Sunday, April 29, 2007

Even in love affair, man kills fiancee over dowry

In an incident that displays the extent to which the evil culture of dowry has permeated our society, a fiancee threw his would-be-wife from the fifth floor to her death after she grew upset over his demanding dowry.
We read all about dowry from time to time, with wives getting burnt for dowry, harassed for dowry and so on. In today's marriages, it has become common place to see a new car, displayed prominently at the marriage location. This car is meant to be given to the groom by the girl's family, and there is no shame or any kind of fear in this display. In fact, it is displayed with pride, with the groom's family seeing the type of car being given as a symbol of their status in society.
Read this story:

A squabble over dowry led to 24-year-old Deepak Behal allegedly pushing down fiancee Mukta Chandolia from her fifth-floor house on Saturday and killing her.
Mukta and Deepak met seven years ago at a relative's marriage and become romantically involved. The families were against the match as they belonged to different castes. The couple had run off to Hardwar on April 11 and got secretly married there.
According to Mukta's elder brother Manish, they returned from Hardwar on April 23 and went straight to Deepak's house. "Deepak's father called us over, saying we needed to formalise the marriage. We did the roka the same day. On Wednesday, the Behal family came and did the roka, giving Mukta jewellery and clothes. We found nothing amiss in their behaviour."
However, on Saturday, Manish took Deepak out shopping for furniture where hints were dropped that that the family wanted dowry. "We had given them Rs 10,000 but he said it wasn't sufficient. At 10.30 pm, he came over with his mother and started demanding Rs 5 lakh. Later, they lowered the demand to Rs 3 lakh and said we could spend a lakh on the wedding but had to hand over the cash on the day of the wedding, otherwise he wouldn't get the baraat," Manish said.
After that, Manish said that Mukta refused to marry Deepak and ran off to her room upstairs. She was followed by Deepak. "We chased the duo and reached the roof only to find Deepak hitting Mukta and then throwing her off. My younger brother Ashish and an uncle, whom I called immediately, took Mukta to the Ganga Ram Hospital while I prevented Deepak and his mother from leaving and called the police," said Manish.

This incident is all the more shocking, as this was a marriage derived from a love affair, against all the odds. Inspite of this, this hateful and despicable man demanded his pound of flesh from the marriage. He deserves all the punishment he can get. A fit case for social organizations to campaign against him.
The custom of dowry has permeated society to the extent that it is seen as an entitlement of marriage. It is sometimes argued that dowry is equivalent to a daughter getting her share, and hence justified, What utter nonsense! Dowry is nothing but a demand from the groom's side to extort as much money as they can. It needs to be crushed both legally and socially.
However, all the gains of the past seem to be going away. There are no more anti-dowry campaigns on the media that we used to see earlier; in fact, with so much money and rich living being shown on television, it would seem that people see a marriage as their one chance to make money.
What is needed is that every incident of dowry being prosecuted is highlighted strongly along with the punishments so that people feel scared of taking dowry. Also, since people listen to people with social authority; religious leaders, prominent film stars, and other such people need to speak much more against this evil in society. At the same time, there are court cases where false allegations of dowry are being exposed. Anti-dowry laws need to be fine-tuned such that false allegations are weeded out, while true offenders are ruthlessly prosecuted.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:04 PM    

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Experiences of pickup / drop at Delhi Airport

