what to write here. I am going crazy. Life is driving me to insanity. The soul has been sucked out of me, with the enforcer utilizing all the force he can. I am being brushed to the ground. Crushed under the weight of unwarranted defeats, I am trying to force my way out. But I am dying. It is the pain of not experiencing positivity that may lead me to the grave. Life is something that I no longer cherish.

A dead man. A dead man is who I will become soon. No, this is not a suicide note. I am beginning to embrace life that perishes without any impact.....

Repercussions of Destiny

As our campus placements approach, I can look back with some pride on a decent 3 years at an engineering college. These days certainly leave an indelible mark on your life. College is a unique era in everyone's life and those who miss out - well, I can't be more sorry.

But with placements around the corner and the storm of IT companies waiting to break through the campus entrance and handpick the best, I'd just like to wish the best of luck to all who are appearing.

This blog goes out to all my friends and influences. I hope I make it with some ease and achieve a morale boost that should carry me through the rest of the year. Eventually, everything ends. Just like how college would soon. But it does leave that glitter in your life which will sparkle even when viewed from a certain distance.

Of course, life goes on.....

The Wedding of the Century

Fame is an ambiguous, unpredictable happening in the country named India. It can call you crashing down to the dumps of being infamous or elevate your status to God. I am, of course, talking about the Bachchans and the Rais.

Can you even imagine the state of a nation that covers the wedding of two film actors on it's front pages and has news channels talking 24*7 about it? Can you even imagine the fact thta every detail of a simple bonding between two souls of a very hypocrytic "industry" was covered with such petty details that it felt like the re-union of Lord Rama & Sita? Stop imagining(read this if you are a foreigner), as you can feel it right here in India.

I pity myself. I pity you. I pity everyone around me. The Indian media has become a truly ridiculous representation of fame-gone-wrong. They have absolutely no sense of what is right and wrong for the nation. Journalism is being shreaded to bits and pieces and people are being blinded by the fact that those "souls" are Godly and deserve to be up there while they languish in the dirtiness of the street. Trust me, I prefer the dirt.....

An apology anecdote

I have always believed that it is difficult to have an apology rejected than the whole process of apologizing. It is one of the worst feelings in the world, when you go up to a person to shake hands and make up and you get rejected. Apologies, for whatever they are intended, should always be accepted as they go a long way in healing a human being’s emotional wounds.

The most common observation that I have noticed in this world is that very few people step up to apologize for mistakes. Now there are two kinds of apologies in the world. The first kind is a very dull, soulless one that doesn’t mean anything. It’s like saying sorry for a clear, stupid fault of your own. For example, saying sorry to a teacher who has just caught you chattering with your neighbour in class. The sorry here is a very cheap, unwanted one and it doesn’t merit much forgiveness. This is the sorry for which many faculties reply “Sorry is not in my dictionary. Get out of this class!!”

But there is the other sorry that makes the whole process of apologizing very special. It is a sorry which at the immediate instant of being released from the lips, creates an amazing understanding between the two protagonists and ensures that all acts of the past are forgotten.

This sorry may be modulated in the same frequency as the first one. But there is a gargantuan gap between their effective meanings. It is blended with a deep desire and the craving to make things right.

This is the sorry that one must produce when required. And there is no harm in apologizing if a gut feeling of being wrong exists within you. Make things right at the first instance. Life rarely gives a second chance.....

Sport's idiosyncrasies

Talk of earning in sport and football comes up first to mind. Ok wait. Golf or Formula 1 should actually spring up first, but given the glamour and attention surrounding the beautiful game, it is always football that springs to mind.

Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo recently agreed a 5-year contract at Manchester United FC in England. The deal is set to pay him £140,000-a-week! It is an absolutely astronomical amount for a 22-year old, but this should give us Indians an idea of the kind of interest football generates in the world. Of course, given his talent, he is completely deserving of the amount.

The guy is undoubtedly different and special. More special than any of his predecessors. No one before him was that good at a meagre 22 years old. No one before him was such a complete player at a formative age. The Madeira-born youngster is definitely the hottest property in world football today.

Talk of Sachin Tendulkar being the hottest property in cricket. But we don't want him to earn, do we?

We the Individuals

A question that I shall answer in this blog is that why individual Indians succeed but the country as a whole fails to muster up the same success level. Kiran Desai wins the Booker Prize, Lakshmi Mittal is the world’s third richest man and Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers ever despite the team not having won a World Cup since 1983.

The Indian economy despite surpassing the 8% growth mark can still be gawked at for depicting a huge gap between the lifestyles of the rich and the poor. Despite having one of the worlds most sophisticated and state-of-the-art armed forces, the country fails to bring an end to constant cross-border terrorism and we are gifted with regular infringements across the homeland. Despite having a brilliant talent pool of graduates & post-graduates, we have failed to truly establish a MNC that is on par with the Western franchises.

