Vantage point

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Just a thought. The Aussies have made a rapid scoring rate their strength. Has someone, in the past 2 years, tried to bowl a negative line to them? You know, what Hussain's England tried in India in 2001-02 to a limited degree of success. Would they get frustrated at being denied opportunities of scoring?

It seems to me like since they lost to India in 2001, nobody has made the Australians think too much. They just play their natural game without too many mental impediments. Maybe a tactic like this would make them think, try something different.

Is this tactic worth a shot?

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Nine months back, I wrote a post - "No Big Deal" on my blog that many of my friends said was overly optimistic. It came on the backdrop of the humiliating defeat we faced against Australia in the league stage of the World Cup where we were all out for 125. People were already predicting thrashing at the hands of England Pakistan, and even Zimbabwe. I disagreed.

Today as people, disappointed by the loss at Eden Gardens in the TVS Cup final, predict a repeat of 1999 on this tour of Australia, i.e a whitewash, I beg to differ. Whether I am proven right or wrong is in the hands of.......or rather the minds of the Indian players.

I am saying that we will do well in this series. Not saying we will win it, but we can at least draw it, or maybe at least win a test match. Again, you never know we might just win it. But I am not sure whether our players are primed for that big a leap. However we can DEFINITELY win the One Day Triangular with Zimbabwe as the third team.

First the test series.

In Australia, one rarely sees matches drawn. They play too fast for that to happen. So most of the time, we can either win a test match or lose. And if we play well enough, chances are that we will win. Sounds so childishly simplistic, right?

People say we don't win matches abroad because we don't have the bowlers to take 20 wickets. Now while this is perfectly true in places like England, South Africa or West Indies, it does not hold true in Australia. Most of the times the Aussies play attacking cricket and it is not the inability of the opponents to get them out that wins them matches. It is their ability to get the opponents' 20 wickets much quicker and cheaper!

Please re-read the above sentence and digest it.

What I am saying is that it does not take a very high quality attack to get 20 Australian wickets. It takes a good quality batting side to ensure that we don't lose our 20 cheaper than them. So in a way, series victory or at least survival in Australia is ensured by good batting and not necessarily bowling.

Let me give you examples. I am ignoring the Bdesh and Zimb series and going to the Ashes last year. Australia won 4-1. In each of the 4 tests that England lost, they had at least one inning where they completely collapsed. These are their scores - 325 & 79, 342 & 159, 185 & 223, 270 & 387. The speed at which Australia plays cricket, anything less than 300 is a score that can be considered an abject surrender. And if you abjectly surrender in even one inning, the difference between your score and Australia's score is too great for you to survive.

Now consider the one test England won. They scored 362 & 452/9 dec!! The Aussies lost by 225 runs!! Imagine a team like England beating Australia at home by such a huge margin. When was the last time you remember India losing a home test match by such a huge margin to a mediocre team?

Going further back, the South Africans in Australia, whipped 3-0. Consider their scores. 374 & 128, 274 & 219, 154 & 452. Again, at least one abject surrender per test.

Now let us come to an interesting stat! The rain-hit 3 test Australia-New Zealand series on 2001-2002, which was drawn 0-0. Leave aside the first two tests which were severely rain hit. The third test which New Zealand almost won had these scores - NZ 534/9 dec AUS - 351 NZ - 256/9 declared AUS - 381/7 chasing 440.

So my point is that you need to bat well! Let us say you make 650 runs in a test. It does not matter what the distribution of your runs is. Could be 400 in first innings, 250 in second. Or 150 in first innings, 500 in second. All we need is an average of 325 runs per innings.

Can we do it? Can the Indian team make 325 runs per innings? It can, but the question is, will it?

Tendulkar is in THE best form of his life. I would expect at least 2 big hundreds from him, and a couple of 50s. He knows he is good enough to bat well in Australia. At times I get the feeling the others don't.

We need one opener to do well, so that by the time Sachin comes to bat, the score is at least 100 most of the times. This is not to "protect" Sachin against the new ball or anything, but to make sure that he is not in a defensive frame of mind when he comes out to bat. We also need one middle order player to get runs. Could be either Dravid or Laxman. Both have been doing decently well abroad of late, so if both click, we will be prettily placed. Both just need to remind themselves that they are in to get 100s as well, not just 50s and 60s while Tendulkar gets 100s. VVS will have fond memories of Sydney as well as Calcutta. Ganguly, I guess will get starts in most innings, like in 1999, and may even get a big one.