Due to some relatives arriving for a family tragedy, I spent some time at Delhi airport, both domestic and international. Some experiences from the departure and arrival locations.
Let me start with the most positive experience. I had to pick some people up from the international terminal (Indira Gandhi International Airport). It seemed pretty smooth as silk if you are willing to pay up a bit. First park your vehicle in the car park (Rs. 120 if you want to park in the premium car parking), and then pay Rs. 60 for each entry intro the arrival lounge. Ideal, you wave to your visitors as they arrive and take them to the car parking. Only problem is that the premium car parking is pretty small. The regular parking is pretty decent as well.
Next is the departure from international. This is also fairly convenient, you drop your visitors at the gate. Trolleys are available without a problem, and as long as you don't stay too long there, the traffic police and the cranes do not disturb you. However, and this is where I have seen people behaving strangely, they actually stay there for extended farewells, even though space there is limited. I have seen a few even arguing with traffic police, something that I would not believe could happen in a lot of other countries.
Now comes the incredible domestic terminals. These are special, especially during peak times. First, on the route to the domestic terminal, you see a number of cars lined along the road, with a driver waiting for a call to pick them up. The route is not exactly very broad, and with these cars lined along the road, the traffic route into the terminal gets more choked. Makes me wonder, are these people so stingy that they cannot afford to pay the parking fee or are they so self-centered that they really do not care?
The parking in the domestic terminal is a mess. Given the number of flights, the number of vehicles using the parking has increased tremendously while space has remained same; and this is where things get frustating. Everybody in the Government was aware of the increase in flights, and yet a contract to modernise the airports took so much time; with so much politicking. As a result, discomfort to people using the airport has increased, and measures to improve things will take much more time.
Leaving people at the domestic terminal departure is still fine; but the arrival could do with a lot more improvement. Twice in succession it has happened that I am looking at the arrival billboard, and while the airline arrival is still not confirmed, the people that I came to pick came out. In addition, the arrival open area seems like a fish market, with so many people packed into a small area. They really need to increase the area available. The improvement from a few months back is that you have more stalls with things to eat and drink, something desparately needed if you are waiting in the heat.
Experiences inside the airport is another matter, with a separate story.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:55 AM    

Monday, April 23, 2007

Teacher sprinkles cow urine to purify students

Staying in cities, we sometimes feel that caste is a thing of the past. We (including me) criticize politicians for perpetuating caste issues, and feel that after so many years of independence, and with rapid economic development, we should leave older era issues of caste behind. However, I saw a news item, and was not sure how many political blogs in India covered this. I didn't see any, so wanted to make sure that people read this.
Don't get me wrong, I want this caste based division to go away as rapidly as possible. Separation of people into different sections based on their birth (and not their abilities) sickens me, and makes me wonder about the people who believe in this.
Read some extracts of this news item.

The ZP school runs classes from first to seventh standard and has 210 students, including 20 Dalit students. Last month, Tilottama Tembhurkar, headmistress of the school, who belongs to a ‘lower’ caste, was transferred but not relieved of her charge. However, teachers from the upper caste believed that Tembhurkar’s presence was inauspicious for the school.
In the last week of March, Tembhurkar handed over charge to senior teacher Sharad Kaitade (an upper caste). In early April, when he formally took over as the school headmaster, Kaitade allegedly performed a puja in the school and asked a lady teacher Madhavi Raut to sprinkle gomutra inside the classes and school premises.
Raut promptly went around the school premises and classes sprinkling cow urine—while the students were appearing for their annual exam. She entered the class where Dalit students were also solving the question paper.
Raut allegedly asked the Dalit students to get up and sprinkled ‘gomutra’ on them, saying it would “purify’’ them.

Reading about this incident, I could not believe it. Such incidents have negative impact on both sections, with an impact on the students against whom this was perpetuated. It is utterly humiliating for them, and is not expected in a temple of learning.
For students to whom this was not targeted, it has an impact in terms of them getting a reinforcement of caste feelings, something that they would be hearing at home; and to hear it at school from a teacher would only give it more sanctity.
The biggest issue in all this is that it was done by a teacher. The incident is reprehensible done by anybody, but to be done by a teacher who first perpetuates the belief that cow urine is a purifier, and then the fact that pruification needed to be done, is extremely shameful. How can we hold up our heads if we keep on doing incidents like these ?
India has specific laws against doing things like this, and we need to make sure that such laws are implemented so that examples are made and people realize that caste based discrimination is just not possible. That will result in true empowerment. What do people think should be done in a situation like this?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:53 AM    

Friday, April 20, 2007

How to get more compliance with traffic laws ?

