Thursday, August 17, 2023

New face of Indian Cricket - 5

This blog doesn't often dabble in technical cricket analysis, because my credentials in the field of technical cricket analysis are somewhat lacking. And, I am writing this blog post in a series of posts 7 years after the New face of Indian Cricket - 4. The Indian cricket team is on the verge of playing the ODI World Cup, the Test series with England, and then the T20 World Cup,

What lies ahead for India as their Test /ODI/T20 side enters a transitional phase? Indian team under Rohit and Dravid has been into a spiral loop of learning in every series and every game. Winning is a habit, as England discovered on their march to the summit, and confidence begets confidence along the way. Losing for the sake of learning, on the other hand, tends to become known simply as losing as the team gets too used to the feeling.

Test Team: Retirement is a natural conclusion to a sportsman’s career, even if occasionally the inevitable is delayed.  Rohit, Virat, Che Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane are perhaps at the fag end of his career in the batting. Shreyas Iyer will be VVS for the future test team, playing at 5 & competing with Sarfaraz Khan for the spot. Poor XI selection in the test matches and Dust Bowl pitches in India have also expedited the process of the bad patch of batters. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli both averaged 29.69 in Test cricket since the start of 2020. Yet, while the former has been dropped, the latter continues holding onto his spot.  This is the time to blood new talent Abhimanyu Easwaran, and Sarfaraz Khan and give prolonged chances to Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, and Yashasvi Jaiswal. 

The real strength of the Indian bowling attack is the ability to take 20 wickets with fantastic spin all-rounders and genuine fast bowlers. Five-bowler theory has been working in abroad tours as there is a reliable batting line-up against good teams. Ashwin and Jadeja are allrounders in the legacy of Kapil Dev & Vinoo Mankad.  New bowlers like Kuldeep Yadav,  Axar Patel, and Saurabh Kumar will be hopeful to carry on this legacy shortly.  

It's difficult enough to solve problems in Test-match cricket, but infinitely more challenging when the existence of those problems is never acknowledged. India is producing sub-standard cricket pitches for the test matches, and they are alien to our own cricketers as well. This is not because they never get a chance to play much domestic first-class cricket but because the standard of pitches in the Ranji trophy is much better than test match pitches in India. This legacy from Kohli-Shahstri & Rohit-Dravid has to be discarded as the substandard pitches also nullify the strength of the Indian spin attack. Lower order has bailed out in Indian conditions but SENA countries require batsmen to play out of their skin to win games. 

ODI Team:  Dhoni and Kirsten had a clear frame of mind and hardly experimented in the lead-up to the 2011 World Cup. Everything was built with core players forming a cohesive unit and sorting out their positions over time. The anti-thesis of 2011 is currently been practiced for the 2023 World Cup. Rahul Dravid and Rohit have kept on experimenting which has led to an unsettled squad leading lack of cohesion in the team much needed to win games under challenging situations. There has been too much rotation of the players from the ODI squad.  With this strategy, mistakes spill over & have a domino effect. 

India has been a very very ordinary limited-overs side for some time now.   The chances of winning the ODI World Cup seem bleak as of now.  This is the time to rebuild the core batting and bowling group of 15-18 players by making tough decisions. Rahul Dravid has turned out to be a disappointment as a senior team coach and must be shown outside. Fitness, endurance, intensity, and skill are the four pillars of cricket.  And, the fitness of Captain Rohit Sharma is fragile in nature. The pragmatism of the separate ODI captain must reflect the realities of the hectic schedule of world cricket. 

Individuals facing injury and declining form are normal, but the shocking thing is there are no backups remotely ready for the batting positions 4 and 5. Even then, the main problem is not the team composition but the lack of match time together.   Hoping to create a team worth talking about!

T20 Team:  Top-order conservatism in T20s is a high-risk strategy. At its best, it reduces the game for your batting unit from a 20-over match to a 14-over one, ensuring that even if you don't win many games in the batting powerplay.  The ability to design and implement a strategy was ranked as the top perceived risk.  And, a reasonable strike rate from the beginning is the only way to counter the planning and tempo of opposition bowlers. Loss should neither be accepted with a phlegmatic shrug nor should low-risk low-reward cricket. 

