My World Through My Words

June 27, 2010

The Hype, The Excitement and The Disappointment ….2010 World Cup as it is

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 12:02 am

The 2010 World Cup was supposed to deliver one of the biggest sporting extravaganzas to the likes which the world has never seen. It was to be an event rich in culture and diversity portraying the African Continent in its greatest splendor. It was also supposed to be a showcase of the best football cultures, teams and players. On the Cultural part the World Cup delivers plentiful and then some more; but in the football sense of things it has been a major disappointment. It was touted as tournament where all the best teams as well as all the best players were supposed to shine and excel, which has not been the case to date. The pre-tournament favorites have failed to deliver, while the minnows and dark horses have not stood up to be noticed. The football itself has been lethargic and plain boring at times. There have been a few pieces of brilliance by some teams during brief moments in some of the matches but no one has lit up this World Cup yet. In one way the unpredictability of the teams has been such that there is no longer any clear front-runners. But the last 16 predicts to bring some magic into the ailing tournament.

One of the major disappointments of the World Cup has been the lack of a football crazy atmosphere, thanks mainly to the vuvuzelas. I get the point it is part of African football culture but the damn thing is simply annoying. I long for the days I can fear crazy fans chant crazy things and taunt the opposition fans and players alike. The vuvuzelas is annoying because it plays the same note however you blow into it, so fans are stuck with hearing the dull droning noise which refuses to stop even for a second for the entire duration of the match. I miss the uh’s and the ah’s when something interesting happens on the field and the celebration when someone scores or misses or even the playful boos by opposition fans. I even miss the deadly silence when someone scores against the big teams with masses of supporters. I hate it mainly because it is making the broadcasters mute the noise from the stadium so that the commentators could be heard over the ear busting screech; they seem detached from the stadium and covering the match from a TV from some other part of the world. I also get the point of saying it showcases African football to the world but this is the World Cup it is not only about Africa it is supposed to also be about the other countries taking part in it. It is supposed to be a global phenomenon. These are even said to be distracting players on and off the field, where they can’t communicate with each other on the pitch and sleep at night due to the God forsaken noise. Hopefully this dreaded apparatus doesn’t make its way to the European leagues as well as other major sporting events. Fingers crossed that the people running these events have more brains than the fools at FIFA.

Now to the football part, well let’s just say it has been dreadful to say the least. There has not been a bright spark from any of the players let alone the teams in the entire tournament. If any excitement that has been shown it has sadly come from the veterans of the World Cup Brazil and Argentina, although even they didn’t look at their best. Pre-tournament favorites Spain look as if they are only starting to find their feet. Other teams like Germany, Netherlands and Portugal have shown flashes of brilliance but don’t look the complete package. England has been rubbish for most of the matches though they are looking to hit top form in the last 16. France and defending champions Italy have been the most disappointing of the favorites with both them crashing out in the first round itself. Pre-tournament dark horses like Uruguay, Mexico, USA, and South Korea have shown more life and desire than many of the top teams in the entire draw, though both USA and South Korea were dumped out as I write this. I don’t know what it is but this world cup is clearly not a free-flowing fluid no-nonsense football tournament it promised to be. The level of football has been so poor sometimes that I didn’t mind turning over the channel to watch some Wimbledon at times (this coming from a hardcore football fan). I don’t know what it is the vuvuzelas, the atmosphere, the weather, no proper acclimatization, or even the damn Jabulani balls; this World Cup is failing to deliver.

This was a World Cup where a whole host of players were supposed to scorch the field with their skills and performances, but this has not happened there has not been any new talent discovery in this World Cup and the ones that were supposed to shine have failed to show up. The saving grace being Messi who was the spearhead of the Argentinean attack though he has yet to score. Players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba, Ribery, and Torres have been an eye sore for most of the tournament. No fresh player has been able to stand up and fill the creative shoes of these players as of now. Rooney was missing his usual enthusiasm, Ronaldo has been plain selfish, Drogba and Torres doesn’t look match fit and Ribery was just woeful. Hopeful the latter stage of this tournament will deliver a few unforgettable matches so that this tournament doesn’t end being flushed down the drain. Also a shout out to the referees, what’s with all the red cards and dreadful decisions it takes so much away from the game; just let the game play itself out. Don’t do things that disrupt the flow of the game, be harsh when it’s needed not because your hand itches to flash red. One can only hope that there is some good football waiting to be unleashed in the next few rounds or this World Cup will be known for the off field controversies surrounding the French team, the vuvuzelas, and the unpredictable Jabulani rather than the happenings on the football pitch.

June 23, 2010

The Ball in My Court : 4

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 10:55 pm

Well I’m back with my weekly round-up of all the sporting action. The most important one being that the Lakers won the NBA title. The English Football team is proving again their rubbish when it comes to the World Cup. The Indian Cricket team finally looks like they are kicking into gear. RadioShack team for the Tour de France was announced yesterday. Tiger Woods was showing glimpses of getting back into top form. And all the major seeds for Wimbledon look shaky to say the least except for Rafael Nadal who looks like he is carrying his Roland Garros form here. Also Ferrari has signed on Pat Fry from Mclaren for the remainder of the season and has some new development for the exhaust system.

Well the Lakers took their 16th title without much effort from the Celtics in game 6 and 7 of the play-offs. Well what can I say other than that the Celtics looked like they were in with a shout of the title when they won game 5 at the Garden and took a 3-2 lead in the series. The Celtics for once started looking their age; Ray Allen looked atrocious at times except in game 2 of the play-offs. The bench didn’t step up in game 6 & 7 and losing Kendrick Perkins was not easy. But the biggest flaw of the Celtics was not playing the offence through the ever reliable Rajon Rondo. Rondo should have been given the freedom to run the offensive plays for them on the court but he was isolated and the plays were run through the trio of Pierce-Garnett-Allen. Next year the Celtics should try to bring in some athleticism into the team from the bench through some young legs in the draft and free agencies. And if Rasheed Wallace plans to retire like the reports say he is then we need someone to fill that hole. Ray Allen should be re-signed and play off the bench as a sharp shooter and start lesser games; really his legs aren’t keeping up with him. And the biggest factor should be to extend Doc Rivers contract as I feel he is the perfect man for the job. So if they can fill up the above mentioned holes then I can see another Championship fight in the horizon, so bring on next season.

