Perceptions

The way I see everything!!!

Archive for the ‘News and Current Affairs’ Category

The Indian Premier League and the Indian Political League

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Disclaimer: This post was actually conceptualized and drafted before Rajdeep Sardesai’s post on IBNLive.com, which does a better coverage of what I wanted to write. However, since I did draft this one, I have decided to put it up, with a disclaimer that the contents are original. 

Two of the biggest entertainment blockbusters have just released in the television set near you. The IPL and the IPL. The Indian Premier League and the Indian Political League. The resemblances that both share are uncanny, right from their heroes, to the controversies to new strategies, the money involved, to the way the nature of the game (cricket and politics) has changed / evolved / degenerated. 

Of multiple captains and multiple PMs:  The Kolkata Knight Riders have announced their multiple captaincy theory, which can be summarized as, their team will no longer have 1 on-field captain, but 3-4 captains based to improve efficiency. The United Progressive Alliance is currently on a similar ground with Manmohan Singh being pronounced as the Congress’s candidate, while Sharad Pawar harbouring his Prime Ministerial ambitions. That the ‘third front’ as as many PM Candidates as the number of parties that constitute it is another example of the ‘multi-captain’ theory. Whereas, the National Democratic Alliance has claimed it has only 1 PM candidate, the problem is that the alliance has shrunk from 23 parties to 6 (4 of which are a political joke).

Bottomline: Too many cooks spoil the broth. More so in politics that in sports. I would fancy Kolkata Knight Riders’ attempt becoming successul, but post elections, with everyon wanting a powerful post in the centre, loyalties are going to be sold, resold and stolen. Clearly, an unstable government awaits us in the centre, with jackasses holding important portfolios. 

Thou shall entertain the masses: What does Shilpa Shetty know about cricket? For that matter, what does she know about anything at all? With an IQ of -250 and a body to die for, she definitely adds glamour to the game. So is the case with Preity Zinta. Shahrukh Khan is a marketing genius who will make profits again even if his team performs with the same level of ‘expertise’ as it did last year. Vijay Mallya’s team might not be favourites to win this year as well, but, there is ONE reaason why I would want them to perform well. Their cheerleaders redefine HOT. 🙂 The fact is, to win the masses, you must entertain them.  Our politicos have understood this centuries back. That is why people like Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna, Dharmendra, Shekhar Suman, Shotgum Shatrugan have joined the bandwagon. Unlike southern actor politicians like Chiranjeevi,MGR, NTR, Jayalalitha who had brilliant political acumen, the yesteryear’s Bollywood ‘Superstars’ are there for the exact same reason like Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta. Look pretty and hot and make fools out of themselves!

Bottomline: For every marketing genius (Shahrukh Khan), there is an equal and opposite bimbo (Shilpa Shetty). For every populous leader (Jayalalitha), there will continue to be an equal and opposite bimbo too (Hema Malini and others).

NEWS channels prefer Bad Boys as Bad boys = More TRPs, Less News: We all love bad boys and the controversies. Last year, we had the ‘Slap-Gate’ controversy between Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth. (That suffixing ‘Gate’ after every action word that creates a controversy shows our media’s obsession with the US is a rant I save for later). This year, the bad boy for the IPL was chosen even before the tournament began. John Buchanan for removing Dada from captaincy. Thank God the IPL is in South Africa. The communist party and Trinamool Congress would have possibly added this in their party manifesto, and reinstated as captain after elections. Needless to say, 7500 effigies for John Buchanan would have been burnt before every KKR match. Not to be outdone, the political parties needed to feed the media channels their bad boy too. Enter Varun Gandhi with his ‘Diplomacy and Secularism for dummies’. The only dummy to be slapped with an NSA, just like Harbhajan Singh after slapping Sreesanth, Varun Gandhi’s expression was priceless when he was being interviewed by the NEWS channels the day after he made the speech. Both looked like they would crap in their pants! 😀

Bottomline: Without controversies and bad boys, the NEWS Channels shall fail in their attampt to create a hysteria-type situation, and without such an environment, we shall not have the Civil War that these channels aim to create. Also, we need these bad boys to remind us, what a bunch of fools we ‘worship’. Be it in Cricket or Politics.

