Friday, March 30, 2007

Indian cricket lacks ruthlesness

In wake of Ian Chappell's comments that Tendulkar should retire, came replies from Ashok Mankad and Ajit Wadekar that Tendulkar still has a few years left in him.

When a Aussie cricketer reaches the same stage as Tendulkar has at this moment, he is dumped summarily, irrespective of his star status. If he has a few years leftin him (take the case of Hayden, who few months back was dropped), he is supposed to bludgeon his way up the ranks through the state level matches.

May be Wadekar and Mankad are right. If they are, then Sachin even after being dropped should be able to bat his way through the Indian first class scene, the way Ganguly did. But alas, given his superstar, almost demi-god like stature in the country, such a move is hardly bound to happen, and the team will continue to carry an out of form (albeit genius) player for some more time at least. One can only hope he finds form soon, for the selectors wouldnt have the guts to drop him, whatever he does on field.

On the OBC quota

Thank goodness, that even while the government goes bersek, there is still a body called judiciary which keeps its feet planted on the ground and doesnt hesitate in calling a spade a spade. At least, the quota debacle has been avoided for this year.

Without going into a debate as to whether introducing an OBC quota is justified or not (socially), here is a short list of where the government bungled -

  • The government doesnt have any authentic figure on percentage of OBC population
  • The figures upon which they based their decisions came from 1931. If it isnt height of stupidity to assume that demographics remain constant, then what is?
  • Even these figures arise from Mandal comission report, whose correctness is a BIG question
  • Even assuming 27% to be a good figure, the institutes didnt have the infrastructure to cope with the seat hike. Premier institutes like IITs face a 15-20% faculty shortfall already. A 27% seat hike on top of this would have been disastrous

Chappell sense

Ian Chappell talks sense and feels its time for Sachin to hang his boots. Sad indeed that it has come to it. But, it really does seem that Ian Chappell has hit the nail on the head. Hopefully the little master will get a chance to shine again and then hang up his boots while on top.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

a leaf out of Hayden's book

Team India might do well to hear Matthew Hayden's word after the West Indies Austrailia match. To quote him:

"I've had to show a lot of commitment and passion, first to get back into the one-day side - and in particular, to represent Australia at the World Cup."

Commitment and passion were the two ingredients the Indian team lacked, and they paid for it. If a player of Hayden's stature can talk this sort of talk and back it up, it makes you wonder how much lesser stars in the Indian team are able to take their positions in the side for granted! But then, it is India we are talking of arent we? Here, in cricket money (endorsements) matters more than anything else.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cup of woe?

Thats it. India's world cup campaign is all but over. Barring a miraculous Bangladesh-Bermuda game, India is out of the world cup. Sad isnt it? But, thankfully the billions can get on with their day to day jobs without wasting their time watching cricket.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cherish this moment ...

Aaaahh!! Cherish this moment while it lasts! As of today (19th March 2k7) Bangladesh poses a serious threat to India's chances of qualifying for super eights. Kenya and Ireland do one better and are placed second in their groups. Ireland in fact was momentarily the group leaders (till the Windies defeated Zimbabwe).

Michael Holding and Ricky Ponting had indulged in minnow bashing before the world cup started. So did I. I dont know about the other two, but I, personally, retract my comments; The minnows are the underdogs; and as Bangladesh and Ireland showed us, every dog, even underdog, has its day.

All hail the glorious uncertainities of cricket. :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The day of the underdog

Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities. And this fact shone through brightly on St Patrick's day with the two underdogs, Bangladesh and Ireland putting up courageous performances to upstage India and Pakistan.

This means India treads in troubled waters; they just have to beat Sri Lanka and Bermuda to progress. Pakistan is knocked out. Sad, for these two teams have some of the most exciting cricketers in world cricket. But the events on the cricket pitch drove home the point that talent alone wont take you the distance. Application will.

Leaving aside the murky reminiscences, lets toast the glorious uncertainities of the game and congratulate the worthy winners, Bangladesh and Ireland.

Sehwag "The New Wall"

The way Dravid has backed Sehwag, it appears as if Sehwag is the "new wall" of Indian cricket. Infallible (from the team that is; not performances) due to Dravid's support.
Yet again, he failed against Bangladesh. Considering the relatively weak nature of opponent, India can afford to (?) try out one of the out of form players (Viru and Pathan). Irfan Pathan showed signs of coming back to form in the practice match against Windies, although he was lucky to garner three wickets. But Dravid and co chose to have Pathan on the sidelines and play Sehwag instead. Once again, the wrong horse was backed!!

