February 28, 2006

Bush visit to India

Bush's visit to India and Pakistan to nurture SE Asia ties - Complete coverage from Rediff

What Bush wants in India

Bush Arrives in India Seeking Nuclear Deal

India asserts itself in nuke talks with US

Even as the Indian PM greets US Prez George Bush with roses, protestors vent their spleen through narrein-baazi
(sloganeering) and vitriolic articles
Bush in India: Just Not Welcome (Arundhati Roy protests Bush's visit) and
Why be wary of Bush? (DNA editorial).

While many are happy that New Delhi has sealed a "historic" nuclear deal with Washington (Read the joint statement released by Bush and Manmohan Singh), others are out on the streets, participating in protest marches
against Bush's India visit, while others are taking a cautionary -let's wait for the details before celebrating approach. Rediff and BBC talked to a few different protesters to get their viewpoints on the protests. Also, a BBC forum that readers voice their opinions on the visit.

India's complex love affair with US (The Christian Science Monitor)

Bush: U.S. shouldn't see India as threat

In pictures: Bush in India

Five star hotel rooms for Bush's sniffer dogs

Some light hearted tips for Bush to help him cope with India ;)

And an open letter from Laloo Prasad Yadav to Bush.. another hilarious spoof!

Howzat? President Bush learns from Pakistani cricketers

News Analysis: Bush gives India a hug, Pakistan a friendly pat
President George W. Bush leaves the region having declared India and Pakistan strategic partners.

News Analysis: Bush gambles with atomic rules

For Bush, more respect in India than at home.

February 27, 2006

England injury woes


Simon Jones, being hailed as their best pace bowler, is out of first test. Like the captain, Michael Vaughn, he flies back home with knee problems... this follows the earlier announcement that their mainstay opener and batsman, Marcus Trescothick is flying back home for 'personal reasons'.

England are really beleaguered with injuries and Flintoff, announced as the new captain in Vaughn's absence, is going to have a huge challenge to take his team through the tour... but India also better not get complacent. I doubt Greg Chappell will let that happen.. but still, we always run the risk of being over-confident since we are playing at home, coming fresh from a morale-boosting 4-1 ODI series victory over arch-rivals Pakistan, have seen a Board Presidents XI team humiliate the English side, have a relatively young and energetic but inexperienced side, and add to that all these English injury woes....

(Also read Nasser Hussain on England's tour woes )

February 26, 2006

India Booming

Read about the percolation of the booming economy to smaller towns of India...

India's smaller cities are booming

India's Small Cities Transforming Rapidly
'India's Boom Spreads to Smaller Cities' (NYT article referenced here)
Small cities account for 65% of PC sales

Great sign, IMO. This is critical for India as a whole to move ahead and not just the top-4/5 cities. Perhaps it was inevitable and a matter of time..but the first 10 years all we heard about was the progress in cities like Bangalore, Bbay, Chennai and to some extent Hydbad & Pune...now it is the time for Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Indore, and so on so forth...

If a general up-beat attitude about India's future was the overwhelming theme I felt around me (media, paper, talking to people) during my visit to India in 1998, this time, albeit a very short visit, I felt the focus has turned (aside from the short-term (irrational?) exuberance around the Sensex touching 10,000), to the booming small towns of India. Multinationals as well as local companies, fatigued with lack of infrastructure (and its not keeping pace with development in other areas) in the bigger metropolitan cities, are moving to small towns - not merely as a large market for their wares but also as a base for their operations. Attitude-wise, opportunity-wise, it is the time for the people in the traditionally deemed B-towns and C-towns, sotospeak.

Ofcourse, it is all relative... one cannot make the fallacy of comparing this with B-towns in the US. Compare it with what they had 10 years back..and imagine what it will be like for them 10 years from now. No 20-year period since independence saw such a change...it is like we were stuck in a rut and have now suddenly freed ourself..and for that..we should celebrate it as a great sign of progress...though moving around in Bombay or Pune and looking around with 'foreign' eyes, it is tough to see where there is progress, in a western world sense. The lack of infrastructure and the teeming millions who live in what can only be called as abject poverty is too striking to sometimes see through to see signs of progress.

Also, while in India, I saw (though didnt get to read) a
recent India Today issue (with Dhoni and some other celebs from smaller towns of India on its cover), which celebrated the small-town attitude and power...

