India are champs…Part 4…social repurcussions…

This was bound to happen:

Irked by the “step-motherly treatment” meted out to the Indian hockey players by the central and four state governments, when compared to the sops given to cricketers after their win in the Twenty20 World Cup, the team members have decided to go on a ‘hunger strike’.

Isn’t it ridiculous that the government decides that it can take the taxpayers’ money and do whatever it wants with it ? Look at this, for example. The state governments think nothing of pouring 5,10, even 21 Lakhs into these players.

It is not a question of whether these players deserve to be rewarded or not. The point is, the taxpayer is not supposed to foot the bill for this largesse from the government. India Uncut makes this argument far more compellingly:

If Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sheila Dikshit wish to use India’s victory to make a statement, they should spend their own money. All poor people in this country, from maids to chaprasis to cycle-rickshaw drivers, pay taxes every time they buy anything. It is ludicrous that their hard-earned money, coercively collected by the state, should be spent on cricketers with endorsements that are worth crores.

Well, that is point number 1.

Point number 2 is that Indian Hockey needs to get a life. You cannot spend the careers of thousands of promising hockey players begging for attention, begging for recognition from the government. It is not because the general public has some aversion to hockey that we are in this state today. The coaches, the players et al have to look at the way the game is run, at the way the players are selected.

If there are no stars in the Indian Hockey team, it is because the IHF treats the players like dirt. “Where is Dhanraj Pillay” is a good question to start the search into why hockey is a forgotten sport in India.

Point number 3: I have written before, on this blog, that the job of the government is to provide infrastructure, to put the framework in place, so to speak. We do not want the government to get into the nitty gritty of everyday life. We do not want the government to manage our lives (read “run our lives”) for us.

The job of the government, here, would have been to put the infrastructure for cricket, hockey, badminton, tennis etc in place (the stadiums, the training facilities, the support staff etc) and get out of the way. Let the market economies decide which sport gets top billing. (If it so turns out that cricket outshines every other sport in India, it is just plain unfortunate. You have to accept it and move on. You cannot force the public to watch such and such a game, just like you cannot force-feed such and such movies to us.)

The unfortunate point is that cricket is the star of the show. The government needs votes. So, it will go after the star…never mind the fact that it has hardly done anything for cricket either. (rewarding players with cash does not help the game. However much you bring in the “incentive” angle, I will not agree to that) . It is vote-bank politics at its best (worst ?)

Asking the government to give cash to achievers in other sports is not the answer. Hockey should ask for better facilities, better administration. In fact, hockey should ask the government to leave them alone so they might improve !

Related Posts:

Ongoing “India are champs” series:

India are champs…Part 5…that fateful last over…

India are champs … Part 3 … questions..

India are champs … Part 2 ..Shoaib Malik’s comments

India are champs … Twenty20 Final Highlights

India are champs … Part 1


‘Nobody has proved that Ram did not exist’

Excerpt from an interview with Pravin Togadia here:

What do you say to people who say that Ram is a mythical character and that he never existed?

According to rationalists, anything that cannot be proven does not exist. Therefore, since God’s existence has not been proven, he too does not exist. I want to ask them: Has it been proven that God does not exist? So, why are you so eager to believe that God does not exist? To compare the history of Islam or Christianity to that of Hinduism is not fair. Those are products of fairly young civilisations, not like Hinduism, which is a product of the oldest living civilisation in the world.

This is the tactic that we have mastered so well as a nation. Probably, this is the reason most of our “initiatives” go nowhere.

I am referring to the tactic of broadening the scope of an argument so much that there can be no conclusion. Then, in a frenzy of violence, people give up and forget what the original argument was in the first place.

The whole thing started with a simple question: Is it ok for the government to go ahead with the dredging, in view of the fact that this would damage the so-called “Ramar Sethu”. The points to be considered here: Is there any evidence to prove that “Ramar Sethu” is a man-made formation.

If it is, then it probably classifies as a national heritage (note: this still doesn’t have anything to do with the much wider debate of who built the sethu itself. We are only asking if some “being” built it ‘coz, if that is the case, then it is a part of our historical footprint as a nation; comparable to the numerous historical monuments across the rest of the nation)

When the ASI researches it and says that “Ramar Sethu” is a natural formation, that is that ! No body is asking if Ram existed or not, or if the Ramayana is just a myth. Nobody has any business getting into this argument ‘coz this is purely academic and nothing to do with the core issue here.

(There is a sinister argument at play here: If we agree, for the time-being, that Ramayana did actually happen, then the natural formation must be the “Ramar Sethu”. That is like jumping the gun. There is a whole of lot of difference between co-relation and causivity. Just because two events follow each other chronologically, it doesn’t hold that one caused the other.)