The answer to this question may not be direct; it has to be searched within. The answer lies deep in our minds and the facade of our existence as Indians. It lies in our thinking. And our thinking can be summarized in a few words – “Help only thyself; help only thy relatives at maximum”. Our failure to broaden our thinking and hence reduce the anomalies associated with it has resulted in the overall conceptual failure of India as a nation.

The point that irritates me the most is how the system of “contacts” works. True players in the game don’t get a deserved chance while having just a mere attachment with a person of power can help you come to par with others, despite clearly having lesser ability. Having contacts can truly be considered as one of the untold secrets of success.

The Supreme Court’s stay order on OBC reservations does go some way in eliminating the scenario and motivates people to think that they will get in if they deserve it. Eventually, it is all a mindset. Choose to change it and success may come to us all, not only to thyself…..

A narrow-minded generation


Excuse the offensive expression, but this is what should be told to the Indian layman and his obsession with the fact that advertisements are the major cause of the Indian cricket team’s failure in West Indies. No wait. This is not a crisis analysis report or something. This is more of an analysis of the narrow-minded Indian brain.

We may be scholars, toppers, achievers, successful businessmen and amazing actors (Oh wait! I have my doubts on this one) but the attitude-defining factor inside each and every one of us is a very cheap, narrow-minded and unwarranted affection towards money. In fact, it is so narrow-minded that we don’t even want deserving national icons to get the fruits of their efforts.

The point I am making is that it is high time we bring to an end the ridiculous taunting of the Indian team’s failure at cricket’s most “glamorous” tournament on advertisements. C’mon, the supporting points are baseless. The most ubiquitous one is that cricketers can concentrate on their game if they do lesser advertisements. Wow! So in accordance with this, Sachin Tendulkar “bunks” national team practice sessions for shooting commercials huh? Preposterous! Our national team players don’t miss match practice to shoot ads.

It is high time we understood what accompanies the pressures of fame. Tomorrow, if you or I become national icons, it is certain that many companies will approach us with offers to market their products. English footballer David Beckham endorses products which earn him more than $50m, and he hasn’t even been playing “normal” football, forget the fact about living up to standards. But he isn’t harassed by the media over endorsements.

There can be nothing worse in the world than to not want successful people of your own country to earn and make a healthy living. If it is a failure then blame the strategy, blame the form, blame the ageing and blame the fact that none of us so-called “fans” even appreciate what they have done for us over the last decade. Add to this, the BCCI wants to introduce performance-based pay packages. The divisions in the team are going to worsen with the implementation of this highly “narrow-minded Indian” system.

Remember one thing. India is the only country in the world where people go down to such depths of narrow-minded thoughts, so much so that they want their own icons to “perform or perish”.

I don’t think India deserves sporting icons. The common Indian would rather see Mallika Sherawat juggle around in an item number in a senseless Bollywood movie than watch a sports team produce an emotionally-draining fight back in a match. Go ahead and endorse her for your product. And don’t worry at all; there won’t be a rage in the country if she doesn’t perform.

Feeling the Devil

In all our lives, we experience a certain day which makes us rethink about the existence of God’s antonym – the Devil. This is what happened with me on 1st April. On such days, you feel like you have no one, absolutely no one, beside you. On such days, you’ll see your best friends pop out vicious fangs and grow devilish horns and your worst nightmares turn into a haunting reality.

It started off as an ordinary Sunday. But it would end as a night decorated with “feeling the devil” instances. I had promised a friend that we would visit a certain pizzeria outlet on the day. But due to CAT classes, I failed to adhere to that promise. I call him up and he tells me that he will never again go out with me to have dinner and he asks me to go to hell. Interesting, isn’t it? No wait, it’s only begun. I hence go out to dinner with 4 other friends of mine, who were incidentally at the classes with me and I supposed that joining them would make the evening more fun.

But, it turned out very weirdly. Two of them supposedly erupted on me and I couldn’t understand the actual purpose. The teasing seemed like insults and I sensed that this was not fun. The teasing turned into taunts and went all the way to religion (Refer to my earlier post “Pride and Prejudice” for more on racism in India), before which we departed on bikes. Being a beginner in biking, I asked one of my other friends to drive my bike.

No prizes for guessing what happened next – an accident. Not a major one. But it was serious enough to damage some morale. I had my right-view mirror broken and suffered a few bruises. Clearly, he had lost control. We picked up the bike and continued. The thoughts of the devil being around did creep up into me. But I calmed myself. It can’t get worse than this, I thought.

I dropped off my friend at the hostel and went to the internet café to surf some net. I surfed for 15 minutes and the net guy charges me Rs.15 for that amount of time, when the rates clearly read Rs.6. Interesting, because he is basically a very good, understanding fellow whose café I regularly visit. I passed him a bill of Rs.20 and he returns a meagre Rs.5 with an awkward smile that I had never seen on him. The question is not about the money, but why would a trusted guy all of a sudden do such a thing to you?