The good news today is Ramesh getting 87 inthe first tour match. His return to the side will do us a world of good. In '99, he played decently. He was run out in one, survived the opening spell to get 30 in another, and was retired hurt for 26 in the third. This was against Lee, McGrath and Fleming. He should be able to stick around in a few of the innings. Sehwag got 23. He is a totally unpredictable quantity. However if the Sehwag-Ramesh pair ensures that we don't encounter an 8-1ish type situation in more than 1 or 2 innings, and Dravid then ensures that we don't come to 15-2ish, we should get at least 325 on an average in every innings. And then Ganguly and Laxman to ensure that once Sachin gets out, we add at least 80-100 more, something Laxman has been managing with consistency over the last 2 years.

Now by saying that batting well will ensure survival, i don't mean we should forget the bowling altogether. Australian batting is very strong, but it is not as strong as opposition bowlers make it out to be. The last time we went there in 1999, their scores were - 441, 239/8 dec, 405, 208/5 dec and 552/5 dec. Now look at Agarkar's figures in these innings - 2/86, 3/43, 3/76, 3/51 and 0/95. The first 4 innings are an ideal case study for how a bowler should bowl in Australia. If he can replicate that success and Ganguly can get Zaheer and Nehra/Salvi to do the same, we should have no trouble restricting Australia around 350-400 max most of the times.

The reason Agarkar impressed more than Srinath on the last tour was he rarely pitched it short, but maintained a good line and length, getting it to seam and swing occasionally. He got Steve Waugh out 3 times using this very strategy. Nehra bowls in a line-length-swing manner too. However Zaheer is a bit like Srinath, and may get carried away in the first test at gabba where the pitch is very bouncy. Ganguly should make the bowlers chant "line-length-line-length-swing" for 4 hours before the match. Zaheer has a decent short ball. But it is not so good that he keep bowling it all the times. He has gotten wickets off short balls only when the batsman commits to the front foot and then the ball rears up. If he keeps bowling short all the time, the Aussies will stay on their backfoot and keep pulling him. So he should use the short ball, but diguise it well and use it as a surprise. And it is Ganguly's job to make sure he does so.

All in all, i think we stand a much better chance of doing well in this series than in 1999. And in 1999, we lost not because of bowling, but batting. It is up to Sachin, Ramesh/Sehwag and Dravid and/or Laxman to ensure that we finish the series with our heads held high. The pitches are not too difficult, and the bowling though good is not as lethal as 1999. McGrath is out for the first 2 tests. Lee will be a bit circumspect at least in the first 2 tests, coming back from an injury. Gillespie will be lethal, but McGill, should they select him, will hold no danger.....unless of course our batsmen decide to gift wickets to him.

The Brisbane pitch is fast and bouncy so i think we may just lose the first test. but I am really really optimistic about Adelaide. Melbourne will have a drop in pitch this time, so can't comment, but Sydeny again, we stand a good chance.

Can we do it? Only time will tell. Can't wait for the series to begin.

As I said, I do think we are better placed to win the ODI series in Australia than the one that happened in india, but more on that after the test series. :)

Monday, November 24, 2003


I am a lazy guy, who loves to watch movies lying down. So yesterday, I put on this movie, and lie down on the bed, covering myself with a blanket because of the mild winter chill that is making an entry into Lucknow. My mom and dad always had a snide remark or two to pass about my preference for being horizontal.

They would have been shocked when about 5 minutes into the movie, I was sitting bolt upright, at the edge of the bed, my mouth agape and my eyes wide open. And I was in that posture till the end of the movie, and a few minutes later. This was the first action movie to have had this effect on me in years. The movie which seems to work on the "shock and tickle" principle.

The movie was Quentin Tarantino's fourth film - Kill Bill Vol. 1

Compared to his earlier movies, KBV1 has more of shock and less of tickle.It spills enough blood to feed a country for vampires, and yet it comes out looking classy. Tarantino has this gift of making blood and gore seem routine, even funny, as was seen in Pulp Fiction when Travolta accidently shoots an accomplice in the head.