Coming back, at the time of the affidavit being filed, the only question being asked was : Is the “Ramar Sethu” a man-made formation.That was the only question that needed to be answered by the affidavit. It did not need to go into whether there was any evidence of Ram’s existence.

The affidavit tried to answer too many questions. The Hindu right-wing picked up all the juice offered by the affidavit and launched into the government.

At this point, I am ashamed to say, our government decided that scientific findings can be thrown out of the window in favour of votes.

Now consider this statement from the CM of Tamil Nadu:

Refusing to withdraw his remarks on Lord Rama, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi on Thursday said that as per Ramayana’s author Valmiki, Rama was a drunkard. “I have not said anything more than Valmiki, who authored Ramayana. Valmiki had even stated that Rama was a drunkard. Have I said so?” Karunanidhi told reporters. Challenging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani, he asked, “Is Advani ready to discuss Ramayana with me in the same platform after going through Valmiki Ramayana fully?”

This is an example of people answering the wrong (irrelevant) questions, coming up with outrageous (sensational) statements etc to stir up their vote banks. Does it make any difference to the Sethu project whether Rama was a drunkard or not ?
Who suffers in the end ? Well, we the know the answer to that question, don’t we ?

This tactic makes sure we do not complete any of the projects we start. Perhaps that is in the interest of most politicians. If we completed everything, why would we need to support this humongous monopoly called “government” anymore ?

P.S: It is symptomatic of our cultural ethos that the only angle that is looked into is the religious (or is it political ?) one. See here for a more rounded look at the project and why it may not be all that great for this nation.

Motorist bleeds to death as Kolkata turns blind eye

This piece of news from CNN-IBN is scary.

The crossing near Nalban at Salt Lake is where one can witness a bulk of traffic. And tragedy struck on the crossing during the office rush hour on Wednesday morning.  A speeding bus hit 25-year-old Bijoy Dey and his body lay in a pool of blood, but not a single passerby came to his rescue.  A local TV reporter spotted him before police arrived, and it was already 40 minutes late..………………… The residents seem to have lost faith in the system.

Reading through the comments section, people look like they are disgusted more by the inaction of the passers-by than that of the authorities.Yes, the passers-by could have done more. Yes, someone had to inform the police, otherwise how would the police know.

(Let us ignore for the time being that a VVIP car passed by the scene of the accident without bothering to help…that’s how our politicians are !)
Now, ask yourself this question: What would you do if you were at the scene of the accident?

(Let us assume, for the sake of simplicity, that you are a genuine do-gooder).

Do you know what first-aid to give? Do you know the ambulance numbers? Do you know where you can get the nearest health-care service? Do you know if you are to inform the police first or to take the injured to hospital first?

Do you know what your responsibilities/rights are as an eyewitness to the accident or as someone who brought the injured to the hospital ?

How easy is it to help in an accident in our country?

 Of course, where there is a will there is a way. Of course, if you ask around, you will figure out how to help. There are scores of folks in our country who do that every time. But they are the good Samaritans…what about the lowest denominator?

I firmly believe that when you make it easy for people to lend a helping hand, most of them do (which is why online donations are so popular)…if you are going to depend on the good of the people all the time, you are asking for too much.

We have a government whose job it is to provide us the infrastructure. We pay taxes so they can do that. We cannot bank on the government to do everything for us…but we expect them to make it easy for us to discharge our duties.

Why do we pay bribes? It is easier to pay a bribe and get a job done than to follow the correct route. Of course, we have RTI…but is it the perfect system?

As an aside, I wonder what happened to do this? Does anyone know?

Read this excellent paper on Trauma-care in India…this is a little dated but this is the best piece I could find on the net.

Quiz question: What is the accident help line in India?

Answer: 1066, I think.

Who owns Free Speech ?

Borrowing a link here from one of my favourite blogs: Measured Against Reality

Ambassadors from Muslim countries have indicated that they intend to present the Swedish prime minister with a list of demands when they meet for talks on Friday…

“We want to see action, not just nice words. We have to push for a change in the law,” he said.

“Muslims need legal protection against the desecration of the Prophet Muhammad, maybe something similar to the protection enjoyed by Jews and homosexuals.”

Read Scott’s full post here

What gets my goat is that these are inevitably the same people who think they have the right to call someone up and abuse them.

Two examples:
1. Dilip D’Souza, whose writing does not always endear Hindu fundamentalists in India. Read his take on the Outrage Mongers :

Consider: on July 11 2006, the other set of blasts in this country happened in Srinagar. Being out and about on errands most of that morning, I entirely missed this news. Until the phone rang about noon. It was a man who had been calling regularly in those weeks. He claimed to be in Delhi, had somehow found my number, and would call to berate me and my writing in the worst possible language. As he did that afternoon. When I answered, he said to me: “D’you see what they did in Srinagar? You and your masters in Pakistan must be happy! You traitor! Why haven’t you condemned it yet?”And that’s how I found out that something awful had happened in Srinagar. And late that night, the same gentle man called to abuse me about the blasts in Mumbai’s suburban trains.