So here I am, writing this blog from the same guy’s café and he seems pretty much back to normal. The same good guy he was. So what happened to him the other night, the same night where so many other things went wrong? Why only that night?

I am sure many of us do experience such days where the unthinkable occurs. It feels like the devil is around, hissing and sniffing up all the good in and around you. It feels like the smell of hell is being sprayed from the darkness and polluting the entire essence of goodness. This is no April fool’s day gag. Trust me; this is the textual reincarnation of a nightmare.....

A blogger's dilemma

It is being reported that 20 million blogs on the net are either dormant, or left un-updated or do not serve up the desirable content to keep the visitors interested. This is certainly true, maybe not to its complete extent but surely there is some meaning to this.

It is impossibe...oops...difficult to continuously think up topics and type your thoughts and ideas on them. After all, we are no superstars or national icons that we have a daily dose of inspiration or fun reading to provide to the world. Our lives are very ordinary and it is difficult to continuously come up with new, user-friendly reading material. A blog is a true expression of a person’s feelings, like a diary entry. But what can you write that keeps the page visits flowing and the visitors satisfied?

The reason why I wrote this blog itself is probably because I did run out of options. Let’s see. What happened today? I woke up early, missed a lab at college and then had a dull day on campus. I came back, got refreshed and wrote this “dull” blog. I hope I haven’t left you bored.....

This is no “The adventures of Indiana Jones”. This is a very ordinary “common man”. My deepest sympathies to all who made the painstaking effort to read this out.....

That Winning Feeling

There was an interesting editorial in the Times of India recently. Titled "The Desi Fan", it went on to reason out why India's cricketing fraternity & fan base do not go hand in hand. The basic Indian cricket fan is a confused person, who expects the team to perform well at any cost. A good thought. But it shows the lack of sporting attitude in the country. It is an essential aspect of any nation to first and foremost understand the concept of a sporting team before going on to batter the side.

The one point that caught my eye was, quoted "India is a nation of losers. Its sports teams win at nothing but cricket". This is an essential aspect of the new-age India. Despite a widespread presence of the brightest youth, there is no real standout Indian sportsperson (the only exception could be Khel Ratna winner Pankaj Advani, although his sport ain't inspirational enough or masculinity-defining) who catches the imagination of a billion people.

The lack of "that winning feeling" in the common Indian is characteristic of the nation's virtual ignorance of the word "sport" itself. Young Indians resort to watching Formula 1 races, tennis Grand Slams and of course, European and international football to burn their sporting needs from the inside. This is where they do find sporting grit and will. But the lack of one of our own is a major drawback in the entire process of sports education.

Only someone who expresses your own thought and attitude will ultimately go on to make an impact. The foreigners may be exceptional talents and even inspire many of us, but there is clearly a missing piece to the puzzle that we all must solve.

One of our own – the only solution to India’s sporting problems. The obvious and foreseen lack of a sporting hero, apart from cricket of course, will eventually peak and the country might not even consider playing in football's World Cup or registering an Indian in the history books of Grand Slam winners. As it is, India's football World Cup qualifiers are a formality and the rise of Sania Mirza is all hype so far.

On a final note, we can still look up to the Europeans, South Americans, Africans & the Aussies for our dose of sporting medicine. Trust me, it heals.....

End of an Era

2:30 am – Probably not a suitable time to write a blog. But it is only at the moment of the occurrence of an event that your feelings scream the loudest and breathe the hardest.

The nation is obsessed with negative thinkers in such large numbers that I am avoiding penning just another obituary for the Indian national cricket side, which has just exited cricket’s World Cup of 2007. Let’s analyse the events in a technical way. There are 3 reasons probably for the failure (yes, it is only a routine failure. It happens with every sports team in the world. Of course, we are bound to gawk at it as if it some national tragedy. But think a little more professionally) of India’s star-studded side:-
1) Tactical failure
There was a clear tactical failure on the part of Greg Chappell and the Indian think-tank. The failure to create a stable line-up exaggerated at the World Cup and we all saw the results with our naked/spectacled eyes.
2) Underestimation of opponents
The Indian side clearly under-estimated the talents in the Bangladeshi & the Sri Lankan teams and failed to, or probably the strategy created just didn’t work out.
3) The time has finally come to re-structure the team
This is probably a lesson from the failures of the team. It is high time that we call off the Ganguly-Dravid-Tendulkar era. That does not mean that they don’t play a part in the national team’s future. Of course, they can play. But, it is time to shift the focus. Rahul Dravid’s captaincy is certainly under scrutiny and he is unlikely to resume service. What we also need is an Indian coach, who has lived it all that cricket can offer. Mohinder Amarnath seems like a perfect replacement for the outgoing Chappell. The important thing missing is instilling a certain dose of patriotism into the players.