The English were looking so bad I had the feeling that any of the bottom placed teams in the premier league would have given them a run for their money. I mean there was no team chemistry, no urgency, it was a like a team of individuals than a team. The biggest culprit of the lot has to be Frank Lampard, I mean this guy was one of the players of the season for Chelsea but I think I didn’t even see him for more than a couple of minutes the entire game against Algeria. But it would be wrong to put the entire blame on him, the entire team was equally to blame the defense looked good but Ashley Cole has not been going up field in support of the attack, Heskey well was doing exactly what we expected him to do absolutely nothing. I felt that the time had come to change the team strategy, which is exactly what Capello did for today’s match against Slovenia. He dumped Heskey and Lennon, coz clearly the pace of Lennon was not helping in any way at all; but both the changes Milner and Defoe proved to be the right choice when they combined to score the games only goal. Rooney who has been ineffective till now, showed some sparks of life, but was still searching for the elusive first goal of the tournament when he was substituted by Joe Cole. All in all the English did enough to progress to the next round, but the fact of the matter is that they are going to face a tough and in-form opponent in Germany because of qualifying second in their group. All I can hope is that the team can build on their good play from this match and hit top form against ze Germans.

The Indians are finally waking up from their summer slumber in the Asia Cup. They played well enough against the Bangladeshi’s and had a cracker of a match against Pakistan that went to the last few balls. Gambhir looks like he is back to his best form, and with Dhoni, Raina and the rest of the middle order looking in fine touch I feel that the batting looks good for the reminder of the year. The bowling on the other hand can improve a couple of notches the spin department looks fine with Harbhajan Singh and the pace bowling department can improve a lot with Zaheer Khan looking to get back into top form, and there is still no clear partner for him. And the Indian search for the All-rounder continues today, and clearly Jadeja is not the answer. We need a fast bowling all-rounder and I can’t believe that a country that eat, sleep and live cricket can’t produce a decent one. It would bring some great balance to the team if we had one and also a genuine pace bowler who can bowl constantly at over 145kmph. These are the holes that the BCCI and the selection committee need to fill at the earliest. Another problem I see is the fitness of the players like Sehwag and Yuvraj, I know cricket is not a sport which requires you to be ripped or anything but at least they should keep a minimum level of fitness, this problem leads to other injury as in the case of both these players and also all our fast bowlers. A sportsmen needs to keep fit at all times even during their breaks, but Indian players look like small buffalos when they come back from their breaks and vacations. Hopefully the new generation of Indian cricket players can learn something about fitness from their counter-parts from countries like Australia, England and South Africa.

Johan Bruyneel announced the 9 member team for this year’s Tour de France. There were a couple of surprise exclusions Jose Luis ‘Chechu’ Rubiera and Haimar Zubeldia both veterans of the Tour de France. Chechu has been instrumental in five of Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour victories by leading him up the mountains. Zubeldia has had some top performance in the tour with him finishing 5th in the year 2003 and 2007. So both the exclusion seems a bit odd. That said the team looks strong still with veterans like Leipheimer, Kloden and Horner. And the support riders like Paulinho, Muravyev, Popovych, Rast and Brajkovic looking good on any team. With Armstrong finally showing some form in the Tour de Suisse this team may finally be able to propel Armstrong to an 8th Tour de France victory against former team-mate Alberto Contador. So hope for the best and the team can deliver in the Alps and the Pyrenees where it matters the most.

Tiger Woods finally made the world sit up and watch when he finally cut loose and blitze the field on the third round of the US open at pebble beach. Though he finished tied fourth with Phil Mickelson 3 shots behind the eventual winner Graeme McDowell. But the third round was enough for the all the players to take notice that Woods was nearly back to top form. Tiger said that it was only mental errors that cost him a 15th major. What was missing in the other three rounds of the open was his uncanny ability to close down problem holes or his ability to save par from extremely difficult situations. If Woods can find this he’ll be back to his lethal best. Lets face it people the game isn’t the same without Tiger stalking the fairways.

Wimbledon has been looking extremely difficult for the top seeded men’s players except for the aggressive Nadal. All the top seeds from Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Roddick, Davydenko, Verdasco have had a tough start to the tournament, with the latter two losing. It looks as if the title is Nadal’s to lose he’s playing his best game where he uses behind the baseline ground strokes and his fast footwork for a lot of court coverage. He looks to be back to his pre-injury best. But the talking point of this years Wimbledon will be the epic match between 19 seed John Isner and unseeded Nicolas Mahut which when I last looked has been suspended due to bad light at 59 all in the fifth set. The match has been going on for close to 10 hours with the fifth set going on for more than 6 hours which is the more than the previous longest match. The match will resume sometime today. It has already taken the title of longest match in tennis history but also tumbling all kinds of records of individual statistics like aces served with both players beating the previous best. The match going on to its third day will cruelly force the winner to take on his next round opponent almost immediately after it’s over. Well it’s great to see that the Football World Cup can be upstaged by two relatively unknown players in the greatest Tennis tournament in the world.

Ferrari is looking to bounce back from the recent debacles with a completely redesigned exhaust system among other changes for both the cars in the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix. It is said to shave off half a second on lap times. Well let’s just hope for the best because all the recent upgrades have failed to live up to expectations. Mclaren’s look strong and if the Red Bulls can keep from crashing into each other, then Ferrari has their work cut out. With Pat Fry joining the team as Asst. Technical Director hopefully some new insights as well as some new strategies can be devised for the coming races, because it must be said that Ferrari has clearly been chasing the pack rather than being at the top of it.

June 19, 2010

Pipedreams Go Bust

Filed under: International Affairs,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 12:58 am

Well the BP oil spill saga seems like an Indian serial, there seems to be no end in sight. The environmental catastrophe seems to be going from bad to worse. The BP officials look like a deer caught in the headlights and have no clue on how to solve the problem or let independent agencies have a look at the ruptured pipe. It has been nearly two months since the explosion first happened on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, incidentally 11 crewmen lost their lives due to the explosion; the rig has been completely destroyed and has sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The explosion caused the blowout preventers (a safety measure) to not engage and caused the oil well to rupture at three different points and spill into the open ocean. The mere volume of oil gushing out from the pipes is so high that the US environmental agency has declared it the worst oil spill in the history of the United States; and if it continues at the present rate it will soon be the biggest spill in the world itself. The adverse effects on the ecology and the marine life is unfathomable, the US EPA and different NGO’s are trying their best to help all the creatures affected and trying to prevent the ever-increasing oil slick from expanding further. It has also affected the fishing industries in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil slick has been predicated to reach the shores of Mississippi in the coming few days.

