Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai - Some loud thinking....

It looks like the battle in Mumbai is coming to an end. After nearly 70 hours of gun battle, horror, seige and drama, the terrorists may finally have been silenced. The taj, it seems, has been taken back, the nariman house, re-captured and oberoi flushed off the pests. Several lives have been lost and sacrifices made. A large section of the nation has sat glued to the media, some with real concern, some with a passing interest and perhaps some - if the cynic in me is allowed to say this - with a perverse excitement. 

During this time, the mini-battle for the TRP was being waged among the news channels. Sensationalistic headlines, like 'India under attack', 'War on Mumbai' and one channel even went to the extent of branding it 'India's 9/11' rather than calling it what it was, were directed at capturing that valuable media share during this time of 'bumber fest'. I am so sick of the headlines and branding that is going on that i couldnt bring myself to think of a title for this piece. News channels showing live feed of 'strategic' commando operations - and thus, quite possibly compromising it - were, quite ironically, blaming the lack of responsibility of the political and bureaucratic system. As the eyes and ears of the country, I suppose they have no one to answer to.  

As is typical, debates have raged on. The Raj Deeps of this country, seemingly passionate and overtly expressive have dissected the process, the system and the people behind it all to express barely contained outrage at what had happened. Eclectic groups have been assembled and opinions heard. If finger tips shot out laser beams, every section of our indian society would have been fried by the accusations being shot out. SMSes from serious, concerned Indians kept pouring in and emails have been written on what went wrong and what could be the solution.

Quite naturally, the government and its bank of inept ministers as well as the political leaders and their parties have seen the brunt of the attack. Calls for resignations have been heard. Pleads to the political system have been whispered. Angry threats and frustrated rants about the 'corrupt indian politician', which have been a popular feature for quite some decades, were heard with the renewed vigour of overused cliches. A few even dared to blame it on the lack of training and skills of the people who were asked to rescue the hostages. Some made subtle references to the training and equipment or the lack of it as being reasons why it took more than 2 days and a couple of hundred dead before ending the ordeal that gripped the city. 

I have experienced some of the horrors of a city under seige syndrome in the past. I was living in Coimbatore in 1998 when the series of bomb blasts ripped apart what was a quiet, growing city at that time. I was in class ten at that time. Small city that it is, the attack was monstrous in proportion. It was more than sufficient to make the city come to a grinding halt. I could sense the incredible horror and fear that gripped us for that period. We spent the nights gaurding our communities and looking for suspicious strangers. Schools were off. It was harrowing. But it was also enlightening. I have never seen the city come together so collectively and unite so strongly like it did at that point. I remember the images of a bomb diffuser, clad in his explosion suit, deactivating a huge bomb right in the middle of one of the city's commercial heart. And I still remember the images of the armed forces and bomb disposal squads being given a heroes send-off by the entire city. There was a poignancy in it all, somwhere, but overshadowed convincingly by the sheer horror and sadness of the situation. Back then, with admiration for those men, i was just glad it was all over. A little sad, perhaps, that i had to go back to school next week. However unlike now, I either didnt sense all the polical and media drama being played on the side or it just was a little toned down.

To be fair, it is not just the media. I can sense the outrage in my friends and relatives and see their passionate response in terms of suggesting something incredibly revolutionary. I have seen an incredible amount of abuse being turned on our political system which is undeniably corrupt and ineffective. One of my friends was so taken in by the events, that he was suggesting that someone needs to take up arms and bring down the whole political fraternity by sniping them off, one by one! It is a little funny though, to realise that, no one - not a single person i met - considered themselves even remotely responsible for what is happening to our country right now. There is a sort of righteous anger among us and no sense of guilt!

A country's political system, its services, its armed forces and its bureaucrats all evolve bottom up. And however outrageous it may sound, the current political system is reflective of us as a nation. If they are corrupt its because me and you are. If they dont seem to care its because me and you dont. If they are accusing everyone and not taking responsibility its because we are doing the same thing as well. 

I dont buy the argument that the youth of this country, the so called younger, more qualified men and women of this country will be more responsible leaders and the ultimate answer to all our ills. At least, I am yet to see any evidence of that. I have seen people passing out of elite institutes conviniently failing to pay their education loans, despite the fact that they are earning a very fat pay check. I have come across very few people of my generation who even have a voter id or have voted in one of the past elections in this country. I have seen people who fail to even follow the simple rule of paying road taxes for a state (me included) and then bribing the cop when they get caught. From failing to stop at a red light to trashing a public place it all adds up. In a sense we are accountable for the events that happened in Mumbai over the last 70 hours and its time we realized that.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

KP almost reveals the real reason behind England's disastrous tour....

Kevin Pietersen wasted no time after his side slid to a remarkably competitive defeat to set up a press conference to spill the beans on the real reason behind England's poor performance. Even before the match, KP had announced that there was a sensational announcement he was going to make and that it would cause fissures in the cricketing foundations across the globe. There was an air of inevitability around KP even before the match when he supposedly quipped to Dhoni at the toss, "We all know what the result is going to be, dont we". Umpire Daryll Harper, who was the only person to witness this encounter confided to a friend that the english captain followed the above statement with a charming wink to Dhoni. When a reporter asked Dhoni about the conversation he had become red in his face and thumped the hapless reporter in the face while screaming, "Nothing happened!"

As the match wore on, KP's teammates in the dressing room had gotten a little restless at the assuring calmness with which KP was letting his team meander towards defeat. 

"I think they fixed the match", quipped Kris Srikanth, a barely sucessful opener for India. Like his batting, Srikanth has continued to throw in random accusations very much akin to his random shots. A devoted advocate of the law of averages Srikanth based his batting career on one infallible principle. If you throw your bat in the general direction of the ball enough number of times, you are bound to eventually hit one hard enough to compensate for all other misses. It was during those days when on a cruise to australia that he had met Nassim Taleb, who went on to apply the theory to markets. Coming back to Srikanth - he has continued to apply this 'black swan' concept to his commentary and opinions and at one point appeared in the limca book of records as the only living human in the world with all possible opinions (many a time contradictory) on all possible topics - the latest being the opinion that some sort of match fixing has happened with the india england series. 

When the reporter asked him the reason for the accusation, he had stared back at him and replied, "Then, maybe they didnt. I never said they fixed this match. They probably didnt. But you never know. So let us assume they fixed it". The confused reporter was fired when the following headline appeared in the afternoon news paper

"Kris Srikath claims India England series is fixed or maybe not"

The reported is currently recovering from severe brain damage due to short circuiting of his neurons.
Given all this action behind the scenes, it was no wonder that KP was asked the question following the match on his much awaited revelation and about the exchange he had with Dhoni during the toss. An increasingly uncomfortable Dhoni blurted out, "Nothing is happening. KP may be gay but i am not! Ok? Stop this pestering", to the bewildered gathering of reporters, KP and Srikanth, who at this point rose up and boomed, "See! I told you. KP is gay!". After Srikanth, was forcefully escorted out of the room, KP made the following statement to the entire world audience. 

"It may come as a bit of an shock and i am not saying this create any sensationalisam but the real reason why we have been performing so bad is that we simply are the second best team here. How do you expect a second best team to beat the best team?"

The worried reporters had then proceeded to give Pietersen some water and admitted him to a local hospital in bangalore. The team manager thought that the pressure of captaining england in India was too much to take for KP and he had cracked even as Dhoni heaved a sigh of relief. 

Meanwhile it is rumoured that the cricket boards of england and india might have struck a deal by which the english players could become a part of the IPL.