I am Stupid!: In the Indian Premier League, we are yet to have a contender for the ‘Duh!’ award for brilliance. Last year’s winner though was Sreesanth who thought it was funny to make fun of an angry sikh, and in the process got slapped, and cried like a baby, lost his place from the team, managed to get a stress facture without playing a single game, and now is the official male-cheerleader / break dancer of the King’s Eleven Punjab. However, in the political scenario, we already have quite a few contenders.

1. Sanjay Dutt for his homocidal / suicidal tendencies with his offer to give the jaadu ki jappi and pappi to Mayawati (of all people).

2. The Congress Party for their decision to field Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, after the CBI submitted theit ‘neutral’ observations and gave them a clean chit. That a shoe had to be thrown at the Hon. Home Minister of India, to ensure that the Congress revokes Sajjan Kumar’s and Jagdish Tytler’s tickets is not something that highlights their ‘foresight’.

Many more… 

Bottomline: With such representations, we are hitting rock bottom pretty fast.

What game are we talking about???: The Indian Premier League and the Indian Political League have both redefined the nature of the game. Gone are the days of Hit-Consolidate-Hit in cricket. Now its Wham-Bam-Thank You Ma’am. One good over can be the difference between a winner and a loser. If its a tie, we can have a bowl out. The good old fashioned cricket is… almost extinct. As in the case of the England’s Tests against the Windies. Its city based loyalties, where Kolkata boos when Sachin bats or Mumbai boos when Sehwag blasts away to glory. Indian politics has changed too. Regional parties have grown in power. Mayawati can dream of becoming the Prime Minister. Soon, the nation will have statues of Mayawati in every apartment. Andhra politics has evolved from fancy (green shirt / pink pant wearing) filmstars based campaigning to promises of Color TVs and set top boxes. Politics is maturing, with Samajwadi Party claiming to BAN ENGLISH. We shall soon get back to bullock carts. Meanwhile the ‘National Parties’ are busy discussing issues of national relevance like who is a weaker PM. The common man doesn’t care! He really doesn’t! 

Bottomline: Whether we like it or not, regional parties are here to stay and take us to the neolithic ages! Yaba Daba Dooooo!!! 

The backstage guys: The Election Commission and the Indian Premier League organization committee kick ass! This election is by far the most thought out elections, with so much thought going into each phase. Starting from the Naxalite infested zones, the phases have been planned such that the deployment of troop is easy and smooth. In such uncertain times, the EC had to get together and put up a show that truly demonstates the democracy India is. And it has done more than that.

2009 Loksabha elections map

2009 Loksabha elections map

The same must be told of the Indian Premier League. IPL1 was a HUGE success. It was entertaining, exciting, and the best reality show I have ever seen. IPL 2, despite the last minute setbacks promises much more, and I have no doubt, it will be a bigger success. 

Bottom Line: As always, we never give credit to the people who made it happen. What would we do without them?

Young Guns… Missing!!!: The Congress talks of itself as a ‘Young’ party. Except that the ones who are allowed to make speeches, talk to the media are Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Wadhra. The Jyotiradityas and the Milind Deoras are well, missing!!! The BJP doesn’t even have such faces, except probably people from the ABVP (their youth wind) who are known for murdering professors (Prof Sabharwal anyone???). The regional parties… Ah! Why am I even trying!

If the opening match of the IPL 2 is anything to go by, then this IPL is going to be dominated by the Seniors. A lot of them have been treated like dirt, thrown into a dustbin. Yes, IPL last year did manage to bring in a lot of youngsters, but the ones who are in the current team are pretty much the ones before IPL. Except maybe Yousuf Pathan! But to be honest, the IPL cannot be compared to the political system in this regard. IPL gives the younger cricketers a lot to look forward to. Not so, with the Political system.

Bottom Line: Talk all you want about us being a young nation, but eventually the reality is we have a choice between a 76 year old PM (Manmohan Singh) and 82 year old Advani. The next time some one talks abt the ‘Youth’ and ‘Gen Next’, I shall be throwing a chappal on them!!!