The sheer incompetence on the BP management has been amusing to see, with CEO Tony Hayward even first reporting the leak to be insignificant and small to even affect the local habitats. The BP officials were clearly not forth coming to give exact details of the amount of oil spilt and the damage done. Apparently the oil rig explosion was a disaster waiting to happen, it has not been the first time there was a leak or even breakouts of fire on the rig which employs nearly 146 people. It even had to be evacuated once when the rig started listing to one side and started sinking. The region BP was drilling was considered unsafe by a lot of other Petroleum companies due to the presence of high pressure gases rising during drilling. There are a dozen or more internal memo’s to suggest that the engineers have been complaining about the problems present during the drilling process itself and raising safety hazard issues. BP itself has seemed to have overlooked many safety rules and regulations. The US government has already stated that they blamed BP completely for the accident and expected BP to pay for all the damages caused. The CEO was also called to explain the situation and the subsequent actions of the company in front on the world press and a congressional committee. Here Tony Hayward was made to answer few difficult questions and made to publicly apologize for the accident and comments made later on. Watching him get grilled was like watching a school boy being punished for a wrongdoing in front of the whole school and Mr. Hayward didn’t have answers to some of the difficult questions being put forth towards him.

The United States congressional hearing is one of the legislative methods that should be adapted by the Indian Constitution and law makers of the country. I believe it was one of the few important features that the committee writing the constitution failed to adapt into it. It is a truly marvelous method by which big corporate wrongdoers and administrative big shots can be called upon to explain and prove their innocence and clear their names in front of the entire nation. They can be made to answer difficult questions and give their reasons in front of the media. The Indian Constitution and Judiciary at the present has so many loopholes that anyone who can afford a good lawyer can get out too easily. It is great to see that in the United States, corporates are made to explain their positions immediately rather than 26 years later as it happens in India. The CEO of BP was made to be held culpable for any of the damages and irregularities that might be found in the investigation on the oil spill. But in India even after 26 years the people are still waiting for the Indian Government to take some kind of action against the people responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The main accused is still absconding and the company that owns the Union Carbide plant hasn’t been held responsible for the accident that took the lives of more than 20,000 people. One can only dream of the day that the Indian Government takes immediate and effective decisions as well as when the Judiciary becomes transparent in their dealings.

June 13, 2010

The Ball in My Court : 3

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 10:11 pm

Well I must tell you what a bad week to be in my shoes, almost every team I like and support were beaten badly, or played badly enough to be beaten by me. Man I had such a lousy week that I was grouchy and uncommunicative throughout the whole time. I don’t think I had such a bad week in the recent past. Where do I start, Federer lost at Roland Garros, the Indians were pathetic in the West Indies, the Celtics didn’t turn up for games 1 & 3 of the playoffs, Yankees are on an inconsistent run with whole bag of injuries, Ferrari look lost to say the least, Armstrong and RadioShack don’t look like they are going to be a threat in the Tour De France this year and finally at the World Cup England were well the same old same old.

Federer lost at Roland Garros enough said about that, but on the other hand what a final match Soderling vs. Nadal. It may not have sounded good but was it a match for the ages. Soderling pretty much played the best match of his life, but unlucky for him so did Nadal. I mean Nadal did give him opportunities to get into the game but shut the door on his face every time he tried; it was as if he was teasing him by giving him small glimpses of hope. It was such a master class from Nadal that it looked scary sometimes. Nadal sent a clear message to all his rivals, he’s back to his best, all his injury problems are behind him and he is ready to live up to the expectation of being World No.1 which he claimed with the victory. For Soderling it was a case of so close yet so far, I believe the Swede will have his day of glory if he can match his heroics in the finals as well as against Federer, But the problem for him is that he must have the belief and the determination to keep trying. Nadal and Federer may be at a different level altogether but even they have bad days and it is his job to make their bad day into a miserable one if given the chance. But once again the match was a chilling statement from the 7 time Grand Slam winner that he is back and he is hungry for more.

Well the Indian tour of the West Indies went pretty much according to script. The team failed to deliver without putting up any kind of fight. I believed it was a great chance for the youngsters to stand up and be counted and also show off our bench strength; But was I wrong, I mean sure the experience of playing for your country would enrich all of them but at least we should have given the other teams a run for their money, it was a mediocre West Indian line up and a Srilankan side missing its big guns. I thought our fielding would have gone up a couple of notches being it was such a young team, but I was wrong again our fielding was poor, so was our running between the wickets, I mean these are the basic’s if you get them right then your entire game will be off. The youngster’s mindset was clearly in a T20 mode with all of them trying to hit out of their respective slumps, only Rohit Sharma showed some kind of batting form with couple hundreds, the bowling bar the spinners looked pedestrian at times. But on a good note they bounced back and won both the T20 matches. I feel the Indian selectors should sent mainly youngsters to the T20 world cup with a few seniors so that there is the unpredictability element, see T20 is such a short format that it is possible to restrict and frustrate good batsmen for a few overs till they try to do something unorthodox and get out. But if you have a batsman who is relatively unknown the bowler will have no clue on his strengths and weaknesses. That’s a topic for future discussions so I’ll leave it at that. And a great note the India A team is having a great tour of England they nearly walloped Yorkshire in a rain curtailed match and then thrashed West Indies A. The Batsmen led by captain Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Abhinav Mukund have scored some big runs; and the bowlers have also done extremely well with seamers Jaidev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla taking bulk of the wickets; and also the fielding has been top-notch. Kudos to these guys and keep it up.

