Friday, June 29, 2012

AITA should be renamed AIPA for the benefit of Indian Lawn Tennis

The All India Tennis Association (AITA)  is the supreme body in India that decides on all matters related to the sports of lawn tennis. This includes promotion of the game around India, organising national tournaments as well as international tournaments like Davis Cup and nurturing top ranking players who bring laurels to India. Earlier in the distant past players like Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Premjit Lal, Jaideep Mukherjea , Ramesh Krishnan have brought laurels for India sometimes individually and sometimes on behalf of AITA when they played the Davis Cup. In the last 2 decades , tennis champions that have brought fame to India include Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupati, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and now Vishnu Vardhan & Rushmi Chakravarthi who have defied all odds to grind through the competitive as well as expensive ATP circuit around the world.
However critics of AITA point out three glaring deficiencies in the organisation. Firstly, for the last 4 decades a national organisation has been run almost like a family business by the Khanna family of Delhi .First the father and now the son, R.K. Khanna . Secondly the critics say the champions that have come up, have triumphed  more due to their personal efforts and sacrifices than any help , whether professional or financial , from AITA. And thirdly, in a country of 1.2 billion, one expected AITA to throw around more than 50 top-rankers in the last 2 decades than just the 5 or 6 handful that we talk about. Such a criticism has now found favours from even among the top-ranked players who have openly revolted against the AITA , in its run up to the selection of the Indian national team for the London Olympics this year. Some of the comments that these players made led me to think that AITA should at least bring in some change . To start with they should change their name to something else. Lets take a look at some of the suggestions for the new names by picking up cues from the quotes of  the top-rankers in the last fortnight.

Leander thinks that being a top-ranked player , he is free to choose any player who will partner him without raising any fuss. He probably wants the organisation to be named as All India Paes Association instead of All India Tennis Association.

Mahesh Bhupati , a one-time protégé of Leander thinks that he never gets his way in AITA and is forced to accept a partner that is not of his choice. Possibly if it was renamed as All India Petty Association, he'd be happier.

Sania Mirza thinks that AITA is chauvinist and wouldn't probably mind if its named All India Penis Association.

Bopanna who is generally seen running as a headless chicken between Leander and Mahesh trying to tie up a long term partner would really like it named as All India Partnerless Association.

Vishnu and Rushmi , the energetic new kids in the town, are completely clueless whether they will ever get an opportunity to play in the big events like Olympics thanks to AITA's dependence on over-the-hill celebrity players & the influences of their parents and wouldn't mind calling it All India Parents Association.

In conclusion , AITA should change its name to AIPA. This would at least bring all the warring players to agree on one issue and help them to move on together with their games.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

রাত্রিতে নৌকাযাত্রার সময়ের ভাবনা

Translated by Salty  from Vikram Seth's poem "Thoughts while travelling at night"  from his book "The Rivered Earth"  under section "Songs in the time of war."  Seth's poem is translated from the original verse of Chinese poet Du Fu, who lived in the eighth century. In case you are unable to view it in Bengali font, please download Avro Bengali Font from here

মৃদু হাওয়ায় সবুজ, মসৃণ ঘাস দোলে

একলা আমি , দাঁড়িয়ে আজ মাস্তুলে।

তারাগুলো হেলে  পড়ে  বিশাল প্রান্তরে, জঙ্গলে

চাঁদ ডোবে আর ভাসে মহানদীর বানজলে ।

চিঠিগুলো নিয়ে আসেনি কোন খ্যাতি , যশ

অফিস ? করবার নেই বোধ হয় আর বয়স ।

ভেসে চলি আজও যে ,

      কারো সাথে আছে কি আমার মিল ?

আকাশ ও মাটির মাঝে,

    (যেন) উড়ে যেতে থাকা এক শঙ্খচিল।

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tragedy Averted

Nigdi or Koregaon Park,
We split hairs;
Even when it’s half dark,
(and) With our legs up on the chairs.
A kingfisher swoops down
On the river that’s brown
And comes up with nothing
Save a red glow of the evening.
The wise owl from the tree looks down at us,
Quietly sitting with only the breeze , to pass
A strand of your free long hair
Glides to settle on my blue attire .
As you snatch away that piece of mane
Intending not to split it with me;
I  look at your quiet face once again ,
As  splitting hairs always ends in a tragedy.

Check Inflation in Indian Economy or Perish: A preview of June18,2012 RBI credit policy review.

After the fiasco with wrong data relating to sugarcane production released by the CSO, statistical arm of the  government and subsequent downward revision of the agricultural production in the month of March comes a shocker in May. The 4th quarter GDP growth figure is a paltry 5.3% which brings the 2011-12 GDP growth figure to 6.1% instead of the 6.9% projected just two months ago by the finance minister in his budget speech. Almost as a spontaneous reaction, the chambers of commerce have been clamouring for more rate cuts to stimulate growth. Although RBI had cut rates in the month of April by 0.5% to 8% after a long period of  status-quo; (presumably to help government borrow money for its planned expenditure;) it had done so only on the cushion of better figures of inflation. However it had cautioned that it will monitor the inflation rate and expected the government to spruce up its deficit management skills both in fiscal account as well as current account. The inflation figures released in May point to a moderate increase in WPI to 7.23% while food inflation has touched 10.5% out of which vegetable prices have risen by 28%. To make matters difficult for the government, the rupee has slid to the lowest figure against the dollar at Rs.55-Rs. 56, spiralling the current account deficit .

RBI has a credit-policy review on June 18th. Will it cut lending rates further to stimulate growth as their Deputy Governor seems to indicate ? But that would mean going back on its  own statement made in April when it said that it will have to wait for inflation rates to be down substantially for any more monetary easing. Apparently since the crude oil prices are down, thanks to a shrinkage in demand of the  construction sector in China , it gives RBI the necssary leeway.

There are two fallacies in the argument here. Firstly crude oil prices go through a lag effect before affecting the general inflation figure and the volatile exchange rate can negate any positives. Secondly , credit stimulus can only stimulate growth if the problem is in the supply side as most industry bodies seem to claim . But the problem is clearly in the demand side now as is evidenced by falling automobile sales figures, a mere 3.4% -the lowest April growth figures. There is a demand shrinkage happening because of high figures of inflation both in consumer perishables and durables. Creating more supply infrastructure with the additional credit is only going to let goods get stocked in warehouses unless of course the additional credit is used by crony industrialists to either siphon off the money or lock it in properties without creating additional supply units. Clearly the growth figures in India since the 2008 financial crisis have been pretty good hovering around 8% throughout . But what the figures have masked is that the inflation figures too have been pretty high and around the same level of 7-8% ; implying thereby that the growth story for last 4 years have actually been more inflationary growth than any growth in real demand.So long as the demand didn't shrink, the story was fine. But since indications are that there is a shrinkage in demand , RBI should wait for the general price level to fall down further allowing demand to pick up before effecting any lending rate cuts because persistent high inflation can not only cause economic problems but it can also generate social tensions and cause the government more political problems than it has anticipated.