Monday, January 12, 2009

Chennai Open 2009

SDAT Tennis Stadium, Venue for Chennai Open ATP Tournament built in 1995 for South Asian Games, it has a floodlit centre with around 5,800 people seating capacity.

Chennai Open Final-Somdev Devvarman lost to Marin Cilic of Croatia 4-6, 6-7 (3) in Chennai on Sunday. It was an electrifying atmosphere with the crowd rooting for Somdev, the Indian finalist. Somdev with his Mother from Meghalaya & Father from Tripura is from Northeast East India but he was no match for Marin Cilic, a 6ft 6, 81 Kg Giant against Somdev 5ft 11, 72 kg Indian. Somdev is expected to do better if he relies more on mental strength rather than raw physical strength against his future opponents.

Doubles Eric & Ram Vs Scherrer & Wawrinka

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 - Challenges ahead for India

            The past year 2008 has been an uneventful year for India specially with regards to the recent Mumbai blast, and we have also seen the awakening anger of the Mainstream Middle class Indian to the political inefficiency of the Indian state. Just after the Mumbai blast, Elections were held in 5 Indian states and the ruling party still won in 3 states, showing that the Mumbai blast in a 5 star hotel had very less impact on the common people of India.

             Enormous challenge lay ahead of the Indian state which is only 60 years old with the challenge of more than 1000 languages and a billion people in it’s fold. It’s more like a mini united nation rather than a homogenous country like China or Russia or even a mixed nationality  country like the United states. Challenges lay ahead with keeping the Economy chugging along while trying to keep the people of India united and thwart the design of Separatist from different states of India as well as Islamist militants towards the disintegration of India like the previous USSR. I would like to list out a few of the Major Challenges that I feel India faces in the coming decades to come:


Out of a billion people, 380 million people still remain illiterate, the largest number in any country  with almost half of the education not functioning properly with under qualified teachers. Illiteracy remains one of the major challenges ahead of India. In Northern states like Bihar only 53% of  the 82 million  population are impoverished and uneducated which is exploited by the politician who are more like uneducated thugs who threaten people to vote for them if not buy their votes for a meager amount of  Rs 100 (USD 2.5), or else go about distributing sarees and shoes to voters. They eventually end up spending a ransom amount in hiring the thugs and distribution of the free gifts which they eventually try to recover from developmental projects intended for construction of roads and bridges. A mentality of whatever belongs to the Government is free property which can be siphoned of for private consumption still prevails in India. With the Illiteracy and poverty that we have in some of the Indian states, the state of GDP, Economic Growth or Terrorist attacks are the last thing on their mind, the only thing that’s on their mind is from where they would get their next meal, making them a vulnerable group for Islamist Jehadi’s who can train these people for a nominal amount to brainwash them even to act against their own Country.

Some nominal progress have been made in the Country with compulsory primary education, but this is hardly enforced as poverty is so deep in some places that child labour is necessary to supplement family income, women’s education have taken places by some NGO’s which to a certain extent has helped lift up living standards of families but also brings with it family tensions as Indian Men tend to resent women being educated and questioning their authority as well as wanting to know for instance how much money is being spent on alcohol, if the husband is a drunkard, but  slow progress is being made with people being more aware of their rights with education but there’s a lot of disillusion with the Indian system of vote bank politics at the point of exploiting Indians. Much has been said about India’s  huge population of young Indian Human Resource being an asset for the country, but without proper education it’s more likely to be a liability and a source of tension, violence and resentment against the government.


            Health and Social Security remains one of the highest concern. The dirt, smell and efficiency of some of the Government Hospitals in some parts of India have to be seen to be believed with stray dogs passing along the corridors, people sleeping on the corridor with toilets unbelievably dirty. 46% of the Indian women still remain illiterate, so you can well just imagine the nutrition & hygiene of more than half the Indian children as well as their families, more prone to disease and sickness due to lack of information and knowledge about cleanliness, washing hands, boiling water and other basic hygiene principles.

                        Sanitation is still another area where India lacks behind, it may be one of the few countries where open defecation is practiced. To see this in practice, take an Indian Railways train and peer out of your window in the morning, you’re likely to see someone or the other defecating on the side of the railway track. Having been involved in construction of toilets for some of the rural poor, I would add that it’s not only the construction of toilets, but also education and convincing them to use toilets is also essential to convince people to use them.

