Sunday, November 29, 2015

Spin

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

India’s test cricket team’s success (most of it) is owed to its spin bowling.  For people who remember Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Venkataraghavan; the four spinners who were contemporaries, their on-field exploits are still a matter of legend for cricket lovers.  In-fact they may have started the trend of opening the bowling with spin.  From the beginning of cricketing time in India, spin has been the mainstay of bowling attack.  Although India has not been on a winning track until the recent years, spin has always been the choice and effective bowling weapon for Indian teams.  Long after the spin quartet retired, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh continued the spinning magic, and now we have Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja, spinning their magic on the opposition teams, especially when they play under Indian conditions.  The on-going series with South Africa is a testament to Indian spinners dominance, at home.  They keep the spinning tradition alive and well, and they are nowadays winning test matches.

Slow, steady, flight, leg, off, and googlies all with many variations of quick and effective bowling constantly get the batsmen to make mistakes and gets them out.  The latest test series with South Africa continues to display the mastery of Indian spinners in conditions that best suits them, and their craft of bowling.  The Indian conditions favor spinners, be it the home team or the visitors.  The difference with the last few Indian teams has been that they have been performing better than the visitors, and winning in home conditions.

The major difference between the five-day test matches from the 70’s and 80’s and today the shortened duration of matches in spin friendly conditions.  This year the matches are ending in 3 days.  The olden days when test matches mostly ended un in a draw after 5 days, these have become 3 day matches with results almost guaranteed.  As incredible as it sounds the test matches that used to end up in a draw these days are almost guaranteed with a result.

There is not a lot of change with the Indian line-up in test matches.  It is represented by a couple of great batsmen (who score well in most conditions during their careers).  Great batsmen like Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Tendulkar, Dravid represented India in different eras.  The new lot of batsmen in the test team might have someone emerge as the newest batting great (or two).  The mainstay of Indian test side has always been the spinners (special reference to Indian conditions) and the current team is absolutely bestowed with its share of spin masters, and sometimes supported by the pace attack.  The spinners supported by superstar batsman, was the make of Indian team over the years, and the team never really pieced together an effort on a prolonged basis to make it to the top team in the world, until recently when the Indians started to put together both their batting and spinning to the best use, and perform together to get to the top of the world test rankings.  When you put together Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman with Dhoni behind the wickets and Anil Kumble and Harbhajan spinning their way away, the Indian team did put together one of the best test sides that ever played test cricket.

For several years they displayed the mastery as a team and they were the team to beat.  The current test team is without these great cricketers who made Indian side the number 1 team in the world.  The current team continues to have a potent spin attack, and a good fielding unit and potentially a great batting lineup, that can bring back the memories of the past team success.  The spinners have been showing that the visiting test team look like league teams in Indian conditions.  While playing in India all that the Indian batsmen need to do is stay in the crease and be patient, while the spinners make hay of the opposition.  Although the current series is in India’s favor (courtesy the spin attack), the batsmen have not shown that they are able to stay long enough to work with their home conditions.  There have not made an attempt to make it a five-day event, rather have been behaving like the visiting team.  They can apply a bit more technique to stay put at the crease a little (lot) longer, and make the team look like world beaters once again, rather than just let the spin come to rescue.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pathway to Heaven?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The form of human genus is only about 2.1 million to 1.8 million years old.  It took us a couple of million years from formation to where we are today.  In reality the history of human genus is relatively very short compared to the origin of our living quarters; the good earth.  The best estimate of how old the earth is about 4.543 billion years.  So compared to the origin of our mother earth, us human genus have been around for a very short and young existence.


Much of what we live and practice today probably started with electricity (about a 150 years old), internal combustion engine (1768), steam engine (1807), first car powered by internal combustion engine (1886), then came the first petrol/gas powered engine and decades later into 1930’s we came-up with the jet engine.  It took us c a couple of millions of years to really become mobile.  Oh yes – then in the last 30-60 years of television/telecommunications/internet literally brings us together; irrespective of the distances between where we live.

