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NEWS today: Nukes, Epidemics, War, Shit

There is something that has bothered me for a while about some of the leading T.V. news channels of the world. And, I guess it’s not getting any better

I am talking about the time, energy, intensity, and viewership that is dedicated to news that is primarily negative. I include the following in a broad “negative” category: War, Terrorism, Fundamentalism, Violence, Death, Scandals, Natural disasters, Epidemics, Recession etc

Granted our world has changed drastically for the worse over last 10 -15 years due to many events natural or otherwise, primarily 9/11, but I nevertheless believe there is scope for more positivity.

Fox news (which watched in U.S, and do not follow now), & C.N.N (which made a name in the 80s gulf war and has since made more money out of war and human suffering than most other channels) are the biggest culprits. Even BBC, which I have always had tremendous respect for, seems to have a lot of “negative vibes in the air”. The Indian media is a joke that deserves separate discussion and I would leave that out for now.

Considering U.S has been perennially in a war like situation across the world for ages, I would have thought most Americans would have given up tracking the “wars on terror” in minute detail. But, a few months in Texas convinced me otherwise. An unforgettable experience to me was  how people were constantly tuned in to war news, even at the gym in our community. I mean, I would prefer some music , sports or nothing at all I am working out, and while each one has its preferences, the fact that all of the locals wanted to watch the war news, at all times did surprise me! I don’t see the wars on terrors ever ending in our life time, and if that’s all the news you follow for your life, how depressing is that?

War in Afghanistan, detailed analysis on WMDs and biological weapons that never existed, war in Iraq, Iran and Korea’s nuke plans, terror alerts and terror level watches, Guantanamo Bay, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic fundamentalism: These pretty much cover 95% of all the news I have seen in most western channels. The other 5% is for discussing how many times Tiger Woods said sorry in his speech to the media. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the point

When the recession was in full swing, there were huge debates on why the recession happened. Everybody became an expert in hindsight, but nobody could tell the Wall Street banks to be careful a few years back. And now that we are slowly heading out of a recession, there is very little time dedicated to discussing positive steps to recover economy. I mean relatively speaking. It surprises me that most people in the west would rather watch news on what Iran or Iraq is up to, and the latest position of a Taliban leader hunted by U.S, rather than discuss more actively on how to keep the economy sustainable and growing strong.

I do stumble upon some good programs once in a while that may be hard hitting or pleasant, but have an inherently positive message. Typically, I find them in BBC, but the BBC also has too many programs dedicated to Islamic terror. Most of these programs appear self righteous in nature. One story was on how young U.K Muslims become hardliners. Point taken, but what about the hard line, far right British party?

While the fact the news channels themselves make money out of any “negative” news is an accepted reality, what surprises me is why people would spend their time to watch them. Thinking day in and day out that the world is becoming sick and murderous is not going to make our lives any better.

As a little kid, news papers, T.V. news and magazines were my window to understanding the world. I would run to the library to the Encyclopedia to understand new terms, places, people I read / heard about, to know more. And I had a good balance of “negative” and “positive” things to read up. For every article I read about the Gulf war, and Babri Masjid, I read one for Globalization, Economic liberalization, scientific progress etc. To a little kid growing up today, the internet has replaced the encyclopedia, and all the things he / she could learn about the world, is centered around terror, wars on terror, fundamentalism, and disaster.

The world is actually a far better place than what the news men tell us!

Pitch battles ahead…

So, India managed to beat South Africa in a terrific nail biter to draw the series and retain their tag as the # 1 test cricket team in the world. If Morne Morkel survived a few more balls that wouldn’t have happened and SA would have been #1 instead. That is to take nothing away from India, but just to highlight how thinly separated the top 3 teams are.

There are broadly two kinds of people in the cricket world now, as far as this topic goes:

  • The over the top desis, fuelled by an even more over the top media, who believe that our cricketers are the best ever to have descended on the planet, and we are the undisputable kings of the cricket world.
  • The media in the “white” cricketing countries that still hasn’t come to terms with the new pecking order, and a lot of Indians grown up to believing that any cricketing observation is true only when Geoffrey Boycott or Tony Greig thinks so.

