Politics


Connecticut School Shooting - Children led away from the scene

Connecticut School Shooting – Children led away from the scene

It was Nietzsche who said that insanity in individuals is rare, but in groups and nations, it is the rule. This is insanity at its worst. Not just the heartless evil that shoots and kills helpless children in scores, but an intelligent, wealthy and powerful nation like the US choosing to embrace meaningless violence as a willing lifestyle. So, while the pro-gun protagonists continue to argue that these acts against children are rare, the love of the gun that pervades the culture is testament to national insanity that continues to accessorize the recklessness of repeated mass shootings of completely innocent.

Who am I to say! I’ve never used a gun.. in fact I’ve never touched one in my life, and the thought never crossed my mind that I should own one. I always thought my simplistic and protective mindset was not equipped to fathom the gun-wielding mentality of the aggressive. If a nation so advanced tolerates these killings just as a matter of fact, there had to be some credence to the pro-gun propaganda.  In many impoverished parts of the world, children are tools of exploitation, the only lifestyle they are exposed to is one of continuous abuse from authority – both parental and societal. There’s unexpected loss of the young and the accompanying sadness of a different nature there.. perhaps due to an overturned overstuffed school bus, or an uncontrolled epidemic, or extreme malnutrition, or just pure unadulterated starvation. It is no less heart wrenching, but leave it to the First World to add stupefying spectacle to this sadness.

According to sources, Lanza shot his mother in the face, then left his house armed with at least two semi automatic handguns, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, and a semi automatic rifle. He was also wearing a bullet proof vest. Lanza drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School and continued his rampage, killing 26 people, authorities said. He was found dead at the school. It appears that he died from what is believed to be a self inflicted gunshot wound. The rifle was found in his car.

Relatively, children have great fun growing up in the US, looked after by parents against societal evils, looked after to some extent by society against parental abuse, their work load moderated and their education well rounded with life choices that are an envy to the rest of the world. Everything looks great, but simultaneously, there is this dumbfounding flabbergasting wild-west-cowboy-wannabe gun culture, a First World problem with a deadly consequence when it lurks its ugly head out such as today. The gun crazies will stand behind the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms in the event you have to overthrow an abusive government – Red Dawn style. You know.. those semi-automatics come in pretty handy against the Man’s nuclear weapons.

Here’s Obama’s statement, emotional for the standards of an American president, but nothing will come of out it.

Of course, the NRA remains ever strong and any rational thoughts and reality checks get drowned under a barrage of argumentative blabber. Soon, NRA lobbyists will lineup their pro-gun statistics – “its not the guns stupid, its all these psychopathic idiots who would have accomplished this carnage with a stick or a knife if they needed to“. After all, whats a poor Halo-addicted, Call Of Duty junky to do when he is bored to death and runs out of a purpose to fight through his existential angst.

Meanwhile, innocent people, such as these innocent kids and teachers in Connecticut today will continue to get murdered in statistically tolerable numbers while the love of the gun prevails.

Sachin and Kumble.. this post really has nothing to do with Sachin. This picture is here to merely attract random hits.

There was a discussion recently on Cricinfo on Anil Kumble’s election to KSCA and whether more Cricketers need to get into Administration.  I usually browse through these discussions only with passing interest. Typically, they are sensational headlines and cheap sound bytes to attract casual audience. All it takes is an occassional menton of Sachin Tendulkar or MS Dhoni with a picture of either one slapped next to the headline on the home page and that is enough to garner enough hits to make it a worthwhile “discussion” even if the content is complete crap. Such is the nature of putrid Cricket analysis in Indian media. Cricinfo is still the best Cricket site out there though their standards have fallen steeply since their amateur days when the views and opinions seemed a bit more genuine.. but then they became too popular and sold out to ESPN and the result is predictable. It still doesn’t stop me from browsing it at least once a day to get my Cricketing fix. Thats when I came across this discussion. Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar were discussing the role of Cricketers in admininstration following up on Anil Kumble’s recent victory in KSCA elections. Included in the discussion were the views from an experienced Cricket administrator, Prof. Ratnakar Shetty.