And Lastly… 

What is the point!!!  A fundamental question… What is the point!!! This election is the most pointless election in Indian electoral history. Not ONE national issue. You mean to say, we as a nation are have risen above national issues!!! So, why exactly are we voting? So that the politicians can rake in moolah while we are struggling to retain our jobs in the recession!  What is the point of the IPL??? To say, Rajasthan is a better team than Chennai (except Chennai team is lead by someone from Ranchi, Hyderabad by an Australian, Rajasthan by an Aussie too, Kolkatta by a Newzealander and 3 more people, Bangalore by an Englishman). The IPL is for the BCCI to rake in moolah, when we are losing jobs too! Ofcourse it is recession proof! Lalit Modi will become richer, and we will contribute to the same, while he makes statements about cricket like he is a statesman!!! 

Bottom Line: Just as pointless. But we are a part of it. ‘Cos, lets be honest, both the IPL’s are entertaining as hell!!!

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Written by shivnarayan

Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 4:45 pm

The US Financial Crisis for Dummies :)

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Well, we have been reading up about the whole financial crunch and investment banking getting a blow! I really had no idea what the whole  fuss was about, and was trying to understand the entire situation.  The more I understood it, the more I got hooked! I have tried to summarize the entire situation, from what I understand. I also took the help of my cousins BN, AN, NH who gave me their insights about the problem. I have re-organized the mail thread and tried to come up with a coherent flow here. As I said, this is a very layman view of the issue:
Sub-prime loans: The most commonly used term here is sub-prime loans. This word is basically the root cause of the entire problem. Sub-prime loan is basically a loan given to a person who has a bad credit record OR someone who might NOT be able to repay the loan amount. The rate of interest is usually very high in this case.

So, why would a bank give loan to someone who cannot repay it? Normally, when a person wants to buy a house, he walks to a bank and applies for a loan, mortgaging his house. Like what I have done. Now, if your credit record is bad and the bank feels that you will not be able to repay the loan amount, then it gives you a sub-prime loan.

Now what is the problem here?
Take this example:

1.    If I have a bad credit history and wish to buy a house, I borrow some money from a bank. This would come under sub-prime loans.
2.    In the face of general recession, if I lose my job (Outsourcing), then I shall not be able to repay the loan amount.
3.    Since I am not able to repay the loan amount, the bank can seize my house and auction it. On a magnified level, as the banks acquire more houses, the demand decreases as there are not too many people to buy it. As a result the real estate values fall.
4.    Since the real estate values are falling, the banks cannot retrieve their loans.
5.    Now, most of these banks run on the money invested by these investment firms like Lehman Brothers etc. So, when the banks are not able to retrieve the money, they are not able to give these investment banks their money!

The common understanding that everybody had was, “Housing market will improve. Housing prices will adjust itself in couple of years”. These were some of the big-wrong assumptions that were made by these sub-prime lenders and borrowers. They did not see the simple supply demand funda here. As they acquired more and more houses, there were lesser and lesser people to buy the house. And the cycle was set in motion. As a result, the house value dropped. The drop was very steep and it varied from place to place. This caused the big hit. Why should the consumer pay back a loan when the underlying collateral is not worth that much? Foreclosures started. People said, “take my house, leave me alone!”

Credit Cards and the Credit System in the US:
The basic problem is this… In the US, the system pretty much mandates you to have a credit card. And it’s based on the card’s usage that your credit history is determined. Some of the factors taken into consideration are 1. How long you have had credit. 2. How regularly you pay your bills (which indirectly translates to ‘how frequently do you use your card?’) 3. How many established credit accounts you have (not too many, but definitely not too less).  Basically, the country advocates you to have a credit card, gets you into the habit of spending on credit. Banks makes money by offerring you loans at exorbitant interest rate, because you they know that you cannot repay it. They themselves have been spreading the evil right?
The logic behind this system is in order to give someone a loan, one needs to know if the person has capacity and willingness to repay the loan.  In US, the way this is checked is not only looking at the income (capacity to repay) but also willingness to repay by seeing if they have already taken a loan in the past, and have they repaid it.
So, to get a new loan, the rule is that you must have already taken a loan and repaid it.  So the question becomes, how do you get your first loan?  It is difficult to get the first loan.  The simplest form of loan is to apply for a credit card with a low credit limit, and ensure that you promptly pay the bills on time.  Each time you use a credit card, you are in effect taking a small loan that you repay within a month (next credit card statement).
Thus, by making people take these small loans, and get the habit of paying back on time, one builds the culture of honoring one’s loans.  Then, if you really need to take a big loan such as for buying a car or a house, then the bank can see your history and decide how good you are at paying back.
But, what happens is that Banks indulge in predatory lending.  It is no different from baniya lending in India.  You lend to a person who is going to find it very difficult to repay the principal.  An example of this is to introduce 0% interest for 6 months on consumer goods items.  People will take the loan thinking that they will repay the loan in 6 months, but often don’t.  They may not be able to afford it as some other expense might come up.  The banks hope that the debtor will keep repaying only interest for a long time, and Banks make money by increasing interest rates based on several factors to such customers.  From their point of view, there is nothing unethical here, as this is their business model.  It is how Baniyas make money in India as well.
Or was this due to a lack of self regulation? At this point I think it is.
I am reading about at the 700 billion dollars bailout, and its implications, and why it failed. As of now, I have an understanding that it was not good for the people. But in what way, I am looking at it.

