A little bit of everything

That trip to my hometown took longer to recover from than I anticipated — not so much physically as mentally. Maybe when I feel more settled, will use the trip, and feelings emanating from it, for a more personalized blog post.

Just back at work, and trying to clear the backlog. So I’ll leave you with a prophesy of things to come, something to listen to/debate, and a stray thought that occurred to me the other day, when I saw the lead headlines in the print media.

First, the stray thought: What do you make of the Congress-led government at the Center finally “getting tough” on CWG corruption? The other day, to big-type headlines, the government announced that it has sacked Suresh Kalmadi from the post of Chairman of the CWG Organizing Committee. This move, apparently, is to “prevent him from interfering in the ongoing investigation”.

Did a mouthful of scalding hot coffee go down the wrong way when you read that?

I don’t know what I dislike more: that there is widespread corruption of humongous levels, or that the government, under whose umbrella most of this is happening, takes the public for idiots.

The CWG is over and done with — ergo, the “Organizing Committee” is de facto defunct because there is nothing left to “organize”. So how does sacking Kalmadi from a defunct body become a punitive measure?

That leaves the “interfering in the investigation” bit — which is if anything even more laughable than the other. If such a move was to have any impact, Kalmadi should have been suspended from that post, pending investigation, when corruption allegations first surfaced. That is something the government carefully refrained from doing — instead, it allowed the man to continue in that post for months; it telegraphed its intention to probe the various scams, thus providing the officials plenty of time to get rid of the evidence; it allowed Kalmadi and gang to derail the investigation in every way possible — and now that the damage is all done, the government makes a move that is intended to fool everyone, but is so amateurishly transparent that it only makes the government a laughing stock.

What I don’t get is, why did the media — both print and electronic — which played up the news of Kalmadi’s sacking like it was a bold move for the government, not ask these questions?

Next, a straw in the wind: Kolkata, at the rate things are going, will likely lose its rights to host the World Cup because the stadium is nowhere close to being ready. Professor Ratnakar Shetty, who has for the duration been named the official Dr Pangloss of the BCCI, will tell you this is one more instance of the media being alarmist. What he will not tell you is that not only is work at the Gardens proceeding at less than desirable pace, there is within a section of the BCCI the hope/expectation that Kolkata fails to meet the final deadlines. If that happens, the games to be staged at that venue will have to be re-allocated — and Chennai would love to add the India-England game to its kitty, since it believes India-West Indies is not sufficiently attractive enough to ensure a full house and maximize the money-making potential.

Then again, what do I know? Shetty says everything is kosher, all work is on schedule and will be completed “on deadline” (never mind that two deadlines have been missed already). And Shetty should know — shouldn’t he?

Now for the listening matter: on Cricinfo, a debate on the increasingly intrusive advertising that spoils our experience of watching cricket. I have some thoughts — but I’d like to hear from you guys first:

The Cricinfo debate

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32 thoughts on “A little bit of everything

  1. Prem, thanks – I had a huge laugh on your writing style on CWG-Kalamadi mess. Its so blatant and nothing happens. Thats the case in India for all things.

  2. O an aside on Mr Dalmiya. Not long ago I was staying at the Taj Palace Delhi while on work , was waiting for the elevators and comes and stand next to me Mr D. I have seen stares and try to make myself immune to them! But Mr D was blatant in his staring. He perhaps expected me to show recognition of him, which ofcos I didn’t. He shamelessly kept sizing me, so I turned the full heat on him and asked him “what was so interesting that I had missed out on totally!” His reaction had to be a freeze frame! Jaw open, smile wiped out, shifty eyes, coughing as if a bone had got stuck in his throat – The lift swooped open and I stood my ground, he jumped in as if his life depended on that elevator. El creepo!

    • *grin* Had you recognized him, next step would have been the suggestion that you could share a cup of coffee — that, said with a nudge nudge wink wink air. He is not used to your kind of reaction. Kodak moment, sounds like — wish you had snapped a pic.

  3. Bang on target on CWG-Kalmadi issue. In fact, this one shows “the media intelligence” in very very poor light. This was a no-brainer and obvious for anyone following it with just a passing interest.

    I listened to half of Time-out and was impressed by what Peter spoke. I agree with him. All the blame cannot be laid on TV channels alone. If the BCCI treats all cricket-related stuff as a cash-machine, how can the TV companies that buy rights from them at exorbitant prices expected to be any different ? Also, a little more thought and i should have known that BCCI is well-aware of the worsening of TV coverage but has hardly bothered to set rules for coverage in the contract. Since the ICC and some other boards are doing it, BCCI inaction is not due to ignorance but rather purposeful.

