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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nothing but the Best!

A time capsule is defined as 'historic cache of goods or information, often intended as a method of communication with future people.' This would help the future anthropologists and historians. Emperor Asoka's pillar inscriptions of Sarnath is one example. Even though not even as close to being significant or historic like the Asokan pillars, the time capsule at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany is useful for the common man to understand the shaping up of one of the world's largest economy. Yes, the museum devoted to exhibiting the development of the brand Mercedes, just like any other museum begins from the origin. But what is exciting comes after the origin. The way the company has taken shape and the way the entire country has developed as the automobile developed is explained quite brilliantly and that is the best thing about the museum.

The journey begins with the display of a superb model of a sports car. Probably that is the indication about the grandeur of what is about to come further. An elevator to the top floor from which the journey of the automobile starts is not just any ordinary elevator. It is the time capsule. As it goes to higher floors, there is a fast recap of videos visible on the wall opposite, thus taking us back in time along with it. At the entry, there is a statue of a horse as if to thank the animal for serving mankind so well before the automobile revolution. It could as well mean that the service of the animal stopped just at the entrance of the automobile. Either way, the horse is happy. It can have a life of its own.

Whether a coincidence or competition, it is a wonder that both Mr. Daimler and Mr. Benz had developed their own automobile in the year 1886. If Daimler modified a horse wagon, Benz made a carrier of his own. They both ran on gasoline. Thus started the journey. It goes on to show how the ambitious men that they both were conquered every part of the transport and logistics sector. The breweries in Germany were more than happy with the arrival of the automobile and were among the first customers. Later, an Austrian businessman, who wanted to win the annual vehicle race in France got a customised car made for the very same purpose and named the car after his daughter, Mercedes. After Benz and Daimler came together, they retained the name. Interestingly, it is only around the late 18th century that Germany as it is now has grown in popularity under the iron chancellor, Otto von Bismark. If this is a coincidence, then the crucial role played by the automobile companies during both the world wars is no coincidence. 

Once the war ended, west Germany, especially Bavaria grew in the automobile sector. Now, every fourth car on the road is a German car. Due to the destruction left by the war, nation building, like the breweries earlier required good transport and logistics facilities and Mercedes was in the forefront in grabbing that opportunity. So much did the car and their speeds develop that the group had to focus exclusively on safety at a point of time. Thus came the 'airbag.' No, the seat belt was invented by Volvo. Towards the end, there is a proud exhibition of the Formula One race cars, the suits worn by different drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Juan Manuel Fangio. Surprisingly, Micheal Schumacher does not feature anywhere. There are also exhibits of the original cars used by celebrities like Pope John Paul II (someone) - basically the papal car, the car used by Lady Diana, the truck that carried athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic games, the car used in Jurassic Park etc. There is also a souvenir shop and a car showroom, into which people generally go to sit in the car and click photographs.

Any normal human being whose heart beats at 72 cycles per minute wishes to travel at least twice in that time capsule. This museum is a perfect reflection of the motto Mercedes-Benz: Best or nothing. It is nothing but the best!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Politics and Cricket: Bullying a Bully

As India immerses itself deep in challenging cricket and landslide electoral mandates in politics, it could be the right time to think about politics in cricket.
There is one more thing that Indians love, apart from cricket and politics: movies. Indian movies somehow tend to show that the rich guy is the villain, even the 'high budget' movies. For the common man, the relation of movies to cricket is quite simple. The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is rich. And hence, BCCI is the villain. And anyone who can tame the bull(y) by its horns is a hero, even an otherwise hated person. It probably is the human nature. Not many ever support the Tiger when it chases its prey. This brings us to the question, why the hatred? Even if there is no hatred, there definitely is no love. BCCI is not loved like FIFA by the fans. Is it all because the BCCI, within a span of very few years grew from an underdog and a sidekick to being the boss in cricket? Well, that should make the average cricket fan in India be fond of BCCI. It just is not loved just as same as cricket in India. Maybe the movies do have an impact on the people.

