When Heroes fall…

Right from the moment #SandpaperGate happened, it was obvious that this was going to be huge. In the aftermath of the ban by ICC and action taken by CA, the opinion is divided on the degree punishment meted out by CA. Is it too harsh to ban the players for a year for an offence which seems to have pseudo legal sanction by the authorities, and carries only minor punishment legally? Why is there such an uproar in the cricketing community if the offence was minor? Bottom-line it sucks that Steve Smith and David Warner are not going to be wearing the baggy greens for over a year, not just for the Australians but for fans of cricket around the globe. Some unfortunately are celebrating the fall of the two of the greatest modern batsmen and one hapless rookie. This grudge comes from a deeper resentment towards the Australian team which has always played with an in-your-face attitude which also shows their impact on the game. Australian team is and will be one of the greatest sporting teams ever and their top players have always had an aura of an invincible heroes around them. Yet when we allow them to get away with taking the hollow path to the moral high ground, when we don’t value virtue enough, that they become victims of their own arrogance and fall.

Sport by its very nature brings out the unknown aspects of human ability and puts it bare on the field. Most often it allows us to breaks the limits of achievement and sets impossible boundaries under tremendous pressure only to be broken nonchalantly by some newcomer. If there is any other pursuit in this world other than religion which can claim to uphold virtue, then it is only Sport. Cricket with whatever limited viewership it has among the other modern sports can still be envied by all the others for the amount of detail, layers and knowledge it is required to follow. There are very few sports where the character of a player and not skill is tested to such a degree that the highest format has been given the epithet, the Test match. No other sport can boast of having reams of pages written over even on the minutest aspects of the game. Nothing of this sort is possible if not for the love and affection of the players as well as the fans towards the great game. But then the game like every precious thing in this world rests on the delicate threads of Honesty and Trust which are reinforced by the love of everyone involved in the game. We realize the value of these threads only when they snap.

It is for this reason that the heart break is so damning, that so many past greats are so gutted for the last week. The anger in Michael Holding’s voice was unmistakably palpable on the 4th morning in Cape Town that he was breathing fire even with the mellowest of voices among the commentators. Like him and other past greats such as Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith, Michael Clarke, Shane Warne and a lot many others have been unequivocal in their criticism and have rightly called for the right steps to be taken to uphold the trust in the game. I believe a sportsperson is closer to the game than an average fan. It is a 100% part of their life and would take their word for it rather than interpreting it only as professional rivalry.

People throwing the rule book at this incident, need to step back and look at the larger picture, it is not just about ball tampering. If the leader of the greatest cricketing team can claim to have planned an illegal means of gaining advantage along with his senior teammates, then it breaks the fundamental aspects on which any game rests, Trust. Any act which involves hiding stuff in your jocks and blatantly lying to the authorities shows lack of character and that is a dangerous thing for the game. If the greatest can cheat and get away, what stops the other minnow teams or the kids who look up to these stars and play on the streets and backyards across the world? Just as the game tests our character and limits of skill, it throws up these watershed moments when the rules are not enough. CA has rightly upheld justice in banning its superstar players including the world cup winning captain for a year. Now it is a journey for the Australian cricketers to rebuild the trust of everyone else in the game. For the game is greater than the greatest ever players who have played it.

As per Steve Smith and David Warner as well as the young Bancroft, it is for them to choose whether they want to bounce back as changed people and win back the love to write a new story for themselves or fade away. Because that’s what heroes do when they fall. They pick themselves up and get ready to fight again.


On the verge of history!