You can listen to the entire discussion here ->  [Should more Indian cricketers get into administration?]

Harsha Bhogle

Harsha has turned into an excellent interviewer. He is so much better at this than at writing columns. He tends to get a little too preachy for my liking in his articles and little too soft with his messages. He is still

Sanjay Manjrekar

better than most there, but I hold him to higher standards. After all, he is a fellow Hyderabadee, went to Hyderabad Public School and you expect more from your own. He is easily the best from India at commentary and one of the best in the world, but hand him a mike and put him in front of prominent personalities to interview with enough time to kill, he is really exceptional. I used to gripe at him beating around the bush in his earlier days, but he is evolved into one of those who can ask really good and tough questions while sugarcoating them just enough to ease the impact on the interviewee. This is a skill that seems to come naturally to him and now-a-days he does it effortlessly. I used to wish he asked those tough questions more often and he is doing that now. Of the current crop of Indian Cricket analysts on TV, outside of Sunny, Sanjay Manjrekar is my favorite. He is sufficiently articulate, but more importantly knows what he wants to say, is always to the point and is never afraid to say it like it is, which is a lot to expect from the rest of the lot. So, listening to this engaging discussion was pleasantly different, not dissimilar to the feeling experienced when I first heard of Anil Kumble & Co’s election to KSCA.

Anil Kumble

If you are wondering about why there is such a fuss over Kumble’s election to a State Cricket Association presidency, you have to look at it from a broader perspective.   There is a sense of hope and anticipation from Cricket lovers all over the country, not just in Karnataka, because the general perception is that Cricket administration in India is pathetic – just like any other admininstration at any level, whether it is an association or a local club or any

Kumble and his bandaged face

group activity involving a collection of individuals.  It is such a rarity to find an honest, cleanly run entity that people expect the worst from everything.  Of course, corruption is epidemic, nepotism is expected, beureaucracy tolerated, red-tape a given, and all of the ills are well and truly accepted to the point of complete apathy.  Juxtapose that with Kumble and his image on the Cricket field.  This was a guy who once had his jaw broken while batting at #7 in a Test match against West Indies.  All he did was spat out blood and continued to bat for another 20 mins before India declared its innings.  When it was time for his team to bowl subequently, he came out with a bandaged face and sent down 14 consecutive overs while taking Brian Lara’s wicket in the process.  Asked why, he just said “I didn’t want to sit around.”  For more than a decade, he was India’s work horse and calling card for home victories.  His commitment and dedication was evident on the field.  Anyone who watched him play could sense the sincerity and integrity oozing through his demeanor.  So, it is little suprise to see a sense of anticipation and hope from all the observers about what he can do as an administrator now.

Rajiv Gandhi - flattered to deceive

In a sense, that anticipation is just a small microcosm of a larger desperation among everyone hoping against hope for a sincere, dedicated leader with unquestioned integrity they can latch onto while hoping that he can rid the nation of the evil and malaise that seeped into the grass roots of its administration at every level. The attention and the reaction reminds me of the last time I personally had any kind of an anticipation for an Indian Prime Minister.. back when I was still in College and Rajiv Gandhi was elected the Prime Minister. I had a healthy dose of hatred towards politics in general, perhaps selfish and even foolish, but not unusual for educated middle class youth of my generation. I despised all political parties, and especially the Congress party that Rajiv Gandhi represented and I loathed the fact that his family is treated like some damn aristocracy where they can just stand for elections shamelessly exploiting the name of Gandhi, and raise their party-symbolic hands as if they are some Gods blessing us sufferers and lo and behold, people would accept them for saviors. But underneath that hatred, there was still a glimmer of hope and anticipation that he might be different from his predecessors that ran the country down to beggary. It was more of a hope against hope for he lacked any proven track record to go by – perhaps it was because of his youth and education and he was the first young aspirant to hit the political scene that I had been exposed to, something someone in college during that time can relate to, but that was a false hope that  faded quickly even before his premature death. In a much.. much smaller scale, whether Kumble can make a difference in Karnataka Cricket and shape a model association that he wishes to create is completely up to him, but this episode does make me wonder if and when I can ever get that feeling again in my life time, one of jubilant anticipation of that next great hope to lead India.