I had one grouse though it might be unfounded. Whenever someone's head or limb was cut, blood gushed out like water from a torn hose. It seems as if all the characters in KBV1 have an extremely high blood pressure. :) But at no point did I feel that the movie got too bloody-gorey. Its overall spellbinding effect immunes you to the violence. Somewhat, though not entirely, like the excessive violence in Tom n Jerry cartoons.

The background score is brillllllllliant, phenomenal, and I am going to hunt for a CD of the Kill Bill sound track in Lucknow.

The performance of the movie for me was not Thurman, but Chiaki Kuriyama who played Gogo.

Best moment - When after slicing up about a hundred Japanese mafiosos with 'Japanese steel', Black Mamba takes the last remaining one, and spanks him, telling him to go to his Mom. ROFL!!!

Favourite name - O-ren Ishii....I have been repeating the name to myself since yesterday. Am gonna name my daughter that.

If I start raving too much about the movie, I will not do the work I have lined up for this afternoon.

But let me say this - Kill Bill is to action movies what operas are to music.

Bring on Volume 2!

p.s- Most of what is happening in the movie is straightforward and there are no real suspenses. I am left with only one question at the end of the movie. Why is Black Mamba's real name beeped out? Is it just to dehumanise and zomby-ise her character? All the other members of the Black Viper Assassination Squad have their names revealed, and also some human side of them, like O-ren's parents or Copperhead's daughter. There is no human side of Black Mamba. Maybe in the next volume we will see that, because the movie ends with the line "Does she know her daughter is still alive?"

p.p.s. Corny Kill Bill joke for people who grew up in Maharashtra and saw Mumbai Doordarshan
Q What are the forthcoming movies of Tarantino?
A 'Sundar Maajha Ghar', 'Kridaangan' and 'Aamchi Maati Aamchi Maansa'

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Many expressions of gratitude to Ramanand for this link, The Bat Report. Of course the Pune portions appealed to me the most.

Enabling the "dial-zero-and-make-a-call-outside-the-campus" option on a phone in my hostel is like letting a kid loose in a candy store.

Saturday, November 15, 2003


Burn up with envy, boys and girls. I have finally done it. Today I was involved in a high speed chase. And the credit goes entirely to the Lucknow public transport system and the U.P. Police.

It all started on one pleasant Saturday night (i.e tonight) opposite the Charbagh Railway Station. One of the means of public transport in Lucknow is what they call a "Maxicab" system. In this system, jeeps like Tata Sumo and Marshall are run by drivers like minibuses on fixed routes. They park their vehicles at a starting point, usually Charbagh, and wait for it to fill up with passengers. Once the vehicle is packed to resemble a modern day version of the Black Hole of calcutta, it speeds towards its destination.

I got into one such Sumo tonight and examined my fellow-passengers. The quorum for a maxicab to be on its way is 13, and there seemed to be only 7 people in it. The driver was soliciting(!!) passengers mouthing the familiar verse "aleeeganjaaiteesangamgoyalingneeringkaalej!! aleeeganjaaiteesangamgoyalingneeringkaalej!!". I was sitting there wondering what cheap whine Stephen Fleming will come up with tomorrow for the resounding thrashing they got at the hands of India, when a loud thud attracted my attention. It seemed to me like the sound was the result of a lathi(baton) belonging to a policeman. The lathi of law.....the lawthi, if you will (eeks!!). A constable in charge of making sure the maxicabs don't cause a nuisance to the traffic was doing his job and was very tactfully urging the driver to park it at a more convenient place. There was one minor problem though. The driver had wandered off a little too far for soliciting customers, and his helper, the guy who collects the money when passengers get down, was the only guardian of the vehicle. The policeman kept raining blows on the Sumo yelling "Hataaaaao!!" at periodic intervals. The money collector, whom we will call Blueshirt for the purpose of this story, was bound to crack under the strain. He bravely took position behind the wheels to move the vehicle and save it from further abuse at the hands of the law.