It has now been a few days since the Delhi Police started its push towards punishing traffic violations. This is inspired (as so many things in India currently are) from the Court pushing for compounding fees for traffic violations, and hence the minimum fine being moved to Rs. 600. Now, if I look at such a move, it would be strictly a policy decision to be made by the Government in terms of fines and enforcement, but over the past decade or so, the Government typically only talks about doing something about fines, but nothing more. It is essentially then left to the court to step into the policy gap, and eventually decide policies.
Another thing that puzzles me is when the Traffic police were asked about this special drive, it emerged that the same number of policemen would be used as in the past. If the same number of policemen are being used for a special drive, then why cannot every day be a special day ? Why can't it happen that the incredibly massive number of traffic violations that happen everyday are reduced, and the brazen way in which people ignore rules as per their convenience are stopped?
We all know what I am talking about. People reach a stop light, and do 2 violations then and there. They cross the zebra crossing by some distance, putting pedestrians at great risk. In addition, as soon as they see that no one is crossing the traffic signal from the other side, they will zoom through. It seems so funny, I am reminded of the term 'creeping acquisition', the way that people reach the red line, and then slowly move ahead inch by inch while the light is red. In this way, they cover around 3-5 meters while the light is still red, and then they zoom away when the light changes.
There have been explicit instructions in the past few weeks about how coloured film is illegal, but at a very rough statistic (by looking at passing cars), I estimate that around 30% of cars still have films on the windows. Maybe people really feel that they are not going to get affected, or maybe being in Delhi, they feel that they can either use some sort of contact to get away or pay a bit of money and get away. The sad part is that they can actually do this and get away in reality. And using mobile phones, not wearing seat belts / helmets are rules violated pretty highly.
Many times I feel that the traffic police is really not serious. I remember once receiving a fine of Rs. 100 by post for crossing a red light (I don't remember that part, but I would say that, wouldn't I?), and then going to pay it at the police station. Once done, I was generally talking to people about this, and they were all surprised that I went ahead and paid the fine. Apparently nobody follows up, and hence people just tear the ticket that they receive via the post. This seemed so shocking to me, how can people just treat a ticket sent by a police authority in such a casual way, but apparently this is how the city of Delhi works.
What can be done? I believe that only a strict vigil can work, a time of zero tolerance. People have to learn that traffic laws are meant to be obeyed, not followed at a person's own discretion. After all, when one is travelling on the road, we are not only responsible for our own safety, but that of others on the road. At the same time, traffic policemen have to develop a perception of being incorruptible, and that seems equally difficult.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:35 AM    

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Electricity shortage affecting our economy, starting at a small level

I had gone for a hair-cut yesterday, and I saw a fine example of how the Government inefficiencies and incapabilities over a number of years are systematically affecting small and medium scale industries in a negative way. And this from a Government that keeps on tom-tomming its care for the 'aam admi' (common man). I guess the owners of these small scale enterprises and their workers are part of the aam admi.
So what did I see ? Well, the environment is hot, as anybody in Delhi would know at this time of this year, and with the municipal elections in Delhi having got over, the power-cutting is back with a vengeance, in my area itself, 5-6 hours of power cuts are now normal. The most thriving business is now that of generators and inverters and their maintenance. And the peak summer months of May and June are still to come to hand. Maybe this summer is really going to be the summer of discontent.
Back to this saloon. Their generator had gone for repairs, and lo and behold, a power cut. At least when they had a generator, even though it was expensive, the generator kept the environment cool enough that customers could come and understand. But they lost a fair amount of customers on that one day, in the sense that the customers went to another saloon. One can only wonder as to how the wages and tips of the workers in the saloon got affected. Another example is the person who came to fix an instrument. When I asked him for an estimate in terms of time, he gave me an estimate that seemed pretty late, and when asked for a reason, came this simple explanation, "Sir, I have a big backlog of customers due to the fact that loss of power in the day makes the day only 50% productive." This is simply playing with the fortunes and lives of citizens.
Similarly, I know people who run small enterprises, and the loss of power literally screws their happiness. But they accept this as something that does not have an alternative. And this is Delhi, I can only shudder with horror at what the scene must be like in smaller towns and rural areas.
Providing basic amenities such as power and water are the basic obligations of a Government. And people really are not asking it for free, it is being charged, so it is very difficult to understand how Governments can screw up so badly and be so power deficient. Do they not fear that their populations will become more and more aware of their failings and eject them from power, but only to get another equally incompetent party. How does the situation reverse itself ?
The only way that these politicians will do more is when they feel that this is a people's movement. So the next time some candidate comes to you for votes, ask him as to what he will do get more power to you, or get more water to you. When you get asked by a survey about what matters most to you, it should be something that can make your life better or worse, and basic amenities such as power and water are prime. If you are in the habit of writing letters to newspapers, you should write letters complaining about the problems with lack of power. Or are we so uncaring / cynical that we think that nothing can really make a difference.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 1:21 PM    

