We have two common religions – cricket and cinema. Why then fight?

Friends, “We have two common religions – cricket and cinema. Why then fight?”
Life for more than a billion people across India and Pakistan came to a standstill during the 2011 world cup semi-final match. India beat Pakistan by 29 runs, 260 to 231.Well done India ! But that’s only half work done. You have another formidable neighbor to face in the final- the Sri Lankans. The Srilankans, who were once underdogs, are now a formidable team. Let us hope and pray that India continues to be lucky to enjoy the winning spree in the final too.
Though it was only a semi- final , the fact that it was a match against Pakistan and the hullabaloo that surrounded it , had made it appear to be the final itself. It happens every time when India takes on its traditional rival, be it cricket or hockey. Of course , the hype surrounding the game of hockey has faded into insignificance over the years , thanks to western countries who, due to their mastery, have taken over the center stage of the game.
After a long interval , I sat down to watch the entire game. Though the match extended well beyond midnight here , I chose to watch it as the entire family was glued to the TV and I too joined the bandwagon. India won the match. But there were some tense moments too. However India won the match, ultimately. Nothing succeeds like success. M.S.Dhoni, the captain, later steered the team India to victory in the finals too.  Dhoni was candid when he said he misread the pitch and had favoured Nehra and dropped Ashwin from the team. I think such honest persons are needed not only for the Indian Sport but to the Indian Polity as well.
Thank God , the Punjab Government ensured the peaceful conduct of the Match without any hitch or disturbance. Indian army helicopters and anti-aircraft guns imposed a no-fly zone over the ground. Kudos to them. I wish to recall the malicious violence let loose by the communal elements some years ago at Mumbai who also vandalized the pitch on the eve of a cricket match between India and Pakistan.
It was an unusual innings from Sachin Tendulkar. Those greatest fans of Sachin who prayed for his 100th century, were completely disappointed. He couldn’t make it even after the DRS rescued him twice and four different fielders dropped catches he offered.
More than the cricket diplomacy that manifested in connection with the match ,what appealed to me was the ‘people to people’ contact that was enabled and taken forward on this occasion. Hundreds of Pakistanis crossed the border – helped by the relaxation of visa rules – crowded into the Mohali stadium. We have come across stories of relatives and couples meeting each other from across the border. Both the countries declaring holidays to their citizens to watch the friendly fare.People rushing to the venue by whatever means.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani watched most of the match together from a private box at the stadium. The two Prime ministers sat side by side in a symbolic gesture which may restart the process of ‘confidence building’.
The cricket match ,which could be termed a friendly competition ,follows two days of peace talks between the two countries. Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Chaudhary Qamar Zaman met in New Delhi this week. It was the first formal dialogue since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, during which Pakistan-based militants killed 166 people.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Pakistan agreed “in principle” to allow a team from India to investigate the attacks, while New Delhi said a Pakistani delegation would travel to India to probe the attacks. The two sides also agreed to establish a hotline to share real-time information on terrorist threats.
The so-called “cricket diplomacy” has been used as a platform to ease India-Pakistan tension even in the past. In 1987 and 2005, Pakistani leaders travelled to India to watch cricket matches.
“We have two common religions – cricket and cinema. Why then fight?” were the words printed in a bill-board near the stadium. Worthy words indeed!