Written by shivnarayan

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Lousy PJs.

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My roomie ‘V’ cracked this PJ:

Words shortest international news

– Goldman ‘Sacks’!

– Merrill ‘Lynched’

Could not help laughing at the irony of this one! 😀

Written by shivnarayan

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Someone’s watching you…

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Current Mood: Having a headache

This weekend, I am home alone after a long time. Out of sheer boredom on a Friday evening, I was channel surfing and put on my favourite news channel to know whats happening in the country. Instead I see Shilpa Shetty giving gyaan on Prime Time News on (believe it or not!!!!) how to win the Big Boss!!! What a relevant piece of news, which I am sure the whole nation needed to know.

See, my blood pressure rises takes over when I see BULLSHIT on TV. And Reality Shows today are not helping the cause. I really don’t think the nation was interested in knowing that to survive in the Big Boss, one needs ‘to be yourself’. In which case Madam Shetty, its a miracle how you won the Big Brother!!! A super fake accent and this almost benign voice from a vampirish person, giving philosophy about Life! This is what CNN IBN has been reduced to!

The problem with boredom is, it arises curiosity after 15 minutes. And I was no different. I really wanted to see what is this Big Boss show all about. (I had not seen Big Boss 1). I was also wondering Shilpa Shetty had improved marginally as an actor. Boy! Was I in for some trouble!

So, I switched on Colours (the channel in which this show is being aired) and I see Madam Shetty sitting on this chair and spouting cheeseball lines with no conviction, making the Sun Music VJs look like experts in the art of ‘talking to the viewers’. The show by itself is cheap and voyeuristic in nature. So, Rahul Mahajan (god bless the man, for he has lost his way) and Sanjay Nirupam (A joke for an MP), and some Sambhavna female (the sluttish, vampish irritant) are having a very mature discussion about how many girlfriends Rahul Mahajan has. After that extremely profound conversation, Shilpa Shetty makes a few attempts at humour by showing Rahul Mahajan cleaning the bathroom floor. Is it just me, or was there nothing funny in that scene at all??? Well, for one full hour, Shilpa droned on and on putting up a plastic smile about the ‘house-mates’. And finally the omni-present voteout!!! Are people in India actually bored (or rich for that matter) enough to send SMS votes at 3 Rs per message? Shilpa tried to raise the suspense with all her acting skills (rather the lack of it!!!) and it was hilarious. Oh, her habit of telling ‘sooo sweet’ for the most irrelevant thing is probably more funnier than her failed attempts at humour!!! Ketaki Dave says, ‘ I miss my milk wala tea’ ans Shilpa Says ‘Sooo Sweeet!’. The politician says I am ready to be voted out, and Shilpa says, ‘Soooo Sweeet’…

Anyways the audience’s verdict (This is a show for the people, by the people and of the people, an epitome of democracy) was Sanjay Nirupam (the politician dude) had to leave the house!!! WHOA!!! What a result! Hitchcock could not have written a better thriller!!! And then this dude rambles on and on about how he wanted to be in the show just ‘to understand the mentality of the normal people who are not from his strata of life’ and that ‘he gave hints to his people from the show that he was no longer interested in being a part of that society, and that the cause of the aam admi is more important!!!’ Crap that made me shed silent tears!!!