The NBA playoffs have been a wild roller coaster ride with the games swinging both ways throughout the series, it’s going to be a free for all with the last man standing taking the honors. The Celtics were brushed aside in the first game but shut down Kobe and the Lakers team in the second game and took the momentum into the Garden; and here they proceeded to give it all back and for a change it was Derek Fisher who took Lakers home in the final quarter though Kobe did score 25 points. There has been an alarming trend with the trio of Pierce-Garnett-Allen; the three are taking turns of having off days with Garnett going missing in game 1 and Pierce and Allen being subdued in game 3. And the good thing for the Celtics was that their bench is longing strong and rearing to go and in game 4 Doc Rivers had the audacity to pull all three of them from most of the fourth quarter and put in Glenn Davis and Nate Robinson who led the charge while the trio cheered from the bench. It was clearly a case of who wanted it more with Celtics showing more in hustling than the Lakers who especially Lamar Odom seemed dazed and confused for most of the game. Glenn Davis single-handedly outscored the entire Lakers bench. So I all can say is bring on game 5 and the trio starts playing well together and all of them show up with their A game.

The Yankees looks average at the moment, they are playing ok baseball and getting away with it. The injuries haven’t been helping either with Johnson on the disabled list, and Posada, Granderson, Swisher, Park, Cano all being out with some kind off niggles with the latest being A-rod. The pitching has been ok with Pettitte and Hughes having decent outings while Sabathia and Burnett were having some trouble here and there after the great start both had. Javier Vázquez also seems to be getting back to top shape after having a miserable few months. The bullpen looks shaky at best with even the ever reliable Rivera being taken for some. Chamberlain has taken over as the set up man for Rivera and has been doing well. But the remainder of the bullpen has not been up to scratch especially Park and Robertson hopefully both of them can find their feet soon. The offense has been slightly better off with both Jeter and Teixeira waking up from their respective slumps, the second this season in Teixeira’s case. The offense has been carried by the hot bats of Cano and Swisher with help from Gardner, Cervelli and A-Rod. Hopefully the Yankees can shake of their injuries and also the inconsistency and take the charge to the Tampa Bay Rays who are looking odd on the top of A.L East standings and take their rightful place on the summit.

Ferrari has lost it completely; the debacle that was Turkey is best forgotten and today the third place for Alonso was a mere gift thanks to tyre wear and a five grid place penalty to Webber. The Car hasn’t shown any significant improvement since the start of the European seasons albeit assurances from Domenicali and both drivers. Also the amounts of reliability issues have been staggering, as well as insane amount of driver errors. It makes me sad to say this but this season Ferrari has been a team who is following the championship contenders rather than being one of them. I think its time to rethink the team structure Domenicali is clearly not a great Team principal in the range of Jean Todt or Ross Brawn, I believe someone with more Grand prix experience like Christian Horner should be brought in to improve Grand Prix Strategies which to this point have been comical to say the least. And I don’t think signing Massa for additional years was a great move, he doesn’t look like a team leading driver but more like a perfect second driver; But without team orders that’s a complete waste. Massa is a driver who needs a fast car, but in a struggling car he’ll always fall behind case and point this season he has struggled so much while Alonso has been able to drive a slow car closer to the podium. I think Ferrari should have tried to sign either Vettel or Kubica, both are hard racers and are not scared to push it and overtake whenever necessary. They would have bought good competition into the team. Now clearly Ferrari has only one car on the track challenging for points while the other struggles around the track. Hopefully the words of the Ferrari management will finally bear some fruit and we can see a competitive Ferrari for the next weekend or else ponder over another season without any silverware.

Team RadioShack hasn’t set the world on fire even after the mass exodus from Astana after last years Tour De France victory. The team looks great on paper but hasn’t really caught anyone’s eye yet. Armstrong hasn’t been in the best of form with injuries and illness hampering his preparation for the tour. So can one right of all the other failures because this is mainly a team to help win Armstrong a record 8th Tour De France Maillot Jaune?, but if one looks at all the previous tours Lance has always shown some kind of form coming into the Tour De France. Contador looks like a safe bet right now, which was always going to be the case; he has youth, very good riding style and a good team led by Alexander Vinokourov who is back after serving a doping ban. But what Contador doesn’t have is Johan Bruyneel, the wily tactician behind Armstrong’s 7 tour titles as well as Contador’s two. Hopefully, Bruyneel who will be knowing Contador inside out, can find some chinks in his armor and exploit it using a battle harden Tour team with enough experience to tackle any kind of problems they face. Only thing going for them right now is the relative inexperience of the Astana team, which can be a huge factor in the grueling event.

Well finally to England, what can one say but nothing has changed; England still can’t play well at the World Cup. Ok the Robert Green howler was unforgivable but England never looked like a team in any kind of control of the game, USA was always in it. Plus the team’s heads collectively dropped after the equalizer although there was still a half to play. England didn’t show the desire and the effort to go forward and take the game to the US, which was sad. Rooney had a game to forget, he didn’t play badly nor did he do anything significant, he was backtracking most of the time into his own half to win the ball. Lampard was just poor; he didn’t control the game or put in enough passes, also Cole was disappointing, he didn’t move forward in support of the attack. Gerrard had decent game also scored the only goal for England. But I believe Capello got it wrong with Milner, he clearly hadn’t recovered from his illness and looked lethargic on the field. And hopefully King is alright and his injury not too serious. But I believe all is not lost for the Three Lions because they usually start the tournament strong and fizzle out in the middle, so this time it might be the opposite they play poor in the beginning and do well towards the end. Fingers crossed here. On another note, Germany just ripped apart Australia with goals from Podolski, Klose, Muller and Cacau; with poor old Timmy Cahill shown a straight red for a clumsy challenge on Schweinsteiger. I noticed Germany wasn’t on anyone’s list to lift the World Cup, yours truly included. Looks like the Germans noticed too and send a very clear message to everyone else, they are here to win.