The reality, as always, is somewhere in the middle. India are truly the #1 team in the world today, but not by much, and if they don’t maintain / improve further, not for too long.

So here are some points to consider to the two different camps:

To the “we are the best” and our cricketers are gods brigade:

  • Away record: We still haven’t beaten Australia in Australia, or South Africa in South Africa. Not yet!
  • Batting: We rely heavily on the top 4 batsmen, specifically on Sehwag performing a super human feat to win matches in a few hours for us. On bad days like we have had in Nagpur / Sydney / Ahmedabad / Cape Town, we have been thoroughly exposed.
  • Key personnel: Dravid is 37, Sachin 36, Laxman 35. In the next 2-3 years all of them would bow out some time or the other. What we have seen so far of Yuvraj, Vijay, Badri, in tests, and Kohli, Raina, Rohit in ODIs does not seem to suggest they can fill in those massive boots in terms of batting class, temperament, stature, grit, and slip catching.
  • Bowling: Frontline bowlers: Our bowling is highly reliant on Zaheer Khan. Ishant is on a learning curve, Sreesanth is inconsistent, Bhajji blows hot (when he is about to dropped or when the batsmen have piled on a huge score, or the pace men have softened the top order), and blows cold (all other occasions). He is our number one spinner because no spinner in the country is bowling any better.
  •  Bowling: Back-up bowlers. Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie Gilliespie, are some names that had served as back-up men and change bowlers for years before they became the strike bowlers in their respective all conquering teams. Think R.P Singh, Munaf Patel, Dhaval Kulkarni, Irfan Pathan, and compare them to the class above. No further arguments

To those who loathe India’s new growth across all walks of life, can’t accept a new cricketing world order anymore, and to those Indians who still have a colonial hangover:

  • England:  The sun has actually set on your empire. Actually long time back, please wake up! You are not a good enough cricket team for me to include you in this discussion, and that’s because all your sporting performances since my birth have been average, spun as “extra ordinary” by your media. I mean Michael Atherton averages 30 something in test cricket, and he played over a 100 test matches as you couldn’t find any one better, and is a so called legendary player / cricket expert now. Its about time somebody in your media noted that:  A. India is officially the #1 cricket team in the world B. England are 4/5 or thereabouts. C.  Andy Murray has 0 grand slams D. England haven’t won a football world cup for 50 years, or  reached the semis in the last 20 years
  • Australia:  Australia is doing pretty well considering how terrible you could have become after losing a golden generation. But you lost the Ashes, lost to South Africa at home, and got thrashed by India in India. And, I still maintain that without Steve Bucknor & the luck associated with winning teams, India should have won 2 series against you, some other teams would have won more matches in Australia, and Shane “Umpire charmer” Warne would have ended up with 100 less test wickets. Johnson, Bollinger, Siddle, Hiffenhaus, Hauritz, are all decent blokes, but not quite Warne and McGrath.
  • South Africa:  No, I will not use that C word, but you know what I mean. You can’t win any 100m sprint if you run the first 95 faster than anyone and stop at the 96th meter. Even today, you needed to bat out 8 more balls against India, but you failed at the very last gasp. I know it hurts, but unless you can overcome that, and unless you can find a spinner who actually spins the ball, you would never be the #1 team
  • To all my desi friends who are still not convinced:Exhibit  A: Vikram Rathore, Deep Das Gupta, Rajesh Chauhan, Venkatapathy Raju, Salil Ankola, W.V Raman, Abey Kuruvilla, Venkatesh Prasad, etc etc. Exhibit B: The present Indian cricket team. Grow up guys, we are actually the best we have ever had, and as of today, the best in the world!

 So, where all this does leaves us? 

 I’ll use the game of Monopoly as an analogy. You start with may be a half-dozen players, and after a few rounds of buying and selling, the weak players are out. You have 3 players left now (India, Australia, and South Africa; in the sequence of whom I rate as the present 1, 2, 3) and India is marginally ahead. The next few rounds will determine who wins and losses, and while India has a slight advantage, it can’t rest on its laurels, and anything’s possible from here! 

Let the pitch battles commence!

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