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Government firm on going ahead with quota

Well, the Congress Government seems to be firm in going ahead with the 27% OBC quota implementation, and is planning to file a review in the Supreme Court so as to get the court to lift its stay. The stay came as a shock to the Government and sundry political parties in the Indian political environment. On the issue of quota, no party would like to be seen as not fully supporting the quota, irrespective of the merits of the case.
Of the 2 reasons that the court gave while staying the case, the Government is essentially telling that the court that its reasoning is wrong, that there are different reasons which the court has not taken into consideration.
On the issue of the Government using the 1931 census, the Government denies that the census is the basis of deciding the reservation figure. Instead a combination of the 1931 census, state level calculation, criteria used by the Mandal Commission, etc is the logic that is used for deciding the OBC percentage of the population. This is all illogical. The truth is that in this big country, there is no sure way of knowing the OBC quota unless it is determined. The last survey happened in 1931, and after independence, the leaders of the Congress at that time, being more enlightened, decided that there will be no more caste based census. Now the Congress is debating how to do this. Initially the spokesperson claimed that the Congress will not do such a survey. This however may have provoked much opposition from other parties, and so, the next day, the Congress spokesperson refused to flatly deny that such a survey would not be contacted. This is how it stands today.
About the creamy layer, the Government refuses to back down. It now expounds a logic that does not seem to make sense. What it says is, that while a job involves earning money and hence reservation is not necessary, education is expensive and it makes sense to provide reservation for OBC's, else the quota will go empty, since poorer OBC's will not be able to take advantage. This is crass political behaviour. If creamy layer OBC's have the money and expertise, why do they need reservations ? It somehow does not make sense.
Overall, one gets the feeling that the Government is not really prepared for the hard questions asked by the court, and is stuck between a hard rock and another hard rock. On one side are the various parties that will keep on needling the Government and on the other side is the court that refuses to take the Government side. In addition, this advocacy of the reservations agenda is sowing reverse political seeds for the Congress. It is getting punished by the upper castes and is surely not getting any benefits. Furthermore, the fact that we are starting to re-talk about all this casteist politics is the direct byproduct of the dirty politics of the Congress.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:25 PM    

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Delhi municipal elections: Congress loses

So the Congress got thrashed in the local Delhi municipal elections. These elections have not been too much of a prestige issue in the past, but this current poll was seen to be very important. The fever was high, campaigning was on a fever-pitch and the local MLA's were involved everywhere. However, the political nature of this campaign was evident everywhere.
Delhi has a number of issues with regard to how the city works. The city is short of generating capacity for power, and inadequate water. It has immigrants pouring into the city at a massive rate, and is ham-strung for power due to the central government being here. All these are in my view, plain excuses. If the Congress Government had the will-power and the interests of the people at heart, things would be much better.
With regard to power, Delhi has a massive amount of power theft, and yet there is not much insistence on tackling this power theft. It required political will to enforce power theft prevention programmes. In addition, Delhi has not attempted new power generation for a long time, instead crying all the time about power being in shortage. It is only when the courts have rapped the government asking for plans to meet power shortage, has the city and union government woken up, and committed for adequate power (not now, but in 3-4 years).
Water ? True, the government claims that Delhi is dependent on water for other states, but has it really tried its best ? Delhi pollutes the Yamuna to a massive extent, and its pollution control half-measures are a joke. As yet, after a large number of years, it does not have anything to show except lot of money spent, files and a much dirtier and water depleted Yamuna. Delhi gets a decent rainfall during the monsoon, and if it really wanted to enforce water harvesting (instead of on file), it would have a good water table that could meet the extra need. Instead, the city has massive water shortage and a very deep water table.
Transport in Delhi (except for the recent Metro - essentially an independent creation) is pretty bad. To get from one point to another point can take a large amount of time, and this has only gotten worse over a period of time. Traffic lights fail suddenly when power goes off, causing massive jams. When the authority knows that power is in shortage, there should be a backup (even solar alternative) for traffic lights.
Instead, the Government keeps on worrying about the sealing having disaffected people and caused them to be anti-Congress. If you go and talk to people living in residential colonies, they will tell you how much they detest the nature of politicians to support anti-sealing efforts (just because politicians get money from the trading community).
The price rise is one point that the Government has got genuinely beaten over. But a prime reason for this is a messaging that is self-sustaining. The Government wants to proclaim how people sensitive it is, and so keeps on claiming that it is trying to push down prices, not realizing that inflation is a seasonal activity to be controlled through monetary and fiscal policies. If you speak too much about it, the independent media is also going to talk more about it, and all the talking is almost always going to be anti-government.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:10 AM    

