India Insight

Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar?

CRICKET-SAFRICA/The Maharashtra government is going to recommend Sachin Tendulkar for the country’s highest recognition — Bharat Ratna.

Not only politicians of various hues but former cricketers have also rooted for Tendulkar.

Calls for the award have become louder after Tendulkar achieved the rare feat of a double century in the one-day format.

In the event Tendulkar does get this honour, he will be the first sportsman and the youngest person to be so felicitated.

Should he be awarded the highest national honour?

The case for it seems quite strong.

Tendulkar’s greatness in various formats of the game is acknowledged by his peers, seniors, spectators and statisticians alike.

Can Indian hockey be given its due credit?

The year was 2007. Cheerleaders danced to the beats of a Bollywood song as India was about to script a nail-biting finish against Pakistan in the cricket Twenty20 World Cup final.

With tricolour flags in hand, almost every Indian spectator was gripped with the spirit of patriotism. The impact on TV viewers couldn’t have been less.

And all this while, little did cricket fans realise that intensity was coming from a song ‘Chak De India‘ filmed on a sport so different in its administration, handling and following.

Is India really ready for the Commonwealth Games?

While travelling to work in an auto rickshaw, the driver asked me, “Madam aap TV dekhte ho kya?” (Madam, do you watch TV?)Wondering what would come next, I replied with a nod.“Hamare desh mein agle saal khel hone vale hain, mehmaan ayenge magar mehmaano ke liye humne kya kiya? (We are going to have games in our country next year, guests will come but what have we done for our guests?),” he asked. With a very miserable expression he further said, “Padhe-likhe log bhi sadak pe kachra aur thook fekte hain.” (Even educated people spit and litter the streets) The auto driver is not the only one concerned about this issue.Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram remarked recently that people should learn to behave like citizens of an international city.“We want to encourage people to change their mindset,” he said. The Indian Olympic Association has expressed its concern over the logistical preparations for the event, but who is going to check on how the people behave?Beggars in the national capital are also looking forward to the Games. A large number of tourists would be a windfall and beggars are leaving no stone unturned to be prepared.An informal academy has been set up in New Delhi’s Rohini area where children are taught to beg in different foreign languages.Countries like Germany and China had taken the initiative to train their citizens to behave properly when they hosted the football World Cup and the Olympics. Should India also start a similar training program or is it too late?The Indian Tourism’s tagline reads – ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’. (Our guest is blessed and our visitor is God)Do you think people will adopt this tagline in the months to come? Are we really ready for a global event like the Games?

Playing spoilsport with Formula One?

Despite the Force India team taking second place at the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix there is no rethinking in the sports ministry on its view that Formula One is not enough of a sport.

Sports minister M.S. Gill congratulated Vijay Mallya on his team’s win but labelled Formula One as ‘expensive entertainment’.

The sports ministry has refused approval to the promoters of Formula 1 in India, JPSK Sports, to pay 1.7 billion rupees to the Formula One Administration for the proposed Indian Grand Prix of 2011.

Force India podium, giant leap for Indian motor sport?

India can boast of taking a major stride in Formula One after Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella drove from pole to second on the podium at the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday.

The first points for the team owned by India’s liquor and airlines baron Vijay Mallya was a pleasant surprise, the team having failed to make an impact since it was launched ahead of the 2008 season.

The Indian media lapped up the news, indicating that F1′s popularity in India will only grow more rapidly as Indian fans gradually embrace the team as theirs.

A punch in the face of Indian women

Lost in the clamour over our cricketers defying WADA over the “whereabouts” rule in drug testing, was a tiny news item in the Hindustan Times daily last week about women boxers washing dishes and serving tea to visitors at the National Institute of Sports.

Sports Minister MS Gill, when questioned about it in India’s upper house, said the practice was “a normal courtesy extended to distinguished guests”.

There was no clarity on what made a guest distinguished or whether this was a courtesy that only women were called on to extend.

India in 2008: The year that was

Yet another year is coming to an end and independent India’s idea of being a republic is a year older. But is it any wiser?

On many counts, 2008 was both tumultuous and memorable for India, testing its men and the manner in which they confronted the challenges.

It was a year which saw the Manmohan Singh government face some of the toughest questions in its 4-year rule.

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