Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Sunday, October 23, 2016

97/118 ...Not a Rational Number

Italian mathematician, Giuseppe Peano defined a rational number as the fraction of two integers. A proper rational number means that the denominator of the fraction is greater than the numerator. The fraction 97/118 would have fallen into that category. The fact that India ranked 97th of 118 in global hunger index makes the number only improper and completely irrational. This might be an obvious number, considering the fact that India, once called Sone ki chidiya is racing to the top in the number of people born on its soil.

About 20 crore (200 million) Indians are hungry and undernourished. This is roughly the same as Brazil's entire population. Ironically, India and Brazil compete against each other in every aspect like growth rate, GDP and poverty! While growth rate and GDP feature regularly as topics of discussion and in the headlines of newspapers, poverty seldom finds any reference. Should the newspapers then have a separate section devoted to poverty like the business, cinema and sports sections? Politicians are busy, executing the needs of the majority, appeasing the minorities and making news whereas people, with their artiodactylic behaviour let the 'shepherds' dictate what they should be bothered about. Journalists on the other hand are also busy, with some of them trying to glorify the surgical strikes and some others doing all possible research so as to discredit the strikes. India is home to 15% of the world's poor people. Does this not find enough fuel for the politicians, journalists and people to discuss about? Definitely, debate moderators who out shout debaters will have a lot to tell the nation about its poverty.

Improved or improving??
India is the largest producer of fresh fruits, tropical fruits, fresh vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal (eggplant), cow and buffalo milk, rice, wheat and mainly pulses. India exports about 10 billion dollars worth horticulture produce, second only after China. How is that both the countries are also placed top two in the number of hungry mouths? Is India exporting all its produce without feeding itself first? A hungry man can never satisfy other's hunger. Even though India is the largest producer of pulses, we import pulses from countries like South Africa and Mozambique. Why? And why, with so much surplus of pulses, the fares are so high and people are still hungry? People are still eating spiced up, flavoured Biriyani with Mirchi ka Salon garnered with rich cashew. Food grains are being stashed away so that prices go up and since rice and pulses are the staple food, people are going to buy them, whatever the cost. But what about those who cannot afford the prices? Good business can be done honestly as well. Lee Iacocca and J.R.D. Tata would have loved to explain on that. As said by the historian, Ram Guha who obviously picked it from Mahatma Gandhi, "A true nationalist needs to accept the dirt in his country so as to clean it up."

On the bright side, India has become better in the past decades. Poverty has fallen from 36% of the population in 1990-91 to 15% now. The hungry mouths however have increased. Thus comes into picture the biggest menace in the country, over population. Can we find an answer to this problem?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

M.S.Dhoni: No Story Told

In Ramoji film city, people click photos with their head jutting out of the face of one of Ravan's ten faces. Some people photoshop themselves shaking hands with Amitabh and Sachin or hugging Deepika Padukone. This is how one feels when he sees Sushant Singh Rajput's face morphed into Dhoni's when he is surrounded by other Indian cricketers. We do not know who to feel sorry for. Dhoni or Sushant. Apart from such morphological changes, the movie, MS Dhoni: the untold story has other routine, illogical stuff like a failed love story and a hasty marriage both which are in the movie for an obvious reason: songs. The movie is more about Sushant's imitation of Dhoni than the story of Dhoni himself. It is very good as a movie, a three hour magic well weaved by Neeraj Pandey but it somehow does not look like a great biography. That makes one think whether Dhoni's life achievements so far have content enough to fit in a bollywood movie.

Seriously, the way we in India are making biopics is not satisfactory. Are we so short of legends that we have to make biographies of young cricketers or are the players scared of the eventual thing that is being forgotten by people? Today, not even a cricket aspirant would recognise G.R.Viswanath if he even enters the Chinnaswamy stadium. While it is Attenboroughs and Browns who make movies on legends like Gandhi and Ramanujan, we in India make movies on olympic bronze winning and cricket world cup winning athletes. Every person has his/her own story and every athlete has immense hard work and perseverance behind success. It would not be a surprise if tomorrow a movie is made on the life of Hardik Pandya or Sania Mirza. It is quite shameful that no Indian film director could make a movie on our first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. None of the people care because we are all too engrossed in trying to find evidence for something the army had done to protect us. Of course, when the public has such volatile memory, why do movie producers want to dig old stories when they can make money on existing 35 year old 'legends' who successfully captained winning teams. It would be an easy way out for Dhoni as well because, thirty years down the lane, it is highly unlikely that a film director would consider making a movie about him.

The known story
Having said about the unnecessity of a movie on M.S.Dhoni, the making of a fine movie needs a mention. MS Dhoni: the untold story is any other movie with an added feature that it is about Dhoni. While the first half of the movie talked about Dhoni's passion towards playing cricket for India, post interval was all about what people already know about. While time was devoted to show his achievements as a captain like the 2007 world cup final and 2011 final, the movie fails to show many other memorable victories that Dhoni had brought us through his batting talent. He was a wicket keeper-batsmen before he became a captain. The movie also showed his feuds with senior players but neglected his friendly character and his extraordinary show of respect to elders in his first test match as captain. Music did the magic for the movie. The background score brings in more passion on the part of the audience towards Dhoni. There should have been more time devoted to the way Saurav Ganguly selected Dhoni to the playing XI for the India-Pakistan match at Visakhapatnam. There is no mention about his wicketkeeping talent nor his father selling his scooter to buy Mahi his first cricket kit.
Yes, there was no story told about MS Dhoni. It is just a recollection of some of Dhoni's old and famous matches with a good background music and excellent imitation by Sushant Singh Rajput. Dhoni will be a happy man. So will be his fans.