But the most crucial aspect of our failure is fan reaction. Maybe, we should take this unexpected failure on the chin and call it a tweak in the system. It happens with every team. There are cycles, which complete a full circle. The best things we can do are love and respect our heroes, despite the West Indian adventure-turned-nightmare. Stand up and salute them for whatever they have provided us with in the past, because even God fails. These are only mortals.....


Usually, I don’t enjoy movies. But Hollywood sometimes comes up with exceptional exceptions to that. I went for the 10:45 am show (I know it’s a drab timing to watch a movie) of 300, which is a war epic based on a novel. What I would experience in the next 2 hours was probably the greatest definition and construction of courage and manhood that I had ever seen. The film was a power-packed punch of inspiration that would make any man proud of his genitals, if he puckers up the courage to be so himself.

Gerard Butler, the less-known thespian who portrayed the character of Sparta’s King Leonidas to perfection, is a Scottish actor whose major breakthrough is the movie. Apart from the key protagonists, it was the awe-inspiring landscape of the movie that would leave us stunned in admiration and shocked out of instinct to devour such a treat to the eyes.

The story surrounds 300 Spartan men who take on the invading forces of Persia (which are huge in number). The magically-weaved dialogues and the truly awesome screenplay make this movie a must-see for anyone whose hormones include testosterone. No, no. If you think I have been asked to market this movie, then I would say “Yes, in a way”. God, himself (if he is a male), has asked me to market this movie.

A certain drawback, which is absolutely of no loss to me, is that I saw the movie for 30 bucks, which is way too cheap for a classic of this stature. The movie lasted 1 hour 55 minutes, which was rollercoaster ride into the re-definition of male hood and the re-incarnation of brute power. Thank you for re-inventing mainstream movies, Mr. Zack Snyder(the director of 300).

A final note: Congrats to the Indian cricket team for pulling off a superb win over minnows Bermuda at the cricket World Cup. But of course, this is only the beginning. Like Leonidas says in 300, “We shall burn in hell”. Turn it on, Team India…..

Pride & Prejudice

I was sitting in the lobby of a 5-star hotel recently, waiting for a few friends to arrive as we had planned to hang out at a joint inside the hotel. One of my friends was with me at the time. We were keenly observing the surroundings. Just then, a couple of white-skinned people aka 'Goras' just passed by us. My friend suggested that we turn the tables around and racially abuse them when they are in our country. An interesting thought, I wondered. Abuse the whites when they are here, because they inflict it upon us wherever we go. But there are several reasons as to why I reminded my good friend, that what we would be doing is a purposeless pursuit.

The problem with us that we lack the necessary ego. Yes, you read right. It's a dose of ego that we need. Ego, which would make us proud of who we are. Ego, that would help us appreciate our own race. Ego, which would allow us to break down the discrimination that we face, that the so-called Third World faces. The fact that I am stating now is likely to shock you, but we even racially abuse ourselves, hence compounding the complexity of the crisis. Whether we are black, white, blue, green or purple, our tendency to discriminate between ourselves itself wipes out the concept of racial revenge. We give the whites the respect that they get. Remember, they don't really deserve it. Just imagine yourself. Whenever you meet a member of the "First World", you will raise your courtesy levels beyond the maximum. But it won't be the same if you meet a fellow countryman, with a coloured skin, probably even the same as yours.

A bigger problem than the one stated above is that even national icons don't stand up to represent us. Our cricketers have been racially abused, but they just look down or continue doing their job. S Sreesanth is probably the only example in the current crop, who went some way in helping out. Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty was gift-wrapped an opportunity to stand up and make herself, and us, count. But she opted for the cash. Have fun counting your bucks, Shilpa!

The only way ahead - develop an ego that makes you proud of your race. It doesn't really matter whether you are deserving of it. We are not the children of a lesser God. Maybe, we only assume ourselves to be so.....

C for Cricket, C for Crisis, C for Catastrophe

Pakistan bowed out of cricket’s World Cup in utter shame yesterday with a shocking defeat to debutants Ireland. I pitied them because of their glorious cricketing history and the fact that I would have loved to see an India-Pakistan clash, but then I get the news about India (Yes, I didn’t stay up whole night watching the game). Certain words which cannot be expressed publicly came up to my mind when I heard about the defeat. How could India lose against a team that doesn’t even vindicate its Test status? How could the team fail, except of course Sourav Ganguly, against a side that is just making its third appearance at a World Cup?

The haunting factor here is that let’s hope we do not see a repeat of the “riots” that took place following India’s defeat to Australia in the 1st round last time out. Let us pray and hope the country stays calm and gives the team a chance, although they wouldn’t be much deserving of any sympathy should they follow Pakistan back to the sub-continent. Life comes to a standstill with such a morale killer, doesn’t it?