From the moment he stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, it became clear to us that this guy was no driving expert. He started moving the sumo, but not without incidents marring his efforts. He first narrowly missed toppling a banana cart, then caused a Bajaj scooter to swerve (a feat that might be considered a Mechanical Engineering fiction!). And then, ironically, in his attempts to escape the policeman's lathi, nudged a police jeep. The driver was a policeman with moustaches that would make Veerappan look like an adolescent. He furiously got out of the jeep and gave Blueshirt a couple of resounding slaps. Then he told him to park his sumo along the road and show him his license and other papers.

Now obviously, Blueshirt had never even held a Learner license. He did the only thing his mind, reeling under the two slaps, could think of. As soon as the alpha-Veerappan stepped aside, our hero stepped on it and took us all on a high speed chase. The cop was not to be disheartened. He got into his jeep and followed us with a vengeance. Now the other passengers did not react as phlegmatically as I did. A couple of them started yelling at the bloke "STOP THE JEEP AT ONCE AND LET US GET DOWN!!" When he appeared more intent on avoiding a thrashing and a certain night in prison, expletives started flying thick and fast. I went through a short crash course in North Indian Profanity, the lecturers being 3 passengers and Blueshirt, who despite having to concentrate on the road ahead of him and behind him to avoid the police jeep, made many significant contributions. Though I was a bit worried about being in an accident, I was thinking along the lines of "When rape is inevitable, try to enjoy the sex" and so treating this like a high speed pursuit from a Hollywood movie.

The jeep weaved through the unlikeliest lanes and after 10 minutes or so, managed to dodge the law. Blueshirt then gingerly drove us back to the station, parked the sumo in the middle of the road (some people never learn :P), yelled at us "This cab won't be going anywhere, go sit in another one" and ran away at a breakneck speed. All the passengers, feeling as if they had bonded together during this ordeal, started talking about the incident as they looked for other maxicabs. A few more expletives were revised while referring to Blueshirt as well as the Khakishirts.

I did not participate in this discussion and was smiling, content at having participated in a desi high speed chase, scanning the sky to see if there were any helicopters recording the action.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Bluno "Test" Bloonderer

Bluno Bloonderer is one of the most loved characters of tabloid publishers in many galaxies. Featuring a story about him gives their publications a semblance of authenticity, since Bluno's life, though far-fetched, is nonetheless real.

Bluno's story started many years ago on his home planet, D12bar when he was a high-school going boy of 32 (let us not get into the details of the education system on D12bar). The school board decided to document the average intelligence of their students and administered them all an IQ test. Bluno, who was regarded by his mother as an exceptionally brilliant kid, solved all the questions 30 minutes before time, submitted the answer sheet and strolled outside, smug in the confidence that he would be named as a genius.

Imagine his surprise then, when the results came out and his score was the third lowest in a class of 600 (This does not mean that D12bar schools have huge classrooms, it merely means they have smaller students). This shattered Bluno, but the effect it had on his mother was even more devastating. She committed suicide by watching movies of a little known director from the Milky Way, Soobaash Gaayi for an entire day.

Bluno took his mother's death really hard. He remembered that when her corpse was extricated from her room, there was a huge dried blot of blood there (doctors said the blood oozed out when she started biting into her arm in frustration while watching something called "Yarday") in which she had scrawled with her fingernails - "Couldn't Bluno be the smartest on the planet?".

Bluno spent 4 years mourning in the beer bar of the school (again, let us not get into the details of the education system on D12bar) until one day a fight in the bar caused a brainwave to hit him like a heat-sensing missile. A drunkard was complaining to the bartender how expensive the bar was, and the bartender in response said "It is expensive compared to the normal bars. But you should compare it to bars in 11 star hotels, and you will see it is very cheap."

Bluno sat up and said "compared to......relative......YES!! YES!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!". His excitement caused his hair to stick out like spikes, as he ran home. He had found a way to make his mother's dream come true. All he needed was a spaceship with an "All-Galaxies Permit". He bought it from the closest D-mart (their motto - 'we sell everything from a needle to a Spantorian Mammothoid') and set about his mission. Before going he shot off a letter to the leading dailies on D12bar which said

"My fellow D12bar-ians,

I was distressed at being one of the dumbest kids in school, while my mom wanted me to be the smartest kid on the planet. Well, most of you are smarter than me, but then I realised that I was just confining the comparison to our great planet. I have hit upon a 'Theory of Relativity'. It says - Everything is relative, even intelligence. However the universe is infinite. Thus the number of intelligent civilisations in it must also be infinite. Thus, if I look hard enough, I am bound to find a planet where everyone's IQ is lower than mine. You see how brilliant this plan is? Hence I am leaving to explore planets where everyone will have a lower IQ than mine."

