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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Books Read in 2015

Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means wonderful year or "year of miracles". This year was wonderful in more nihilistic sense. I was able to complete only three books despite of ample time. I remain connected to Facebook and whats-app. That is clear symptom of distraction by technology. I need to create tech free zone around me in the era of techno-utopianism. Personal reform is always an active choice. It involves to do something that isn't default and must be applied with rigor in disciplined way.

I might have been victim of the slow kind of destruction due to many days & nights of loneliness. It just erodes enthusiasm and put reading habit in demise. The anxiety due to monotonous life became irrepressible leading to mental frailness. Even if I was doing everything right to read books but not able to progress beyond few pages. When I don’t read books or watch movies– always having stock of them – and then I “surf” them.

I have wasted a lot of time in surfing news articles on the internet. This addictive habit is going out of control for me. In this random news readings, I enjoyed words of Sanjay Manjrekar and Akash Chopra. There is strong element of lethargy in this reader's block. The lack of concentration, anxiety and work related exhaustion are minor elements of the whole story. Even the longest rope will fall short if I don't take a more strict and passionate approach towards reading. Excessive self-pity has its own psychological quirks. Hence, I would buck up for the challenge of reading 26 books in the new year. As Mark Twain wrote on New Year’s Day in 1863, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Books Read in 2015:

1. Inferno - Dan Brown -English - 8/10 - An interesting and stylish read but lacking content level of previous novels.

2. Hind Swaraj - Mahatma Gandhi - Hindi - 7/10 - Honest opinion to be read for understanding conditions of India through personal lens.

3. Poor Economics - Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo - English - 9/10 - Refreshing book with clear evidences to work at micro level to alleviate global poverty.

4. Wisdom of Ants - Shankar Jaganathan -English - 7/10-  A good book for the beginners on the history of economics

Monday, October 26, 2015

Something like an autobiography - 600

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” - George Orwell

I had a background of literate and disciplined family, but there was slow development of character in the life who doesn't have any rigid sense of social morality. I tried hard to develop my own sense of just and liberal values. If I say that is easy, that will be gross lie. Putting that in the words of John Maynard Keynes’ belief that the difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones. But solitude always gave me an opportunity to re-define myself as a person and unlearn whatever I have learnt all these years as a bachelor. This was achieved only through lot of writings on the blog.
I have survived engineering and wandered into strange paths to tell the tale of traveler. These records of 600 Posts are record of this illusion, confidence and chaos of innermost me. Reading Sparsh, readers will find out what it means to excitement in learning new, failing in projects and start from scratch in the youth of one's life. I would say about initial posts has to do with unresolved anger and that brought catharsis to me.
I use my personal blog like a memory bank, to drop in my idle thoughts and reflections about development so I can find them later. This blog has acted as a powerful catalyst to develop ideas. My blog is at its most useful when it reaches beyond few and starts to create an alternative view. This blog provide a special kind of sanctuary to me, to the rest of the world. Yet, I don't want to be exhausted only with civic duties by tweeting and blogging. The best part is to have never written for prize, fame and money.
I had slowed down writing on this blog for a while and shifted attention to my new blog. In the history of any art,game & science, no-one has ever saw a player get better by doing less work. 600 Post is a long journey for an isolated and boring individual. I may become perhaps more infamous, for an incisive critique of XIMB,IT-BHU, religion and mostly society. But I have learnt an unwelcome art of living alone or with few friends (both admirers and critics included). In the business startup or literary world, you're either a genius or an idiot. One can never became just an ordinary guy trying to get through the day. When this world of words is inhabited by you voluntarily and habitually, then a sense of carefree inhibit in you. A sense of indifference slowly creeps in the mind and work of author. I don’t quite know why I write it today. I assume I write it because it fascinates me.
The way I approach each write-up is, “let’s not keep any great ideas in reserve – let’s use them all". There should not be holding back and each words must be an expression of something rather than cliche. The content is neglected in favor of the wrapping for showcase.  I read somewhere that to write is human, to edit divine. First draft by heart and then editing comes with head. Never modify writing even to sound more, ahem, erudite.  
A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. Good writers always pay attention to craft and read to steal tricks and moves from authors they admire. I had written by by thinking, feeling, referencing, cheating, borrowing and even stealing works of the eminent people. This was supplemented with the facts and always leaving possibility of open discourse. 
Today, I thanks BLOGGER.COM with the free service of publishing leading to a great way to spark a conversation. Most of the stuff I write appears as garbage with the passage of time. But, it is necessary for me to convey my thoughts in the words. For those of us writing in blog, it is a privilege. This freedom comes with the responsibility of having to know what one is talking about.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New face of Indian Cricket - 3

