Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Cup of pride

Criticism had begun to pour in since the day India defeated the Windies in the group match to enter into the Quarter finals of the world with a win and confidence boost. Turn on the television, surf the news channels, and one could see players from all across the continents discussing about every teams performance throughout the world cup and how is that going to effect the Quarter finals or the /knock-out stage of the World Cup 2011. It was quite strange to see certain Indian cricketers who had themselves not been as successful as they could have been to be part of the panelists on the news channels. Possibly, that’s the only worth thing that they can do presently i.e. criticize the Indian team’s performance, of which they had been once a part off; however were not able to shine like the stars.

The team that was being seen as the favorites at the beginning of the World Cup were soon losing their sheen of “favorites” due to some dismal performances in the group games despite winning those games as well. While the Indian Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was being criticized for opting for Ashish Nehra in the final over of the South Africa vs. India match; he was very smart in shifting the blame on to the batsmen who were playing to “please the crowds.” However hard Dhoni tried, he had to come out strong in their final group match against the West Indies after losing the almost won match against South Africa, their first loss in the World Cup 2011.

India beat the West Indies in a game that was seen as important for the team in order to enter the quarter final on a high note. But it did not end there itself. The real challenge was yet to come for the team in the Quarter final stage where they were facing the three times defending champions Australia. A team that showed no signs of being the world champions in the present season of the World Cup. A day before the India-Australia tie, our neighbor country, Pakistan pulverized the West Indies team by a massive ten wickets. Pakistan has been one team in this entire World Cup season that has proved its worth by showcasing an all-round performance. Be it bowling, fielding or batting, Pakistan outshined the West Indies in every sphere in the Quarter-final game. It was not just this Quarter-final but all throughout the tournament, Pakistan has performed exceedingly well and has come out strong to be one of the contenders of the “cup of pride.”  One can now wait and watch with baited breath as the arch rivals meet the coming Wednesday in Mohali for the Semi-finals that will decide the fate of either of them as to who enters the final of World Cup. It could be India, it could Pakistan.

Coming down to the Indian side, it was not a strange sight to see all the news channels flashing stories of Pakistan’s comfortable win against the West Indies and side by side also flashing the importance of the second Quarter-final between India and Australia. Several Hindi news channels had news popping in “Pakistan has done it, Can India do it?.” I could not help but laugh at the sight. It seemed more than the Quarter-final, it was matter of pride for the Indian side to win against Australia because their neighboring country, who was never seen as the favorites, had already reached the semis.  One can very well imagine what could have been the pressure on the Indian side. It was a “do or die” situation for them. Not only India, but also for Australia who had not been in their excellent form in the World Cup. Australian captain Ricky Ponting has drawn flack from all corners of the cricketing world. His captaincy has been questioned and so has the team’s performance. The Australians did not exhibit the same aggression and passion that was once a major attribute of the team and had made them the World Champions.

As the two teams set out to play in the knock-out stage of the tournament in the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, all eyes were glued to the television sets. The whole country was watching and so were others outside India. There was a hint of fear as to what could be the outcome of the match. With India, anything could happen. They have never played a match without giving the jitters to its fans watching the game. There was a level of confidence evident from the body language of the Indian team. The Australians on the other side were trying to set their mark as well. With the stadium full of Indian Cricket lovers, it could surely have been a daunting task for the Australians as well. India with the “home advantage” had to cash in the points.

The all-round performance by every player set India on the right track and helped them in successfully beating the defending champions of the World Cup. It was evident on the face of every Australian player, a distraught, down and out look on the faces of the Australian cricketers was enough to explain what was going on in their minds. On the other hand, the final winning run of the game hit by Yuvaraj Singh and his consequent reaction after he played the shot, bore a strong impression as well as aggression. Yuvaraj  Singh has proved his credentials in the ongoing World Cup and has thus silenced his critics who had once thought of dropping out of the team. He has become the match-winner of the Indian team and is grooming match by match. Be it bowling, fielding or batting; his overall performance has seen India crown to glory. All one can hope is that this aggression should not die down and move on to their coming matches.