When it comes to executing strategy, the old saying "the devil is in the details" holds true for many professional human resources setup that identifies performers through the risk-reward process. There should be a reward for good work and backup for the odd initiative gone awry. No player, not even Captain Hardik has to play the role of the grafter and stick to the part of the adventure cricket.   Ravi Bishnoi and Kuldeep Yadav be playing faster T20 World Cup in 2024. India will need a fresh set of bowlers with X-factor and a lot of potential.  Avesh Khan, Umar Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Sai Sudharsan, and Jitesh Sharma are the future stars.

The new impact player substitution is a dangerous idea that has exacerbated the tendency to play with specialist bowlers/batsmen. And, further eroding the growth of the Indian allrounders in IPL. Too much IPL without exposure to international T20/T10 leagues will always come to hurt India.  Young prospects in the wings can't be confined due to the exclusivity of IPL. Giving exposure to future superstars among these emerging talents is always an intriguing task.

Enduring great teams prosper not because of a single great leader, but because they can consistently produce great performances from within the team. Great teams become pioneers in producing match-winning performances.  Let us hope for better cricket from Team India. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

On Tyranny

Now is a good time to re-read Tim Snyder's observations and advice in On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Here are observations from On Tyranny that seem especially pertinent.

1. Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.

2. Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about—a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union—and take its side.

3. Beware the one-party state. The parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start. They exploited a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponents. So support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Vote in local and state elections while you can. Consider running for office.
4. Be wary of paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.

5. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny

Monday, March 7, 2022

Decolonizing our minds

What is an Idea of India? Ask a liberal, this will be a democratic republic where secularism trumps, multiple cultures, and identities coexist in harmony and dignity and embodied in the Constitution. Ask a conservative Hindu, this will be the victory of Sanatan Dharma and Akhanda Bharat.

Indian State was founded on values of equality, redistribution, fairness, and social welfare in 1947. India inherited a liberal Constitution structured over the colonial institutional and legal structures that weren’t exactly suited for liberal democracy. Also, the constitution was imposed upon a society that was feudal in the customs and entrenched prejudices relating to caste, religion, and social hierarchies. The irreducible character of violence in Indian society is best depicted in the idea of the caste system and religious purity. The spiritual legitimization of something as discriminatory as caste is at the very heart of the structural violence that ails us as a society.

There were legacies of western colonialism and barbaric caste system & religious hate competing to occupy the headspace of the individuals and institutional structures. Indian State was slow in dismantling the colonial hangover but was instrumental in gradually grafting a layer of society aligned to the constitution. India emerged as a leader among the newly liberated nations through a “nonaligned movement” that resisted the pressure to be drawn into the Cold War & became the pawn of the colonial powers.

A small section of liberals grew not because of the competence but due to political patronage. They don’t have to choose between higher moral standards (Secularism, unity in diversity, Inclusiveness, etc.) and quality of life. The era of 1950 - 90s was the era of dominance of the upper caste in the social domain and the corridors of power. Hence, Hence, the 'Idea of India' worked as a pretty screensaver, composed with isolated stories of secular and egalitarian leaders/reformers, to systematically conceal accounts of historical enslavement of the marginalized by the mainstream.

India was changing slowly from the mindset of self-loathing to new age confidence. The liberalization in the 1990s led to the creation of a large middle class that didn’t depend on the constitutional morality of the state for its livelihood. This freed the Hindu middle class from the secular incentives of the Indian state. The era of Saffronization started with the rise of market forces, mandal commission, and Babri Masjid demolition.

The right-wing majoritarian groups started the war on secularism on multiple fronts by depicting themselves as historical victims from Muslims, Communists, and Christians. The narrative of the religious identity became much more binding now to counter caste issues and integrated a large section of Right-wing Hindus. Robert Paxton defines fascism as "the belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external". Hindu right group was perpetuating the myth of perpetual victimhood to the believers.

Journey of Decolonization

Decolonizing minds is the process of dismantling the legacies of colonialism and attempting to undermine them in institutional structures of higher learning. The focus in an academic circle is more on history, social sciences, and literature. Decolonization of the colonial legacy is much more complex than it appears for a nation and its citizen. 

CLR James, Tagore, and Fanon have written about colonialism, race, and identity long before anyone. Progressive Writers' Movement in British India was anti-imperialistic and left-oriented and sought to inspire people through their writings advocating equality and attacking social injustices in society. There was a huge shadow of the left-leaning individuals in creating spaces for decolonization in academia even in the 1950-90s era. There was an attempt made in the field of humanities, as a form of intellectual resistance against the hegemony of the colonial empires.