I pinned a lot of hope on Indian test cricket team in an old article. India played 13 test matches (2 in SA, 2 in NZ, 5 in ENG & 4 in AUS) in previous years.  India lost 0-1 in SA, 0-1 in NZ, 1-3 in ENG and 0-2 in AUS. The records paint bleak picture of future Indian test cricket and wrong selection policy became one of the reason in losses. However, the last thing we need now is finger-pointing. What we need is instead careful analysis and a new strategy. I will take solace in the words of Barack Obama when he faced the difficulties he faces as a second-term president struggling to make progress on his priorities and to work constructively with Congress- "Cynicism is a choice — hope is a better choice." 

Frank A. Clark once said that Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots. Indian team performed better in utter alien condition of New Zealand and South Africa. But, they lost nerve to capture moments and series was gone.  India have done to England at Lord's what England did to them in Mumbai: beat them on a pitch designed for the home team. England won the toss on the greenest pitch in Lords but  India bullied and bounced them out. And then suddenly there was downhill path with three consecutive test loss. Rarely does nemesis follow hubris so quickly & brilliance followed by devastation. Indians forced their way to Australian bowling attack in Adelaide even if they couldn't take 20 wickets.  Australia backed off in further test matches, wary of India's batting from the Adelaide chase. The attitude of new captain was refreshing for a change. Johann Wolfgang once said that daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten but may start a winning game. Even when India lost to Australia the fighting spirit was lauded by Indian fans.

Steve Waugh wrote in his masterpiece, Out of My Comfort Zone, "Captaincy is about empowerment, about making the players responsible for their actions and, in turn, accountable. It is about treating every one equally but differently by recognising that there are varied characters who need to express their flair and inside the ultimate team vision."  Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble showed Indians the way forward with attacking mindset in foreign conditions. This was also phase of rise of fabulous four with an attacking opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virendra Sehwag.  M S Dhoni carried a team in transition where the old order were on the last legs. Next order of senior players failed to raise their level and were found to be sitting out of test team in their prime of early 30's.  MSD was found waiting either with old order or new inexperienced lineup.  MSD had remain glued with the same failures in regards to the team composition & not enough opportunities were given to other squad players.  A big bias or defensive tactics of containing runs  like ODI naturally passed into Test team. However, MSD stayed real through a detachment, taking neither success nor failure too seriously. Baton of captaincy was transferred from M S Dhoni to Virat Kohli in between and our young players are hardened by foreign tours in difficult conditions. Indian team is still caught in time wrap of learning phase that must be abolished by Virat Kohli to make a leap for the next level.

From 1993 till 2000, India did not win a single Test away from home.  It was inability of  Indian team  to win test matches abroad due to lack of application of batsman and poor bowling firepower unable to take 20 wickets. The traumatic 90's when Indian team's fortune used to rise and fall with Sachin Tendulkar is over. Kohli, Rahane and Vijay showed judicious stroke-play and mental courage that they belong at the top of world in last 2 years.

Fast bolwers are a rare breed in Indian cricket and need to be handled properly so that they transform into wicket taking bowlers which India lacks at the moment. Each cricket playing nation possess a lethal ast bowling pair for a winning streak. Boult-Southee, Johnson-Harris, Steyn-Philander & Anderson-Broad are prime example of the theory. There is a failure in developing our next tier of bowlers to stake a claim in Indian team. It is shame that we have self proclaimed bowling spearhead of the country in Ishant Sharma. Pace bowling pair of Shami - Yadav with the support of Bhuvaneshwar is our new hope. Both spin and fast bowlers must clear their mind of some cobwebs and have to perform if India are to stay competitive.

The big question in the minds of fans - Who will be our fast bowling all-rounder ? We need fast bowling all-rounder for overseas . India is looking for fast bowling all-rounder but we must be more focused to search for batsman with caliber of spinner. One finds it difficult to understand the policy of the selectors in going for such vain search by looking at the pool of all-rounders in India. India should aim to discover someone like a Shakib/Moin Ali/Hafeez. The search of allrounder has been abandoned with the failure of Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhuvi in a dual role. After all, an admission of mistakes is only the start of the repair process.