June 9, 2010

20,000+ dead, 26 year trial, 2 year sentence : The Number Game

Filed under: Current Affairs,Politics,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:35 am

One of the most forlorn stories in Indian history finally came to a very disappointing end. The Bhopal gas tragedy is a nightmare which will continue to haunt us forever. The sheer scale of incompetence and gross negligence on the part of Union Carbide India is hard to fathom. The gas leak which went on for close to 6 hours took out more than 2000 people on the first few days itself and by the end of the week nearly 8000 lives were lost. The accurate figure was never established. Even after 26 long years the open wound that is this tragedy refuses to heal. The long-term effect of this disaster is still being felt across the nation, ranging from respiratory problems and cardiac failure to birth defects in children. The scenes one can still see are right out of an Armageddon movie, dead blotted animals, dead trees without leaves and entire villages of people massacred. The negligence on the governments part is also clearly visible, taking them nearly two days to start providing proper aid and relief; and also the compensation for those killed were so badly handled that eventually when all the compensation claims are dealt with (sadly they are still being given out) an amount in the region of 10 billion rupees will remain.

Now can someone please tell me what the crime here is, killing 20,000+ people, 26 years for the investigation and subsequent trial or the measly 2 years imprisonment given to those convicted. Well killing one person itself is seen as the most atrocious crime, so killing 20,000 doesn’t even begin to compare; and also the long-term effects on the children, health of survivors, the land and the economics of the region is too big to calculate. All this because of Union Carbides clear flaunting of safety rules and regulations for making a quick buck. This tragedy cannot be described as an accident; it was a ticking time bomb and there were several warning especially from the employees unions who complained that they were severely understaffed and no proper safety training was given to majority of the workers. Also most of the equipment needed to prevent such a tragedy was not in working condition or just not turned on to reduce expenditure. Also the plant was handling more volume than it was designed to handle. Mostly, for the mere fact that the company initially refused to admit about the leak and also subsequently failed to inform the authorities about the type and amounts of gas released into the surrounding areas. The sheer quantity of people it affected was such that, all the hospitals ran out of medicines and beds to accommodate the victims within hours of the tragedy.

But, I feel though the above issue was indeed a grave injustice, the mockery that was the investigation by the CBI and government committees cannot go unnoticed. For sheer shock value the entire judicial process took 26 long years. For Indians this may not be such a shock because it is a known fact that the Indian judicial process is as slow as an old and dying snail. But the absolute magnitude of the whole situation one might think that there would have been some kind of urgency from the government; and today they reconstituted the committee to look into the whole disaster. Does it take so long to right a wrong? I mean there were committees back then too but incompetence of the then ministers of the same government cannot be forgiven. Even the then committee head Arjun Singh who was also the Chief Minister of the Madhya Pradesh during the incident has some tough questions to answer; from how the prime accused Warren Anderson the CEO of Union Carbide during the time was allowed to post bail and then use Mr. Singh’s personal plane to fly out of Madhya Pradesh and subsequently out of the country. Mr. Anderson is still absconding and today the government also announced that they are looking into ways to extradite the 90 something senile old man for the crimes committed nearly 2 decades before. If this kind of enthusiasm was shown closer to the incident the victims and survivors could have felt some kind of fairness.

End of the day, the biggest joke which in no way is humorous was that all the accused was sentenced to 2 measly year’s .The sense of injustice is clearly off the scale. I mean, first the trial takes 26 long years and then the sentence is so insignificant that the 26 year wait for the accused seemed more appropriate than the actual sentence. June 7th 2010 had been a serious black flag day for the Indian judiciary as well as the public; a day when the system clearly failed. I think the Indian judicial system needed an overhaul a couple of decades back; we still have laws pertaining to the pre-independence era. Like all good systems the judiciary must look to continuously evolve and adapt to changing times. It must cut down on the red tape involved in the entire process, streamline it and then fast track cases according to priorities. The regional courts must be given more flexibility and also more judges. As this case is not a one of incident, the Liberhan Commission took 17 years to submit its report, which was clearly inconclusive with no people held accountable. The Judiciary needs to take a hard long look at itself. Even though the judiciary at its core is still very strong in our country the judicial process has become outdated, slow (understatement of the year), and at times corrupt. If our country needs to move forward the Judiciary must regain the high pedestal we put it on, where it is even higher than the government itself, and also the regain the position of the most respected institution in the country.

June 7, 2010

Politicized Fiction : Fictionalized Politics

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:33 am

The word ‘fiction’ is not present in the Indian vocabulary. We should and must believe any and every written word. If it is written that a man can carry a mountain and fly across the country it must be true, it is also true old kings had a hundred children from a single mother, building a bridge that floats is so easy even monkeys can do it. And according to the Indian National Congress party a fictionalized book on their supreme leader can not be published in India because it may be true. Oh COME ON people, is it not the 21st century, or do we still live in an age were we have to bonk our mate in the head and take her to the cave to make her ours. El Sari Rojo or The Red Sari by Spanish writer Javier Moro has the Congress party in such bad mood; they have completely forgotten about the issues affecting the Indian people like price rise, the maoist problems, corruption etc…etc. But an author thousands of miles away can bring them out in force even in a non election year to burn copies of the book downloaded from the internet and in turn encourage piracy (as long as you burn the books you read after illegally downloading from the net its okay). It is a novel based on actual events, so I don’t know what their problem is other than thinking everything written becomes true. Obviously, as in any fiction there is going to be exaggerations and some inaccuracies and at the end of the day one must see it as what it is, a story nothing more nothing less. But as the author never had access to Sonia Gandhi, her children, her relatives or close associates he had to base his story on public records, old friends, classmates, college mates, neighbors and whatever reliable source he could find. So the inner most thoughts and emotions of Sonia Gandhi had to contrived from all the materials available to him. But is that not the reason why the book is categorized as fiction and not as an unofficial autobiography. According to the author he has tried to verify every detail in the book through meticulous research.

Javier Moro is a lucky man, if he had simply published the book without any of the controversies; I feel the book wouldn’t have reached even quarter of the Indian book reading public. Now it’s going to top every best seller chart in India and also do extremely well in international charts too. There is no publicity like free publicity even if it is negative publicity. The Congress would have been better of keeping quiet and not creating any of the ruckus. Now the media got wind of it and the whole of India will be wanting for a copy. Even if the book is not allowed to be published in India, the author should just get it published in some other country and put it up on amazon.com or some other literature site or just simply export it to India. There will be a whole host of us ready to buy a copy to find out what all the fuss is about. It is basic human psychology were the more someone tells us don’t do something the more it pushes us to do the same. In hindsight the Congress party will feel like kicking themselves in the rear end.