Governments may come and Governments may go. Celebrity cops may come and  may go.Veeramanis and Veerappans may be eliminated. Land grabbers may be arrested and jailed. Bank dacoits may be done to death. The government and the police may even dispense justice without the intervention of the law courts. But the daylight robbery of Auto drivers will continue and will continue forever. We are fated to put up with this nonsense.
As our friend had said, Chennai is, no doubt, an unfriendly city to the visitors and tourists. You may have come across slightly-different-coloured autos displaying the words ‘Tourists friendly’ and you may think these autos would charge you as per meter, if not, reasonably. You are sadly mistaken. These breed of auto-drivers too are as bad or as good as the other men of their tribe. This is the situation in Chennai.
Of late I am shuttling between Chennai and Bangalore too often, so much so that I have become a frequent-train traveller and can claim rebates in fare if the railway ministry announces one. That apart, my travels in these cities have become real travails. In Chennai, I have switched over to Fast Tracks and Friendly Tracks – call taxi operators. I must confess that I am more comfortable with Taxi drivers for there is no haggling for fare. The meter shows it and I pay without a murmur.
In Bangalore, till recently the auto travel was okay as hiring a taxi near the railway station is a tough job. None can guarantee the genuinity and authenticity of the fare conversion tables displayed by the taxi-wallahs. It was better to hire an auto there.
Of late that too has become yet another tough job.The autos have chosen to boycott the pre-paid stands and park way off the stands. If you choose one of them you will have to end up in haggling and paying a hefty sum rather than as per meter. The police are there but as onlookers. This is the state of affairs now in Bangalore.
Recently I read a news item about an application which can download on an iPhone or Android phone by the auto-rickshaw commuters. If you have a smart-phone, this GPS-based fare calculator can compute the exact fare. Known as the A-rix Meter, this has been designed and developed by a Bangalorean design student Siddharth Vanchinathan.It is claimed that it could be the answer to many auto woes, especially now, with the new auto fares coming into effect from Monday the 12th  March at Bangalore.
The A-rix Meter uses the GPS function in your smart-phone to pinpoint your location accurately to within 10 metres. When you get into an auto, simply slide the yellow button to the ‘start’ position to start the meter.The meter will run in the background as you continue to do other activities on your phone. When you reach your destination, slide the yellow button to the ‘end’ position and the meter tells you the fare.The A-Rix app can be updated for the new fare

If you’re new to the city and if the auto drivers are not the honest kind, they’ll take you around in circles. Siddharth Vanchinathan points out that by using the inbuilt maps, you will also be able to check the route and even guide your driver if he doesn’t know the way. Also, A-Rix has fare information of several cities in India, so based on your location, it loads the fare charts for that city. So if you happen to move to a new city, this app is a great way to get comfortable with public transport.

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The Mr. International Friendship !!

On January 17, 2012 Muhammad Ali, the former professional boxer turned seventy. Originally christened as Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name after adopting Islam in 1964.
Muhammad Ali was both idolized and maligned. Ali, who turned to boxing at age eight after a prized bicycle was stolen, brought unprecedented speed and grace to the sport of boxing. Muhammad Ali’s life and career have been scripted exhaustively as much on the front pages of newspapers as on the inside sports pages.
 Ali won the 1960 Rome Olympics light heavyweight gold medal. After defeating Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach to claim the world heavyweight title, the new champion announced he was a Muslim and was changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
In 1967, three years after Ali had won the World Heavyweight Championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali stated, “I have no quarrel with them, the Viet Cong… No Viet Cong ever called me nigger” – one of the more telling remarks of the era.
Ali’s example inspired Martin Luther King Jr. – who had been supporting the Johnson Administration for its support of the civil rights agenda – to voice his own opposition to the Vietnam war for the first time.
Ali was eventually  arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges. He was stripped of his boxing title. His boxing license was suspended, keeping him out of the ring at what should have been peak years in his career. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years till his appeal, up to the U.S. Supreme Court, was eventually successful.
Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles seven years later.
Ali threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, and fighting with a white gang. He was given a replacement medal at a basketball intermission during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games.
Muhammad Ali’s honours include:
• Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Century”
• BBC’s “Sports Personality of the Century”
• GQ magazine’s “Athlete of the Century”
• World Sports Award’s “World Sportsman of the Century”
Muhammad Ali , a leader and a statesman.
Muhammad Ali made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered desperately-needed medical supplies to an embargoed Cuba; travelled to Iraq and secured the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.
Muhammad Ali is a Humanitarian.
Travelling across continents, he personally delivered food and medical supplies to children in Cote D’Ivoire, Indonesia, Mexico, and Morocco among other countries.
For his humanitarian efforts, Muhammad Ali has been the recipient of countless awards. His recognitions include:
• United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998-2008, for his work with developing nations
• Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the United States of America’s highest civil award
• Amnesty International’s Lifetime Achievement Award
• Germany’s 2005 Otto Hahn Peace Medal, for his involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations
• International Ambassador of Jubilee 2000, a global organization dedicated to relieving debt in developing nations
President Jimmy Carter once cited Muhammad Ali as “Mr. International Friendship.”
Muhammad Ali is an Artist too.
Muhammad Ali has appeared in several motion pictures, and starred in television films including the big-screen adaptation of his first autobiography, The Greatest, playing himself.
His life has been the subject of numerous films, including the Academy Award-winning documentary ‘When We Were Kings’ and Michael Mann’s biographic film , ALI, starring Will Smith.
Muhammad Ali starred in the television film, ‘Freedom Road’, and has made guest numerous appearances on numerous popular television series ranging from ‘Different Strokes’ to ‘Touched by an Angel.’
Muhammad recently published a memoir entitled, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey, in which he discusses the meaning of religion, forgiveness, and some of the defining moments in his life and career. He is also the co-author of ‘Healing: A Journal of Tolerance and Understanding’ and ‘The Greatest: My Own Story.’
Muhammad Ali has nine children, Maryum, Rasheda, Jamillah, Hana, Laila, Khaliah, Miya, Muhammad, and Asaad. Whether promoting tolerance and understanding, feeding the hungry, studying his religion, or reaching out to children in need, Muhammad Ali is devoted to making the world a better place for all people. No athlete has ever contributed more to the life of his country, or the world, than Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali’s success as a boxer is widely respected, but his greatest triumph lies in his legacy as a champion, leader, humanitarian, philanthropist , social activist and artist. His work both inside and outside the ring truly makes Muhammad Ali “The Greatest of All Time.”

