Dreams do come true in UP

Are you an average cricket player who hasn’t represented your state at any level but have dreams of playing Ranji cricket? Is your father an IAS officer in UP? If all the above hold true for you, you may realize your dreams like Kshitij Lal (son of Mayawati’s principal secretary Netram) did…

It is the country’s premier domestic tournament and one step away from instant fame and an India cap. Players sweat it out for years at various levels to earn a Ranji Trophy call up because it can change their lives — and given how many young boys play cricket and dream of glory, the competition is viciously intense.
For most, that is. But if you’re the son of a top government officer in Uttar Pradesh, then, well, you just walk in to the Ranji squad. Literally.

UP’s Ranji squad, currently playing a quarterfinal against Gujarat, has an unusual passenger. A 17th (additional) member to the original squad of 16, Kshitij Lal is the son of Mayawati’s Principal Secretary, Netram.

Lal, 22, has been with the team since their league game against the Railways in Delhi about four matches ago and it seems like he’s here to stay.

The intriguing part about Lal’s selection is that he is neither recognised as a youngster with tremendous talent, nor has he ever represented the state at any junior level. He has his own team of friends and they get together for friendly games in local tournaments in Lucknow. So how has he made the grade? Everyone knows, but no one’s telling. He is there, say officials, “as per the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association’s wishes”.

So what does Lal do at matches? This reporter has been travelling with the team through this season and Lal has spent his time on the sidelines either sitting or sleeping, even during games.

If he’s training, then it’s somewhere private. And unlike other extras, he does not even carry drinks, prompting India pacer RP Singh to ask on Friday: “Arre Lal, pani lekar nahi jaoge kya (Lal, won’t you carry in the water)?” RP then laughed, because it was a rhetorical question.

At the last game in Bangalore, team sources say skipper Mohammad Kaif was very upset about Lal’s not doing duty like any regular extra and instead just sitting around. Kaif was reportedly told to pipe down. Players are resentful but nervous about the situation. The team management will say nothing about his inclusion. And if you ask selectors or officials, the standard reaction is, “Please mujhe marva mat dena. (Please don’t get me into big trouble).”

You promise not to name them and they open up, warily. Lal, who bowls left-arm spin, apparently did turn up for UP’s under-17 trials in 2002. “He was accommodated for the trials as a favour to his father, who was then Sports Secretary,” said a then junior selector. “But even so, we could not select him for the team, he just wasn’t good enough.”

So he’s not good enough for the junior team but makes the Ranji squad? HT made two attempts on Saturday evening to talk to Lal himself about his cricketing credentials.

The first time, asked what he thought he had done to get into the squad, he merely laughed. “What should I say,” he said before walking off. Later, asked again, he didn’t laugh, just indicated he had nothing more to say. “What can we do?” a director of the UPCA told HT. “You know how things work in UP. We don’t want more trouble with the government here. Now his father has the CM’s ear.”

Another official is just belligerent. “How is it your business?” he asked. “It doesn’t harm anyone and the UPCA has a right to oblige anyone through money that is its own.”

Which, actually, it is not. Every association makes money either from sponsors, gate sales from match receipts (taxpayers money) or from massive grants given by the Indian cricket board (BCCI). When this was pointed out, yet another official said any questions should be directed to UPCA secretary Rajiv Shukla.

Shukla, a Member of Parliament, was unavailable for comment, despite repeated efforts and messages left with his office.

(Thanks:Hindustan Times)

He’s not Indian!!

Sutish Anand Sharma, the alleged Indian spy held in Lahore for his hand in the GOR (Lahore) blast, cannot be an Indian…First and foremost, no Indian spells his name as ‘Sutish’…It is always ‘Satish’…This “heinous Indian terrorist” cannot be a Hindu because he was not wearing a red sacred thread around his wrist when he was arrested…Pakistan, give us concrete evidence of his Indian nationality before you blame us for terrorism in your country…

For all those who are not Arundhati Roy fans

I received this by e-mail…

This year, in two pieces, one on Kashmir and the other on Mumbai, Miss Arundhati Roy has taken a position on these vital issues that is both offensive and false. The enclosed piece was carried by Outlook.

The Burden of Responsibility

Dear Miss Roy,

For many years now you have enriched the public life of our nation. First as a Booker winning novelist with a meteoric debut on the literary firmament, and then as an essayist, persistently pricking the conscience of a sometimes indifferent and ignorant nation, highlighting wide ranging issues of urgent concern. Over the years your provocative essays in the pages of Outlook magazine amount to a substantial intellectual achievement in their own right. One has not always agreed with you, but from big dams to the nuclear bomb, from the vagaries of capitalism to the dangers of American Imperialism, your writings on these important issues have left no one in any doubt about where you stand. Disagree with them as one might, your views occupied an intellectually coherent and morally compelling space in our public life. Until recently, when one read your two pieces on Kashmir and Mumbai with a growing sense of shock, anger, pity and dismay.

