Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tale of two useless captains : Bhajji and Laxman

IPL T20 is under way but the most useless captain award is already shared by Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman without a contest.

Laxman does not know what to do with the price catches in his team, and he tries to put a "solid foundation" to the innings with Venugopal Rao at the other end when Symonds and Afridi are yet to come. May be he was too keen to prove that he is as good a twenty-twenty blaster as Symonds (or better). Let us wish him luck.

Bhajji is one step ahead. He tried eight bowlers in a match without luck, but insists he won't give the ball to Jayasurya. He cracks down under pressure, loses his cool often.. one wonders how the captain's cap went to him ahead of Jayasurya and Pollock.

It isn't surprising to see petty personal interests ruling IPL. And it is refreshing to see that teams that have less of personal rivalries to deal with (like Rajasthan and Delhi) are doing good despite having teams that are not so strong on paper.

The only other captain to give some comnpetition to these two was Rahul Dravid. (I was pleasantly surprised to see Ganguly not trying too hard too tie down other batsmen in his team.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Many Nandigrams (and six Maoist women)

A few days back, a media friend of mine and five others visited the POSCO site in Orissa on the eve of a mass rally against the project. The next day, a local Oriya newspaper reported that six Maoist women -- some of them pretending to be media people -- came the previous night and camped at the rally site to give arms training to the tribals.

News about the rally came in the "Non-Events" section in local Times of India. In Delhi edition, Times carried a oneliner (Massive rally at proposed Posco site: Anti-Posco protesters held a massive rally at the proposed Posco site near Paradeep even as police detained around 300 of their supporters on Tuesday. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders in Balitutha where an estimated 3,000 villagers gathered on Utkal Divas and pledged not to give away their land for the proposed Posco project. The police blocked entry of protestors at several places. ToI Delhi, April 2) and Indian Express chose to look away.

Native resistances to big projects and the displacements attached to such projects do not carry any news value any more (unless it happens in a state where a communist party rules). In the rush to globalize and to get things done at low cost (which most often means without paying for the resources), such struggles have become commonplace. And there are many Nandigram-like situations in many states in India. The POSCO project is just one of them.

(It is not new to Orissa either -- the people's resistance to a big mining project in Kashipur is over 15 years old and a brutal police crackdown on tribals there happened only about three years back.)

Some related links:

  • Democracy at gunpoint: a report, a case study, a map and other links

  • Armed procession against Posco: Indian Express, December 3, 2007

  • Posco officials taken hostage by villagers: Indian Express, May 12, 2007

  • Nandigram-like Situation in Orissa? The South Asian, December 2, 2007

  • [Post Script: One local guy told my friend, "You people are lucky that there are no metallic resources in your state. At least you will have some amount of democracy". Going by the list of mine-rich states, one sees he does have a point. But now, it is not only about the mines any more.]

    Do we have a Tibet in India?

    "Free Tibet" slogan is in. Boycott Beijing games, do not carry the Olympic torch..

    So Girish Shahane asks in Times of India today: "Free Tibet. And What about Kashmir?"

    I found many of the arguments made in the article interesting, and it is true that "the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is the elephant in the room which Indians debating Tibet are doing their darndest to ignore" and that In India, "there is no public or political pressure" to resolve such issues that plague us. Below are some more lines from the article for those who do not have time to read all of it.

    "..those who support the idea of an independent Tibet are misguided, and Indians who do so are hypocritical to boot.."

    ".. The former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha argued we should intervene to secure Tibet's freedom: "We want good relations with China. I am not saying let's have war with China. But if we reach a point of conflict over Tibet, we should be prepared for that eventuality.."

    "..Kashmir exacts a toll even when it is not in the headlines. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced from their homes. There's the daily harassment of ordinary citizens fomenting resentment. And there's the expense of maintaining a massive security presence in the region.

    The Siachen misadventure alone costs us some 1,500 crore rupees a year, and has led to the death of perhaps 2,000 Indian army men.."

    ".. Pakistan, which in the past has played a largely negative role, favouring insurrection over negotiation, has altered its stance, and offered a number of creative options for the state's future.

    Our neighbour is looking beyond the binary of victory and defeat, and so should we.."

    [This is not the first time parallels are being drawn between the two issues. There was a game of words between Pakistan and India about five years back but the context was different. It was at a time when Vajpayee said on his visit to China that Tibet was an integral part of China.]