A RETIRED BABU’S DAY OUT – “My Dad on his day out for a course on Citizen Journalism”

I am a migrant to Bangalore. I had to follow my son who secured his employment in the Bangalore’s IT industry. Though my home- town is Chennai and my roots in that city are half a century old, domestic compulsions made me migrate to the city of Gardens and my home, in this city, is very close to the largest of the gardens, the Lalbagh. Thus Bangalore has become my second home and Bangalore is no different from other metros – bumpy roads, impatient driving, traffic jams, indifferent public, greedy auto drivers, corrupt politicians etc. etc.

After my retirement from the central bank of India –RBI, I spend most of my time in reading, mostly the newspapers and of course watching the News channels and the talk shows. The news item on JM programme on Citizen Journalism which appeared in Bangalore Mirror, somehow, escaped my attention. It is my caring wife who pointed out the news and encouraged me to attend the event and today I am here participating in the event. I am very happy that I am back in the class room atmosphere sitting with the young and the old – a unique experience indeed.

I am a post graduate in Journalism and mass communication and hence familiar with the concepts of Media and communication. But these concepts, when explained by working journalists with live examples and livelier experiences, one is able to comprehend them unambiguously .When Aloke Thakore , while teaching the craft of writing a story, explained the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ with the Hindi song “Ye Kya Hua, Kab Hua , Kaise Hua………..” it was pedagogy of altogether different kind. The same can be said of the story told by Shishir Joshi of a citizen journalist in Mumbai who traced the idendity of North European who died in accident and who could not be identified by the concerned agencies of the Government.

Turning to guest lectures and the guests, I can tell that the RTI Activists, Vikram and Viresh, did their job precisely, concisely and comprehensively within the limited time. The activists-duo, supplementing and complementing each other,shared their experiences which was like hearing straight from the horse’s mouth. Though frail in their physique they have taken on the bulls by their horn, have exposed the corrupt and ensured that the funds of the government are not swallowed by the babudom. This is what inspires those budding journalists to do their job fearlessly and farely.

The top cop who lectured on the “police system,rights ,duties and conflicts”, shared information on some positive developments in the police force, their interaction with public and their sensitivity and on the working of his department. One could also see that he was blowing his own trumpet –his impeccable record and his forays into the Facebook. All said and done, the police still appears to the public as an unfriendly and suspicious and corrupt outfit, of course with some exceptions here and there.

The President of the Press Club, Mr.Ponnappa who inaugurated the programme, could have been more magnanimous and addressed us in English. All of us would have understood him and his speech instantly. Anyway his lieutenant Mr.Shenoy, the Press club Secretary, was at his bilingual best and made good the shortcoming.
Summing up, I would say that it was an interesting day out for me.