    Since subscription based services cannot work in India as a whole, TV channels can think of a subscription service in parallel to the free service. At least, there would be quite a few takers ready to pay for a ad-free sport telecasts. The majority shall anyways be left to the mercy of BCCI and TV channels until……

  4. Bang on regarding the CWG org comm – read the news and was going whaaaat? as for the eden gardens just read it may be bangalore that gets the game…

  5. Hello Prem,

    While we are talking about allocation of world cup games. What was the reasoning in deciding the venue’s. For Example: Hyderabad didnt get a single game. And it does have a good ground for one day cricket. Of course facilities outside the ground like parking etc are not yet ready, but most other old stadiums are not great either in these facilities.

    Why couldn’t have Chennai got the England game earlier itself.

  6. I have been reading some very good articles on cricket by DR KN Raghavan at the Indian High Commission in Singapore in one of the local newspapers which also carries the Friday Syndicate of Harsha Bhogle.He is writing about the Spin greats.Wondered why EAS was never considered for captaincy.
    A brief about :
    The author Dr K N Raghavan has an interesting bio-data. He graduated in Medicine from Calicut Medical College in 1988. Two years later he joined Indian Revenue Services – Customs and Excise. Apart from his successful professional career, what makes him a fitting author of this book is his brilliant track record in umpiring major national and international cricket matches since 1991. The icing on the cake is umpiring five one day international matches.Currently he is the First secretary at the Indian High commission in Singapore

  7. Cmon You spoiled the fun “I was rubbing my hands in glee” for some insider trading ! Are they “stringing” you?

  8. The media has been silent on the corruption issues including telecom,Black money etc,the Flag issue is not a life and death issue-but why is the MSM media not saying that the Govt could have allowed it,thereby taking wind out of the sails,but no the media wants an issue against the BJP,why cant they be vociferous against the corruption issues.To me it is clear that that the media has a hand in all the scandals taking place-they stand to benefit !Maybe the media houses also have money in the Swiss and all other money havens.
    Why can’t the bigger issues be addressed w/o dragging BJP?I am not for or against the BJP but what appears to me is punish the guy who has stolen 5 rupees as he is easy to handle,let the guy who has swindled 1000crores get away as we can make something out of it-that is the prevalent attitude.

  9. The media is pretty much a lackey of the poltician-bureaucrat-big business nexus.It keeps the public dumbed down with inane news about Bollywood, cricket and sundry stuff (look at the NDTV,IBNlive, HT, TOI webpages).The editor of the Indian Express (bye bye Shourie and the spirit of Goenka) writes an edit certifying that no more than a crore was pilfered during the CWG. Ji-huzoori at its best or worst depending on which side of the fence you are. The BJP is doing its best to act as a vacuous opposition (is flag hoisting a life and death issue at the moment?) just when it is expected to take up serious issues like prices and corruption.Journalism as we know it is almost dead, Prem. There’s just no emphasis on investigating a story and analysing issues. Just breaking news and no follow up.

  10. Reg Chennai vs Kolkataa, leaving aside N Srinivasan and his shenaignans, why shouldnt Chennai get a glam match?
    Infact, given its standards and reputation, and given Kolkata’s shameful organisation state, Chennai should have got a prestigious Semi Final or Final, considering that Mumbai stadiums arent in great shape either.

    The best crowd in India, with a decent stadium and ground to backup deserve the best. I dont care about BCCI politics in this

    • No reason why not. That said, the BCCI is not about any one city. It has known for years that it will be hosting the WC. Hence shameful that with all the money at its disposal, it couldn’t get its grounds ready on time. The concerned state association slept on the job; the larger national association preferred to allow the sloth to continue so various officials/venues could benefit. I’m not making a case for a less than ready venue to be used; what I am asking is, why did the body as a whole not focus on getting its venues ready for the most prestigious event in the international calendar?

      • Well, it is a question of age-old attitude right?
        TNCA, for all its faults and N Srinivasan’s shenaignans, is one of the best run. They definitely get things done better than most other(Rajasthan seem to have stolen a march now, as you observed but that is a story for the future). Either that or they are enjoying the fruits of good work done by Sriraman etc. Whatever, net-net, Chennai is one of the best places to watch Cricket for the spectator. Chennai deserves the best matches – they have never got it in the past. If a concatenation of circumstances facilitate this, I am kind of okay with that. Corruption and disorganisation in Indian Cricket bodies – always happens
        Something that should have happened all along but didnt and now happening because of corruption and disorganisation elsewhere – fine, I’ll take that.

