Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mirror to Media

The Providence has once again shown mirror to the media through the recent case of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal on another journalist half his age and working under him. It goes to show that those controlling media are as humane and as corruptible as those, writing and yelling against whom they fill their columns and air time all the while. Nira Radia tapes occurred not very long ago. Top journalists were implicated for big corruption. Media downplayed, rather censored the greater crime that time, but the media clamour against Tarun Tejpal this time has been too loud. The journalists implicated in Radia tapes continue to call the shots as they did earlier. Clearly media barons have their own pick and choose.

It is not only a matter of pick and choose, but also involves sense of proportion. The sense of proportion of Indian media appears to be no different from that of us Indians. There are country wide protests for days and months demanding heads of those having committed crime on particular individuals. There may not be much wrong in that per se. But same public sees nothing wrong in those responsible for multi thousand crore scams ~ crimes that harm and adversely affect crores of human beings at the same time ~ not only continuing as Ministers, Chief Ministers, and Prime Ministers, but being reelected time and again.

Media has a great responsibility in a democracy as we are. More often than not it shuns that and misuses its place. Only a couple of days ago, Kunal Ghosh, the MP alleged that some media channels were meant to be used for propaganda for promoting Mamata Banerjee as the potential Prime Minister. This allegation, in effect, underlines the main role media has come to play. To carry propaganda to further the interests of some or to condemn some others, everything motivated. People, even well aware about this role of media, get swayed by the propaganda by the print and electronic media through their sub conscious minds.

Media is an institution that enjoys total or sufficient freedom. It doesn’t have any excuse for not delivering what is expected of it. What is expected of it is unbiased reporting of socially, politically, and economically relevant events and happenings, an objective analysis of same, and dissemination of truth. All its actions are expected to be in the interest of public at large and not to serve the interests of particular persons, groups, or institutions.  We find media doing so only in patches, generally disserving the people it is meant to serve as its actions are mostly opposite to what the same should be.

Media sins through acts of commission as well as omission. While its palpable acts of commission could be visible to the people, its sins of omission often remain unknown to the public. That is when it stonewalls truth to continue with the falsehood that serves its interests.

I explain the above with a very telling example. The fact that international cricket going around us for last many years has been nothing but continuous staged drama lies established beyond any iota of doubt through the reports published in media itself from time to time. Of late it has become so crystal clear that if there were beings like us on Mars, they would have been laughing on us for having been supporting such cricket and treating it as competitive cricket.

But what do media do? It doesn’t analyse its own reports to tell us the truth, but goes on with daily written columns, more than on any other subject, and hours of air time to promote fake cricket as the real cricket. Knowingly or unknowingly, the whole of media, without any exception, facilitates one of the greatest day light international frauds day after day.

What constitutes daily media headlines? How one top leader called another top leader names, and how the rebuttal was made. It makes me wonder who is the greater culprit for this non-sense I must bear day after day of my limited existence. My leaders or the media? If media were to air the altercations between me and my neighbour, probably we would also feel tempted to indulge more and more in those.

It doesn’t mean that no sense ever comes out through media. The tragedy has been that sense is hardly ever pursued to a logical conclusion, while the non-sense or non-issues continue to take the center stage. It is through media only that I become wise to the failings of media.

The undoing of the Indian media has been that slowly but surely it has allowed itself to be an institution of power-broking. Whether it has happened so sub-consciously or deliberately should be a matter of introspection for the media. But through its sins media has accelerated the social degradation the most. It has been one of the four pillars of democracy that has helped in crumbling of the edifice the most.

There are checks on media also in place. Their effectiveness may be a matter of debate. But one thing is clear. There could be checks on acts of commission by the media but there are no checks, probably can’t be any, on its acts of omission. It is something like one could be hanged for committing a murder, but one couldn’t be asked any question by law if one passed by a dying man without attending to him. And it is through its acts of omission that the media sins the most.

Big scams and cases of leakage of big time public money are reported by the media. But soon media conveniently forgets everything. Neither does it properly analyse to arrive at the root causes, nor does it call for or pursues for the needed systemic corrections. Rather it turns a blind eye even if one eggs it on to take the issues forward and bring out the truth.