Today, there is a huge uproar on the decolonization of Indian academia, especially history to discover new heroes of the past. The colonial ideals are pushed out to recognize indigenous leaders. The right-wing didn’t come up with diverse views but started peddling rehashed literature of the mythical Hindu past showcasing the golden age of India. Right-wing is spreading its agenda with a label of decolonization of Hindu minds and to create the prototype of a flawed utopia. Instead of purging savarna literature and breaking away from the past, the Indian literature ecosystem is promoting a historically unjust system. Hindu society is showcasing the narcissism of victimhood – that supplies a convenient exit on the difficult questions and looking for scapegoats to blame its own failure. The mythical idea of vishwaguru probably plays well with the core Hindu populace even India is a net importer of knowledge from the west.

Hindu supremacism in our society began with the intellectual triumph of the conservatives and a similar loss of credibility of liberals. Liberals are now threatened by people's power that appears to be taking effect due to technological thrust into society. They are unable to democratize space for the masses, to engage with them culturally. They are unwilling to engage with the wider public because the right-wing individual doesn't deserve to be spoken with and the elite can speak in English only. The risk of decolonizing minds is an immensely difficult and bleak future that lies ahead for Indians. How to promote the quest for social justice and decolonization in such a post-truth era? 

The Road Ahead:

The experiences within the colonial education system especially English have enabled the oppressed. The liberal education to the oppressed has turned them into challengers of colonialism and gave them the tools to oppose the feudal suppression and avoid any colonial hangover. Blue, Red, and Black (Bahujan, Left, and Dravidian groups) are three symbolic colors of the political resistance to overcome the huge unfurling of saffron over the social landscape. They are now creating social spaces to fight the new hegemony of the saffron. The women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Denotified Nomadic Tribes and all Pasmanda religious minorities must express themselves with a range of genres as novels, autobiographies, pamphlets, poetry, and short stories. 

Ashis Nandy pointed out many years ago, the triumph of secularism in India is more about the ability to live with contradiction, ambiguity, and messy accommodation than the triumph of first principles. The elite liberals must take the moral discourse centered on diversity, secularism, pluralism, and communal peace, to the more basic ideas of freedom, equality, individual dignity. 

Crony Capitalism, phantom democracy, and unapologetic Hindu nationalism are here to stay. The public mood will be manipulated with consumerism, media, domestic security, and disdain for intellectuals. But all Nations went through such struggles and to think of radical reforms without the presence of a violent right-wing is impossible in history.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Poetry of Protest -4

Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance. —Mahmoud Darwish

Literature is about recording what is forgotten, but also about living and recreating the life that surrounds us. Continuing from the series of the Poetry of Protest - 1, Poetry of Protest - 2, and Poetry of Protest - 3, we will read a compilation of the resistance poems. Why? We are living in a consumerism and post-truth era without a memory, which accepts, without much resistance, ideological interpretations of the history, as dictated by the regime and enforced by its media. The solidarity of the protest can only be built by a form of literature that is emotionally compelling, contributes to the combating of loneliness, and makes the reader less terrified of themselves and the political powers which surround them.  Here is the curated list of poems with spirit of the protest:
  1. First they came..--- Martin Niemöller 
  2. Unadikum ( I Call on You ) ---Tawfiq Zayyad
  3. The Will of Life --- Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi.
  4. Grass ---Carl Sandberg
  5. I am the People ---Ahmed Fouad Nigm
  6. The Times They Are a-Changin' --- Bob Dylan
  7. Let them not say ---Jane Hirshfield
  8. Pity the nation ---Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  9. Write me down I am an Indian Ajmal Khan
  10. Pity the nation --Khalil Gibran
  11. Write down! I am an Arab ---Mahmoud Darwish
  12. Dreams --- Langston Hughes
  13. Still, I Rise ---Maya Angelou
  14. Two Poems of Resistance ---Ayat al-Qormezi
  15. Strange Fruits--- Abel Meeropol
  16. ख़्वाब मरते नहीं --- अहमद फ़राज़
  17. एकला चलो रे। --- रबिन्द्रनाथ टैगोर,
  18. आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौला चलो --- फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़
  19. खेत में दबाये गये दाने की तरह --- भवानीप्रसाद मिश्र
  20.  होने लगी है जिस्म में जुंबिश तो देखिये --- दुष्यंत कुमार
  21. कोसल में विचारों की कमी है! --- श्रीकांत वर्मा
  22. उनका डर --- गोरख पांडेय
  23. दस्तूर --- हबीब जालिब
  24. कविता पर रोक --- शहरोज़
  25. बोल कि लब आज़ाद हैं तेरे --- फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़
  26. ये दाग-दाग उजाला --- फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़
  27. हम देखेंगे --- फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़
  28. हम लड़ेंगे --- पाश
  29. भूख के एहसास को शेरो-सुख़न तक ले चलो --- अदम गोंडवी
  30. वेद में जिनका हवाला हाशिये पर भी नहीं --- अदम गोंडवी
  31. जो अपराधी नहीं होंगे, मारे जाएंगे...--- राजेश जोशी
  32. बच्चों का दूध --- रामधारी सिंह "दिनकर"
  33. आग जलनी चाहिए --- दुष्यन्त कुमार
  34. अब क़लम से इज़ारबंद ही डाल --- हबीब जालिब
  35. हम कागज़ नहीं दिखाएंगे --- वरुण ग्रोवर
  36.  मैं भी काफ़िर, तू भी क़ाफ़िर --- सलमान हैदर