A look at the positives of a defeat (I know it’s a boring sporting cliché, but do you have a better phrase to put it in?) shows us that it can’t get any worse than this. I mean, let’s admit that we have hit rock bottom. Ganguly’s warrior-like willingness to build the innings after the unexpected opening breakdown is a major positive and the man’s determination, even at his age, is remarkable considering that a whole nation had virtually lost hope in him. Yuvraj’s resilience also made us feel like it was going our way.

A final note - Keep your fingers crossed; your prayers focussed. Control your rage. It’s not over yet. Peace.

Dead Men Walking

Yesterday, I stumbled upon the FIFA football world rankings while surfing through some news sites. Argentina went top of the list of the best of the world’s favourite sport. Brazil slipped up. France, Italy, England and all the major European giants remain in the Top 10.

I continued to scan the list and suddenly nostalgia crept upon me. India! Wow, 165th! That is something! , I wondered. But remember, there are only 207 registered FIFA countries. Cool, isn’t it? A country of 1 billion, and counting, can’t produce a competitive 11-man football team that at least qualifies for the Asia Cup, for a start. Sometimes, it hurts that cricket’s popularity is overriding everything else. The typical Indian man’s brain has restricted his thinking to only cricket and Bollywood.

It hurts, being a football fan. It hurts, because there are so many talented footballers in the country but no one makes a career out of it due to lack of opportunity. It hurts, because success in the world game will give India more worldwide recognition than cricket does. It hurts, period.

I am 20 years of age, and I know I am going to breathe my last in a maximum of 50-60 years. Probably, my only dream is to see the blue of India playing in a football World Cup.

Oh! What am I writing? Cricket’s showpiece event has just "kicked off". How can I even consider mentioning anything else, especially when India’s prodigal sport is being played in the Caribbean? Sorry to all other Indian sportsmen and women, who are winning recognition and merit in other sports. Your talent is unwanted, guys. It is not going to be recognised. Consider selling your gold medals and earning some hot cash from them, because if you can’t play or watch cricket, then you are not needed. Cheers.

PS: This was for Sania Mirza, Pankaj Advani, Abhinav Bindra, Saina Nehwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Anju Bobby George, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Indian hockey team and of course, the 165th-ranked Indian football team…..

Meaningless Marketing

Solutions provider AMD made a trip to our institute, supposedly on a training pretext. I was told that I am supposed to attend an "expert lecture" from the 64-bit microprocessor developers. I went into the magnificent auditorium of the Diploma section, specially used for national and cultural meets.

Seeing the aura surrounding the stage, I mean literally(there were huge AMD placards put up around the stage, one each on AMD’s partnerships with the Ferrari Formula 1 team, former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and on the 64-bit microprocessors that they develop), I knew in one shot that this was no expert lecture. It was probably one of those regular we’ll-teach-you-but-you-gotta-buy-us trips, which even a company like Microsoft had made in the recent past.

The worst part about the whole thing was how they kept mentioning that it was not a marketing effort and then going all the way out to compare AMD dual core’s performance and architecture with Intel’s. They ripped apart all of Intel’s technologies (Dual-Core, Centrino etc) and insultingly promoted their own.

The interesting part of the afternoon was yet to come. Questions were asked and freebies were handed over, which obviously had AMD encrusted on them. Marketing is an exciting adventure, but what makes it weird is that we forego our own ethics in advertising our products. I prayed for it to end and when it did, we were again shockingly told that it wasn’t a marketing stunt! I left the hall frustrated about what a waste of time I’d been through, and prayed and hoped that if I ever was hired by a company, I won’t be sent on such ridiculous marketing trips.

Maybe, they didn’t know what the difference between teaching and marketing was. On a healthy note, at least the crowd’s boos provided the music…

Here's a picture from Wikipedia :-

Translucent Truth

READ THIS INTERESTING NEWS ITEM FROM REUTERS.COM (I believe it appeared in the Times of India and other newspapers too)

One of India's top engineering schools has restricted Internet access in its hostels, saying addiction to surfing, gaming and blogging was affecting students' performance, making them reclusive and even suicidal.
Authorities at the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai said students had stopped socialising and many were late for morning classes or slept through them.

Now, a student doesn't even know who lives two doors away from him because he is so busy on the Internet," said Prakash Gopalan, dean of student affairs.
"The old hostel culture of camaraderie and socialising among students is gone. This is not healthy in our opinion."
IIT-Mumbai, with about 5,000 students, is one of seven IITs across India which are considered to be among the finest engineering schools in the world. They are also a talent pool for global technology giants.

