India Insight

From across the border, books and bats

This week, while one Pakistani was being questioned by the Indian police and hysterical reporters on an alleged marriage to an Indian, another Pakistani, composed and smiling, fielded questions from an admiring audience on dynasty and politics in the country that every Indian has an opinion on.

Pakistan cricket player Shoaib Malik (R) speaks to the media as tennis player Sania Mirza looks on, in Hyderabad April 5, 2010. REUTERS/Krishnendu HalderThe contrast between Shoaib Malik, who is all set to marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, and Fatima Bhutto, writer and niece of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, could not be more glaring. And that is reason to celebrate.

Because for a few days, we could forget all the usual tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals and simply revel in a public spectacle that had equal measures of romance, melodrama and suspense.

As well as a chance to see up, close and personal, a member of a family that is as closely connected with Pakistan’s character as perhaps the Gandhi family in India.

Bhutto, in Mumbai to launch her memoir, “Songs of Blood and Sword”, said there was much in common between the two countries, but we only get to hear the views of politicians and other “glitzy and glamorous” people.

What’s love got to do with caste, class or countries?

Love and marriage have always been subjected to societal norms in most communities and this is especially true in India with its myriad structures of caste, class and a historical rich-poor divide.

A couple chats on Valentine's Day in Bhopal February 14, 2005. REUTERS/Raj Patidar/FilesThe recent media glare on honour killings in northern India put the spotlight on the traditional system of local “khap” councils, who do not allow persons from the same sub-caste or lineage to marry.

Sometimes even marriage between two consenting adults from different gotras (clan or lineage) is banned if they are from the same village, and the diktat of the khaps can lead to ostracism and banishment to even honour killings.

Indian tennis — flash in the pan or pointer to future?

Indian tennis is enjoying a wonderful run with three strong performances underlining the quality of their young players.
 
First it was the refreshingly energetic Somdev Devvarman who raced to the final of the Chennai Open, raising big hopes for India with their stalwarts Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes into their mid 30s.
 
Then 16-year-old Yuki Bhambri belied his lean frame but underlined his top ranking to claim the Australian Open boys’ singles title.

The Delhi boy is aiming to move on to the men’s circuit at the earliest, showing the understanding that the professional tour is where one needs to establish oneself.
 
Sania Mirza then claimed her first senior grand slam title, winning the mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi, which gave him his 11th grand slam title win.
 
For Mirza, the title will be really sweet, coming as she is after a frustrating period due to a wrist injury.
 
The performances by the trio shows the potential Indian tennis has as it looks into the future.
 
But is India capable of building a strong line-up and then a steady stream of players who can back up the main national stars?

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