With India ending the Australian reign on the World Cup and setting itself a semi-final match against the arch rivals Pakistan; all eyes will now be on India; who have bounced back to become the favorites. Beating the defending champions has already boosted the confidence of the team, now they would just need to hold on to their nerves and play a good match against Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that by defeating Pakistan in the semi-final; India would have won half the World Cup for its country, as India-Pakistan matches are no less than a World Cup final match. All eyes will be on the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar in the semi-final; Will he get his 100th ton against Pakistan? Will India beat the Pakis and set itself for the final clash? Will India come out strong and win the World Cup 2011? Well, Just wait and watch, for next Wednesday in Mohali is going to be one clash that the entire country had been waiting to catch a glimpse of.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life With You

My heart skips a beat
when I don't get top see you,
I wait for you, close my eyes
think about you.

My Mind wanders to a land unknown
Where you and I live
a life of our own,
shielding ourselves
from the outside world,
our life pens a musical note
a harmonious one.

Small jerk kicks me out of the world,
I realize, it was a Dream
I crave for the dream to come true
and begin the search for the right notes,
The notes that would be harmonious,
Notes that would connect heart to heart
Notes that would build up our lives.

A Life that would be of Love,
A Life that would blossom into a happily ever after note,
A Life that we would cherish as we grow old together.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reality Check for the Ruling party

In the wake of several controversies and scams surrounding the ruling government of India, the fact that needs to be pondered upon is what is going wrong with the ruling party. With the Finance Minister pronouncing in the Union Budget that the government was looking towards a more transparent and result-oriented economic management system in India, the fact that only the subsidies to the poor and curbing the wasteful expenditure should be examined is a smaller picture of a bigger realm that surrounds the functioning of the government.

As examined by M.K. Venu in his article "Lessons in Inclusion", in The Indian Express (Dated March 18) reamarks, the bigger picture suggests that the UPA is aware of the "productivity deficit" that is existing in the government's functioning. This productivity deficit, as the writer states, is not just about economic efficiency; it is also about the way the state needs to reinvent itself and its institutions to manage the aspirations of a billion people. Indeed, the functioning of the state government tantamount to the progress of its people; consequently, better prospects for the government in ruling.

What the government, presently, needs to do is "re-conceptualize" the notion of power that exists in the society currently. With the state being under pressure to turn this power into a "productive force," the re-conceptualizing of the notion of power seems a viable option. For the power to turn into a productive force, the state will have to scrutinize every aspect of its functionaries who are working with them. The surmounting corruption has highlighted the roles of the smaller functionaries working within the government for the government; however, not truly performing the "function" that they are meant to perform. Rather, they have been misutilizing their "money and muscle power" to meet their ends and thus become "productive" in the eyes of the government. How far these "productive" works have been fruitful for the aam aadmi is yet to be deciphered.

Be it the Commonwealth Games, the 2G spectrum or the Aadarsh society scam; the ever-increasing amount of the scams have thrown the UPA government in a bad light. Mr. Venu remarks in his article that broadly the term "productive force" would mean that which seeks to give a sense of identity, order and capacity to the people at large. However, the difference would lie in understanding what would be needed to operationalize it. The government, in the wake of liberalisation, has attempted to alter the existing delivery mechanism-through smart cards, direct cash transfers- of public goods and services. This rise in India's global economic order has driven the state and ruling political elite to create new structures and institutions which enable power to flow productively through the entire system. This view of the writer cannot be disagreed upon.

The UPA government's attempt to provide Unique Identity Cards to all the citizens can be seen as a possible attempt at creating a structured existence for its citizens. However, this process of providing structured existence is not going to be easy with the abysmal record of the states in trying to maximize the productivity of power. The rampant corruption that has existed at all levels have resulted in this abysmal record. Drawing a comparison with the West, Mr. Venu says that those industrial societies have already made a transition from feudal to democratic order and created a grid of productive power systems largely accessible to all. So, where is India lagging behind? The productive potential of power to be pursued to bring about social and economic equality and order has failed with Congress because the party had was a coalition of powerful vested interests, says Mr. Venu.

The Congress has been unable to grapple with situation of how to ensure use of power productively. It can, however, learn from some of the ministers like Nitish Kumar and Mayawati who have come out strong and made the use of “power” productively. Rather than merely limiting themselves to the words, these ministers have worked for the upliftment of their states in a literal sense. They have able to establish, in Mr. Venu’s words, an “element of trust” with their voters; which is an important thing to consider if a party wished to remain in power. However, it does not seem to be a case with Congress; they had established their “trust” with the voters but the clouds of scams and the recent Wiki leaks exposures have shaken that.

