Friday, July 18, 2014

Union Budget 2014 Review

The union budget means that the front pages of all newspapers would be blocked for budget coverage the day after and rightly so, unless Tapas Pal decides to address a rally again on the same day.

This is the time of the year when an official from the Ministry of Finance goes to that run down theatre props rental place and hires a briefcase for the Finance Minister to pose with at the end of the budget. To come closer to reality, that briefcase can well be replaced with a backpack, especially since it carries the heavy documents that burden the nation with fiscal deficits and debts.

Narendra Modi won the elections primarily on the promise of economic development. Therefore, we can safely say that the budget day will be the most important day of the year during his reign, unlike the previous Govt where the most important day of the year was of course Sonia Gandhi’s birthday.  

Out of the many schemes announced, the one that caught the attention was the Rs. 2000 Crore allocation for Sardar Patel’s statue. Well, by doing this, Modi basically fulfilled his pre poll promise of building more toilets. Toilets for birds that is.

But what about toilets for human beings? That's a huge issue isnt it? More Indians have access to mobile phones than closed toilets. And the recent Badaun rape highlighted it as a safety problem along with it already being a sanitation problem. Additionally, it is also a personal problem. Toilets are important not only from a hygeine point of view, but also from a peace of mind point of view. Your bathroom is the place where you get time for yourself. Away from your wife, children, parents. It is your 'Me' time. It is the time when you clock highest scores in Angry Birds or Quizup. It is when you are most creative. Why do you think Indians lag behind the West in discoveries and inventions. Archimedes discovered buoyancy and Archimedes principle when he was having a nice quiet bath in his bathroom. After which he went full retard. Do you think he would have discovered this idea if he were bathing in the open, spending all his energy to ensure no one steals his towel while he's bathing in the local lake? No.
Fate awaiting Sardar Patel
Staying with the Sardar Patel statue, it is going to be nearly double the height of The Statue of Liberty. Size matters. 

The cleanliness drive for the river Ganges has been allocated over 2000 crores. This is great because an estimated 3 billion litres of garbage and waste is released into the Ganges every day. There is so much trash in the river that it could well be renamed Bollywood. Or some narrow stretches of the river can be literally called the Sewage Canal. Good to see the Govt addressing this crisis that is the Ganges, but the fact remains that the first ever statement made on this issue was by the great Raj Kapoor very many decades back. He was such a visionary. Ahead of his time. He spoke about water pollution so many years back when he titled one of his movies Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Unfortunately, we could not see through his beautiful message. We learnt to appreciate transparency since that landmark movie. I think that is the reason why we want transparency in everything now, from BCCI to Governments. Good to see Raj Kapoor’s message being taken seriously by the authorities now. They also watched re runs of that movie before the budget, purely for research purposes.

Raj Kapoor displaying, err, his vision.
Women safety schemes in comparison got Rs. 150 Cr allocation. Because as we all know preventing crimes against women is not the Govt’s job. It is the job of parents who need to teach their boys how to behave with girls. It is the job of parents to ensure they don’t eat noodles, or use mobile phones. It is the job of parents to ensure girls are not dressed up which leads to them to ask for it. What the Govt is trying to tell us is that preventing crimes against women is a more moral problem than a regulatory issue. I say even the 150 Cr package is too high. Why not spend it in something more important, such as rehabilitation of Ram at Ayodhya.

The Govt announced number of new IIMs and IITs.  In terms of expansion of brand, they will now compete with the likes of ICFAI, IIPM and Amity. And just when students were losing motivation to pursue engineering, the new IIT in Goa should help.

Cigarettes will be costlier now. The finance minister said this decision was also taken from a health point of view. Will this make people smoke less? Has graphic warnings decreased the consumption of tobacco products? I don’t think these measures work. One way to make people smoke less would be if the warnings are more Indianised. Lets have a warning on packs which say ‘Cigarettes are manglik’, or ‘cigarettes hurt religious sentiment’. That should work better.

The budget sets aside Rs. 7600 crores to build 100 smart cities across India. I hope they do not follow the railway ministry model of project allocation which may see 99 smart cities coming up in Gujarat and one in the North East just to claim national integration in the next pre poll marketing blitz.