For the next few decades, Bluno roamed many galaxies. His methods were simple. He would just land on a planet, catch hold of some natives and administer them an IQ test. If the results showed they were dumber than him, he would have settled down. However the first 367 planets that he visited were all inhabited by people more intelligent than him. However none of them were stronger..........did we omit to mention that the D12bar-ians are the strongest creatures in the known universe (though using Bluno's theory one may argue that if we look hard enough, we will find creatures stronger, but that is besides the point). So wherever Bluno went, he could overpower people into taking the IQ test, universally regarded as a very boring exercise. For years, galaxies were under terror because of Bluno, the guy who just landed on your planet and administered boring long winding IQ tests. But Bluno's search almost always proved futile.

Then just as he was about to give up on this activity and return home, Bluno landed on this little blue-green planet which went around an insigificant yellow sun in the unfashionable western arm of the Milky Way. He administered the test to some natives there, and found that their IQs were abysmally low. He was elated, since this meant he would probably be the smartest guy on this planet. However since the backward people of this planet had not made extra-terrestrial contact, he would have to relinquish his body and start living as one of them entering the body of some earthling.

One of the people he carried out the test on seemed like a nice chap. He had the lowest IQ among them, and his hair stood up, like Bluno's. When Bluno had noted their professions, the man had said he was a clerk in the patents office. Bluno extinguished the light of life in his body and replaced him.

"OK, mom, I am now the smartest guy on this planet" he thought "I will teach these people my theories, my ideas. Your dream will come true, momma.

Monday, November 10, 2003

We all know what a Bharateeya Blog Mela is. But do you know about the Bharateeya Blog Kela - The Razzies of the Indian Blogs?

Today I found a blog I really really liked. Gorgeous Diva writes really well. And you know what? She has an anonymous troll leaving stupid comments as well.

It is almost as if every blog has one. Suku has one, Bijoy was 'stalked' by one for ages, Vikram has one, and I have the 30-ish balding stinking baloon of hot air who goes by the (no)name Ag.

I wonder what sort of people feel compelled to leave such comments. And if they really dislike something so much, or if they take so much pleasure in putting down someone, why don't they leave their names?

These are people who were probably spoilt or mistreated kids suffering from an acute inferiority complex...........which arises from the fact that they are probably inferior to almost everyone they know. However they want to boost their own egos. Since they cant do this by feeling proud about their own talents or accomplishments........thanks to the utter and total absence of any such things........they feel they can do so by berating others and stabbing holes into others' work. So if they take a potshot at someone, it gives them a depraved sense of accomplishment.

However they are too chicken to stand by their own opinions since these opinions are based more on a desire to feed their own ego rather than actually make a valid criticism. So rather than let such brittle comments be associated with them, they take the cowardly way out and leave disparaging anonymous comments.

This is the same instinct that drives vandals, crank callers, or jerks who scratch abusive things into public benches or walls.

Here is my advice to all blog-trolls in general (and to Ag in particular) - Either have the fortitude to identify yourself and then leave such, or else jump up your own ass and commit suicide. You are considered as a Public Enema Number One* anyway.

If you visit Gorgeous' blog, you will learn that finally the 'anonymous asswipe' did give a name. I wish the ag's of this world would have the balls to do so too.

* - joke borrowed from Shashi Tharoor's 'Great Indian Novel'

India's cultural dominance over the subcontinent - A topic for discussion

What is common to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka? Besides being neighbours of India, these countries also live under the fear of Indian hegemony. And except for Pakistan, none of them have the Indian army in mind. It has more to do with Indian culture.

Now when I talk of the Indian "culture", I am using the Indian "entertainment products", i.e. Indian movies, soap operas and music albums as the tool of culture, even though some may disagree.