            Clean drinking water remains a challenge and a problem in India with more than 800 million without access to clean drinking water. As it is, most of the Indians survive without clean drinking water but still survive probably due to higher resistance to dirt but there’s a limit to how much a body can take. Diarrhea and other water born disease due to lack of clean water and sanitation remain a bigger threat to the lives of Indian citizens rather than terrorist. The water level in India remains low, specially in the Urban areas as Apartments come up without proper permits and they drill  water till the water level is dried up.  Sewage system as we know is non existent to nil in most of the Indian towns and cities as the nearest river or brook is used  as a sewage.  Most of the Indian rivers are dirty, almost black in color with most of the fishes long gone and dead, and the rivers stinking, making it a perfect place for mosquito breeding, who in turn spread communicable disease like malaria. Living in an Indian city near one such river or sewage is an unenviable proposition as we have to spend half the time swapping mosquitoes while we spend the other half watching TV or preparing dinner.

            Another major obstacle to the Country due to lack of proper medical facility is the very high Infant mortality rate in India with 63 out of every 1000 dying and 2 out of 5 children underweight due to malnutrition. This in a country where 5 of it’s own citizens are among the top 10 richest people in the World, hard to believe but this is what is happening in a Society where it’s literally a dog eat dog world, where people drive vehicles regardless of weather it’s a red light or they are on the wrong lane.  It’s the beginning of an evolution of a parallel society where you have the gated communities where the rich live and the slums where the poor live. Where the other thinks that he’s superior to the other due to his birth to a higher caste and where exploitation has gone on for centuries. One of the probable reasons for the high Indian population growth could also be because of the high infant mortality rate as most of the impoverished rural Indian farmers without social security want and need children to look after them after they are old , infirm and unable to take care of themselves.

 Religion as Vote Bank

            The biggest threat to the Country remains to be the Vote Bank Politics according to Religion.  Divisive politics by Indian politicians is one of the major issues spreading disunity within the Indian Community. Violence in the name of religion are capitalized by some political parties to get more votes, more so in the Northern Indian states where Muslim Communities stay inside their walled Communities hardly interacting with people outside of their own community. The Major Hindu religion are only united when the fight is against Muslims or Christians. They are again divided along their respective caste lines. An upper caste would not necessarily eat with a person from the Dalit lower caste. Political favoritism also comes into play, the majority community would have better amenities whereas the minor communities have less amenities. Efforts are being taken to correct this injustice through reservations for the weaker sections of the society. Indian identity within India remains a puzzle, a North Indian is more likely to be more conscious of his caste or religion whereas in the South or Northeast, they are more likely to Identify themselves with their language.


 There’s not much to be said of the Indian Infrastructure, the inefficiency of some of the Indian airports is to be experienced to believed, the Govt. Airlines have the worst service but the booming Private airlines are something that Indians need not be ashamed. The Railways are turning out profit but are way underutilized as long as it’s under Govt Control.

With regards to building up of roads, buildings & bridges, it’s another helpless situation with Contracts being given by Politicians of the ruling party in the State  to their favored contractors who try to build up the needed roads or infrastructure at 50% of the cost and use the rest to distribute between the Politicians and themselves.  The substandard Infrastructure- like the road becomes spoilt during the  Indian Monsoon as the top layer of gravel comes off, which is again constructed by the same favored contractors. The cycle repeats itself, leading to poor roads, higher maintenance cost of vehicles, longer time for travel and transportation of goods choking the growth of the Indian Economy.


It’s hard to figure out the one thing that keep India together, but I would reason that it’s not the Army or Police or the Politicians keeping India together. The only reason that India is together is because it’s in the Interest of India’s own citizen, who are foremost interested in their bread and butter and with India being an Union of 27 States, it’s in the interest of each state to be part of the Indian Union as party of one economic unit, with common currency & central bank, it’s also a common market, products from one Indian state can be sold beyond it’s border throughout India. The same with Foreign policy and Defense. Some of the smaller Indian States would find it hard to defend themselves against some of India’s neighbours like China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Besides it gives better leverage in International politics but much is still to be desired in terms of development when one compares with other developing countries like China who are emerging out of their third world country status to that of being a major power in the world.