In summary, Modi’s budget promises big things but lacks clarity in how the targets are going to be achieved. Much like his election campaign. However the mood in the country is good and hopes are high. The budget is gone. The briefcase will be hired again next year. Enough of reporting on words like fiscal. Let us now happily go back to covering the rascals. Which surprisingly rhymes with someone mentioned at the start of the piece. if you say it quickly enough. .

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The World Cup in my tweets.

The World Cup of instant vines and memes is over. Here are some tweets on how I saw this World Cup, or as some say, just FIFA.

Pre World Cup:
Start of the World Cup
Spain 1-5 Netherlands
 Sony Six coverage was so bad, a presenter actually asked Crouch which team he would be supporting in this World Cup.
England mark their attendance.

Portugal destroyed by Germany.

Spain out of the World Cup after just 2 games.
And England are out.
Third Place. Brazil embarrassed again.

The final.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The comprehensive Indian guide to the FIFA World Cup 2014

Edit: This post was selected for Blogadda's Tangy Tuesday picks. Link.

If you thought this World Cup guide analyses the 32 teams and gives predictions which won’t come true, this is probably the time to switch to the Youporn tab.  
We finally have a World Cup in which Dhoni will not make headlines. Lets face it, despite the progress in recent years, cricket popularity still beats football in India by an innings and 248* goals. This is highlighted by the fact that the channel broadcasting the World Cup in India was named after a cricket term to seemingly attract cricket lovers – Sony SIX. 
The problem with cricket in India is that everybody likes it, everybody plays it and wants their next five generations to play it. It’s a lot like engineering. Nowadays however there’s no value for stand-alone engineers in the country. You have to do an ‘MBA’ along with engineering to get ahead of the boring crowd. Maybe football is the MBA. And there are lot of similarities between football fans and MBAs too.
Their choice of phrases. For example an MBA would say there is an elephant in the room. A football fan would say Wayne Rooney is playing tonight. MBAs love to use abbreviations. PFA, EOD, B2B. Similarly football fans have. GGMU, YNWA, COYG,  Ok now STFU.
India's most popular footballer.
This gets us to the big football World Cup. The final from the 2010 edition had viewership equivalent to the number of people in India without an access to a closed toilet. Nearly 700 million! And if you thought the IPL was the biggest sporting extravaganza organized by the mafia, you were wrong. Say hello to FIFA. 
Brazil’s World Cup preparations have been in a mess. There have been major delays in infrastructure for the World Cup. There have been deaths reported too which are related to construction and moreover… oh wait. Oh wait. I just had this thought. We haven’t heard from Suresh Kalmadi off late have we? Even during the big elections. Oh my God!!!
Chill guys, I got this.
Let me guide you through all the groups.
·         Group A (Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon)
Brazil is the favorite. Their most influential player is Neymar. Or as he is popularly known, the next Ronaldo, or next Ronaldinho, or the next Rivaldo, or the next Pele or the next Jesus Christ.
Brazil hosted the World Cup last in 1950 where they lost to Uruguay in the finals in one of football’s most iconic matches ever. There has been enormous talk of banishing the ghost of 1950. The minimum expectation for Brazilian fans is to simply win this World Cup. Which leads me to think what their maximum expectation could be? Brazil’s striker Hulk getting transformed into his namesake superhero, poverty getting alleviated due to brisk business generated by sex workers from travelling English fans, and winning the World Cup final against Argentina 15-0 in which Messi scores a hattrick of own goals who is then shot dead on his return to Argentina. No?
Cameroon is called the Indomitable Lions, but 25 years of no domination should probably force a rethink into the name. Cameroon takes part in World events, not to show off their talents in football, but rather fashion. In 2002, they wore sleeveless shirts. Try wearing your heart on your sleeve then. Few years later, they had a single piece body suit kit few years later. Yes, a single piece body suit. Yellow card x 2.
Body suit model and part time footballer.
Anyway as long as you don’t have Delhi Daredevils on your shirt, it is not embarrassing enough.
The key to Croatia’s showing in the World Cup is Luka Modric. He shocked everyone by cutting his trademark long hair the day after winning the champions League with Real Madrid. My money is on elders in his family fulfilling a mannat of offering his hair to Tirupathi if they won the Champions league. 