Indian movies are THE most popular movies in all these countries. Surprisingly, many of these countries have also imposed a ban on Indian movies. Pakistan and Bangladesh, taken together would total to about 1/3rd of India's population. The governments of these 2 countries have, under the influence of the mullahs, banned Indian movies. This has to be THE most ineffective ban of any kind ever in any part of the world. Ask any average Pakistani or Bangladeshi about the last movie he saw and it will be a Bollywood movie released within the past month. These two countries together form a huge market for Bollywood films, but alas they are banned.

How do they get to see these movies then? Simple, pirated videos and CDs. In fact this network of piracy is so efficient that even the pirated VCDs sold in India are 'Made in Pakistan', most of them manufactured by a company called "Sadaf Video". Now this is not some shady two-bit organisation with a handful of hacks peddling CDs. This is a legitimate (in Pakistan at least) company, which has posh showrooms in Lahore. It even sells its illegitimate wares online in its CD store. Most of the movies listed here have not been released on video/DVD by the filmmakers. Yet these pirates brazenly advertise their availability on the Internet.

In fact Sadaf manages to release pirated prints days before any movie's premiere. A friend of mine saw Lagaan one week before its release on a Sadaf VCD.

It is not surprising that such kind of piracy goes on even while Bollywood tries to stop it, in vain.

What should be noted is that the Pakistani government has banned these movies, and yet a company can sell pirated versions of these in proper showrooms and Internet sites.

Why have a ban at all then, one might ask?

I have no idea, maybe the Pakistani people and the Pakistani government can throw light on this. We can examine the reasons by listing exactly who loses out and who gains due to this prevailing system.

The Mumbai Film Industry is a big big loser, perhaps an even bigger loser than it realises. According to estimates by KPMG, the industry earns close to $800 million every year. It is also expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 20 percent over the next 5 years. Even after accounting for the lucrative NRI market in Europe and America, it is estimated that almost 80-90% of the revenues come from within India. Now let us just do some simple math. If a country of 1 billion earns the industry almost $700 million, the combined markets of Pakistan and Bangladesh, with a population of over 300 million with a similar per capita income would be at least 20% of that.

Bollywood is thus losing out on around $ 150 million every year. So who is gaining? Sadaf obviously gains. It pays nothing to the filmmakers. It may be paying a hefty amount to the people who actually steal these prints and copy them, but even that amount would not be too substantial. Buying a CD and burning a movie on it does not take more than 15 rupees (33 cents), a price that would drop drastically taking into account economies of scale. Yet, Sadaf sells these at $10 per CD, as the website itself claims. You can imagine what a killing they make.

One might be fooled into thinking that because of this ban, the 150 million dollars that would have gone to India stay in Pakistan thanks to Sadaf. However that is not so. By legitimising Indian movies, Pakistan would only make the pie bigger. So the piece of the big pie that Pakistanis get will be much bigger than the tiny pie the pirates currently devour. Imagine how great it would be if Pakistanis could have legitimate access to Indian movies. This would mean that more cinema halls and multiplexes could be opened in Pakistan. This would generate additional employment as well as revenue. There would be legitimate video shops, sans the Sadaf monopoly and the Pakistani government could earn big bucks through taxes.

And more importantly, the Pakistanis who so far are forced to watch those movies on substandard VCDs with jerky second hand camera work and massive editing (to fit the movie into 2 CDs instead of 3), will get to watch movies in cinema hall or on high quality VCDs.

Sounds like a win-win situation right?


The opposition to this comes from the Islamic extremists, and the mullahs in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Partition occurred on the basic premise that we are two (!!) nations merely on the basis of religion. The cultural roots of the subcontinent Muslims were largely ignored by this theory. The theory is perpetuated by the establishment in Pakistan, which tries to Arab-ise the country. So we have the MMA provincial governments banning celebration of 'Basant' a festival celebrated by the people of the subcontinent for thousands of years. The ban on the movies and Indian TV channels is similarly motivated.

The mullahs and the establishment are scared that if people watch Indian movies and soap operas, they will lose this feeling of separateness that they have worked so hard to create over the last 55 years. They fear a cultural "invasion" from India, an invasion that will break the back of the two-nation theory.