But the saddest thing of all this fuss is that the biggest headache for the present government comes from an author on the other side of the world and not its opposition parties. The state of the opposition in India is so bad that you get the feeling that the Congress has a clear run in this five-year rule without any major speed bumps in its way. The opposition is in such disarray they couldn’t unite against any of the major issues like price rise, maoist killings, phone tapping incidents etc; but they are struggling with infighting, ego clashes, and a disappearance of unity among other problems. The BJP looks like a rudderless ship without a clear leader, Yes Nitin Gadkari has been elected as the leader but one gets the feeling he wasn’t the popular choice and other senior party leaders had been overlooked. They are having major problems with their allies in the state levels the most recent being the absurdity that is the JMM, which made a mockery of the BJP not once but twice in the space of a few days, first with supporting the UPA in the cut motion and after apologizing and getting back together but then refusing to give up the Chief Ministers post after it was promised to the BJP as a compromise to the earlier betrayal. Then the Left parties who are facing the possibility of losing their only two bastions in India at the same time; the states of Kerala and West Bengal. Kerala because its voters follow a rotational governance policy with the one party ruling for five years followed by the opposition, and now it’s the time of the Congress which is coming plus there has been severe infighting between the senior leaders of the parties. In West Bengal, the left stronghold seems to be crumbling under the onslaught known as Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, and the Left looks like a deer caught in front of a headlight with Mamata Banerjee calling for early by-elections after sweeping every minor election held in the state in the recent past. And the question it seems is not if the Trinamool will win but when it will. Another worrying trend for both the parties is that its allies and potential allies seem not averse to forming a government with the Congress if given half the chance. The Congress meanwhile looks healthy with popular leaders a clear path for the future and less of infighting, an unusual show of unity, and a host of allies to choose from who themselves are doing well.Without any opposition at least for the time being the Congress looks comfortable in their high perch. In a bizarre way right now the situation of Indian politics is in a state of fiction more than reality.

June 4, 2010

The Ball in My Court : 2

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 1:03 pm

NO!! The unthinkable has happened; Rafael Benitez has been fired by Liverpool. Just kidding, but was surprised he survived so long though. After his famous rant against Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson with a pre prepared sheet of so called FACTs, his then league leading team took a huge wobble and ended up 2nd to Ferguson’s Man Utd. This season Liverpool has simply been pathetic on all fronts, the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was one of the biggest Gaffe of Rafa’s Liverpool tenure. The team itself is truly one dimensional i.e. if either Gerrard or Torres is injured then the team loses majority of its attacking threat, which is not to say they are defensively solid. They have a decent keeper in Reina but the backline has been inconsistent and dodgy throughout the season. The creative spark has been clearly missing the whole season after the departure of Alonso, plus injuries to Gerrard and Torres greatly hampered the team. But Rafa’s biggest failure has to be in the transfer market; after spending more than 200 million pounds over 6 year period, the amount of positive signings among a host of big money failures is staggering. Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Ryan Babel, Andrea Dossena, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Aquilani are just few of the names that immediately come to mind. Other than Chelsea no other team comes even close to the amount. Rafa also has failed to understand the core of a club like Liverpool, where winning the premier league overtake all other trophy hunts. Rafa truly believed that doing well in Europe will help shore up his short comings in the domestic scene. Even that kind of reasoning was put to rest after finishing 7th and being dumped out of the Champions League and then the Euro League and no chance for any European football next season, for a debt ridden club these kind of results can have huge ramifications for any manager. The only place where Rafa can afford some sympathy is in the case of turbulent ownership, where the offield boardroom squabbles were clearly affecting the team onfield. But after everything is said and done Rafa leaves Liverpool with failed aspirations after huge initial success and failing to live up to that early high expectations. Well initial reports point to Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson with Mark Hughes and Guss Hiddink being the dark horses.

The French Open seems to be the graveyard for pre tournament top seeds with only Rafeal Nadal and Robin Soderling remaining from the men’s top 10 and Samantha Stosur the only top 10 women’s player remaining. Its still Nadal’s tournament to lose, don’t see that happening much; and the women’s final is too close to call but I feel Stosur has the better chance than Schiavone, but then I have been proven to be wrong.

Yes, the Lakers just plastered the Celtics all over the Staples Center floor and did this by playing some aggressive in your face game, much reminiscent of a certain New England team; Oh Yeah! The Celtics, they were played and beaten at their own game by the Lakers who are usually known for their finesse on the court rather than their aggressiveness. Even the passive Gasol seemed to be up for a fight. The Lakers just shut the Pierce-Garnett-Allen trio down and even reminded Rajon Rondo that he is not yet the best point guard in the NBA. The Celtics have to pick themselves up and find the spirit that helped them run riot in the 08 finals. They have to find a way to take the fight to the Lakers and also shut Kobe down. Hopefully, we can see a more pumped up Celtics who get in there and get more rebounds and up their shooting percentage on Sunday.

The Indian youngsters clearly can’t handle Zimbabwe; the inexperienced bowling was always going to struggle in the tour without a senior or a bowling coach, one can’t blame most of them. The batting failed for the first time in the series hence made the bowling dept’s job more difficult. But one must be plainly disappointed by their basics; the fielding has been pretty average, as well as the running between the wickets. If you get your basics right every other aspect of your game will follow suit. Qualifying for the final now look a very distant possibility, we have to beat the Srilankans for a second time and hope they don’t thrash Zimbabwe in their final game. But in the end it will be an enriching experience for our bench strength and there will be some big positives to take from it. Hope for the best.

The drama that is the IPL just refuses to die down, today former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar was accused for fronting a bid for the Pune IPL franchise through a family owned company. I don’t know if this is true and I truly don’t care even if it is. The opposition parties are up in arms, but really they should think about something else than this to attack the Government with. Who does corruption in the IPL affect, no one particular they should just stick to price rise, the Maoist problems as well as keeping their allies in check rather than running around an issue which has long lost its news value.