2. The incident sometime back (I do not have links here) when a radio jockey from a station in the US called up an Indian call center and hurled abuse at a lady working there.

Free speech is for the public domain. We do not have rights over the personal domain of other people.

Oh, and one more thing: people who demand that such and such things should be banned from public speech, should not, by their own logic, have any right to even put that demand in public domain.You cannot speak your mind if you are not going to let others speak their mind.

How do you define racism ?

For no particular reason, racism crossed my mind this morning.
What is racism if not personal discrimination.

When you look at it that simply, it comes down to personal preferences; personal preferences that are not always logical. We have our choice of brands, our choice of holiday destinations, our choice of fruits…the list goes on. How many of these preferences are logical. More importantly, how many of these are subject to moral or ethical arguments ?

When you say that such and such a business establishment discriminates against such and such ethnicity, I believe you are only projecting a moral point. To take the concerned establishment to court based solely on this point is stretching things a little too far. I would go to the extent of saying that this is a violation of the freedom of the establishment. They have the right to exercise their personal preferences. (Whether these preferences contradict the interests of the stakeholders is a matter that needs to be looked at through a different lens)

Consider an uptown bar which does not allow blacks (in an imaginary country where such discrimination is still going on). Now, if you were to pass a law that such discrimination is illegal, you are preventing the bar from exercising its fundamental business right viz to be able to decide the profile of its clientele. Does this business practice leave a bad taste in the mouth ? maybe. Is this ethically wrong ? maybe..depending on what your ethical upbringing was like. Does it violate any freedoms ? not so sure.

Let me clarify myself. If it so happens that the government owns this bar and they have decided to discriminate against me based on my color, I have a legal point. Since the government collects taxes from me, it is legally obligated to discontinue this practice of discrimination towards me. Also, I have a way of putting pressure on the government till it discontinues its policies (the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa being a prime example of such pressure). I have a similar way of putting pressure on the afore-mentioned private-owned bar to discontinue its discrimination. There are ways of applying this pressure (subtle as in spreading a message of boycotting the bar across ethnic lines; or not so subtle as in organizing protests in front of the bar). But the judiciary or the government has no right to put pressure on the bar.

Unless I hold a regular job, no bank has an obligation to lend me money. Of course, I will overlook temporarily the fact that the bank has a business reason for not lending me money. Should I be allowed to go to court saying that the bank is discriminating against un-employed youth ? Can I term this racism ?

I am groping in the dark here. The more I think of it, the more unclear it is. The government has an obligation to treat all its citizens as equals since it taxes them all without discrimination and it gets votes from all without discrimination (a government by the people, for the people and so forth). That much is correct.
But to stretch that point further and say that all privately-owned business establishments should also treat all citizens equally, does not hold water. It may be an ethical or moral argument. In the end, it may even be a lousy business practice (very few businesses can depend on a clientele coming from a limited profile). However, there ought to be no legal point here.

I know we have laws, though. I am reminded of the famous case of Mahatma Gandhi being thrown out of a train in South Africa. There is a legal point here in so many ways. Number one: the railways was state-owned and the state owed Gandhi some privileges as a law-abiding citizen (or whatever his immigrant-status in SA was at that point in time). Number two: he had paid for his ticket and the railways was reneging on a business contract by denying him the services he had already paid for.
When courts look at racism, that is the point they should focus on: did the accused party renege on a contract with the accuser ? If yes, put the accused in jail. If no, please do not dig up a sentimental argument about all men being equal. It does not suit the supposed-to-be-objective judiciary.

Help me here….I so want my argument to be wrong..its in my flesh and upbringing. But my gut says that the above argument is correct.
Where am I wrong ? what do you feel ?

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Hyderabad Blasts : lasting images

Painful Departure
A mother mourns the death of her daughter who was killed in the twin blasts in Hyderabad (Image courtesy this Hindu article)

Laughing Stock

The Andhra Pradesh cabinet shares a joke in the emergency meeting called to discuss the twin blasts in Hyderabad (image courtesy BarbadKatte )

Guess somethings never change…such is life !

Chain-snatcher brutally dragged by police

What a depressing way to being the day !

Chain snatcher’s punishment

Image courtesy

What was the man’s crime ? Read the story at NDTV

You have to ask: Are these cops so frustrated that they have stopped caring ? Are they so arrogant that they cannot figure out that they are dealing with real people ?

There are times when I am deeply ashamed of being born as a human being.

This is one of those times…