You know, this sorry excuse for a show is getting extremely high TRPs. All reality shows cash upon the voyeuristic streak in us, and this show leads the way. As a nation, we have become obsessed with a sneek peek at the ‘life of others’. And that is sad. I forgot to mention the part of the show where SS was introducing the participants once again, and for each participant, a separate hindi song was being played. And they showed the part where Jade Goody was informed about her Cancer, they played the K3G’s title song. Is this how insensitive TV Channels have become? To actually cash in on someone else’s misery? And we, the so-called-educated middle class, are providing them the fodder for such insensitivity? I don’t mind reality shows like Fear Factor. But this… this is a sham which is a shame to us. The news channel actually had this broadcasted as Flash News once the show was over!!! The news channel have a responsibility to the people, and they are promoting sucnh a show! Accept it guys, we have become a nation of peeping toms. Someone is watching you!!

Cheers!!!

Written by shivnarayan

Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 2:00 pm

The relevance of the Olympics??

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Current Mood: Hopeful

AM, a colleague from work forwarded this article from ‘The Times of India’ to me. The article talks about the relevance of the Olympics (or rather the lack of it) in modern sports. The author reckons that Olympics does not have a place for many sports like Golf, F1, Cricket, while others like Football, Tennis do not really consider Olympics as a cornerstone of global sporting. He also seems to consider that words like global integration and peace are just sugar coated (China and more recently Georgia Vs Russia being the examples).

But the funny part is, this article was written by an Indian newspaper. And that too at a time where India has given its best ever performance in the Olympics. I agree 1 gold, 1 bronze and another medal (bronze, silver OR gold depending upon where Vijendar Kumar goes) is miles behind what China and the US has achieved. But I have a feeling that, from a broader perspective, this Olympics could just be the start of a change.

A nation obsessed with statistics, we have always treated every other sport in a step motherly manner. But, this time around, I actually noticed a sense of excitement, especially at my work place. All of a sudden, people were discussing names I have never heard before. All of a sudden, my colleagues were optimistic that we might stand a chance to win something. Yesterday something happened, that I never thought was possible. I saw a boxing match. With an Indian competing. This was my second time watching a boxing match (the first time being Stallone’s Rocky Series) and I was surprised at the number of people from office who turned out to watch that match on DD. Names like Jitender Kumar, Akhil Kumar, Vijender Kumar, Sushil Kumar were doing rounds regularly at work and outside work. Saina Nehwal’s matches were being discussed at length. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore actually was in an ad for a Bike Major. And then our golden boy, Abhinav Bindra. We actually managed to move beyond the Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathis and Anju Bobby Georges. All of a sudden, people realised that our shooters and boxers have been sweeping the Commonwealth Games and other events. More favourable statistics began to be discussed.

As AM said, we are obsessed with Cricket as it gives us a place in the global sport map. Tennis has shown potential to put us somewhere in the global sport map as well. Else, its the ‘Chalta hai – Who cares’ attitudes that engulfs us. And that has been a pinch that other sports felt. This Olympics holds a lot of relevance to a country from being statistical gurus to actually inspire a few more to probably take sport as a career. At least, that’s what I hope for.

Everyone wants to be associated with a winning brand. That’s probably why the government has showered crores on the Olympic Winners. The world loves an underdog. I hope, this Olympics shows India its underdogs who have shown they are good. Not good enough to sweep the Olympics, but definitely good enough to realise our potential. I feel this Olympics will help us become that winning brand. Give us something that we desperately seek, (cliched that it might sound) Heroes in the sporting battlegrounds.

Cheers!!

P.S. The coverage by DD sucks as usual. The commentator had no friggin idea what was happening in the ring (Just like me!!!). 🙂 I don’t think he had even seen the Rocky Series ! I think, in that regard, I was more ‘educated’ in the sport! 🙂

Currently Listening to: Piya Bavari
By: Abhijit Pohankar

Written by shivnarayan

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Of Long Weekends and Dirty Politics.

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Current mood:  Excited

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Written by shivnarayan

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 6:45 pm