As a literary device, self loathing has its uses; the God of Small Things was a splendid lesson in the use of this sentiment. However I am not sure that nations and civilizations can organize their policies around this self indulgent mood. Your two pieces, ‘Azadi’ and ‘9 is Not 11’ see you as usual in top form as far as style and rhetoric are concerned, but as far as substance goes, I think you have fallen into the trap of being in love with the sound and significance of your own voice. It is still a powerful voice, a seductive voice too, but because it chooses to amplify only those other voices that are prepared to sing in chorus, it is a voice bereft of any sense of moral responsibility. I am sure once again your latest writings will bring you further international recognition as a writer of conscience and conviction, striving tirelessly to expose the monstrosities of the Indian state and civilization. Dare I suggest that the Magsaysay and the Nobel Peace Prize, the Holy Grails of the seemingly rootless international intellectual might not be too far behind? But Madam, despite your great charm and greater intellect this is a Faustian bargain. For in doing so you are doing irreparable harm to the very idea of the intellectual as a defender of virtue and morality in public life who too, like the problems you write about, much as he or she would want to, cannot be removed from the context (your favourite word) that created her, nurtured her and accorded the civic and intellectual space for her to articulate and propagate her views.
As someone who for the past 12 years has worn the Khaki uniform, as a servant of your favourite object of hate, the Indian state, I confess to a persistent sense of ambivalence and despair about the manner in which I am expected to serve. At the same time I cannot deny an equally abiding sense of pride in the importance of what we are supposed to do and of the importance of institutions in general in giving meaning and protection to what would otherwise be a society ruthless and brutal, beyond even your considerable powers of comprehension and description. Therefore, I am offended and disgusted by your incomplete, incoherent and therefore immoral portrayal of the recent upheavals of Indian history. I used to think that you articulate the pain of the silent, marginalized, oppressed masses of our country. I had no idea that you held a brief for all those who never felt anything at all not just for India in particular, but who also actively profess violent rage at the shared values of the entire human race.

According to you, everything that the police and security forces do or say whether in Kashmir, or in the war on terror, or against Naxalism, is a falsehood, where as everything that is said by ‘Kashmiri Freedom Fighters’, or by the harmless theologians of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and their ideological cousins of the Al Qaeda, or by the peace loving disciples of Marx and Mao living a bucolic existence in the jungles of central India, constitutes sufficient grounds to indict the Indian state and civil society in perpetuity. The people of India have always had a tradition to look up to men and woman of the arts and culture to serve as their moral compass. One really wonders what lines of logic and ethics shape your sense of moral direction.

You seem to passionately believe in and defend the ‘right’ of the Kashmiris to ethnic, cultural, religious and geographical exclusivism. If this is correct than why we should vilify Raj Thackeray or any other chauvinist who seeks to preserve the purity (however defined) of his people (however defined) from outsiders (also however defined)? If the Kashmiris are justified in picking up the gun to safeguard their exclusive identity, then every part of India is justified in doing so. I do hope you have taken the trouble to examine the fundamental assumptions underlying all such movements based on an assertion of a cultural identity. The creation of a hated outsider, in the case of Kashmir, the Indian, in the case of Raj Thackeray, the bhaiya of UP and Bihar, and in the case of the jihadists, anyone and everyone who does not subscribe to their virulent strain of Islam, including Muslims, is common to all these ideologies but you seem to pick and choose the bigotries you will demonize and the bigotries you will defend. Is it possible to freeze identity to a moment in time and on the basis of this demand recognition, retribution and rights for all time to come?

In your world view, the wrongs of Indian security forces of the last twenty years, and the failures of Indian state craft before it, are sufficient justifications for Kashmiri grievances, just as the wrongs of Babri Masjid, the Mumbai riots of 1993, the Gujarat riots of 2002, will justify Islamist terror against India, and the wrongs of corrupt governance and poor administration will justify naxalite violence, in all perpetuity. Why should only these events be accepted as justification for settling scores by shedding the blood of innocents? By this logic the Crucifixion of Christ amply justifies the Holocaust. We non white societies must all be allowed eternal rights to slaughter the Europeans for the sins of colonialism and slavery. Islam itself had a long history of violent conquest and forcible conversions, perhaps that should justify an eternal crusade or dharmyudhh against Islam. The Greeks and Romans have their own scores to settle with the Christian Church. The Latin Americans have their own grievances with Spain and Portugal. Seen this way human history is merely a parody of the eternal theme of perpetrators and victims, and all present violence, no matter how barbaric or senseless can be justified with reference to some past grievance, and we must allow these grievances full expression no matter what. Only then would we return to a state of original purity where all historical sins of the past and present have been fully avenged and the moral ledger as you see it stands perfectly balanced. Only thing is after this bloody book-keeping there may not be anyone left to enjoy the fruits of such a ‘just’ society.

