Saturday, July 11, 2009

Indian soccer : Top rank in politics

Almost 2 decades ago, I recall a resigned comment made by Prasun Bannerjee, ex-captain of Indian soccer team, on the popularity of soccer in India. Prasun said that if Sunil Gavaskar decides to walk any street in India, he will immediately be mobbed by 100 fans while Prasun will get none for doing the same act. I was a witness to such a situation around popular soccer stars in the late seventies, when some of us friends suddenly chanced upon Jamshid Nassiri (of the famed Majid-Jamshid pair from Iran who dominated Kolkata club football during those days) in front of New Market loitering alone. We struck up a casual conversation with him lasting for more than ten minutes with hardly any passerby showing any interest. Jamshid was sporting enough to answer our juvenile questions on football, Majid & other topics & even signed our autograph books. Finally when we departed , we saw him hail a cab and carry on with his solitary journey.

In 2009, probably the same reaction from fans holds true for MS Dhoni while Baichung Bhutia may get 10 fans instead of 100. And that's possibly because of the fact that the glut of telly channels have made his face well-known. Even a good looking news caster from the telly channel may get the same number of curious fans around her.

The cause for this indifference to soccer in India is not hard to find. While India ranks among the top three in World Cricket, she ranks 144 in the soccer world. The fact that only 8 countries play top class cricket does not seem to deter the hero worship from adulating fans.

Hence when soccer news gets the headlines in the print media, its always for the wrong reasons.
The latest wrong reason is the mess created around the suspension of 32 year old Indian captain & ,superstar Baichung Bhutia from the Mohunbagan football club (MFC) of Kolkata.Baichung apparently got the punishment for not turning up for practice for a few days as he had other professional commitments to keep. But he made sure that he had kept the coach informed. The club officials , incensed by such "insubordination" , sent Baichung a show cause notice. Baichung, well known among his fans for his career-long commitment to the sport & the employer, his humility & polite behaviour, was so stunned by this "ungrateful" reaction from MFC that he called a press conference and announced that he will no longer play for MFC.

This press conference got the MFC going. Managed by officials that include among others lawyers, politicians, corporate chieftains & businessmen of repute in the "Bhodrolok" society of Kolkata; MFC opined that no individual is bigger than a glorious century old institution like MFC & hence Baichung must get the stick & suspension order followed. For a soccer fan, nothing was more outrageous than such an action as
  1. It debars a player from earning his livelihood. Imagine a CEO being suspended for missing a couple of days in office .
  2. The punishment is out of proportion with the apparent folly of the player. Fining him monetarily could have been the best option as he had reneged on his contractual terms.
  3. It seemingly makes Baichung a bonded slave of MFC since he had repeatedly said that he has lost all interest in playing anymore for MFC.
  4. The fans care a fig for the so called tradition of the club. In the hundred plus years of its existence, MFC could not even bag a single trophy in club championships of international repute . MFC , like other soccer clubs of Kolkata , continue to play third rate, insipid & slow paced soccer that makes even Nepalese clubs yawn in boredom.
Now the Baichung matter has been pushed up to the AIFF, the top soccer body of India, for their arbitration. It is expected that AIFF will spend an enormous time in their disposal to complicate matters further & possibly not take a decision at all till six months pass away naturally.

It is another matter that while AIFF has been a super failure in raising the standards of Indian soccer in the last two decades; English & German clubs like Man U, Bayern, Arsenal have started setting up joint ventures with local football academies in India. Very very large scale commercialisation of soccer in Indian clubs probably remain the only option for roping in talent & interest for enhancing standards just like what the BCCI, the Indian cricket board did for cricket in India in the last decade.

In the meanwhile, it will do a lot of good to restore the dignity of the post of Indian soccer captain among international observers & allow Baichung Bhutia to enthrall his fans with his magical soccer skills .

Monday, July 6, 2009

The World wows & bows to a Champion sportsman.

15 Grand slams victories.
A win in each of the slams.
World no. 1 ranking for the longest time period .
The Greatest Lawn Tennis player ever born.

Roger Federer, in his 7th straight Wimbledon final, today defeated a fighting Andy Roddick 5-7,7-6,7-6,3-6 & 16-14 to reach a pinnacle that no body has ever reached before in the history of Lawn Tennis.
Just Wow!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Indian Media is a joke

The Election Commission(EC) has denied charges of malfunctioning of EVMs as reported in here.

EC has also debunked claims by a news report that an enquiry has been ordered or that a demonstration of malfunctioning has been made. Apparently the EVMs have a "possibility of malfunctioning" if another software is burned into the chip. EC claims that its ASIC is tamper proof.

Besides laying to rest speculations about EVM's health, EC's claim indicates that Rediff had actually published a motivated story to take the nation for a ride on a very serious issue concerning the fundamental structures of India's democracy. Rediff's unethical report leaves Indian readers as miffed as they were 4 decades back when propaganda disguised as news was mostly organised by the Government controlled media channels. It appears that the glut of private channels has not changed the situation even now as each of these private media outfits seem to be either toeing the line of some other political party (in this case, BJP)or merely write any junk to achieve TRP ratings or hits among gullible readers.

The Truth however Rests in Peace somewhere in between.

The Indian media like any other industry merely gives employment to its reporters while professionalism & ethics continue to be tarnished in the typical " India-me sob cholta hai" way.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Voting machine on the wall, who's the best candidate of all?

If you have coded my chip,
then the vote is for you to keep.
Even an idiot can contest
And I will proudly attest
That the idiot has won the seat
Even though he is a cheat.

Prove to the people, press & the media
That you have not tampered like a mafia
The silicon implants in my body & breast
And for once & all; allow matters to rest.


Written with inspiration from this news article in