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Why I am infrequent here ?

I have been working as a social impact consultant from last 8 years and before that was a student of rural management. This parallel journey kept me occupied and took negative toll on 'Sparsh' blog. Due to nature of the work, I started reading blogs related to development studies, social sciences, economics, agriculture, public policy, rural management, and related field. Yet, I found lot of factual blog but very few personal blogs on topics above. So, I created a blog: Diary of Rural Manager! where I have a space to write exclusively on social impact sector, sustainability and rural management. Maybe it was time to admit that I was the writer I was waiting for.

It was cathartic to speak to the community and to feel that I was standing in dialogue with them fully as myself. In the process my ideas started to develop. I could finally articulate what I had only felt vaguely all along the journey. I had even written on the idea behind incubation of Diary of Rural Journey in 2013.

I traveled, lived, worked and enjoyed life as a rural manager in rural India (often referred in popular vocab: the field). I made an effort not to refer rural India with any connotations of exotic otherness. Rural India suggests hardship, bad roads and yet a rough terrain inside mine comfort zone, into the unknown. A journey on muddy road has always showed me to re-examine managerial education, renouncing the elite hook and turn into pragmatist. Actual or feared, exploration is my fuel for the writing.

Why Diary of Rural Manager! blog is important? The writing process of blog helps me to establish today’s insights and record them for posterity. Often, we find that truths established today are thoroughly debunked for at some future time, while some neglected truths are later uncovered and brought to the fore. Blogs, at their heart, have a lot of characteristics that are going away in changing times. Blog had stable URL and can be accessed without any app on any web browser. Blog is  not particularly tied to any platform like Facebook, Instagram or Google.

The difficulty of good blog is not to write, but to convey what one mean and want. Blogging is a game of rhythm but the process of writing usually goes into two distinct modes. In the first mode, its all about endurance and discipline. In the second mode, long periods of inactivity are mixed with brief bursts of power and inspiration. Deadlines for writinf, just don’t work out for me, due to inherent laziness. Blogging like Marginal Revolution , JabberWock, and Cinemascope is a work of a master craftsman who understands that talent and skill has to be paired with tactics and strategy to being success.

Like a startup, blog requires a lot of interaction with potential readers to reach and validate the early stages of the content quality and ease of reading posts and outreach. Otherwise just forcing a way into an idea lead towards a gossip ditch. Idea behind this blog now is to share insights so that more students can avail the benefits of professional counselling and choose the right career at the right time. An information asymmetry acts as an important early career lubricant, allowing the privileged to manoeuvre into more promising career tracks, resist exploitative employment and take risky opportunities – all of which increase their chances of long-term success.

Those who make a commitment to an idea ironically find a sense of freedom. People care about people — and a blog is not a newspaper that has to be published regularly. The neglect of Sparsh has given way to lethargic numbness on personal space. It’s important to nourish yourself; to keep emptying yourself out through words and then filling yourself again with observations and experiences. Easier to say in hindsight today but nothing starts as easy in beginning. Hopefully I shall resume blogging on Sparsh and keep on repeating the process.