Group B (Netherlands, Spain, Chile and Australia)
In cricketing terms, Spain were the South Africas of football up until 2008. Post which they became a mad combination of Australia of the noughties and Windies of the 70s. Fernando Torres is the secret agent charged with the responsibility of ending this domination. One cannot dispute the immense contribution of Spanish football in recent years, the topmost certainly being teaching us phrases such as La Decima, Vamos (Oh that’s for Nadal)  and Hala without having to sign up for expensive Spanish lessons.
Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal is facing the prospect of leading Netherlands into the business end of the biggest show on earth, and then in a matter of weeks having to train with the likes of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly as Man United manager. From an Indian point of view, this has been a great year for Orange, and who knows, maybe their good days are about to come after years of disappointment.
Australia is actually an Asian representative to the World Cup, which is what happens when you name a continent after nothing but one country.
·         Group C (Columbia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan)
This is incidental, but this group looks like a special reserved quota group created to allow an African and Asian team to qualify to the latter stages of the World Cup. Ivory Coast and Japan are probably the favorites to progress from this group.  There is a case for these two countries falling under the creamy layer section hence not being eligible for this particular reservation benefit, but let us not get into that right now.  We’ll let Prakash Jha have the final say on this.
Columbia’s superstar striker Radamel Falcao misses the World Cup through injury, or as some see it he becomes the latest recipient of Karma’s a bitch message from anonymous.  Having rejected big clubs to sign for Monaco’s tax free (and fan less) riches, Falcao now faces the prospect of watching the World Cup from a luxury yacht in Monte Carlo. Its his version of the Axe Boat Party.

Sorry you cannot come,  I have been asked to come alone.
Falcao justified his move to Monaco last year saying he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his idol Thierry Henry who used to play there before Arsenal came calling. This is like saying I want to sleep with my brother’s wife so that I acquire Ryan Giggs’ footballing talents.
·         Group D (England, Italy, Uruguay, Costa Rica)
This is the group of death. For England. For the others, its not. England in the football world cup is like England in the cricket world cup. Or England in the Olympics. Shite. England has invented most sports in history but has never really dominated any, apart from the game they called Age of Empires very many decades back.
Fans must be worried of the great English tradition of its main player going into the tournament injured. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. Unfortunately, we still have a few days to go. This explains the extra supplies of cotton wool ordered to protect Wayne Rooney, who however mistook it for his artificial hair and started dyeing them.
Dr. Batra's hair treatment is India's only presence in the World Cup.
The hotels where Italy and England will be based were raided by health officials lately and they found several food items well past their expiry dates. The staff needs to be told not to take the term group of death literally. But that is no concern for Luis Suarez who is known to eat anything, such as Branislav Ivanonic. Also, these hotels were not providing free condoms as per Govt regulations. Mario Balotelli said he will be carrying his own stock.
·         Group E (Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras)
Group E is E for Easy. France has been rewarded for giving the world the bikini by being placed in this seemingly easy group. Younger French players will be looking to shine in the World Cup to earn a move to Newcastle United, the best French club in the world.
Switzerland’s team this term is compact, tight, and reliable with extra focus on a secure defense. Unsurprisingly, these are also the characteristics of their popular banks. 
She is impressed by the Swiss defense system.
Ecuador on the other hand has asked for Ecuadorian bananas to be served in all the players’ rooms daily in an effort to make them feel more at home. So when the random Gujarati aunty named Jashodaben sitting next to you on an international flight takes out her theplas, do not mock her on twitter.
·         Group F (Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran)
If Kingfisher’s ad agency were in charge of the World Cup, this group would be captioned - Divided by teams, united by violence back home. 
Argentina has the most lethal firepower in this group on the field. Off the field, Iran would take that title of course.
Iran practising long range shooting.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only debutants in this edition.  There is serious possibility of them being overshadowed in the group by the favorites Argentina, just like the word Herzegovina is overshadowed and ignored by the word Bosnia by way of its placement.
·         Group G (Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States)
Germany always does well at World Cups.  After all, they have been on the losing side in two damn World Wars. It is only fair they succeed on the global stage. Law of average?
Klose with 14 World Cup goals is a name on everybody’s lips during World Cups. With 96.56% of them still not sure what the correct pronunciation is. Klosay, Klosa, Klos. Kloz. Lambu. ah Miroslav is good.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend has got more footage than the entire team of fellow Group G team Ghana in the lead up to the World Cup.  But when it comes to World Cups, there can be only one Ronaldo. The Brazilian one.
·         Group H (Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria)
The Moscow Times newspaper celebrated their teams’ qualification to the World cup with the headline – ‘Russia ready to conquer Brazil’. This did lead to momentary panic in the Brazil army headquarters at Brasilia.
Belgium are the dark horses. Their team can be a Premier League dream team in a good season.  However, mingling with English players throughout the year may have lead to acquiring the art of failing at World Cups.
Lukaku would probably have to score 25 goals in the World Cup to convince Chelsea not to loan him out again. Especially if your other strikers are Torres, Etoo and Ba.
Enjoy this one month of staying up late enjoying the beautiful game folks. Let me now go get ready for the World Cup in the only way I know. Stevieeee Stevie *clap clap clap* Stevieeee Stevie *clap clap clap* 
Come on England, do it for Sachin!