Really strange considering the flexibility Pathan brings to the side with his allround skills.

Its about time Rahul Dravid gives up his fascination for Sehwag. Ture, if you give him 20 chances, he is likely to hustle up a smart fifty (no doubts on Viru's talent; its just that his form is questionable). But, its likely that on other 19 occasions, team India would rue missing out a solid 30 from an opener.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

quotable quotes :-)

World Cup special!! Direct lifts from cricinfo:

"I don't believe I coach cricketers, I coach people in cricket uniforms."The erudite Mike Young, Australia's fielding coach, reminds us of his coaching role. Coaching people in cricket uniforms, not cricketers.

"He loves India. He has named his child India. His biggest player is actually Tendulkar. Right now I'm hoping Tendulkar does not hit a catch to him because he will probably drop it to watch him bat."Irvine Romaine on team-mate Lionel Cann who is just a bit overawed by being at the World Cup

"Watching cricket is one of the best ways of avoiding working known to man."A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has warned that the British economy could lose 270 million pounds over the next two months, due to World Cup absenteeism.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Indian GenNext's views on marriage.

An interesting survey published in The Telegraph...

The key features include -

  • Marriage and kids should be in the thirties
  • "C'mon. Marriage aint my life. There's more to life." attitude emerges in a big way (though thats still not the majority view (abt 53% against to 47% for. Interestingly, the global figure is 61 vis-a-vis 39). Indians getting more career oriented than the rest?
  • 87% say marriage is for life.

... the way Indian played their cricket.

Ricky Ponting, the Aussie captain has some strong words for Sunny Gavaskar. He also derides India's lack of success in recent times. For the record, Aussies lost 6 out of their last 7 games. India won 6 out their last 7 games.

Ponting also conviniently forgets his own performance against India. He is definitely a tiger at home, in the Aussie grounds. But he came to India and scored 20 runs!! (in 3 tests :P )

Personally, whoever wins the cup, I would love to see the Aussies lose; just because of their arrogance if nothing else.

Monday, March 12, 2007

IIT bashing yet again!

There are some things in India which is considered fashionable. One of them is bashing the "brand IIT". While some of the criticism is definitely warranted, a chunk of it is, well, just "fashionable".

Here is a piece by BV Shenoy. The article criticizes the IIT JEE system. It is really a well written article for most part, and all the arguments have been put rather nicely (although there maybe some factual errors). Except for the last paragraph. So you want to put emphasis on board exams? You trust them, do you? Well, before going any further please take a couple of minutes to read this too and spare a thought for the students who suffer this way. This link is a report on answer scripts getting "lost" and then "found" on a local train. The article also reports that this isnt a one off incident.

When we appeared in class XII exams, a chunk of roll numbers had 78 in math. A nice continuous chunk. With students amongst that chunk having rather varied expectations too; even if you were to look at the mock exam marks there was huge diversity in the chunk (the students by the way, can look at the graded mock test answer scripts). Fishy? But still, there are so many who would rather trust this than the JEE.

By all means, with a preponderance of coaching centers, the IIT JEE cant be truly considered fair. But take a moment and think whether the alternatives proposed, like the board exams are fair.

I have a couple of questions for the proponents of using board exams etc as "performance indicators", and hence maybe as possible alternatives to the JEE.

1. While you keep harping that coaching institutes play a key role in JEE, do you intend to say that no private coaching goes on for board exams? Even if you were to leave aside the coaching institute stuff, do you intend to say that students studying in a top notch metro school, and those studying in a mofussil school are on a level playing field? If they arent, how come the board exams will be a better indicator.

2. A lot is made out of the corelations between board exams and college performance and the (lack of) corelation between JEE scores and college performance. Anybody has an idea of the corelations between board exams and other tough exams (eg, ISC math score vis-a-vis math olympiad results) and the correlations between JEE and other tough exams (eg, JEE math score vis-a-vis math olympiad scores)?

In a lighter vein, I do see a very strong correlation between college performances and board exams, while I dont see any between college performance and the JEE: In the board exams they ask questions like "State Newton's laws of motion"; nothing focuses on applications of the Newton's laws in tricky situations. In the undergrad courses, they ask questions like "Define structure factor"; no questions asked on actually calculating the structure factor of even slightly complex crystal structures. JEE however, wouldnt ever ask "State Newton's laws and stop there". There you have to demonstrate, while solving the problems, that you have understood the laws fairly well and can apply them. No wonder that the rote learners of board exams have a field day after entering college!! See, I told you; there's a very strong correlation indeed.