For what movies, like any work of art, essentially reflect the culture of the society they are made in. While the Hum Aapke Hain Kouns reflect family ties in the subcontinent, the Dil Chahta Hai's represent the changing youth and their changing values. Bollywood gives us a snapshot of present day middle class urban India, and what the mullahs fear is that once Pakistanis and Bangladeshis see this snapshot, they will realise it is not very different from their own urban middle class.

This is why they ban Indian entertainment. However these bans show how miserably they have failed to Arab-ise the subcontinent. People still prefer Indian movies and there are hardly any takers for Lollywood movies. There are voices within Pakistan asking the government to give a boost to create an indigenous Urdu film industry. They feel that by setting up their own private channels and their own film industry, they will be able to tackle this Indian invasion. However I think this will fail because of two main reasons. Firstly, it is not very easy to set up an entertainment infrastructure so easily, because it requires more than just physical infrastructure. It requires a social acceptance for the field of entertainment as a profession. So it will be decades before a parallel industry is set up in Pakistan.

Secondly, even if it is set up, I don't think its products, if they have to be popular, can be much different from what Bollywood churns out. If there is an attempt to make movies, which fully comply with the Shariah guidelines, I am afraid no one is going to watch those movies. An illustration of this is the comparative popularity of Zee TV (when it was shown) and PTV. This is what had led to Cable operators in Pakistan threatening a strike some weeks back if they were not allowed to show Hindi channels.

So Indian movies and soap operas are going to be more popular, no matter how loudly anyone invokes the Quran to stop this from happening. Indian culture, or rather the South Asian culture that India has embraced is a dynamic one, which combines traditional values with modern ideas inspired from the west. For the true meaning of culture is that which is continuously evolving. The opponents of this culture in Pakistan and Bangladesh are in denial of this very definition. They feel that the Quran and the Hadith are all it takes to lead a complete life. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, let me say that this is delusional and overly simplistic.

So, what is going to happen?

Nothing, I guess things will continue the way they are for a while. These people will keep making film-pirates richer by watching low grade VCDs. But when the WTO and the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) gets going again after the Cancun problems are sorted, Pakistan will have to grant India MFN status within 5 years or so. And after that, a smart Minister for External Affairs can start making noises asking Pakistan to take action against the Sadaf pirates, which will be mandatory under WIPO conditions.

Of course if Mush is around, he can tell us "There is no company called Sadaf in Pakistan" or "No Pakistanis are involved in piracy of Indian movies" or "No Pakistani watches Indian movies since they are banned here" very much the same breath that he says "Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan".

Pakistanis should realise that Islam is not going to be threatened by Indian entertainment. And even if it going to be, then watching Aishwarya sizzle a big screen in a cinema hall is not much more threatening than watching her sizzle computer/TV screens through low quality VCDs. It is easier on the eyes and pockets though.

Saturday, November 08, 2003


This whole Jessica Lynch story is getting so ridiculous. The woman's parents are changing their story so often, I suspect they are distant relatives of Musharraf.

Jessica Fatigue

If you think of it though, the tactics are brilliant. You go to a new publisher for every story you come up with and get a hefty advance payment for it. For instance, consider this. A few days back I read in the papers that Lynch claims she was raped. Now this is what the article says -

Dr Mahdi Khafazji, an orthopedic surgeon there, said on Friday that he extensively examined Miss Lynch and found no signs of sexual assault.

According to Miss Lynch, she has no recollection of being raped, but may have repressed the memory. It is also still unclear whether Miss Lynch was ever hit by her captors, as the Pentagon claimed.

Repressed the memory? L O very very L! Don't be surprised if tomorrow she suddenly regains her memory, and sells the explicit details of the rape to Larry Flint or Hugh Hefner.

And so the great Iraq War story goes on. Will it become another Vietnam/Mogadishu? Only time will tell. But a lot of people will end up making a lot of money because of it. Not to mention the dozens of Iraq-war movies that Hollywood will churn out over the next few decades.

Just as I was about to publish this post, I saw this news

Massive Explosion hits Riyadh

And so it goes on. Wonder who the next Dr. Evil is going to be in America's books?