Test cricket is played mostly between the ears. That is the truth in Test cricket: it can be a lonely place when things are not going your way.  It is easy to blame a team when it is down. It's not so easy to identify the causes and engineer a remedy. There is certainly a strong correlation between a settled side and a winning team, but as mathematicians learn in their first statistics class, correlation does not prove causation.  But, as the old cricket cliché says, you don't judge a pitch until both teams have batted. Turns out you shouldn't judge a team until they have played at home and away, either. India will not be playing in Asia next one year. Sub continent pitches will be valid assessment of India's performance as a departure of  safety-first cricket to a team that doesn't play the averages for respectability. There is a dogged determination in team and Virat has leadership skills to pull the team on winning path again.   The bigger question we must ask - Are other nations looking forward to facing a Indian side in ascendancy ?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Building Uttam Pradesh !

The importance of Uttar Pradesh in India's socio-political firmament is never overstated. The long perception of UP as badlands as well as cow belt region hasn't done any justice towards building its image. Even the movies located in the geography of UP shows a culture of revenge rather than the rule of law.

Uttar Pradesh is laggard in implementation to social scheme like MNRGES, NRLM, PDS and food security. Even the states like Tamilnadu had introduced mid day meal scheme in 1985 while the Government of Uttar Pradesh started the mid-day-meal scheme in 16 districts, including Allahabad district, from September 2003. Mulayam Singh and Mayawati are out of the depth with the good governance, and in the UP the depth reality of law situation does really go murky and deep. Also, there is definite culture of servitude in the bureaucracy, education, politics. The impact of casteism, class hierarchy, poverty and sexual exploitation on women is present in our society. Looking through negative talks defy the spirit within.

'Bad things happen when good people do nothing.' That made me think on the perception of the state. Yes, its so damn right. And, I am active on social network and in a position to gather a public voice on Uttar Pradesh. Hence, I had started Facebook Page : Uttar Pradesh (aka BuildingUttamPrades on Twitter) with my friend Rishab Deo. There is a huge social, religious and financial turmoil going in the state with the new era of citizen empowerment and old feudal mentality. In a democratic society, we put a high value on the right of citizens to have access to a wide range of opinions and beliefs. Only socially well-connected citizens with diverse opinions can even start the debate or affect the discourse of the ongoing conditions. Let us netizens go ahead and make ourselves better informed !

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Friday, May 1, 2015

My First Theater Show

Before speaking about my impressions of a theater performance Id like to say a few words about art in general. Noble Laureate Faulkner said that the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself, and I agree with that. Art gives a meaning to the life and help in carving a identity of a person amid monolithic routine daily life. Sometimes search for an identity takes a man back to controversial and uncomfortable part of life. The turmoil touches the person on a level far deeper than where modern lifestyle like Facebook, iPhones and tweets can possibly reach. And the person is not the same forever !

It was during November of year 2014, I attended my first show of professional theater. My friend Vaibhav Pandey suggested that we should visit a theatrical performance during my visit to Delhi.. We landed upon NSD campus and got tickets of Uff Teri Ada. This play is adapted Lysistrata created Aristophanes. It is a comedy based on sexual tension, nationalism, pacifism and feminism. The performance, lighting, songs, script and direction was a moderate success indeed and it left an not much impression on me.

The medium of theater left far more deeper impact than play on a cinephile like me. To share common experience and memory is the spirituality that cinema offer to human society. The theater seems to have more canvas, scope and imagination in comparison to the technical beast named cinema. I watched lots of movies. But each time I left a cinema-hall, the high that movies gave me evaporated. Hence, theater can be a perfect gateway for me if I learn more to appreciate subtle and imaginative nature of the art. I see theater as an informal education.  It is the quality of experience not the quality of techniques in cinema and theater that matter to me eventually.

I am hoping for more encounters to theater drama which are intelligent, subtle and honest than their counter parts. I want to listen the stories of endeavor that will be called pearls of wisdom. Certain things of art catch our eye, but I pursue only those that capture the heart. Everybody loves usual technical mastery, but only emotions capture more heart.


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