26 Jan 2013

Happy Republic Day?

“Happy Republic Day!” “Happy Independence Day!” – we tweet, share status updates on Facebook, attend our colony’s flag hoisting, games and  parties, and are back to our usual selves the next day. Flags lie strewn on the streets a day after every colony has patriotic songs blaring from rented loudspeakers. Our sense of patriotism gets deflated in less than a day.

What is achieved by celebrating Independence or Republic Day? At the national capital, the Prime Minister and the President speak hollow words; the government shows off our military prowess in parades when it can’t provide safety to its own citizens. Closer home, we attend parties which have nothing to do with talking about becoming responsible citizens after flag hoisting, play games and worst – liquor shops remain shut.
Google Doodle - Happy Republic Day

This Unity in Diversity is hurting us more than doing us good. The politicians are preying on pockets of caste, creed and religion and each community abandons the other when it gets what it wants. We gel well and accommodate each other but live as fragmented parts of society. We can’t take someone grievously injured on the street to the hospital for fear of a police enquiry on us. Cops, politicians, lawyers and government servants take more advantage of their power than use it to fulfil their duty – protect common man. Rapes, murders and other crimes are the order of the day. New infrastructure takes eons to build, and when done, they lie idle waiting for some minister to inaugurate. Each state has a separate history, separate Gods, taxes, festivals... how are we ever going to feel united?

Do we need Republic/Independence Day to organize sports competitions in our buildings? Can’t we do it on any given Sunday? Why waste these days having fun? Why not try to do something (at least on these days), that make us feel more Indian? Why not forget our caste, creed and more and look at ourselves as Indians first? Shouldn’t we stop differentiating on the basis of language? Ensure safety of people who live around us? Aid in spreading education so that reducing illiteracy will make a stronger India? Or would we rather prefer satire tweets and Facebook updates about how messed up our country is?

The time is not only now; it is always. If we want India to be better, we must start with ourselves. Make ourselves worthy to contribute to society. Then pay back to our motherland who has given us so much but is being raped repeatedly by politicians and the likes.

image courtesy: Google

15 Jan 2013

The Indian Cricket Team: Familiarity Breeds Predictability

The Indian cricket team lost the One Day series 2-1 to Pakistan and the Test Series 2-1 to England. They tied the T20 series 1-1 with each team. They lost all matches against England & Australia when they visited those countries. We can’t remember the last time the Indian team won a series comprehensively after the World Cup. This team is just a pale shadow of the one that won the World Cup and probably one of the worst title defenders, right?

We could go on and on. But one thing to factor is the amount of time the Indian team has spent on the road. Before the World Cup in 2011, India was constantly playing since November 2009. New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies and other countries were toured, apart from the series of matches played at home. Injuries, fatigue, loss of form and frustration become a norm at such times. And knowing how much the BCCI cares about these aspects, combating them becomes very difficult. Most people say these are mere excuses, but it’s important they put themselves in the players’ shoes.
The dejected Indian cricket team

Let’s look at the time after the World Cup. India had a small break before they toured West Indies and then left for England. Something went wrong and we lost all matches there. That’s ok occasionally; even Australia lost both test matches, the ODI and T20 when they came to India. Then we began castrating our heroes; the very players who won us the World Cup. Everything they had done was suddenly washed away and we were back to calling them ‘incompetent’. The disaster at Australia and other places followed. Forgotten were the facts that this team had won us the Asia Cup crown in 2010 also.

The Indian team isn’t going through a good patch now either. Expected to win 3-0 in the test series against England, we lost 2-1. To add to that, we lost the ODI series to Pakistan also. But have we wondered why? It’s because of familiarity. The Indian cricket team plays maximum matches every year. Mini series are squeezed in between tours. Players are always on the road and barely have time to relax, recoup from niggling injuries (most Indian players play at 60% fitness), or add new weapons to their arsenal. Consequently, they become predictable. The same batting strokes, same bowling variations, same bowling options, etc. Oppositions are so familiar with the Indian team because of the amount of videos that must be available to study that they’ve dissected our team like a frog in a biology lab. They’ve broken down each batsman, bowler, fielder and probably know them better than our players themselves. That’s why Ashwin is being taken to the cleaners while Bhuvaneswar Kumar is successful; he’s relatively unknown. But I guess Kumar will go down a similar path of most Indian fast bowlers – dream debut, awesome performance for some time and then injuries and lack of infrastructure will make him toothless too.

The seniors need to be rested, but the BCCI won’t take that step because it will mean loss of revenue for the richest sporting body in the world. New blood should be given a chance and our calendar should become less gruelling. These aspects have been argued over rhetorically for ages now without any outcome. So we must understand where our players are coming from rather than being so harsh on them. Until the BCCI doesn’t take steps to correct this, or until our players don’t stand up for themselves the way they did before the Sydney Test, all we will see from our team is spurts of brilliance. We must ensure they have our support, not our criticism. Do you agree?

Image Courtesy: Google Images
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