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Shift towards sharing of responsibilities by father

The latest version of Time Asia has an interesting covery story, something that is very relevant in the Indian context. The report is all about how the male parent (atleast the examples it is quoting) are trying to do some reform so that they are no longer only slaves to their office, but are equal partners in the home, more so in terms of giving more time to their children. The relevant article is available here:

It's embarrassing for these upstanding burghers of Singapore—so methodical and conscientious in their professional lives—to dwell upon the possibility that they might be falling short at home, but Wong lets them fidget and cough for a few more moments before resuming. "Watching your children over the Internet is one thing," he says, "but the goal of parenting is to get them to do the right thing when you're not looking." And there are plenty of hours in the day when Asian fathers are not looking.
Fathers all over Asia share that sense of guilt over their inability to balance work and parenthood. Dr. Sanjay Chugh, a New Delhi psychiatrist, says these harried, overburdened men stream through his consulting rooms: "Indian fathers have less and less time to spend with their children. When stress goes up for a father, it affects not only the quantity of time he spends with his children but the quality."
Every day, pleading overwork, millions of men cancel millions of promises made to millions of children. Dads cannot read bedtime stories or go to the park. Dads are in their offices, or on the road, or on conference calls. The effects of this physical or emotional absenteeism are actually quantifiable: numerous academic studies have shown that children with distant fathers score lower on tests of empathy, reasoning and brain development than those whose fathers are more involved. The former behave more aggressively, don't get on as well with siblings, tend to be less popular in school and are more reluctant to take responsibility for their misbehavior.

In earlier generations, things were more tranquil. The normal motto was that men would work outside, and women would work at home, bringing up the children and keeping the family together. In today's fast paced world, such a thing is mostly as dead as the dodo. Women have claimed and got their just right to build a career and work equal to men. However, given that there are an enormous amount of work pressures, the amount of time spent by parents on children has declined; after all a double income moves the family towards prosperity faster.
As this article points out, a number of fathers are starting to realize their responsibilities in the changed environment, regulating the amount of time that they are spending at office, and trying to take quality time out for their children, as well as trying to be a part of their lives. This includes taking on more responsibilities for the work needed to be done at home. In India, this trend is anyhow necessary due to the joint family system slowly breaking apart into more nuclear families. This change comes with much greater responsbility for ensuring that everyone contributes towards activities at home.
My experiences with friends who have passed through this phase is that these oh-so-proud men are changing, and becoming more sensitive. I had a friend who married with the condition that his wife would not work, and that attitude remains; however another used to be still expecting to be spoon-fed in the early days of marriage, but after a baby, he quickly realized that things were not the same and now is a great helper to his wife; and then there are the ones whom you can see as the ones who take great pride in helping thier wives, spending as much time as possible with children. However, on the basis of my circle of friends, is difficult to generalize on how much the Indian male is adjusting ! Anyone care to share their experiences ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 2:06 PM    