The Congress needs to take some learning lessons from the successful counterparts in the states rather than just implementing mere strategies. In order for those strategies to come out successful, the image of the party that has been dented needs to be repaired in a way that will restore the faith of the citizens in its government. May be then the party can think of a so-called “successful” comeback; however, if it does not mend its ways, then it will be too late for it to even stand up to the pedestal that it has achieved till now.

Libyan crisis deepens, West eyes oil fields

The crisis in Libya is a grim reminder of how freedom can become impotent with the consistent efforts of a ruler who has not lost his will to fight destructively. Since his revolution in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi nationalized the country’s oil wealth and qualitatively improved the standard of living of his people. Libya has the highest life expectancy and highest per capita income on the African continent. The literacy rate among the women is the highest in the Arab world. His grandiose project, the “great man-made river”, which taps water from the aquifers under the Libyan desert and diverts it for the agricultural and drinking purposes, is one of the biggest engineering feats in Africa. The multi-billion project has already succeeded in supplying water to major cities such as Tripoli.

During his radical days, Gaddafi initially supported the Sahrawi struggle for independence only to backtrack in the early 1980s. His ideology at that time was strongly influenced by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s pan-Arabism, which anti-West and anti-communist at the same time. The psychology that drives rulers like Gaddafi is that they are more able to engage in a nefarious psychological substitution: for them they or their family are the country. Gaddafi’s extraordinary feat of convincing the bright lights of liberalism that he was a kind of Libyan Gorbachev, is a testament to the corruptibility of the defenders of freedom. Gaddafi’s tenure is a reminder of how much wishful thinking there has been about dictators.

Many observers believe that Gaddafi’s embrace of the West in the beginning of the last decade may finally lead to the unraveling of his government; he unilaterally made political and economical concessions to the West to ward off any military threats to his government. In the Arab streets, Gaddafi was in recent years viewed as being no different from the likes of Hosni Mubarak or Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The upheaval in Libya is being viewed by the U.S. and its European allies as an opportunity to establish their economic and strategic stranglehold on the country’s rich energy assets once again. The American policy on the Arab world is built on 3 pillars. First, its reliance on the region for oil; second, its allies in the Arab world must stand firm with the U.S. in its war on terror; third, the Arab allies had to tether their own populations’ more radical ambition vis-à-vis Israel. The U.S. wants a decisive end to the current impasse in Libya. Libya has the African continent’s largest proven oil reserves- 44.3 billion barrels. Its crude is of the highest quality and requires very little refining. The West wants to assure that it will have overall control of the Trans-Saharan oil pipeline connecting Nigeria and Algeria. Leaders like Fidel Castro have warned that the West would use the crisis in Libya to justify military intervention and once again monopolise the country’s oil wealth.

The United Nations Security Council’s sanction against Gaddafi and his close circle of advisors is another setback for Gaddafi. The Council has also called for an international war crime investigations into the widespread attack on the Libyans who have staged an uprising against their government. This is the second time that the Security Council has referred a member state to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The U.S. has chosen to abstain from the ICC to ensure that none of its officials or military men is ever charged for war crimes. U.S. and Israel were the only two countries that were against the creation of ICC in1998.

The Security Council has also imposed an arms embargo on Libya and a travel ban on 16 Libyan leaders. It has ordered a freeze on the assets of Gaddafi and his family members. However, the sanctions do not impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Some are of the view that imposing a no-fly zone at present is too little too late. It is also difficult to judge whether some form of support to the rebels will help; strangely, the rebels have not yet been able to carve out a space in the imagination of those who crave for freedom. Gaddafi has figured this out and therefore operated with the assumption that the defendants of freedom had few instruments by which to impose their writ. Libya is a reminder that it is easier to call for freedom than to have a sensible strategy to secure it.

The Arab League has rejected any outside military intervention on Libya. It has also condemned the use of force by the Libyan government against its people. It has called on the Libyan government to accept the legitimate demands of the people and said that if the unrest continued, it would recommend a no-fly zone in coordination with the African Union. Gaddafi has challenged the U.S. and NATO to send investigation teams to ascertain whether his security forces had fired on unarmed civilians.