  11. What does one expect from a government which fails to do a basic check on whether there are any charges pending against one of its appointees? Sample this:-

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Govt-s-excuse-Didn-t-know-about-charges-against-Thomas/H1-Article1-655119.aspx#

    Not to support BJP or anyone but if I remember right Sushma Swaraj was crying at the top of her lungs ever since Thomas’s name was on that list. Heck my organization does a background and police verification for all posts from CEO to Peon. My society needs a police verification certificate from tenants and the government doesn’t find it necessary to do such a check on CVC.
    Well but then the government doesn’t have a clue as to where the billions of dollars which Hasan Ali supposedly had went but wants to know whether I paid tax on INR 200 which I got as interest on my FD.

    • Oh I totally agree on this one. But as far as police verification goes, does it occur to you that the police records of some of our MLAs and MPs — typically, from 30-40 per cent of any Lok Sabha or state assembly — disqualifies them for appointment as peons in your company? :-)

      • Police records should disquality almost half of our MP’s / MLA’s. But thats what we elect ;)

        On the grounds not being ready, its I guess an Indian trait. Falling back on corporate experience again many a times we do things only when they were due yesterday. So as the Sanskrit saying goes “Yatha Raja tatha praja”.

  12. Exactly my thoughts. I never knew that the CWG Organizing Committee still existed, a good 3 months after it was done and dusted. The way I see it, the media now solely concentrates on painting the BJP black. They were so obsessed with the Lal Chowk flag hoisting that they could conveniently sweep all the other ‘Congress’ issues under the carpet.

    • Speaking for myself alone, I don’t subscribe to the either/or theory — either you target the BJP for its idiocies, or you target the Congress for its criminalities. I’d far rather the media defined itself as a mechanism for holding everyone’s feet to the fire. The Congress scams are unconscionable and need to be called out; the BJP’s defense of the Karnataka Chief Minister’s corruption is as embarrassing as is the state Governor’s over-reaching and both need to be criticized; the Lal Chowk flag-hoisting is one of those stage-managed dramas got up purely for public consumption and equally meriting criticism. I’m with you thus far — and that is why I called it out in my post — that I find it stupid none in the media thought to ask the government what the fuck the point is in sacking someone from a post that no longer has any raison d’etre.

      • I didn’t mean that the media should go soft on BJP. I would like to see them going hard after the innumerable UPA scams just as they pursue Yeddyuryappa. (While we are on it, I cannot fathom what is going through the BJP central leadership’s mind while allowing Yeddy to continue. He has managed to lose all the goodwill that BJP had among common man when they came to power. Their vision is so short-term that they don’t realise that they might never be able to come back to power by sticking to him.)
        For me, the colour of corruption doesn’t matter. But, I don’t think that is the case with media.

        • About pursuing the scams? I am with you 100%. In fact, I hope like hell they release names of all those with unnumbered accounts in Swiss banks — the names of politicians of all stripes — left, right and center — will come out, and hopefully that will end the posturing and be the beginning of constructive change.

          As far as the media being myopic about corruption is concerned, I’m totally with you. Only, considering what the media gets up to behind the scenes (anything the Radiaa tapes showed less than scratches the surface), I am not one bit surprised.

          • Eutopic situation. no? Hoping Media will call right /left/center to go thru the test of fire for them to come thru? Our Institutions are dead – the Legislative? The Executive? The corrupt continue to plunder us and we hope Media will do its bit. Everyday the righteous and the law abiding people are being shot/burnt to death/hounded by the thugs (politicians/cops) Surely Media cant possibly take up each and everyones case. Will the cleansing happen if ever? I feel soo very defeated:(

            People movement is reqd – do we take to the roads? Does anyone have the time to go beyond “I,me, myself’ in this great nation of ours? Only when selfishness gives way to selflessness can we see a turnaround take place in India

            I know you said in your last post, we cannot tire of voicing and chasing the wrong, but when throats dry up, no one is listening, for how long do we drum up the noise levels?

            Ah! The lovely shovely ads in the middle of the screen where the pitch becomes a mere spec, Blatant commercialization:) With the ads getting crappier by the second! Pay tv anyone?:)

            Chennai vs Eden Gardens- I bow down to your superior knowledge and will follow this thread most closely!

            Enjoyed this post much!:)

  13. exactly my view about the sacking of Kalmadi and making a big hulabaloo about it!do they think to divert public attention from more embarassing scams ?

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