Friday, April 06, 2007

BJP in trouble over inflammatory CD

A story that is bound to be present in a number of political blogs about India. Political parties have a great way of shooting themselves in the foot. The BJP, ever since the loss of the last elections has been lurching from one problem to another. They lost their great rabble rouser, Uma Bharti; lost the heavyweight of Delhi, Madan Lal Khurana, and lost one of their great fixers, Pramod Mahajan. In the meantime, the controversy about Lal Krishna Advani and his comments about Jinnah struck the BJP like a arrow to its heart. This whole drama went on for a long time, caused a major discord between Advani and his own people, and gave the RSS renewed power over the BJP, something that the duo of Advani and Vajpayee had managed to grow out of to a large degree.
And now, with some changes in their management and leadership, and after some good results in the past, the BJP has managed to do it again. It looked set to do some good results in the UP polls (pulling back its earlier constituency of the upper 'castes'), but now it seems to have landed itself in trouble.
These are changed times. After the advent of Seshan in the 90's, and then the activism of the courts, independent institutions such as the Election Commission feel an increase in their power and asserting abilities, and are more liable to crack the whip on any party they feel is not acting as per rules.
In the midst of all this, the BJP, for the Uttar Pradesh elections, somehow managed to release a CD that is supposed to be a controversial one, attacking Muslims and trying to bring back the Hindutva of the old. Now, this may or may not have had the permission of the top authorities of the BJP (and they claim that this is not part of the official propaganda), but for a party that ruled the country and projected an image of a country on the move, the attempt to try to pander to communal interests is not advisable.
The BJP has, in the past, tried to project iteslf as a party with a difference, and one expects the party to try to do positive things. Such a CD somehow undercuts that impression, and is bound to make a number of people who support the party uncomfortable.
The party should think again about such moves. Doing soft Hindutva where you appeal to nationalistic sentiments, taking a hard line on unity and terrorism is fine, but making negative steps such as this CD reminds one of the likes of the hard-line lunatics that pop up now and then.
Read the report:

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the CD was not part of the official campaign material and conveyed this view the same to the Election Commission.
Following demand from political parties for derecognising the BJP, the Commission had issued a showcause notice to the BJP on Thursday and directed it to file a reply on Friday.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:47 AM    

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Muslims in Uttar Pradesh not a minority: High Court

The courts are suddenly starting to seem like a perpetual enemy to the Congress and a few of its like. They have been over-turning quite a few laws in the recent past, with some of the more prominent ones being the Ninth Schedule, the Foreigners law in Assam, the move by Andhra Pradesh to give reservations to the muslim community, and the recent staying of educational reservations for OBC's. But this one promises to be very controversial, and raise the hackles across a wide section of politicians. In fact, I am sure that this will
be covered in a number of Indian political blogs in the next few days.
What am I talking about ? Well, read a bit of this article:

In a landmark judgement, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday held that Muslims couldn’t be treated as a religious minority anymore in Uttar Pradesh.
Justice S N Srivastava gave the ruling after considering various criteria including the population of Muslims as enumerated in the census reports of 1951 and 2001.
The judgment, which is likely to cause polarization among political parties, comes two days ahead of the first phase of the crucial Assembly elections in UP starting on Saturday.

What makes the emerging situation even more interesting is that the UP polls are just around the corner, and political parties seeking the Muslim vote are most likely going to be trying to promise a quick reversal of this judgement and granting of minority rights to the Muslim community.
What will happen next ? There are bound to be a number of petitions filed in the Supreme Court, and the Congress Government is likely to get into the act. I am sure that there will be promises made to try and reverse this judgement through a new law (the first and foremost promise that a politician can make). And, opponents of the Samajwadi Chief, Mulayam Singh are going to try and pin the blame on him.
Another situation that I think will happen is that parties that try to mobilise the Hindu vote such as the BJP and the VHP will try and create a fear psychosis in the state to the effect that, Hindus in the state are on the edge of losing their majority, and unless the Hindu masses are mobilized and a party that does not promise appeasement is brough to power, there is not going to be any relief.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 12:05 PM    

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Indian cricket coach Greg Chappell resigns