But their exacting curriculum, tough competition and reclusive campus lifestyle have taken a toll on students.
Depression and dysfunctional lifestyles are known to be common among IIT students, and at least nine have committed suicide in the past five years. IIT-Mumbai has seen two suicides in two years and several attempts.

Students have unlimited free Internet access in their hostel rooms to help them in their studies, but many also use it to surf, chat, download movies and music, blog and for gaming.
Starting Monday, Internet access will be barred between 11 p.m. and 12.30 p.m. at IIT-Mumbai's 13 hostels to encourage students to sleep early and to try and force them out of their "shells", Gopalan said.
"There has been a decline in academic performance and also participation in sporting, cultural and social activities has gone down," he said.

But the move has not gone down well with students who say they hate their lives being regulated.
"Now they will say we need to listen to a lullaby to go to sleep," said Rajiv, an electronics student who gave only one name.
Student anger has also spilt on to several blogs run by IIT alumni where bloggers say "the birth of the virtual world had led to the death of the real selves", but add that they resent regulation of students' activities.
Gopalan said authorities at the other IITs were considering a similar curb in their hostels.

Understanding Democracy

Two trips to the RTO made me realise the pangs of living in a democracy. Power to the people - sounds like a beautiful concept, doesn't it? But it can take the steam out of us, especially when you wait in those long lines waiting for your turn to come and just when your turn does come, you see the a poster which reads "Lunch Break". Patience is probably the key ingredient that defines the taste of democracy. All the energy in our bodies will drain out, our sweat will vaporise and our legs will cry out in agony saying - "Please spare us".

Democracy's biggest drawback is probably in the concept itself. Enriching the people with the power is an ideal world, but not this world. This world is probably similar to the universe itself - expanding in opposite directions. There are unions, groups and like-minded people, but in India, that is probably only restricted to cricket. Maybe, because of lack of options.

People from different cultures, different religions, different societies and different idealogies all form one India. Unity in Diversity is what we pride ourselves upon. But that is now only a text book term. Maybe, power to the people itself is ridiculous, given the highly-publicised recent failures of the Judiciary.

Democracy is something that cannot be changed. But, we can make life a bit easier by living smartly. Be the government, but employ the ideas that privatisation runs on. Maybe, unity in diversity might arise just from that.....

Hurley in India

Many of us have dream women. Well, one of my all-time favourites, Elizabeth "Liz" Hurley, is currently in India (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) for her much-hyped and paparazzi-hounded wedding with NRI biggie Arun Nayyar. Hurley, who is undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful women, has irked at Nayyar's Indian links. I remember the last time she was going to make the trip, she said she couldn't bear being in India.

Our streets undoubtedly don't breathe pure oxygen into her nostrils, but what happened was an exaggeration of what has become the world's biggest disuniting factor today - Racism. It is clear that the white-skinned can't bear living in the country due to their over-rated luxury, which is ubiquitous in England & the US of A. But they have no right to fling paycheques and then shout out loud that the place sucks. Our very own Shilpa Shetty, who recently had the chance to become the face of anti-racism campaigns, chose to rake in the pounds and stay quiet. Credibility is a word only left to the dictionary nowadays, I guess. The woman herself had said that she had been racially abused and then all of a sudden, she turns hostile.

Shilpa made truckloads of money, Hurley's respect for India is restricted to the heritage and culture & Indians abroad are injected with the poisonous venom of racism again and again. But not for once does a brown/black human stand up and be counted. This is no crisis. It is probably a mindset till we choose to change it. Till then, keep waking up to racism.....

PS: A correction for the previous post. Virender Sehwag did not return to form. Let’s pray he does it against the Windies.

Cricket's conundrum

Ok, this one's straight after seeing an over of the India-Netherlands Cricket World Cup warmup game. I am sure the country's busy drooling over the prospect of a 2-month cricketing carnival, but let me warn you all. The first couple of games could be extremely un-cricketing.

7 No-balls from the Dutch bowler(I don't even remember his name) characterised by Virender Sehwag's return to form. No wait. That certainly is not cricket in it's true class. Sehwag was spanking the ball around like as if an India U-12 bowler had him play along. That is not the Sehwag we know, at least not the one of the last few months ;-)

India should sweep-romp-crush-bundle(4 words combined gives a dynamic effect, doesn't it ?) the Netherlands by the time I get home after writing this post. Maybe, cricket's truest and deepest truth is that the game is best played by the 10 nations most capable of playing it...What say?

The Times of......

The Times of India must be the opening chapter of every day of our lives, I guess. I hear it early morning on the radio, then the hardcopy itself is waiting at my doorstep, waiting to be picked up and flipped through. Today was all cricket. These Times guys are smart. They publish pictures which have double meanings. The photo of Sachin Tendulkar walking past a billboard post of "Welcome to Jamaica" and 2 girls in the background, supposedly made me think there was some kissing going on. Controversies !!