The crisis in Libya can be solved only if the West keeps in mind humanitarian purpose and not their oil interests. The way Gaddafi has been reiterating that he would rather die a “martyr” and that there was no question of his leaving Libya, a purposeful planning and approach is required from the West as well as other countries. Military intervention would only aggravate the situation and lead to further unrest in the country. The way Gaddafi’s forces have been advancing to capture the major oil cities in Libya is a grim reminder that Gaddafi will be a tough nut to crack and would not give into the demands of the people or the West or any other country so easily. Gaddafi will fight till the end and may be by then it will be too late to avert the crisis that would have already dissolved Libya.

Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: grim reminder to countries across the world

With Japan’s nuclear crisis set to reach a different high, fears have spread across the world over the radiation spread in the atmosphere. While the countries across the world that had plans of developing Nuclear power stations have now had a setback and are giving a second thought to it.

Anti Nuclear protesters have come out openly criticizing the use of Nuclear power; the protests have been more demonstrative in Germany where Angela Merkel’s government has first suspended the life extension to Germany’s nuclear reactor and then decided to shut down the oldest ones. Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has ordered a review of the future of Russia’s atomic energy sector, Switzerland has suspended decisions on plants while Austria has asked for a review of reactors across Europe.
This sort of International reaction was expected.

Agreed, Japan is witnessing a nuclear crisis; however, putting curtains on the existing nuclear reactors or further increased use of nuclear power is not justified. Panic and rejection is not the solution to this situation instead a safety review and upgrade of the existing systems. With mounting international concerns about global warming, Nuclear power has come to be accepted as a viable alternative to the increasing burning of coal and oil.

Besides India and China, many countries in Asia have outlined plans for atomic power generation. Countries that are rich in petroleum resources like Iran and Saudi Arabia, are also considering the building of nuclear power plants. Reports suggest that at least 100 nuclear plants are on the drawing board in Asia. The United States has been extending the life of old units and two new ones are expected to come up for licensing in the coming years.

The rising reliance on the nuclear power has amounted to the increase in prices of Uranium and nuclear equipment manufacturers are looking forward to a brisk business. However, the Fukushima incident has given a new life to the traditional opponents of nuclear power and won fresh converts. The politicians across the world are expected to respond and most probably bow to the popular pressure. Insurers too will raise the costs of supporting nuclear power generation.

Keeping everything in mind, Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh has done the right thing by ordering an immediate review of all the safety systems of our nuclear power plants and assuring the nation that these nuclear power plants are safe and equipped to withstand the impact of large nuclear disasters like the Tsunamis and earthquakes. However, additional steps need to be taken by the government to ensure the confidence of the people in nuclear power usage.

Whatever be the amount of damage in the Fukushima nuclear plant, the fact cannot be overshadowed that the plant was 40 years old and in queue of decommissioning. The current designs and technology used for preparing the nuclear reactors are far more advanced and disaster-resistant. The Fukushima reactor has shown that the many redundant systems could not save it from the double blow of the nature in the form of Tsunami and earthquake. Though the reactor withstood the pressure from the earthquake and shut down immediately; however the irregularity in the power supply after the Tsunami affected its effective cooling.

The Fukushima incident is a lesson to be learnt and one of the central lessons of them is the importance of looking beyond the current reliance on containment structures to limit radioactive leaks. The current and future stations must be fitted with effective filtering systems that may help in reducing the emission of dangerous gases from the reactor when the pressure on the system is relieved due to an emergency.

For a country like India, it needs to be seen that the nation’s disaster management systems at all levels are reviewed and the local officials are equipped at nuclear sites to effectively cope with one or more emergencies around a nuclear plant. Safety at all levels of the nuclear reactors must be improved. With the increasing difficulties in building hydroelectric plants, international demand to reduce carbon emissions and shortage of domestic resources, India has to pursue with the option use of nuclear energy until other green technologies are commercially viable.

With a country like Japan who had equipped itself to face natural disasters like the present ones and yet it could not turn around the devastation that has been caused by the mother nature; it is difficult to digest but a hard reality that is our country equipped to withstand a natural calamity of such a stature? In order to seek an affirmative response, the government will have to tighten its belt and work upon making our country at least equipped to a certain degree that it can sustain the disaster and come out strong just the way Japan has.