On a good note the Yankees are back to winning ways they just swept the Orioles and ended a home stand 6-1. The pitching rotation looks like its coming back to its potent best with their ace C.C.Sabathia winning his first game in nearly a month, this on the back of victories to all the other starting pitchers. The offense seems to be waking up with the impressive Cano leading the way with Alex Rodriguez, Swisher, Gardner, & Granderson seems to be swinging well; Teixeira seems to have overcome his second slum of the season along with Jeter. Cervelli is batting well enough to keep Posada on the DH and he’s better defensively than Posada. So, all is well in the world with the Yankees winning again.

Also Tiger Woods is back on the golf course still not finding his feet. The Memorial Tournament is only a warm up to the US Open at Pebble beach. But he is not at all playing like the Woods we know. His trusted wedge was missing, and his putter seems to have gone with his wife in the post infidelity scenario and he missed more than half of the fairways. Hopefully he finds his game before the US Open; golf just isn’t the same without the world number one stalking the fairways with his usual calm demeanor. Hate to see offield distraction end a sportsman’s career in its prime.

The Death of Story Telling

Filed under: Movies,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 6:33 am

Is it just me or has movies forgotten the art of story telling? I haven’t seen a movie with a good story in the past few years. I’m not hinting that there weren’t any good movies but there hasn’t been a movie with a very good story. In the 21st century special effects and mind numbing action seems to be the ingredients for a box office hit. Good acting and stories seem to have taken a back street. Case and point Avatar by James Cameron; the movie was like any Sci-Fi fantasy movie like Planet of the Apes or like a host of video games (Command and Conquer series & Rise of Nation Series). The story was so weak, that you knew how the movie was going to pan out and the only reason it was such a hit was because of all the hype created by pre movie publicity and the technology used in it, the Fusion Camera System or the Reality Camera System which was co developed by James Cameron himself. Again it stresses on my point of the importance placed on the technology rather than the core of the movie i.e. the story. It was not like as if there were no movies made before Vfx, animation, motion sensors, 3d Camera’s and a host of other technologies. No the standards of movie making has gone down drastically. And it affects the entire movie making process the acting, cinematography, editing, production etc. I mean, sure all the jobs have become more simple thanks to the technology but the same levels of standards were reached by moviemakers in the so called old age.

After saying all this I decided to look a little deeper at the problem, what I found was a bit different. I found that the art of story telling has not died in the movies but the so called Box office hits are where it is dead. There are so many good movies with great stories which go under the radar of the general public. I must say I’m not a huge movie buff, sure I like to watch good movies but I don’t need to watch it as soon as it comes out or in the cinema halls. But I do like a good movie and I do watch my share of the action packed, testosterone boosting, mind boggling CGI movies which I like to call a “one time movies”; these are movies you see once for the novelty effect were all the fast paced action and blinding animation keeps you in the seat for an amount of time and takes your mind away from the boring parts of the movie (where the actual acting takes place). After you see these movies once you’ll never want to see them again in the foreseeable future. This is not what makes a good movie. A movie you can watch several times without getting bored and you are willing to buy your own personal copy (or download from the net) are the ones which can fall in the good movie category. Yes, this sounds a bit dumb but it’s not enough if you just buy it (or download it), but the amount of times you are going to see that movie over a lifetime. Come on how many times can you watch a movie like the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra or Resident Evil; once or twice at the maximum, and then you don’t want to watch it for the next few years. These movies as time passes become boring and unbearable to watch even to the most avid fan. At the end it comes down to the story when there is a good story to tell, how much ever time passes you’ll always feel the same thrill of watching the movie for the first time.

As I was saying before it was not that the good movies are dead but the big movie studios prefer to make a comic rip off, or a video game rip off, or a TV show rip off, or even a goddamn sequel to all the earlier rip offs. The good movies are by the independent directors and producers, who struggle to make everyday shooting possible, which don’t have the resources like a big movie studio marketing machine to promote it. That itself is the problem how many of us have gone to see a movie because of its trailer or some kind off hype the movie created even before it released. The trailers nowadays are so flashy and in your face that it contains all the parts of the movie which are the good parts. How many of us have felt cheated by a trailer, where the movie was nothing like the trailer? I must say it will be a substantial part of the movie going public, yours truly included. As I pointed out earlier the movies which are not produced by big ticket movie studios tend to have a better story and more realistic views on the human society itself, again case point The Hurt Locker, which surprisingly won the academy award over Avatar. Now here was a movie with a great story and even some great visual effects made on a shoe string budget. I think moviemakers are over thinking the movie process nowadays, there are so many tools available to the directors that they feel that they must use it all and fill the movies with special affects and other CGI works and do overkill.

The simplistic movies are dead and buried, the so called family stories are the ones which are truly over, and there are very few which can truly be described as family stories, I recently saw My Sisters Keeper which had a great story, but it didn’t even register in the box office. Nowadays studio heads chose directors to make movies rather than directors approaching the studio heads with good stories, and with commercial interests at stake in the present economic climate, the major studios will not risk a movie which may not have mass appeal to its major audience i.e. small kids to young adults. The audience is also to blame here, more and more of them just prefer the fast packed action movies, with a hot girl and some flashy cars. The true moviegoer has become a dying breed, those who enjoy the story rather than all the false distractions that are present in the movie. People rather than remembering the story remember the action sequence or a car chase or some CGI fantasy scene, which is a huge disappointment. I do truly hope the directors realize this grave injustice and try to find their movie making roots again.

On a different note I’m happy to say and I’m sure all the guys will be happy to hear that the new Sex and the City movie is being trashed by all most every woman who watched it. I have girls telling me to avoid it at all costs, so there may be a movie god after all and he’s a guy for sure. After putting all the males of the world through the wringer with the first movie I think he may have thought that was torture enough. Also what’s with all the remakes and video game/TV show/Comic book adaptations; I mean Hollywood is definitely trying to kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. I feel this bubble is about to burst and hopefully a new kind off filmmakers’ immerges from it.

June 3, 2010

The Ball in My Court : 1

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 5:25 am

The BCCI has totally lost it; not sending a team to play in the Asian Games is a real gaffe on their part. They should have sent at least a junior team for the Men’s event and a full women’s team for the women’s event. It is a big shame because the youngsters would have had the opportunity to take part in a big event and India would have had a two definite Gold medal opportunity not that we are churning those out by the dozens all the time. I don’t see the logic behind the decision; ok there are prior commitments but send a IInd string team then. It’s not like India A tours all the time or even the under 19 players go on tours, so why not send a team. I can only see I explanation no money in it. There is no mula for taking part; the board doesn’t get any from the event as they can’t have any sponsors plus no television rights too. Their 3.4 crore shirt deal will have no relevance here. Such a plain commercial decision, even with ex cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri on the working committee, there is no excuse for it. Hopefully someone in the BCCI can see the light at the end of this dark and gloomy tunnel, highly unlikely.