The media of the nation is obsessed with controversies. They are a part and parcel of our lives. But controversies are very misleading. It would be wise of us to not be cynical and become a mouthpiece for the media. Because they earn when we spark debates on controversies.

Sometimes, I wonder whether the Times is genuinely the "national newspaper" of India. They are so ridiculously Bollywood-oriented, that they would prefer gossip even on the front page. Tomorrow, the Times of India might come with Abhishek Bachchan & Aishwarya's Rai's wedding photos on their front page and sell a billion copies.

Business corrupts the mind, doesn't it? We have to live with it, until we can make a difference. Till then, it is the monopoly of the Times of......

Budget Blues

Funny day today was. I woke up in the morning to see the newspaper being slipped through my door. It is the Times of India that i read, unfortunately of course. But I have no option but going with the flow. I took a look at the time. 8.20 am. Oh my God, I wondered. Late for college again. But wait, it's also Budget Day.

Our honourable Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram(most of us don't even know what P stands for in his name), had given out the Annual Budget to the country. Then I switched on the radio and echoes of disappointment bounced off my eardrums. People were disappointed in general, I believe. Service tax increased(indirectly), Petrol duty came down, Education got an additional one percent cess. These were probably the highlight's of the "common man's" budget, as most of Mr. Chidambaram's budgets are known as.

Then I read another thing about the budget not interesting at least 44% of the people of this country. I agree that it is absolutely difficult to implement national activity and awareness into our already super-tight working and studying schedules. But maybe knowing what you should know is important.

Anyway, I resume living another financial year in the country...

Maybe Money is everything

Being a 3rd year student of engineering, I went expectantly into my college's worldclass auditorium expecting an early opener before placements. Tech Mahindra had come over for a Pre-Placement talk(PPT, not a boring power-point presentation guys, that would be *.ppt). We had two people who were working with the company, who had come over and were set to give us a talk.

As the audi started filling in, my senses started getting stronger. They showed us a video that profiled the company for us. It was an interesting one. Especially the snippets from the graduates who have been working in Pune was good(the female workers were interviewed more for obvious reasons). However, the typical Indian fallout happened once the video was showcased.

The madam herself talked about whether we were interested in knowing anything else, but THE pay package. It is obvious that details and work notifications have become second to monetary attractions. I guess money matters a lot to everybody. What was interesting was that people did ask questions pertaining to what kind of training would be done, what work would the selected people do and how the selection process would work, apart from other things.

However, the corporates are clever, aren't they ? The madam announced the pay package in the end and the crowd was all hoo-hoo once she broadcasted her frequency of voice containing a carrier message - "2.9 lakhs per annum".

After that, everyone was more interested in leaving the hall than making their seats warmer. Maybe, money is everything.

Hockey's Crisis

LET ME START off by telling you all, I am a pretty recent fan of Indian hockey. I have been taking consistent interest in hockey only in the last few years. However, the game is clearly in our blood. Hockey is India’s pride and the first real sport in which Dhyan Chand and company, in the good old days of the 1930s, won our first Olympic gold medals. Since then, the game has been called the national game. However, that fact is very much a statistical dilemma. Unofficially, hockey is not our national sport. Due to the overtures of cricket, hockey has had a strange and sudden decline (more characteristically defined by our 11th place WC finish). Let me tell you that Indian hockey is not at all short of heroes. Gagan Ajit Singh remains one of the world’s most flamboyant and dynamic center/left forwards today while skipper Dilip Tirkey is a world-class defender who is rock solid in the Indian defence. Right-sided player Arjun Halappa is one of the most explosive players in hockey today while Viren Rasquinha’s operations in defensive midfield are the envy of the world.However, the Indian public is becoming highly non-appreciative of this. It is so unfair that cricket, despite the more than occasional poor performances, garners the same interest while hockey plummeting to the shallows has caused a complete withdrawal of interest from Indian fans.India does have Sachin Tendulkar. But India also has Dhanraj Pillay and some of the others mentioned before. We also have the privilege of having one of the greatest to dribble with the willow, Dhyan Chand, as part of our glorious pre-Independence history in hockey.Hockey rocks guys. Start watching India’s performances, encourage your friends, and bring it in your day-to-day chats, even if it comes at the cost of Bollywood and cricket gossip. These are some of the ways you can make hockey a part of our culture once again. Moreover, you don’t have to look around. Hockey is in you. It is a part of our red blood cells. For once, it is our national game.

Neo Patriotism

The undying love and respect for one’s national identity is probably how the term patriotism can best be defined. But we may well be past the stage of this concept. Patriotism has become a thing of the past. The major reasons for this could be the transition from colonies to countries, the independence of peoples all over the world and probably a fixed definition of land, labour and reason in living ones life. The concept is outdated and no longer holds parity with today’s globalised world. Globalisation, as a matter of fact, has played a huge part in the steady downfall of patriotism. It no longer matters whether you are using indigenous consumer items or foreign-bred goods.