Calculating the evolution of our being, it took roughly 2 million years to develop travel and communications (to today’s standards) and also find solutions for what we call comforts (at least to a few).  Then we started with world war I, 1914-1918 through 2015 (just about 100 years), we humans have found every which way to destroy our own living environment, kill as many living species on earth as possible, destroy as much forest as possible, pollute as much water (both fresh and sea) as possible, use up most of the over and under the ground mineral and other resources as possible, create as much pollution and trash as possible, all destruction while multiplying ourselves many fold in the same time.  The time is also being spent on finding ways to kill each other at every opportunity we get.  Wow!  So much for the most intelligent species (as we claim ourselves).

Supposedly we are the most intelligent (a term we invented) living species.  We do find ways (constantly invent) to make life comfortable, but we also in turn destroy everything around us with a vengeance.  Along with the inventions, we have been abusing the earth and all of its natural resources with a vengeance (in the same of development), and also with a vengeance we have been hating and killing each other, and also every living being that lives around us.  We have been so good we made many a living species extinct in a very short time.  Such is the power of what we call intelligent beings.

So much for human intelligence and intellect.  We probably started early in our existence with fighting for resources (Darwin) or women or domains.  It probably was the twisted thinking rather than resources sharing.  There was always enough of everything on earth for all living beings, so fighting and killing was probably for control of others rather than any other human emotion.  Much of the last 2000 years has been spent by humans in killing each other (while making other living beings extinct) in the name of religion or race.  We have also done a great job of annihilating everything else available to us as natural resources, as we practice human killing and then torching and burning as so kind of trophy gathering after the killing.  In the last 100 years we have been accelerating the killing and destruction all in the name of what?

From gaining and displaying more intelligence, we also keep expanding our horizons on intolerance.  Our intellectual growth (as we define it) is phenomenal as has become our hatred for our fellow humans.  It simply doesn’t make intelligent sense as the smarter we get, the more intolerant we become.  It simply doesn’t make sense to define intelligent beings in the we have been behaving.

In case of our religious origins, they are also quite young compared to the origins of our mother earth.  In broad sense we started banding together about a 100,000 years ago, forming tribes (may be the Mahabharata) about 5,000 years ago, forming states about 3,000 years ago, and empires about 2,000 years ago.  All of this is quite a new phenomenon.  If we count the origin of religion (has to be from the time we banded together) and that dictating human behavior, the level of intolerance has been constantly growing as the practices become more and more defined in most cases to suit the time and place where we live.

As a person from a religious and god believing family, there is certainly acceptance of spirituality and having divine interference engrained into my life.  The spirituality brings the belief that a supernatural power that has created the universe and all our surroundings, and controls the very existence and the constant change that goes around.  We certainly experience the power of nature and the existence of the great and unexplored universe.  My religion also embraces every element in the universe as something that is to be cherished and has an important part in our life.  So, whether or not we believe it we simply acknowledge the super natural power of being which in engrained in the fact of our life and our very being.

But now a days religion is constantly used as a dividing force between us humans.  Politics and beliefs constantly drive the anger and intolerance amongst us.  We forget that we have been here for a couple of million years, we have yet to find god and heaven.  Yes, for sure we know that the power that drives the universe is out there, but despite all the so called intellect and science we have yet to reach out to our origins.  For whatever reason we believe in the supernatural power, god in any form and his messengers, we embrace a belief, we believe in heaven and life after death, with all that in our life and belief it certainly makes little sense to take a path of killing one another in the name of religion.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Democracies and Predictability

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Time and again we see the same thing happening.  When given a freedom of choice people will behave just they want to behave.  No matter how much media badgering or constant publicity aimed at creating general public opinion, the human behavior is predictable.  There is no way to guess how people will decide to do things.  Especially when it comes to democratic elections, it is always amazing that people will vote for their expectations of the future.  It never fails to amaze the pundits, but people always hold the cards and public is always playing their cards right.  It doesn’t matter which country or what region of the world, if there is a truly democratic election with choices, the people will always vote for the future, and from what they believe can be delivered by the choices in representation they have.

The greatest elections are the ones that people really vote with their heads working, and no matter what the electorate hears, the voting booth always remains a mystery.  These we even have the election results coverage from the beginning of the election day.  No one wants to finish the voting process and then wait for the counting to be completed.  Even the constant coverage on the day of elections, seem to keep the voter fixed on who they are going to vote for, and nothing they are hearing or seeing matters.