Also read: India, the most optimistic nation
Consumer confidence: India leads the way, again

February 21, 2006

Sania Mirza - Hype

So much hype after 1 good year... so much so that they awarded her Padma Shri this year on January 26th, making her the youngest ever recepient of this award. The ad revenues have been rolling in (Brand Sania - Read about the various deals India's latest sensation has signed), the media is fascinated with her through all her ups and downs (more downs lately...see below), the fans have been following her everywhere, and she has even caught the attention of the religious wingnuts who have put a 'fatwa' on her for wearing short skirts, warranting her to keep a personal bodyguard at all times!

But I am fast concluding that like the
hype around India's big bet in F1 Racing, Narain Karthikeyan (Karthikeyan has failed to register a point for Jordan in 2005 / Karthikeyan told to drive faster / Quote: 'After starting the year as the early candidate for Rookie of the Year, he probably ended up the worst of the four that finished the season. I don't think he improved as a driver at all this year, while the other rookies each showed significant improvement. Unless he has a lot of sponsorship money Bollywood's days in F1 are over.'), Sania Mirza also is more hype than substance though I had initially thought she really had the right spunk, attitude, and a good game, which she would improve on and build upon this year. But all that punk and attitude (and some argue, looks!) is all wasted if she doesnt have the game...

record this year indicates that maybe the honeymoon may be over. Her recent performance has me wondering if the good performances in 2005 were more an aberration and/or whether the success has gone to her head? Not to be overtly critical and come out with hammer and tongs against her (the way media did recently against Sachin Tendulkar, although in that case, he has 15+ years of all kinds of cricketing records to speak for him, while for Sania, one year of decent tennis is all she has to show), but her records this year are:
  1. Aus open - out in 2nd round in singles. in first round in womens as well as mixed doubles.
  2. Bangalore open - Out again in the 2nd round in a tournament where she was supposed to have an 'easy draw' although she did win the doubles title. (Great part of the hype last year was when she won her first WTA tournament last year- winning the Hyderabad Open on her home ground!)
  3. French teenager Tatiana Golovin cut short Sania Mirza's debut at the Open Gaz de France in Paris
  4. and today.. Sania lost to Hingis in round one of Dubai Open (Agreed, Hingis is on a roll since her return at this year's Australian Open.. but still... Sania had won the Dubai open last year. A first-round loss this year continues the trend for the year!!)
Maybe she will bounce back to even the top 20 and stay there for a few years as we had hoped.. but the facts are that she started the year seeded 32..is already out of 50 and after the Dubai open loss maybe she's out of top 100. 
However, the fact remains that she's made it farther than any other Indian woman has in tennis..and is reputedly spawning a new generation of females (and parents, moreso, who are fostering their daughters' interest in tennis) in India to play tennis...

April 2006 Update: 
She continues her trend this year of losing in the first round, losing 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-6(8) to wild-card entry Georgian teenager Anna Tatishvili at the Miami WTA and ATP Masters Series tournament earlier this month and lost in the first round yet again, losing 6-3, 6-4 to 32-year-old American Lisa Raymond, at the Amelia Island Bausch and Lomb Championships...though this time around made it to doubles finals with her South African partner Liezel Huber... only to lose in the finals, outplayed 2-6, 4-6 by the Japanese-Slovenian pair of Shinobu Asagoe and Katarina Srebotnik. Sania and Huber failed to replicate their semi-final form, which saw them upset second seeded US-Spanish pair of Meghann Shaughnessy and Virginia Ruano Pascual.
Amazingly, she somehow retains her top-40 seeding in singles... and in fact climbed three rungs to finish 37th in the latest WTA Tour rankings issued on April 9, 2006.

Some good performances by the Indian women in the Federation Cup where they blanked both Phillipines and Chinese Taipei 2-0 (the inconsequential doubles match was not played in both series) and then beat New Zealand 2-1 to meet Australia in the finals. However, Australia defeated India 2-1 to advance to the Fed Cup World Group play-offs while India was left rueing more bad news for Sania Mirza comes out of this tournament nursing elbow and wrist injuries, which her doctor claims are 'not serious'.
Sania is now seeded 40 and can be expected to go further down, if her injuries persist.

February 16, 2006

U-19 World Cup stunner

Nepal stun South Africa
Nepal v SA U-19 World Cup scorecard Bulletin Upsets

Had heard Nepal junior team is 'king' from no less an authority than Sunil Gavaskar...but this is amazing, albeit a 2-run squeaker...

