Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Immoral prose

I don't know why I keep picking on The Hindu: they're hardly that important. But it's hard to resist when they come up with something like this:
Ms. Patil ended her address by invoking Swami Vivekanada’s "immoral clarion call" to fellow-citizens to “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached."

(It also appears in the print edition.)

(President Patil's speech was a masterclass in how to mix metaphors and recycle cliches, but I don't think she was responsible for that description of Vivekananda's call, or that spelling of his name.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Two matches

As I type, England are 213/3 in pursuit of 500, with 36 overs to go. A result seems unlikely.

Much verbiage has been expended on whether Dravid was right not to enforce a follow-on yesterday (one reason seems to have been a strain suffered by Zaheer Khan), and on why he made such a laboured 12 off 96 balls (it was something like 5 off 80 balls at one time), when the hope would have been to get some quick runs on the board and give themselves time to bowl England out.

But I got reminded of another test, over three years ago: this one, at Multan.

Then, India declared their first innings closed at 675 on the second day, and Pakistan faced 16 overs that day without losing a wicket. Here, India were all out for 664 on the second day, and England faced 8 overs, losing one wicket.

Then, Pakistan ended their first innings early on the fourth day, for 407 (a deficit of 268). Here, England ended their first innings early on the fourth day, for 345 (a deficit of 319).

Then, the captain, Rahul Dravid, enforced the follow-on; here, he did not.

Then, Dravid declared the first innings closed when Sachin Tendulkar was on 194 and there were still 16 overs to go in the day; the reason for denying Tendulkar his 200 was, reportedly, a lack of urgency shown by him. Here, Dravid did not declare the first innings closed (a decision which allowed Kumble a well-deserved century); India were eventually all out with 8 overs to go in the day. In the second innings, Dravid's sense of urgency was exhibited by his 12 off 96 balls. (Granted, India were 10 for 3 at one point. But they did have a lead of over 300, so they were really 329 for 3 in effect.)

Then, India won by an innings. Here, a result looks rather unlikely.

Basically, then India wanted to win; here India wanted not to lose.

Nothing much wrong in that, but let's not have fancy talk about positive cricket, wanting to win, and so on.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Seal the shops, seal the lips

In 2006, the Supreme Court declared that shops in residential areas of Delhi were in violation of the master plan, and mandated sealing all offending shops.

In May this year, Mid-Day posted an article alleging that the sons of the then Chief Justice, Y. K. Sabharwal, had business links with mall developers. (I posted on that news here.) If true, it seemed highly improper of Sabharwal to have presided over that case: he should have recused himself citing conflict of interest.

In June, Mid-Day published reactions from a cross-section of the legal community, expressing shock at the news. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan demanded an investigation. Another top lawyer, R. K. Anand (who has since come under a cloud himself), said that if true, Sabharwal must be prosecuted.

On August 3, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms -- an organisation whose patrons include Prashant Bhushan, former law minister Shanti Bhushan, Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Admiral R H Tahiliani -- held a press conference alleging that, according to government documents, when Sabharwal issued his sealing orders, his sons had already tied up with big mall owners; the registered business address in 2004 for one of their companies was Sabharwal's official residential address (note the irony -- it means his official residence was being used for a commercial purpose, which was the precise reason for sealing those shops); and in the two years since 2004, the junior Sabharwals grew rapidly from a small import-export business to a multi-crore commercial development business.

Tehelka carries a cover story, an editorial, and an interview with Shanti Bhushan. (Hat tip - Abi, who cites V. Venkatesan.) It is all worth reading, and it is staggering.

The rest of the media says ... nothing. Silence. Blackout.

The news conference was on August 3 (and was reportedly packed, with all major newspapers represented), and I found exactly one report dated August 4, which credits UNI; however, none of the newspapers seem to have carried that report, or if they did, they have prevented Google from indexing it.

The only exception seems to be Outlook, which carries an article. But note that this article is written by three members of the campaign (Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Bhaskar Rao), not by a journalist.

Even Mid-Day seems to have been silent, if Google is any indication.

Why the silence? Is it a fear of our contempt laws? Is that why Outlook did not ask their own journalists to write about it? One can understand that if the members of the campaign cannot prove what they say, they risk a contempt case against them; but does a newspaper that reports what they say also risk it? Do I, or Abi or Venkatesan, risk contempt by writing these blog posts?

Tehelka: If a common man has a genuine grievance against a sitting judge, what recourse does he or she have?

Shanti Bhushan: None. Because as soon as he makes an allegation he will be guilty of contempt. Now Parliament has amended the contempt law and truth has been made the defence.

Exactly. Truth is now a defence, and even if the allegations are not true, it is true that Shanti Bhushan and others are making these allegations. So why not report them?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

For some people, Kumble can do no right

"Kumble century denies India world record."

That's the front page headline in The Hindu (Chennai edition) after he scored an unbeaten 110 to propel India to 664.

And what is this tremendously important world record that he denied India? The highest Test total that didn't contain a century.

(Incidentally, he did establish another record, of equally dubious significance: the longest gap between Test debut and Test century. He did it in his 151st innings.)

I was hoping that, after he became the first Indian to get 500 test wickets, he would get a bit of respect from our media. But no.

(The online edition of the Hindu has a different headline. Perhaps there were complaints.) The online story is here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Update on the Kundu case

Current Science (August 10 issue) has published my letter about the Kundu case (I reviewed the allegations here), together with a response by Prof. Padmanaban. I link to those letters, and discuss Padmanaban's response, here.

Unless something new and interesting comes up, these are my last words on the subject.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dear Hitch, Tom Lehrer was first

Tom Lehrer, preface to "National Brotherhood Week" on "That was the year that was", 1965:
I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that!

(Watch a different performance of that song, sans intro, here.)

Christopher Hitchens, 2007:
The enemies of intolerance cannot be tolerant

(Read the whole thing here.)

The difference is that Hitch seems to be serious.