As mentioned earlier the Indian Cricket Teams jersey will keep hosting the Sahara brand, after they outbid Barati Airtel for a whooping 3.4 crore Rupees for each match. A big 30% jump to what they were paying last time around. But what has gone unnoticed is that there were no takers for the India A, U 19 and women’s team. Such a shame, in a country where cricket is considered a religion no one cares about the sport unless it involves the stars who made it into the senior team or more recently the IPL. No one follows let alone watch any of the other kinds off cricket be it Ranji, India A, Under 19’s and the women teams. If there was any kind off viewership there would have definitely been some sort of sponsors around. The irony of it all is dumbfounding.

On another note Roger Federer’s run of 23 semi final-appearances was stopped by a resurgent Robin Soderling. This is Soderlings 2nd major upset in as many French opens; last year he became the first man to stop Rafeal Nadal at Roland Garros. Federer was very un-federer like; he was making all kinds of unforced errors; his first serve was all over the place and after several rain delays Federer uncharacteristically (for lack of any better word) lost it, giving Soderling an easy ride in the 4th set. And the seeds are falling like ten pins following Federer out was Djokovic, Roddick, Murray, and the women side Serena, Venus, Henin, Wozniacki and Sharapova to name a few. So a new Champion for sure this year in both the Mens and the Womens event at Roland Garros. My thoughts point to a certain Rafeal Nadal and Jelena Janković.

Finally the NBA play-offs are here. GO CELTICS. Time to show the Lakers what it is all about. The history and the tradition involved in the decades old Lakers-Celtics rivalry is just unbelievable. My man for the series is relatively diminutive Rajon Rondo. But the trio of Garnett-Pierce-Allen should shut down Kobe and the Lakers. As the Celtics have been saying all season UBUNTU.

Will the Three Lions roar???…..

Filed under: Sports,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:49 am

The England Team for the world cup was announced a couple of days ago, no big surprises other than Theo Walcott being dropped in favour of Shaun Wright Phillips(albeit not a big one). Both players have played very little in the premier league this year, Walcott due to injury and Wright Phillips was mostly overlooked at city by Mancini, so can’t say both have any kind off major form towards the end of the season. Walcott has failed to live up to the expectations that catapulted him into the big leagues after Arsene Wenger signed him up for Arsenal and Sven Goran Eriksson chose the then 17 year old youngster into the 06 world cup squad. He still shows the flashes of brilliance and the pace that made him a threat in the potent arsenal line up but at a very inconsistent rate. The remaining team looks good; hope Gareth Barry is fully fit and recovered from his injury.

Did I mention that I’ll be putting my money on the three lions for the World Cup? I feel they are in a good position to finally do it, relatively easy group and of course they have Wayne F@#%$%g Rooney. If he stays uninjured throughout the entire tournament then England will definitely have a huge chance of lifting the trophy. The question for England in whether to go with a 4-4-2 with Hesky/Crouch and Rooney or a 4-3-3 with Gerrard playing a more attacking role behind Rooney. I would prefer the latter because it gives the team more fluidity than the 4-4-2 because Crouch is not ideal for the role he is being deployed in that is to increase Rooneys attacking threat and Hesky is in miserable form leading to the World Cup. And also Rooney has been brilliant playing alone upfront for Man Utd. This then solves the problem of whether Gerrard and Lampard can play together. The team should be James in goal (most experienced among the chosen keepers), the defense with Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry & Cole picks itself, the midfield of Barry, Gerrard, & Lampard with Barry giving additional cover for the defense and the forward line led by Rooney with Joe Cole and Lennon on the wings. Both Cole and Johnson will overlap the wingers in support of an attack giving Cole and Lennon the license to drift onto the goal to support Rooney and Gerrard. I think this will be the ideal starting line up for the English team, but Capello is a tactical genius so he may chop and change according to different opponents.

Rooney will be inspirational leader of the team on the field. The guy is overflowing with infectious passion and energy on the field, he never believes in defeat, he can drag the team out from the dumps if the need arises, the ticking heart of the team. A Rooney-less England is not even half of the team with him in it. Even a half fit Rooney is better than no Rooney. Hopefully he stays fit through the entire tournament; he will be the target of every opposing defenders studs in the World Cup, a marked man along the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Torres. And also he has learned to control his temper to much larger extent than previous years, so hopefully he can keep it for the entire competition. The other problem I see is that of team unity, cohesiveness & which has always been missing from previous English teams. Coming from a very intense, physical and competitive league like the premier league, the players will have troubles giving up club loyalties for the country honours. I’m not saying players prefer club to country but they all play for different clubs which all have a different playing styles, attitudes and rivalries which range from mild to I’ll kill you if you step on my pitch. So it’ll be a bit hard to really gel well with each other for a small amounts of time. Here is where Capello should wave his magic wand and make each player comfortable and help the team really come together as a single unit rather than a group of individuals.

The main competition for England will be Spain; they are still high on their Euro Championship triumph. A truly remarkable team so many great players throughout the team and more than enough quality cover for each position. But the focal point of the team will no doubt will be Torres up front who hopefully will be match fit by the start of the World Cup. But the Spaniards look truly scary along with Torres, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Silva and the list keeps going. England will also have to worry about the Argentineans led by the Incredible Messi and also breakdown the defensive solidarity of a Cannavaro led Azzurri, both of whom England may have to face in the Quarters and the Semi’s respectively if all goes according to script. And being the World Cup one can never write off the Brazilians. The other teams who will make an impact will be Germany, Holland and whoever comes out of the group of death, either Portugal or the Ivory Coast(from the African Teams).

If England can keep their head down and concentrate on the football avoid all the off field and on field distractions and also stay away from the WAGS, this might finally be the year The Three Lions roar after 44 long year wait.

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