If we tune into the recent elections in India, the countrywide elections that yielded a massive majority to form Modi government at the center, seem to quickly have different results in state and local elections.  There is no difference in Modi’s pitch to the nation (voters) which remains unchanged in more than a year he has been the PM.  He has by and large stayed to the agenda of development and cleanliness, and personally works hard in governance and towards his agenda.  He has not been personally involved in any scams or money mismanagement.  But the results of local body elections in Delhi and Bihar reflect a total turnaround in people’s perception of his abilities at the state level, and the political defeats to Modi’s party is now matter of legend; huge losses which only are reserved for total incompetence or gross mismanagement, which with Modi is not the case. What clearly reflects the mindset of the electorate is localized issues.  People clearly differentiate matters of the nation and matters of the town, and more over they are quite smart in choosing their representatives based on what they can feel rather than what they hear.  The voter is smart enough even to distinguish the nation, state and local body representation while in the confines of the voter booth.

The political wave that the reporters constantly blabber about is quite short lived.  Elections only see political waves when there is gross negligence in managing a political office.  The public outcry to replace a party is a reaction to obvious incompetence, but an ongoing political wave is not a constant practice in democracies.  People allow time for the elected representatives to perform to their promises and their party’s overall platform.  People are not looking for a constant wave of new policies and promises, rather a stable and sustainable government up on which they can constantly made demands and also expect people in power not to steal public resources.

The politics of governance is quite predictable.  People are constantly watching and weighing in on their future vote.  Politicians typically get a long tenure to come through with meeting the needs of their electorate, and how they perform at all levels of governance (local, state and center) determines the fate of their party in the next election.  India has a huge issue with pandering to vote banks, but even that is clearly not enough to have people really vote someone into power.

It is quite simple to get reelected.  If politicians just do what they said they will do while getting elected the first time, people will simply place their confidence back into voting for the same person again and again.  While the constant media coverage gets tiring, the media also covers what is really being done by the politicians in power.  So there is no escaping the prying eyes of journalists, who are constantly looking into what is being done by the politicians.

Performance and predictability have become synonymous with democratic elections.  No amount of money, coverage and promotions help in the voting booth.  Only thing that matters is what the voter deems important for the future.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Power of Development

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Many nations including India constantly stress on development.  Building homes (India has famously pledged to build toilets, every home with a toilet) for all the citizens.  Making housing affordable to provide a decent life is perhaps the most politically correct statement that any politician can make.  Along with housing and sanitation, utilities, gas, water and electricity become essential and also play political ploy with each election.  While housing and sanitation are constant sound bites, no one discusses the power needed to light them.  From the USA to India and all the way around, housing is the most common political pitch every politician makes, and also probably the most investment governments make outside of military spending.

It is a fact that world over housing is an initiative that is most needed by the underprivileged, and it is a chance for a decent existence, and also an opportunity to raise a family with dignity.  It has always been and continues to be an excellent initiative to help families that really need help.  Outside of housing, medicine, education and sanitation also are of equal importance and also always in a political pitch.  For some reason the politicians forget to include how to power the needs of the nations, and it perhaps should be the first of the focal points of any nation.

Many nations continue to build affordable housing, and most of these nations are in regions where there is abundance of sunshine.  For some reason the world doesn’t plan affordable housing and building power generation along with homes?  The very fact that the homes are being referred to as affordable should equate to frugal maintenance.  But for some reason building homes powered by solar energy even in nations there is an abundance of sunshine, is something we don’t hear much about.

It would be fantastic to combine affordable housing with solar energy.  It will not just help the new home owners with a roof for their families, but also cut down the cost of utilities, and will also reduce the burden on energy generation of the nations.  It certainly will reduce the pollution.  Affordable housing can certainly be on the regular power grid with solar power being their primary source of power, while the regular power grid help when needed as a backup.