On a serious note however, it is quite sad that many a man has conveniently forgotten the tremendous changes that BCCI brought into the game in India. The board had over years transformed the face of cricket in India and made heroes out of people who know nothing more than hit a 22 pound sphere with a three foot stick. And when a jobless, retired supreme court judge decides that the BCCI is bad and requires a changeover, he is welcomed as a hero. The bull has been brought down onto its knees by its horns. Many would argue that the BCCI had made a lot of money and hence it is bullying other countries and boards. Well, it would be great to know how the world of cricket got ruined by that. BCCI per se does what the United States of America does to the entire world. And we all love America and carry no love towards BCCI. The board was registered as a society in Tamil Nadu way back in 1928 and why did we have to wait for over 80 years to realise that it is wrong for the board to be a society and not pay taxes? Just because it is the only board running in heavy profits? How come we then don't bat an eye that Education Testing Services (ETS) in the name of SAT, GRE, TOEFL and GMAT is robbing millions of dollars from Indian students who wish to go abroad for higher education and yet, ETS is a non profit organisation. But when BCCI which is lifting hundreds or maybe thousands of players and those related to cricket, there occurs a problem for it to continue as a society.

The seasoned quitter!

It is probably because of lobbying, in which India is earning quite a name in the last few years. In Indian cricket, the Mumbai lobby is the strongest. And when met with opposition from people like N. Srinivasan from the south, we all know what happened to him. A major portion of his downfall is his own doing. However, when things did not quite work out at the BCCI, the lobby sent its representative to the ICC. It seemed like he waited for the right moment to attack the BCCI and the moment came in the form of the recommendations of the Lodha committee. The outcome of these recommendations might definitely help city boards like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. We have to understand that we will all see more of Kohlis, Rahanes and Nairs and cricket in India will be the same. But what about the Mahendra Singh Dhonis, the Kedar Jadavs and the Ravindra Jadejas? How come Maharashtra and Manipur have the same say in cricketing decisions. A single vote for Maharashtra would mean complete Mumbai dominance and it is not good. No wonder Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri are quite happy. Even electoral colleges keep in mind the population and popularity in mind while deciding the vote share. Not even a competitive lawyer like Kapil Sibal could make the court understand this simple logic.

The advisory committee! How on Earth did a sensible person like Ramachandra Guha agree to be a part of it? If being a cricket historian takes one to the advisory committee, then should P.N. Oak had been made the Endowment minister or Arundhati Roy the principal secretary? Going by this logic, the appointment of Gajendra Chouhan as the chairman of FTII can also be justified. Guha should have followed example of Dravid in politely rejecting honours. Instead he chose his idol, Sachin Tendulkar in readily accepting jobs which he is not capable of fulfilling. By the way, Harsha Bhogle was ousted by the BCCI. Does that not make him the topmost contender to the advisory committee?? He would have truly been a wise choice! Whoever the advisor is, he/she should remember that nothing or nobody is above the game. Protecting the interests of Indian cricket should be the priority of the board, which it of course has been doing quite nicely for years, until the Lodha committee entered.

In their entire life, the Lodha committee members would have spent more time in the cafeteria in the district court that on a cricket ground, or knowing about cricket. While I do acknowledge that a judge does not necessarily need to be highly knowledgeable about the things that he reports on, I feel that they have gone too far into 'changing' BCCI for the better. They should have been content when the majority of their recommendations were implemented. All the problems stemmed from the IPL spot fixing for which the BCCI had done enough amendments. The thing is...The newly appointed CoA do not know how to play! And if they want to do well, the BCCI has to function the way it always functioned. Yet, the committee finds faults entirely in BCCI and not at all in the law and order maintenance! Just like what they did their entire life, they simply punished the easy target. And when the BCCI is at its weakest, Shashank Manohar at the ICC is attacking from the outside. The result: The bully BCCI has been bullied into doing things!