More about the U-19 World Cup later... India's had quite a run...an impressive big 234 run victory in the semis...lets hope they win the finals now.

February 10, 2006

SL-Aus VB Finals

wow...SL scraped into finals after winning the must-win final game against RSA earlier this week.and now this - an upset win over Australia in the first of the best of 3 finals!!

SL batting fired on all cylinders (58 in 5.1 overs from Dilshan and Chamara Kapugedera towards the end) and then Aussie batting really ran into trouble with 5 run outs for Aus, 4 of them by Dilshan....SL had Aussies in trouble early on at 3 for 64 in the 15th over with" the dismissal of Adam Gilchrist for 26 silenced the home fans, but the run-outs of Ponting without facing a ball and Martyn for 1 shocked them." Martyn has been in great form... even in-form Hussey made only 16 today before...yes..you guessed it right..getting run out!!....Though the other man in decent form in ODIs, Katich and "Clarke produced a last-ditch 80 from 83 balls that made the score look respectable, Australia had been trying to catch up since giving up 88 runs in the final ten overs of the first innings."

If the run-outs were not an indication of the Aussies panicing ("Ponting and Katich ended up at the same end, Martyn was so far out from the direct hit he didn't bother sprinting or sliding his bat, Katich was sent back by Michael Clarke, and Hussey suffered in another mix-up. No decision was close."), the defeat definitely will put them under great pressure for sure as they run the risk of losing a VB series at home after so many years....last time they lost even 1 match in these 3-match finals series was in 9 years!!

"I didn't think we did too much wrong with the ball until the last five and then we had brain snaps with the batting," Ponting said. "We had five run-outs and a stumping with a few serious communication mix-ups and it cost us."

haha...will be amazing if Aussies lose...and that too to a beleagured SL, which got thumped 6-1 by India..though somehow they had lost the energy and spark in that series but seemed to have regained it with a couple of players atleast recently. SL has to just win 1 of the 2 matches left....seems plausible Ponting is going to face a lot of criticism in Aussie media if they lose this one....

Note: All quoted sentences are from the 2 linked Cricinfo articles.

February 3, 2006

Ganguly says he will open

Since we are back to square one...i.e. to where his place in the final-15 is not confirmed, Ganguly says he has no intention of retiring and will even open, if need be, to be in the side that plays England at home ...

Hang on for deja vu again once the Pakistan ODI series is over and it comes time for selection of the team for the England series.

India-Pakistan Test Series Wrapup

India's frailties exposed by pace, says Dileep Premachandran in his series review of the recently concluded India-Pakistan test series.

While this is true and was perhaps hidden in the first two tests because of batsmen friendly pitches that rendered Pakistan's pace attack impotent, it is not merely pace but the moving ball that exposed the Indian frailties. The paceman Shoib Akhtar perhaps rattled the batsmen to some extent, including Tendulkar, but the wicket takers were Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razzaq, with 7 each in the final test!

I agree, however, for the most part with Cricinfo's usual series end ranking of each team's players on a scale of 10...
India marks out of ten - Few crumbs of comfort
Pakistan marks out of ten - Unity and depth

Rediff's Report Card for the Indian team.

Sunil Gavaskar lashes out at the Indian batsmen for a spineless performance in the third Test against Pakistan.It was never going to be easy to survive for almost two days but what was utterly disappointing was that India could not even bat out the day and lost well before closing time on the fourth day itself. For far too long, there have been the so-called experts who have been talking about how attacking batting is the only way to win. That may be true, but there has to be the ability to be able to lower a few gears and bat to save a game that can’t be won and so live to fight another day by surviving.

Pakistani cricketers continue their
inane comments about the visiting side... with Miandad now talking nonsense about how Shewag was 'frightened', ...amazing how failures in 2 innings makes them forget the thousands of runs he has scored against them recently!! And

Indian team has feet of clay, says SS Ramaswamy as he analyzes the series and the 3rd test
A Hindustan Times article opines that a 'lack of killler instinct was the reason for the loss.
Srinath thinks the Rahul-Greg duo has gone too far in experimenting in Tests too.

'A shameful capitulation- Whispers of ‘sharp differences’ between 2 influential members of touring party', writes LK Sahi.

February 1, 2006

Not one more refugee death, by Emmy Pérez

And just like that, my #NPM2018 celebrations end with  a poem  today by Emmy Pérez. Not one more refugee death by Emmy Pérez A r...