For all the cacophony that was supposed to be governance and building india the last 10 years, today we stand at the verge of a new era in governance. The fact that the UPA has so spectacularly screwed up the growth story and the economy, we should be at least optimistic in what the new government has to offer. Looking back at the opportunities that have been lost and what we stand to gain the next 5 years, we see two successive UPA governments at different ends of spectrum. The first UPA offered a decent growth around 9 percent and then a downfall in the second term. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that most of the growth in the first term had been due to the policies and the measures taken by the NDA government until 2004? The major scam that has taken place in the second UPA term was not 2G, CWG, Coal or myriad of other scams but the derailing of the growth story and getting us to where we are right now. We can talk about a lot of faults as factors such as inability or the incompetence of the UPA, but it was predominantly because the government never really bothered to make corrections or do the right thing for our country and hence the multitude of scams and corruption. We all talk about the global recession, scams and so many external factors contributing to the decline, but it would be unwise to ignore the factor of economies of west playing their own part with the UPA to derail India growth story. The Indian and other similar world economies cater to the American and EU economies, I wonder if a strong indian economy is in the best interests of the big players.

A lot of it is also because our national media has never really bothered to pull up the government for its inability to govern. If we look at media, primarily the TV news media and that most of them sprung up during the UPA rule and the amount of credibility that they have been left with it suspiciously looks like they played hand in glove with the misadventures of UPA. As it has been evident with information that has come out in the public domain time and often that the major news organizations are backed by foreign news behemoths, it could very well be possible that they could very well have had a stake in controlling our economic policy through UPA. This arrangement between the media and its stake in government policies would definitely alter with the new government but not sure in what direction.

Around the period of 2007 and 2008 some studies were done to understand the growth story of India. As per a McKinsey report, the middle class population in India at that time was around 50-60 million people and projected to be around 270 million by 2014-15. I wonder how much of that has been possible as the current statistics are unavailable. My guess is we are around 150-170 million people we could categorize as middle class and thats about 15%. We have gotten to a state where the government perpetually debates about defining the definition of poverty and calling it a state of the mind instead of providing the poor a sustainable life. By most estimates, around 30% population is below the poverty line. We have an untapped resource of around 500-600 million people who belong to the lower middle class of our society. This is majorly the population which lives in the numerous towns of india.

I would like to believe that the the purchasing power of middle class is what basically defines the strength of a country’s economy across the world. Looking at the future and the opportunity it presents us with, upgrading our lower middle class population to a middle class would be the biggest challenge. This I would assume will have a ripple effect to the bottom end of the society improving the standard of people below the poverty line. This is where specifically the manifesto of the BJP makes all the ‘right’ noises. Building 100 new cities, better road connectivity, infrastructure, upgrading the manufacturing sector, skill development and tourism wherever possible. The towns and rural India is what would get the most out of these measures. American economy by nominal GDP is at $17 trillion with a population of around 320 million and we are 1/10th of its size with around 4 times the size of its population. Any change in purchasing power and strengthening of our fundamentals would result in tectonic shifts and major realignments towards east with India and China being the hubs and other technology hubs such as Japan, Taiwan and Korea supplementing it. I wonder if this what the western governments are apprehensive about.

One of the major accomplishments that UPA boasts about in its regime is the NREGA, that rural people get 100 days of employment per year. Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan of LokSatta Party put it best when he said, “In this day and age, it is an insult to our people to consider digging and filling pits as employment. NREGA has also distorted labour markets and destroyed the work ethic.” and that is the sad reality of dole based reign of UPA. This is where Mr. Modi’s focus area of skill development makes real sense to provide sustainable employment round the year. For all the talk about Gujarat model and how effective it will be in other places, my understanding of the Gujarat/Modi model is about the ability and willingness to solve problems. Every state and every landscape of our country has its own problems and with that presents us unique opportunities. The ability and willingness to take the bull by its horns and solve those problems and grab the opportunities is what is required and whatever model we may call it is irrelevant. I think Mr. Modi offers this. The aspiration of India to be superpower in a global economy is well placed in the hands of a leader who has the guts, the experience and looks like has the sense to take India to its rightful place. On the verge of history, on the day the nation takes a turn for the better let us wish ourselves a Better India.

Over to you Modiji !