All is not well with the IIT JEE. Agreed. But the behemoth survives due to lack of proper alternatives. The crappy stuff which passes in the name of board exams are not, I repeat, ARE NOT an alternative for the JEE.

Disclaimer: I did not clear the IIT JEE. Like 98% others (as well as a fair chunk who didnt have access to methodical coaching like FIITJEE classroom coaching etc), I flopped as well. So please dont think I am defending a system that suited me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cup of Life, or Cup of woe?

Tony Cozier's article at the cricinfo website makes for interesting reading. Starting from hotel fires to underprepared pitches and "work in progress" at the match venues, along with dissenting feelings of players and officials thrown in, it appears that this edition of the World Cup is doomed to failure right from the beginning.

However, I have a sneaking feeling that this world cup will actually turn out to be a grand success for cricket and the goof ups will be effectively consigned to the dustbin. Much of this feeling has to do with the jolly good natured approach to life adopted by the denizens of Caribbean Islands. Here's hoping the Windies do well in the World Cup ... and the Indian team lifts the trophy :-)

Friday, March 9, 2007

What does feminism mean?

Here is an interview of Gloria Steinem in rediff. According to her, a feminist is one who can be a woman or a man, who believes in the full social, economic, political equality of women and men"

Richie rich

Forbes has published its list of rich guys of this world.

  • 4 Indians make it to the 50 richest men - LN Mittal at #5, Mukesh Ambani at #14, Anil Ambani at #18 and Azim Premji at #21. (none of them, by the way, fully self-made, although Mittal and Premji can make some claims in that direction). Thats a lot, considering that the average Indian's income as such is pretty low.
  • This highlights two things - Indians can make money staying in India if they work hard enough. Also, when one looks at the general poverty in the country this accentuates the huge disparities that exist between the "haves" and the "have nots" in India.
  • 6 of the 10 richest, 12 of the 20 richest and 29 of the 50 richest men/women are self-made billionaires
  • Of the women billionaires in the top 50, I couldnt find a single "self-made" billionaire (hmm... need to check this statement again though).

Some semblence of sense. At last!

Here is a an account of the supreme court dealings on the issue of reservations. Finally, do we see some light at the end of the tunnel, which in the first place, was a creation of a certain pig-headed minister with little more vision than the number of votes garnered in the votebank.

Strangely, now he is starting to sing a slightly different tune.

I intend to put in a short discussion on the merits and demerits of the reservation systems (as enforced in India).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

McGrath the batsman

This article by Tim de Lisle on McGrath the ODI batsman makes for great reading :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

nanopolitan's analysis: R&D funding

Prof. Abinandanan presents a nice incisive analysis of science R&D funding in India (wrt the present budget) in his blog ...

Holi cows

The Telegraph's report on holi cows of India ...
Isnt it great while all the average Indian will be working his ass off on Monday, the representatives of the average Indian will be enjoying holidays? Now, really this isnt much of an issue though. No work gets done in the Parliamentary sessions anyway with all the uncivilized yellings and quarellings; and when they do manage to stop bickering, all our politicians manage to do is to come up with messages for team India, like this one.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A valuable tip for team India

Lok Sabha speaker, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, has an excellent tip for Rahul Dravid and his men in blue over here :-)

Budget 2007-08

So the budget has finally been presented. The govt tom toms it as a success, and the opposition decries it as a failure - now thats all expected.
According to the govt, budget highlights its focus on education. Sushma Swaraj thinks otherwise and shreds apart the claim;

The TOI quotes her as:
"The Finance Minister says Rs 10,671 crore would be provided for the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Well, the two per cent cess on education has fetched the government Rs 10,393 crore. Similarly, they have allocated Rs 6,483 crore for higher education. And the extra one per cent cess will get them about Rs 5,200 crore. If the taxpayer is paying for the education, what is the government giving?" she asks, appalled that the UPA government is saying that education is the highlight of its Budget. "Where is the allocation from the Budget?"

Another quotable quote from her: "The housewife wanted a reduction in her ration bill. But in fact, only those who feed their pets imported dog food will see a cut in their ration bill. It's so strange that man's food has become expensive and dog food cheaper."

And a quotable quip from TOI too :-)
"Trust the seasoned politician to aim where it matters. The middle-class stomach."