Friday, January 31, 2014

My riots were better than yours!

Lets talk about politics for a bit. When it became clear that Narendra Modi was going to be the prime ministerial candidate for BJP, all the Congress leaders who like to fawn in posh English , or in other words, spokespersons huddled together and decided to frame a strategy to defame him. They googled India’s biggest scams and their reaction was oh no!, all in the top 5 scams are by Congress personnel. So they chose the obvious blot in Modi’s time, the Gujarat mass killings, and decided that every night they would come on tv, and answer '2002 riots' to every question. 

Sir, what about the falling economy?  2002 riots. 
What about increase in rapes? 2002 riots. 
What about black money? 2002 riots. 
Whats your name? 2002 riots. 
Whats your mothers name? Sonia Gandhi. 
True story.

But given that these men are all highly educated, it is a surprise that they haven’t heard of the famous saying - people in glass houses should not roam around naked in the house, without drawing the curtains.

The BJP now got the chance to retort to every 2002 killings remark with the same words, but  replacing 2002 with 1984.  Now to be honest, when 1984 happened, there was no live tv, media industry wasn’t as explosive, scrutiny was much less. So people knew something big had happened but never really brought it up in public. Its like you know you your parents have infidelity issues in the past, but you weren't present at the time you don’t bring it up, right? Just like that, we know 1984 happened, but no one was around, no one brings it up. Until the genius strategy of the Congress boomerangs and fuels the 1984 debate. 

Now when someone asks BJP,  
What about Babri Masjid? they say 1984 (and coughs).
What about Sangh conspiracy to kill Gandhi? 1984 riots. 
When should LK Advani have retired? 1984. 
How many seats will you win in the next Lok Sabha elections? 1984. 
When did India win their first cricket world cup? 1984. But no sir , its 1983.  No no no, 1984. 84 84 84 84. We have orders to just say 84. Its our new 69.

The mass killings of minorities is a bigger problem now for Congress than the BJP. Own goal. Jeetke haarne wale ko Indian cricket team aur Congress kehte hai. 

My riot is better than yours. That’s the level of political debate in the country. That’s why I hate when MBAs are combined with tv debates.  Educated people. Now for every event, there is analysis. there is a SWOT Analysis. ABC Analysis. 

My riot was better because Delhi is a prime location. 
My riot was better because 2002 is a palindrome. It was dyslexia friendly riots bro. 

In the Congress online registration website, in the year of birth section, there is a scroll down option, after 1983, there is 1985. No one born in 1984 can be part of Congress. It is their idea of having nothing to do with 1984.

In conclusion, here are a couple of rules applicable to riots.

Rule no. 1 for riots in India : If your riot is in Assam, it will fall short of reaching the ultimate pinnacle that every riot aspires for-  prime time TV debates. Sorry.

Rule no. 2 for riots in India : If you are a victim and you get justice in your lifetime, you are so damn lucky, that you should buy a lottery ticket. But can you enjoy your new found wealth without limbs and a mental scar for life?