"Nikki" Haley(SC Gov.) & "Bobby" Jindal (LA Gov.)

I was heartened to see increased candidate participation of Indian Americans in the recent US mid-term elections, regardless of the results. After all, as a growing minotiry, the best way to carve a presence and forge an identity in a representative democracy is by representation. As many as 8 Indian Americans ran for the Congress or for one of the State offices. Of course, it was a wide-spread Republican victory indicating a voter perception of a lack of focus from Obama on the struggling economy holding him responsible for the excruciatingly slow recovery. Nevermind the fact that studies have shown time and again that the party wielding power has little influence on the national economic fluctuations. It must be sweet irony for the Republicans who watched Obama’s landslide victory coincide with the economy going to the crapper towards the end of Dubya’s regime, even if Bush personally had little to do with a global economic downturn. But voters don’t care about these facts. They want their leaders to control things they don’t always have the power to influence. So, it was no surprise to see that the only winner among these desis was a Republican cadidate, a Nikki Haley, who ran for the governship of South Carolina.

Nikki Haley was once a Nimrata Randhawa, born in South Carolina to Indian Punjabi immigrants. Following the footsteps of a fellow Republican governor from Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, a.k.a, Piyush Amrit Jindal, she converted to Christianity about seven years ago. Just like the Lousiana governor, Nikki had to defend her “faith” vigorously as people questioned her Sikh background. Nikki has chosen to run without trying to acknowledge her Indian background focusing primarily on her American-ness. Both Bobby and Nikki might have truly been touched by their experiences with Christianity. Speaking about his faith, Jindal said “after watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.” For all I know, that might be true for Nikki too, even if the cynic in me wonders about the coincidence of her conversion with her political apsirations.

As political campaigns go, it takes a tremendous amount of energy and a skill for galvanizing people to buy into what you stand for and win. But the fact is, while Obama’s victory proved how Americans can rise above the racial prejudices, they still feel very strongly about their religious affiliations. If Nikki Haley was a muslim and went by Nisreen Hussain or if she remained a sikh by the name of Nimrata Randhawa, and ran these elections standing for the same things she stood for now, she wouldn’t have won. Religion should have no say whatsoever on the policies or regulations they might pursue in power. From that perspective, it shouldn’t bother me if their “transformations in faith” are acts of higer political aspirations. But if it is an act of manipulating the voters’ perspective, it does speak to a person’s character and self belief or lack thereof, and how they feel they can’t stand for fundamentally who they are to pursue public service. Never affirming her Indian background, she ran and won as a South Carolina native riding the Republican wave. There’s really nothing wrong with that. I know of a couple of desi acquaintances of mine who go by different anglicized names now. If they feel more assimilated or more integrated by doing that, that’s their prerogative.

I don’t begrudge their actions one bit, but as someone proud of my own heritage and background, I could care less for anyone who all but disowns their identity. When they aren’t secure in their own self, how can they be looked upon to establishing a presence for their own? Back when Mohammed Ali fought Joe Frazier in those epic heavy weight battles, Ali was the champion of his people. African Americans looked up to him for what he stood for and gleaned a pride they all felt inside from his refusal to appease to the establishment based on his personal beliefs even at the cost of exile at the height of his boxing career. And rightfully or wrongfully, they had little sympathy for Joe Frazier, not because he did anything wrong, but because he didn’t stand for anything they could relate to and worse yet, he was in the way of their champion. So, along with Nikki, among those 8 Indian American candidates, there were a few Democratic candidates who ran for the congress with an open affirmation of their Indian background and culture, without choosing a faith of convenience.. Raj Goyle (Kansas), Manan Trivedi(Pennsylvania), and Ami Bera(California) among them.. and they all lost.

Raj Goyle, Manan Trivedi, Ami Bera

I have a hell of a lot more respect for these losers.