The undoing of Tarun Tejpal has once again forced the media to face the mirror. There are many ugly patches on its face. It is unto it whether it goes for some cosmetics to cover these patches while allowing underneath undesirable growth to continue, or chooses to go for surgery to get rid of the malicious roots for good.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bharat Ratna to Sachin

Sachin Tendulkar has, no doubt, been an exceptionally talented cricketer. Arguably more talented than any other cricketer of his times. I have also grown up enjoying his cricket as my compatriots. Probably not many would, and not many should, grudge awarding of Bharat Ratna to him for the sheer quality of cricket displayed by him over the years. But there is another very relevant, though not so conspicuous, aspect to the whole issue.

Sachin Tendulkar has also been a key player of Mumbai Indians in IPL-6, a tournament that has been under cloud for fixing. It is a clear and necessary implication of the findings from the investigations carried out by the Delhi Police in the IPL-6 scandal, as reported in media, that all or almost all the players participating in IPL-6 had to be involved in total fixing that existed in IPL-6, even though the police themselves and the media have conveniently overlooked this implication so far. Only utter fools can think that the matches involving Mumbai Indians could be fixed without any involvement or knowledge of Sachin Tendulkar, a key player. And the police have categorically stated that the fixing in IPL-6 was done at the behest of none other than Dawood Ibrahim.

Not long ago, an article ‘Cricket in Massive Fix?’ was published in the esteemed columns of  The Statesman. Quoting me, this article had shown how mathematical evidence existed of total continuous fixing in international cricket implicating all the players. Sachin Tendulkar was no exception. No one till date has even challenged that assertion.

The above would mean that at the least, there is a very real cloud over Tendulkar having been playing his cricket honestly. Awarding of Bharat Ratna to him means one having helping Dawood Ibrahim actively or passively in fixing of cricket matches for earning loads of money for probable use of same in terror strikes in India getting the highest civilian honour of the country.

Sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal

The recent incident of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal brings alive the following words of my father, “It seems the Darwinian law of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest is the ultimate and final one and compassion, pity, recognition of the rights of others are concepts that are merely tolerated as a symbol of our advancement towards civilisation. …..How glibly do we pass from professing high moral ideals to the mundane task of doing all we can to protect and promote our self-interest?”

How quickly has Mr Tejpal changed his high moral instance of self-inflicted atonement for an error of judgement to alleging that the incident was a consensual one, when faced with the criminal case against him? Just like the other mortals exposing whom he had been taking pleasure all his life. The high moral ground taken by Aam Aadmi Party also lies shattered. There is a clear message for all of us. We all have our failings and instead of wasting our energies in calling others names, we would serve ourselves better if we use up our energies and time in systemic corrections around us. But then we are hardly capable of heeding the simple and straight messages!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CT Final

An eye opener for those who feel and say IPL,  BPL and Asians only are corrupt. If England losing CT final was not throwing the match in the end, no match in the world in any sport was ever thrown or fixed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

One shot tells it all again

Again it is one ball that tells it all, and again the batsman playing that ball is KA Pollard. The match I am talking about is ODI between SA and WI held today, the 14th of June, 2013, ending moments ago. 

Pollard couldn't have any business playing the shot he did to get out at that moment and under those circumstances (of rain approaching), if he were playing with the purpose of seeing his team through to next round i.e. semi final in the ongoing prestigious Champions Trophy. And if he committed such  harakiri on his own without the blessings of the team management, there is no reason why he should be playing for WI ever again. There you are!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Final

Mumbai Indians 148/9 (20/20 ov); Chennai Super Kings 125/9 (20/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 23 runs

It was the final of a tournament that had spanned almost two months and included 75 matches prior to this one. In India, every day, almost every newspaper and electronic news channel had earmarked more space and time to this event of no consequence than to any other matter of national or international importance. So to win the final must be a matter of great pride and the competing teams will display fantastic competitive cricket, one would have thought. Was it so?