So finally Greg Chappell resigns as coach of the Indian cricket team. His tenure saw a lot of ups and downs for the team, culimnating in the truly disastrous performance of the team during the World Cup. Not sure whether this is good or bad for Indian cricket as a whole.
His has a been remarkable tenure of 22 months; starting with great promise, and ending in pure disaster with the entire team against him. One thing is sure, he caused a great deal of excitement in the time that he was on top. First the entire battle with Saurav Ganguly over his performance and final ouster from the team. That ended in a great victory for Greg Chappell and the expectation that now that he is totally in charge of the team, maybe the performance of the team will improve. He added innovations such as focusing the team more strongly on net practise, also introducing a bio-mechanist Ian Frazer. However, the team only went from bad to worse, and each time, fans were reassured that no matter, the world cup is where India will make its mark.
And now we know where the India team stands. At current ranking, they will be somewhere at the bottom of known cricket playing countries. This world cup also resulted in a lot of reputations being shattered. Sachin Tendulkar, even having scored lowly before the world cup, still went into the tournament as a demi-god, but has come out with his reputation severly tarnished. There are now calls for his removal from the team, something that would have been impossible to think just a month ago.
Is it all due to the coach? I would not think so. Unlike games like football or basketball, the coach in cricket does not have the same kind of authority. It is the captain who matters more in day to day matters. And with the kind of batting performances by the India batting line-up, I very much doubt whether a coach could indeed have done anything great. What is required is more accountability, and ensuring that current performance is the only true criteria for a person to be in the team.
Now the board will go through the whole routine of trying to get a new coach, but as long as the current players wield the power that they do and there is no accountability, a new coach is not going to do any wonders. What is needed is a very active league that keeps on throwing up good players, such that there is always a threat to the current national players. And knowing how important endorsements are, it would be good for advertisers to start putting performance parameters in contracts.
An article about Chappell's resignation.

Greg Chappell's 22-month tempestuous tenure as India's cricket coach ended on Wednesday when he resigned after a bitter undeclared war of words with senior players including an anguished Sachin Tendulkar who said he had been 'shattered' by his criticism.
Under fire after India's shocking exit from the World Cup, the feisty Australian caved in only 26 days before his contract was due to end and e-mailed his resignation to the BCCI whose Working Committee meets here from Friday for a post-mortem of the team's poor showing.
In the days preceding his resignation, Chappell, speaking under the cover of "sources" close to him, attacked senior players for their attitude and accused them of behaving like "mafia" against junior players.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:00 AM    

Monday, April 02, 2007

India losing its precious wildlife

I just came back from a trip to Sariska. At this time, there is a lot of dryness in the air, and heat is slowly increasing. One of the moments that really hit me was the placard that talked about the tiger. Even though tigers have disappeared from Sariska, their placard still remains, a visible sign of the inaction of the Government.
Over a period of time, the tigers started vanishing from Sariska, but any such reports were dismissed by the relevant departments as untrue. Periodic marks were displayed as proof that tigers were still present in Sariska. But it was finally confirmed that the tigers were finally exterminated from Sariska, and the people who were responsible for ensuring that the natural park is free from poachers have never been held responsible. Just a committee has been set up by the Prime Minister to figure out what to do, but one really does not expect this committee to do anything worthwhile.
In the meantime, the pride of India's wildlife conservation effort is coming under the sway of poachers. The Gir sanctuary in Gujarat, the main sanctuary of the Asiatic lion is fully under the threat of poachers. As this report points out:

The Gir sanctuary, the only abode left of the majestic Asiatic lion in world, has been in news since last few days after six of the beasts were found poached and their body parts stolen from within the 1,400 sqkm protected area.

This is a major loss, and yet the only thing we hear is that the Environment ministry is looking into it. The fear is that they will keep on looking after the matter while we lose our national heritage to poachers.
There is really not much focus on making things better. One argument is that villagers living inside the parks cause problems, and there is a sustained movement to get them out. The reality is that these villagers can live in a sort of peaceful co-existence with the animals, and they are often the people who can provide reliable information on the going-ons in the jungle. But a typical high-handed behaviour of the officialdom is pushing these villagers away and preventing information flow of the sort that will prevent the poachers from killing India's wildlife wealth.
The Government really needs to ensure that people well versed in the co-existence of wildlife and humans and who are experts in the field be the ones who should be making policy and drafting laws for saving India's wildlife.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:37 AM