The Indian state, whose sworn servant I am, is by no means a perfect entity. It is certainly corrupt, it is sometimes brutal and it is often indifferent to the sufferings of the weak and the powerless. But it does have a vision and aim based on certain civilizational values that are uniquely Indian. Demography and history dictates that these values have a prominently Hindu flavour. It is undeniable that these values have come under attack at times from the Hindu right as well. But even the most rabid of the Hindutva forces do not see the world united under the saffron flag by force of arms, as is the Islamist project of one world under the Green Crescent, or the Naxal project of one world under the Red Star. It would take a pretty breathless and brainless leap of logic to equate violent, local outbursts of Hindu chauvinism, abetted by the sins of commission and omission of the state apparatus, in themselves however repugnant and indefensible, with the atrocities on a global scale that were inflicted by Communism in the 20th century or the outrages that are now threatened across all parts of the world by jihadi Islam. To call the foreign funded insurgency in Kashmir and the terror attacks across the country as justified blowback for the failures of the Indian state and civil society is both false and callous. It implies a failure of the imagination and the intellect and the complete abdication of moral responsibility by you.

One could indeed forgive you Ma’am if you were purely an artist. Art has at the best of times a complicated relationship with truth and life. But in your avatar as a public intellectual, you cannot abandon your commitment to the demands of truth, accuracy and the ability to discriminate between the varieties of human experience and action. The liberties you have exercised in the past and continue to do today, however gratuitously and offensively, do not exist in a vacuum. I am not sure if any of these liberties would have a place in a Naxalite Utopia or a Jihadi Caliphate or even in a self-determined Kashmiri paradise that you eloquently espoused. As visions of human perfectability they are far more flawed than the vision of India that you love to denigrate. In any case, the liberties that you have recently taken with the sensibilities of proud Indians too exist in a cultural, political and constitutional context, a context that is ultimately safeguarded by men such as Hemant Karkare and Major Unnikrishnan with disregard for their own life. Remember that next time you use your poisoned pen to vent your twisted logic on a polity that deserves better from its intellectuals.

Warm regards

(Abhinav Kumar)

The author is a serving IPS officer. Though these are his personal views, they hopefully reflect the anguish of an entire fraternity of proud Indians in uniform.

Swedish,corrupt?

To me the Swedish are extremely boring…They all look alike (tall and blonde) and they don’t know how to eat (their top contribution to world cuisine is an insipid dish called meatballs with lingonberry sauce which you’ll get to taste in all its glory if you visit their other boring and mediocre contribution to the world – IKEA)…Ouch!!! But today I realized that I have been wrong all along…They are as interesting as the Indians and Chinese…The Nobel Prize committee has been hit by a scandal…Scandal? Do the Swedish even have a word for this in their dictionary? According to news reports investigators are looking into trips made by Nobel jurors to China…The inquiry is also looking into why the Chinese invited the jurors…
The last time China claimed a science price was in 1957, when two Chinese researchers won the physics award.”

Go Sweden,go!!!

Mentally, women are inferior to men

If you are a Pakistani woman and want to be treated as a person (like your male peers) by the law, then you are in for a rude shock…According to an article in the Dawn, “The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has declared the term ‘gender equality’, used in Section 7(a) of the National Commission for Status of Women Ordinance of 2000, ‘vague and un-Islamic’ and called for its repeal.” The Council explained that “the concept of ‘gender equality’ was impracticable because of ‘distinct differences’ in anatomy and physical and mental capabilities. The CII described the term as ‘absurd and un-Islamic’.”

Ajmal Kasab kidnapped from Nepal before 2006: lawyer

This report appeared in the Pakistani daily The News:

RAWALPINDI: A Pakistani lawyer C M Farooque claimed that many people, including Ajmal Kasab, were arrested before 2006 from Kathmandu by the Indian agencies with the help of Nepalese forces.

He said Ajmal Kasab went to the Napalese capital on a business tour. His application regarding his arrest was lying pending in the Nepalese Supreme Court in which a reply was sought from Nepalese forces and Indian High Commission.

While talking to the Geo News, C M Farooque Advocate said the Nepalese forces arrested almost 200 people including Ajmal Kasab before 2006 and his application in this regard was lying pending in the Nepalese Supreme Court in which Nepalese forces and Indian High Commission were made respondents.

The advocate said he wrote letters to Pakistan and Indian governments in this regard. He said that he had also addressed a press conference in Nepal highlighting the issue in which he revealed that the Nepalese forces arrested Ajmal Kasab and many others and held them at an unknown place and that these people would be used for their ulterior designs at some later stage. He said that he had no contact with Ajmal Kasab ever since he disappeared.

The lawyer said he was still pleading the case of Kasab and was to visit Nepal towards the end of this month. The Nepalese Supreme Court had repeatedly issued notices to the respondents to furnish their reply but they did not submit any reply.

Advocate Farooque said he had filed the petition in the Nepalese Supreme Court in February 2008. He said he was running an NGO, ‘Voice of Human and Prisoners Rights’ and the parents of Ajmal Kasab contacted him for help in this regard after appealing to the Pakistan Government for help.

The people arrested in Nepal had gone there on legal visa for business but Indian agencies were in the habit of capturing Pakistanis from Nepal and afterwards implicated them in the Mumbai-like incidents to malign Pakistan.

I didn’t know that the Indian government and RAW were capable of thinking so far ahead…