Before coming to this match, let us see what happened in the final last year, and what happened in the match these two teams played a few days ago. In the finals last year, CSK had scored 191 runs batting first, and in the match against MI they had scored 192 runs. The team batting second, KKR, had successfully chased 191 runs in the last final. Therefore, what would you have expected as a punter when CSK came to bat to chase a very moderate 148 against above background and their top batsmen having fired of late in this tournament?

And was MI losing 3 top wickets including their captain in the 4th over for 16 natural cricket? Could be, couldn't be? One has to use one's better judgement. See the balls bowled and shots played. Were the shots played by them to get out characteristic of them considering their recent form. Didn't it appear as if Rohit Sharma was trying to give catching practice to the bowler. And then in the 3rd over, Dinesh Karthik was plumb LBW and not given. Some said height saved him, some said probably inside edge saved him. But clearly it was the umpire who saved him.

With MI 16/3, odds of 1.41 in f/o CSK appeared a bit high, indicating that recovery by MI was due at some point of time in the match and it so happened. A well set Pollard played a number of dot balls or singles, and got less strike towards the end before hitting 2 sixes off last 2 balls.

Once CSK batting started, punters backing CSK got no chance to cover themselves. CSK lost 3 wickets in no time, and were 58/8 in 11.3 overs. Dhoni who often promotes himself in critical situations as this and does well, forgot to do so in the all important final. He rather demoted himself and did well down the order scoring 63 of 45 balls. But he was wise and careful to regulate pace of scoring such that at no stage CSK came into contention and his innings was of no consequence, either for the match or for the odds. 

The failed captain won and the losing captain performed well once again.

And how did session scoring, the key indicator to fixing, progressed in this prestigious final played at the height of the ongoing fixing scandal? In the first session, the scoring pattern was such that the end score remained less tha or equal to the score offered at any point during the session except for 3-4 balls in the last over, i.e. 50 x's and at most 4 y's, Something quite improbable for natural cricket, as we have seen.

And the scoring pattern in next session of 10-20 overs of Mumbai's innings was even more improbable for natural cricket with 54 y's and 0 x's taking standard average of 8.75 runs per over for last 10 overs for bookies' offers. That means scoring in this session so progressed that the end score was more than the offered score at any point during the session.

I repeat, that is the dark reality of a prestigious final played when Indian media was shouting itself hoarse about the ongoing fixing scandal. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Match of Fluctuations

Rajasthan Royals 165/6 (20/20 ov); Mumbai Indians 169/6 (19.5/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 4 wickets (with 1 ball remaining)

Rahul Dravid's last IPL match was also a match of fluctuating fortunes. The captain himself did well, being the highest scorer for his side, while ending up on the losing side. In their last match, he had flopped and his team had won. A phenomenon often adopted by the script writers and the actors, as indicated in my earlier book 'Inside the Boundary Line.'

Taking average of 7 runs per over for the bookies to offer the session score, the scoring pattern got so controlled that the score at the end of the first 10 over session was such that it was less than or equal to the offered session at any point during the session. Something improbable for natural cricket as already seen. Before Watson got out, RR appeared to be competing well. But they started losing wickets at short intervals after Watson was out, to be a precarious 108/6 in 15.3 overs. But then they were helped by some wayward bowling from MI, led by their ace bowler Malinga once more, and were able to post more than  competitive 165/6 in 20 overs. 

In the process, the 10-20 over session got manipulated the other way through heavy scoring in last 3 overs. Taking an average of 10 runs per over for bookies to offer the session, except for one or two balls, at any point the offered score was less than the end score. If cricket were natural, such a thing happening has a probability of one in trillions.

The odds indicated bookies' belief that chasing would not be much difficult for MI, and MI didn't disappoint them. However from a very comfortable winning position at 125/1 in 14 overs, they wobbled badly to be 141/5 in 17.3 overs. Having lost Pollard, they required 23 runs from last 2 overs, and were still favourites (with odds of 1.7 in their favour) to win and did win rather comfortably, though with only a ball to spare.