If we can imagine the impact of building every new and affordable house with solar capabilities, the future demand for fossil power generation will be exponentially reduced, and also incentivize the solar industry to produce the equipment at better cost, and also help the new house owners to avoid the cost of electricity (as much as possible), and also helps the governments in reducing the subsidies.  It can be a similar business model as hybrid cars, better yet electric cars.  If we are really building affordable housing, then energy saving, energy conservation, along with saving the new home owner of monthly utility bills, all while reducing the burden on the environment.

With nations around the world plowing large amounts of investments into affordable housing, implementing solar power along with them should not be a prohibitive expense, especially considering the long term impact on the environment and cost of utilities on an ongoing basis to the home owners.  This also should help with scaling the solar power industry to bring the equipment costs down, and immediately help reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.

It is something to think of.  If we can help the needy with housing, we certainly can start helping the planet to revive and survive for the future.  Keeping it planet clean and green, imagine the beauty and blue of earth forever.  It is in the hands of politicians and the money they have in the budgets.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Intolerance

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Secular state is a concept of secularism where the state or nation is officially neutral in the matters of religion.  Being a secular state is a claim to treat all religions equally.  India today is the largest democracy that is also a secular state (there are a number of countries that are listed as secular states including USA and China).  It sounds politically correct for India’s diversity, and in fact most of India and Indians are secular in their living.  From very small villages to mega metropolis, Indians of different faith, color and language live well together.

As with most societies Indians also have a preference of being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian.  Indians also associate the meat eating habit with their caste, the society has religion and then also caste added into their living.  The Indian society with its own religion, caste, sub-caste and whatever societal nuances, have seldom had communal issues based on food habits.  For a fact my own home where my mother is a vegetarian, and my father and grandparents were not.  Following their example my sister is a vegetarian as my brothers are not.  There was never a problem for anyone in the family with food habits and everyone respected the personal preference.

My home was not an anomaly in my town.  There were many families around us, where people lived together and had different food habits.  Our friends, families, relatives, and the town folks; no one looked at each other with issues related to food habits.

There was respect for everyone, and what they practiced; religion, prayer, food, language, clothes, caste, creed and whatsoever people wanted to live within their own preference was never a factor in living together was never a factor of belonging to one town; and secular it was.

Politics and social media, television and internet, and access to communications over the past couple of decades have had a great influence on people and their thought process.  The more we are able to communicate and connect with each other, we have somehow been focused on intolerance as people.  Perhaps because of the constant coverage of communal disharmony and religious intolerance; all for stake at two minutes of fame?

The politicians certainly keep fanning the religious and caste wedge among their constituents.  With more than a billion Indians in audience, even a small fraction of the population becomes a big vote bank, and keeping them angry and outraged has become a standard political practice, and with television cameras all around, and available focus from social media 24/7/365 days, politicians constantly fan the intolerance into communities.  Every simple action gets a huge hype of communalism and is constantly fed with hatred between people.  Once an absolute model of secular community can become a model for communal disharmony; only with a few choice words that foster hatred.

Politics have become a crazy business of absolute power at any cost, and politicians are constantly looking to target the anger of people, and constantly make issues out of things that never mattered to communities, now turned into communal discord.  Much of the news coverage consistently elevates the political rhetoric into some sort of personal attack on a community.  A seemingly simple and innocent issue is all of a sudden turned into a community outrage, and with the political dialogues that target to enticing the hatred simply turns people who lived together in harmony for generations, into violent verbal and physical attacks against each other.

As secular as people are and have been all their life, they also have a human instinct that can be easily turned negative when constantly fed with intolerance.  Politicians and media work overtime feeding on the human insecurities and what brings out is the animal behavior.  People are constantly being exploited and the coverage of communal intolerance is only feeding into the insecurities of people, and further entice into hatred.

Communal clashes and sexual intolerance have become so pervasive that the nation is constantly viewing the episodes of human indignity.  Could it really challenge the basic frame work of the nation?  Are we really secular?  We have been behaving like a bunch of angry constituents of a highly intolerant nation, and now we are not even tolerant of our own friends and families.

A Child of India

Vasu Reddy from Chicago vasureddy@aol.com Howsoever I look at myself I am a child of India.   My mother and my mother country remain wha...