Indians scared of us, says Hayden

This is fun. The war of words begins. Expect Ganguly to take a few potshots at them as well. You know, sometimes I feel a new post should be added to every country's cricket squad, 'The Ammo Provider'. This person would have a nasty sense of humour and must be able to come up with snide comments that really get under the opposition's skin.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

And good ole YACCS is back as my commenting service.

The annual Liberty and Society Seminar (LSS) at IIML will be held on 22-23 November. This time the organisers are also trying to get some leftists for the open house so that we can have a juicy debate.

The need for more such seminars was driven home to me unknowingly by my friend Ravi during a 'Business Environment' class 2 days ago. The professor was telling us about the socialistic policies India adopted in the post-Independence-pre-1991 era and the problems that the system brought with it. Prof. Asit Banerjee is one of the most intelligent and articulate teachers at IIML and what he said can be paraphrased thus -

"The problem with the state-led industrialisation model we adopted was that the what ruled the economy was not the market forces, but a handful of people, namely politicians and bureaucrats. Now the only way that market forces can be "influenced" is by raising productivity, efficiency and profitability. There are no short cut approaches for that. However influencing people is very simple. Just throw enough money at them, and they will do your bidding. So the state-led industrialisation model created two problems. One, the government owned companies, being monopolies did not aim for productivity, efficiency and profitability, resulting in poor product/service quality, little or no technological innovation, and a huge fiscal deficit. Two, the handful of private players that the government allowed were not driven by the market forces, since they could influence politicians and bureaucreats to further their agenda. So Bajaj, which will deliver you a scooter in 2 hours today, used to take 2 years in those days, because through bribing officials, it was assured of a large piece of the pie. This created a bad image of the private sector in the minds of the people and most of the population viewed capitalism as some corrupt exploitative philosophy. However now that the state is getting out of industrialisation, you have market forces which drive technology, and quality, along with profitability. So while in those days you had the Ambassador car, whose 1960 model was almost the same as its 1980 model, now we have the Tatas designing cars from scratch in India, and selling them to British companies. Because in this system, greasing the palms of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats will not assure you of profits. Excellence in products and production methods will."

Now this is as lucid as a Prof can get about the pitfalls of socialism and the benefits of the free market model. Hence I was disappointed when my friend Ravi asked,

"Sir, don't you think that the state-led industrialisation in India failed because the people here are more corrupt? Don't you think it would succeed in a country which is not as corrupt?"

This statement almost says that Indians are corrupt the way Indians are brown, i.e. there is some gene of corruption within us. That is not so. What has caused such high levels of corruption is the very fact that there is too much power vested in the hands of the state. What is the state? A few people. As they say, power corrupts. And power without accountability and a guarantee of permanence of that power (government servants in India cant be fired) is a surefire recipe for corruption.

So we need more seminars like LSS to educate people.

There is something heartening as well. I was going through the comments on what Bidwai regurgitated on Rediff 2 weeks back against the privatisaion of PSU. (By the way, Yazad has torn apart the article on his blog). I saw that over 3/4th of the comments were in favour of privatisation. This means that the Indian public is getting over the philosophy of socialism. Great news! :)

The most pithy reaction of Prafool's blabbering on rediff was this -

Subject: so what?

how will privitazing OIC and HP change its profits??

Posted by sumeet saxena on 26-OCT-03

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Well, It has happened. I made my debut as a Quiz Master a few days back.

I was hired by the IIT Kanpur people to conduct the business quiz in their fest, Antaragni. This is the first time I conducted a business quiz, and I hope it turned out fine. I also met another blogger Pranshu, who incidentally made it to the finals, representing IITK. There weren't too many business schools at the event, so the finals had 2 IIML teams and 4 IITK teams, and in the end the 2 IIML teams took the top 2 spots.

It was a great experience, starting my QM-ing career in the hallowed portals of an IIT. I look forward to more such opportunities. Meanwhile, if any of you people reading this want a Quiz Master for a General, Business, Sports, Entertainment or Tech quiz, let me know. Since I am new to the business, you will get a lot of cost benefits. ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Tony told me about a story idea he had some months back. Finally he has written it and posted it on his blog. And I must say it has turned out very well. Go read The Thaw.