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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Himanshu has read 19 books toward his goal of 21 books.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Thoughtful Present

In the name of "They got what they deserve", a great deal of injustice gets explained away and perpetuated in each society! We self-deceive to make us feel better about ourselves and naturally think in ways that come to conclusions that favor us. Strength of the country is not just in its GDP but in the confidence of its citizens on the fairness and equality of justice there.

I was guided by several articles on issues of Justice, Liberalism, Secular State, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, Need of strong Institutions. I was inspired by persons like Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nadeem Parcha, Pratap Bhanu Mehta etc. Also, I interacted with a progressive, and liberal individual whose essays have impacted me in a positive manner. The person is Mr. Namit Arora whose blog was a insight into heart of a humanist.

It was his great gesture to share a copy of The Lottery of Birth: On Inherited Social Inequalities with a young reader for a social network friendship. Thanks Sir for the gift.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Books read in 2016

“When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic.” ― Julian Barnes, A Life with Books

Beliefs acquired by reading fictional narratives are integrated into real-world knowledge. I am addicted to surfing news articles and watching movies.But the internet has this addictive quality, and it’s one thing I am unable to control. I had less time to read, but I still enjoy a good book now and again. I discerned my love for spiritual reading from early age as our problems are on the enigma of life. The joy of reading comes from entertainment, enjoyment, education, enrichment, escape, and the way it eases life in a stressful world. But a deep reading always increase the insight in tragic world and the escape route looks more difficult. Deep reading does demand a lot of focus. I can't possibly comprehend the book without paying attention to it completely. Hence, I had surrendered myself to self-chosen ignorance and proving difficult to change inertia.

To cut a long story short, I have seen better days in reading. No self pity, but one see through the present crisis of confidence, fitness and concentration. I was more cynical, asshole in complete sense, bad judge of person and minor burnout due to work. To say that I let the momentum slip away is an understatement. Longevity in any field is a achieved only through endurance, endurance is a product of persistence amid ups and downs of the path. I have to extract 'fight' or 'flight' response. There are no half measures. I am trying to read more in tranquillity, to revive mind and body. Hope springs eternal. Repository of hope in a broken system is all that I need to set a target free 2017.

This year was cruel one as my favourite writer Martin Crowe passed away with a lasting legacy. The grand plan of reading 2 book a month for perfection was an abysmal failure. I realised the stupidity of it all, and instead would settle for a long, slow reading. I have completely updated goodreads profile and this sort of classification comes naturally to me.

Books Read in 2016:

Playing It My Way - Sachin Tendulkar - English - 7/10 -autobiography of former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar with popular anecdotes.

Durbar - Tavleen Singh - English - 7.5/10 - Comprehensive chronicle of the events from the Emergency to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi with a few well written sections.

India's Broken Tryst - Tavleen Singh - English - 6.5/10 - A lot of potential is wasted on documenting history and insights are more personal in nature.

Battle of the Ten Kings - Ashok K. Banker- English - 5/10 - Historical fiction and expanding a story into novella.

A History of the Sikhs, Volume 1 : 1469-1839 - English - 8/10 - A comprehensive history of Sikhism, spanning the social, political and religious factors accessible to a general audience.

A History of the Sikhs - Volume 2: 1839-2004 - English - 8/10 - An essential reading into the history of the sikh community and it ends with a beautiful epilogue on the challenges ahead.

The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan -  Yasmin Khan - English - 6/10 - Densely written academic South Asian history during partition era with deep focus on communal line in political parties

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

New face of Indian Cricket - 4

Indian cricket team is on the verge of playing England in the middle of grueling home season. To go back to the famous Ashis Nandy line, "Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the English." England have won their last three Test series against India, but this time they are branding themselves as “massive underdogs”. Despite of many pundits writing England off, one must look for Captain Cook leading from the front for a tough duel. Grit, Aggression and looking for results will be the highlights of the series.

Coaching job went in the hands of Anil Kumble mid of this year. It's unreasonable to expect extraordinary work from someone who isn't trusted to create it. Indian camp has highest regard for Ravi Shastri as a professional cricketers and wanted to be transition to be smooth as possible.  It is argued that the game comes easier to the greats, making coach job of solving problems of an average or even good players much more difficult. There is an counter argument in case of bowlers on because they have more understanding of cricket to survive in the batsman friendly era. Indians hope that Kumble Kohli partnership can go for establishing India in good records in abroad too. Both of them has forged relationship, mentored the team sensibly and had taken decisions under pressure in the right manner in all the tours.

There is ongoing state of conflict between the philosophy of aggressive dominant style and playing the match scenario. The parameter for the judgement was fixated on the strike rate of batsman. With Kumble in coach position, the debate of batsman around grafter and entertainer in test match is quite settled limited on positive approach only. Any team in subcontinent did not need to score at a rate deemed attractive to the public, but in their understated way can decide the outcome of the series. Batting seems counterintuitive in nature on day 4-5 in India. With the turning tracks in the picture, the batting unit need to use their feet and manoeuvre the ball and get more singles and twos before going for boundaries.

Test cricket is not a finishing school for the players but a first time series in subcontinent for English cricketers will be baptism by spin and reverse swing. As a debutant every player want to feel belonged on their first days at work. Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed, Hardik Pandya & Karun Nair will catch the eyes of public with their intent and performance in this series. The selection woes continues with the search of and fast bowling allrounder. We waited for the system to produce, rather than for us to actively promote. Sometimes, selectors pick players depending on what future tours are in mind.  Amid great negative reaction on the selection of Hardik Pandya, let us recall a quote by John Wright - “The key is to identify the right players to back. They must have reasonable ability and technique, but you must understand that there are certain players who might not be as talented as others, but boy, they have big hearts and a huge desire to succeed. Those guys, and teams with that attitude, will always surprise you.” In the dynamic of the selection, selectors must explain why certain players have been taken on the basis of potential and why few else have been subjected to limited chance. All players possess basic levels of natural talent to reach at the highest level and then it becomes a question of temperament and self belief. The self-belief to turn it on when it really mattered was the trademark of Kevin Pietersen.

Let us applaud Indians for using the Decision Review System (DRS) in the test series. Stars are born in the tough situations & qualities like character, holding up under pressure, putting your hand up to do the tough task will be scrutinised in this tour.  For too long, however, India has been a story mostly of potential. Turning possibility into reality will demand a greater focus on winning test matches in a ruthless way. India should be ready enough in international cricket to start dominating Test matches and win those crucial situations and sessions. That’s how India can become a better team.


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