Archive for March, 2003

Delhi Diary

Monday, March 24th, 2003

Mar 24, 2003

Trauma Centre

On March 10, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s motorcade set off for a Central Industrial Security Force ceremony in Ghaziabad, outside Delhi. For two hours, the overzealous Delhi and UP police halted traffic on all roads close to Mr Advani’s route. As a result, possibly hundreds of boys and girls reached their Class X board examination halls up to an hour late. Imagine you are a 16-year-old. You are taking the most important examinations of your life. Your career, your choices, your self-esteem depend on this (they should not, but this is the inescapable reality). Through no fault of yours, you reach the hall 45 minutes late. The trajectory of your entire life changes. Can there be anything more cruel than this? Newspaper reports even said that brutish policemen holding up the traffic mocked pleading parents by telling them: “If you are in such a hurry, you should have taken a helicopter.”

This is only the latest episode in India’s disgraceful vip security saga. Innocent citizens have been beaten up for straying near vip cavalcades, patients have died in ambulances forced to wait while chief ministers went by to cut some stupid ribbon somewhere, and now futures of our children have been jeopardised. I am sure Mr Advani is as ashamed of this as everyone else, but the harm is already done. The CBSE will hardly give grace marks to students who reach their halls late. In any case, how do you quantify the trauma that these children went through and which would surely have an effect on their performance in other papers too? The next day, the home ministry issued a circular saying that vip security should not disrupt citizens’ lives. This standard assembly-line response is a sick joke. Not a single person involved has even bothered to apologise to the affected children or their parents. This is outrageous and obscene.

Smileys All The Way

This is of course the sms World Cup. During every game, Indians across the globe have shared the viewing experience—and their joy and despair—with their faraway friends through their cellphone keypads. The most famous message, of course, is the one that clogged the ether after India’s Australia debacle: “Let us pledge today not to buy any brand endorsed by a cricketer.” A few days later, after India’s emphatic victory over England, I received a follow-up: “Thank you. Your boycott worked.”

FAQ File

Whether India wins the Cup or not, there are three points, I believe, that need to be made, and which the politically correct media may be loath to address. One, over the last year or so, Sachin Tendulkar has been slowing down considerably once he nears a century. Against Sri Lanka, he made his first 72 runs off 86 balls (strike rate 83.3), with six fours and a six. He hit only one boundary thereafter, to move from 75 to 79, and then scored his next 18 runs before he was out for 97 off 25 deliveries (strike rate: 72). To be fair, if he got his century, Sachin would have stepped on the gas (against Namibia, he scored 100 off 115, and the next 52 runs off 35 balls), but in matches where he does not get a hundred, or gets out immediately after his ton, he would have effectively wasted a dozen balls and put pressure on the batsmen coming in later. If Sachin hadn’t slowed down against Sri Lanka, India would have possibly got 310, not 292. It made no difference to the match result, but against a team like Australia, it could be vital. Also, would Australia ever allow Adam Gilchrist to slow down in his 80s? Sachin is too great a batsman to have to nudge and push to a hundred.

Two, how long do we have to suffer umpires handing out wrong decisions? Asoka De Silva, for example, is a scandal and can be relied on to give at least one Indian batsman out wrongly in every match. Why the hell isn’t the icc using all the technology that is available today to aid the umpires? And three, has chucking now become legal? The Shoaib Akhtar delivery that got Sachin out on 98 was the most blatant chuck I have ever seen in an international match. But no umpire ever calls any bowler any more, since that could mean that their icc contracts wouldn’t be renewed. Remember Darrel Hair?

Fans and the Fury

Suppose India loses in the World Cup final to Australia, are our cricket fans going to vilify this team? (By the way, I wonder what those madmen who held a mock shraadh of the 15 Indian players in Calcutta are doing now? Are they communing with the “dead men” via planchette?) Do we have the maturity of the German fans who gave Ollie Kahn’s men a hero’s welcome when they returned from World Cup soccer? Or the English who didn’t mind Beckham and Co losing to the best team in the world? I fear that we are going to prove to the world again how half-witted we are.