After a lot of mind exercises and a few brainstorming sessions, you come to the conclusion that the country and the world, in general, need a new concept to proceed with living efficiently and smartly. This changes the original concept of patriotism to neo-patriotism, which can be defined as an attitude that a person should develop in which he or she does not flaunt the love and respect for his national identity but continues to work for it without eyeing any recognition incentives. Patriotism often promoted people to become heroes. But we are well past that age and the heroes today no longer merit the recognition of working for the progress of the nation. Today’s heroes are fake, unwanted and undeserving of the recognition they carry and can certainly not be looked upon as idols who set the mental keenness in our lives. They are bound to the entertainment industry, an industry which provides quick satisfaction to the body and the soul but has no soul of it’s own. Neo-patriotism is composed of all those small and minute tasks that a person can perform with the intent of making the nation a better place. The job may be as small as disposing a chocolate wrapper into a proper, regularly cleaned dustbin and keeping that one square-foot area a little cleaner. Or it may be important, as refusing a bribe someone pays to get some work done.

There is a lot we could learn from the western civilization. The first and foremost thing we need to learn from them is ego. Yes, ego. To begin with we need to develop ego. Ego will help us appreciate the country and will demand us to stand up for it wherever and whenever asked to or desired for. You may have noticed that people in India usually bring down the reputation of the nation crashing down to the earth with a thud so hard that it becomes unbearable to listen to them. Every product of this country will often say "Yeh logo ko dekho aur apne India-wale ko dekho. Kab sudhrega India ?", without realising one fair bit that the person is as big a culprit of the same state he or she is referring to.

Ego will make us to stand up everytime. Ego will help us stare face to face with any race, breed or colour. What is more ridiculous is that we seek controversy in things, which we are even good at, and cricket is a great example. The country has become so weird and inexplicable that we want to see problems in success also. Cricket has had a huge impact on our lives. But the talk around the town is fast becoming so negative that even if we win the World Cup for this game, people are likely to doubt the very efforts made by the players, forgetting that they are one of their own.

The second thing we need to do is develop a very clean conscience. The lack of a clear conscience has led the people of the nation to believe that they are ethically weak. We resort to evils like dishonesty, bribery, scams and duping with as much determination and confidence as Sachin Tendulkar, when he steps out on the cricket pitch. No longer are we scared of going to any extent to get our work done or add some extra weight to our pockets. It is true that democracy has made us very complacent but we need to be morally stronger and mentally firm if we are to clear out these evils from society.

The biggest change that we need to bring in our lives is to stop flaunting our identity. Stop loving the country blindfolded unless you love it in the first place. Stop giving heed to the hypocrisy that works 24 by 7 around the nation, churning out a lot of meaning and reason from our lives. Keep everything that the nation considers sacred under wraps. Stop flaunting the tricolour everywhere. Stop buying the five rupees flags and stop this fake and forcible cry "Mera Bharat Mahan" because deep inside you know that there is no meaning, no reason to action in vacuum. In short, stop being that kind of patriotic who speaks more and does less, one who will buy a five rupees flag and overlook his duties. It is high time we mature beyond the need of being just patriotic. We know it takes a lot more than just being patriotic if we are to see the country become a leading power. Bharat is never going to be Mahan just by speaking those three words. Victory will not be ours by just raising the frequency of shouting "Jai Hind". It is working towards those aspects that matter. And even if we do not make it in the end, the satisfaction gained from our efforts will coincide over any negativity. Any individual is capable of blurting out speeches on "undying love for the nation". A difference is made only when the person does something in kind and in form.

Neo-patriotism is the new age patriotism. and the youth could be at the forefront of this concept. Efforts like Rang De Basanti do go a long way, but a movie can never make that big a difference. Every single citizen has to realize. Only with realisation will we proper understanding and with proper understanding the breadth of our knowledge will increase. With knowledge, we will get ability. And ability will ensure work. Work, and only work, will pave the way for the success of the nation. Working with an inclination of making a difference to the nation. Working so hard that every drop of sweat from your skin that falls on the earth will reap such a rewarding harvest that we may become more self-sufficient that any other nation.

Start working now, even if you are slow, dream big and work hard. Do small tasks but ensure they have huge impacts. All of us can play a role. All of us can make a difference. All of us may not be special. But who wants to be special if a life has been lived clean. The question is not whether we are capable of going all the way. The question is whether we are determined to pursue our goals in relation with the time and the demands. What we need is spiritual development of the highest order. What we need is a radical transformation of attitude, morals and conscience. What we need is nationalistic ego. Who knows, we may never need heroes to set examples. You could be your own hero.