Monday, December 7, 2009

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN CONFUSES ME MOST!

Like every ordinary Indian people I love movies, their concepts, stories and every other thing. It is usual that it affects my mind, body as well as instincts. Nowhere is this more significant than the habit of mine to assign an angel status and a demon status to everybody in this world. According to me you can either be a hero or a devil but nobody in between. To say in scientific words i consider world as nucleus where only protons and electrons resides. To me James Chadwick [founder of neutron] was never born. [P.S-I extended two statements by using clutches of science just to satisfy the sheded egos of some of my engineering friends who usually complains that I don’t write like an science stream student].This habit although I know is not exact and good but still i follow this with my whole heart. Bose is a super-hero, so is sachin, Mahatma Gandhi was also an angel and similarly there are many demons [names of whom is irrelevant to the topic and are controversial].However hard I try I can’t assign status to midnight’s children Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It is not that I had never assigned them any status but now-a-days my opinions about them had changed and presently their status is complicated [ahem himeshbhai is happy].

Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of modern India was a moody, idealistic intellectual who felt an almost mystical empathy with the toiling peasant masses; an aristocrat accustomed to privilege, who had passionate socialist convictions, an anglicized product of harrow and Cambridge and an agonist radical who became an unlikely protégé of saintly mahatma Gandhi. A pampered youth, he always had little connections about grass-root problems. Even he himself had written in his biography that an only son to prosperous parents is apt to be spoilt and if he remains alone till 11 the chances of left unspoiled is nil especially in India.

There are many fine things which Nehru gave us. He united a nation out of most heterogeneous people on the earth. He nurtured democracy. More than any other individuals we owe him our present day attachments to democratic institutions. He respected minorities and made us secular in our temperament. Most important he injected in us the modernist idea of liberty and equality. He gave us youthful hope and optimism. But there are equal bad things which Nehru gave us if not more. His failed economic promises which have cost us two generations of missed opportunities. Instead of socialism, his path led to a corrupt, domineering state which we are desperately trying to dismantle today with the economic reforms. He lacks vision, the blind faith on China who later backstabbed us. His failed policies, overconfidence had made India backward by at least two generation from what it deserves. The uncompromisable attitude which led to the partition of India and his more than desired idealistic attitude which lacks realism still cost us and after seeing the condition of today I can say that even the Fabians socialist ideology went wrong at some point and what was more pathetic was his reluctance to improve. That’s what we call ego.

Mahomedali Jinnahbhai, as the world knows, was a Gujarati-speaking khoja Muslim, a westernized liberal constitutionalist who believed the mass movement unleashed by Gandhi was also leading to widespread religious divisions in the public because of the way Gandhi was mixing religion with politics. His break with the Congress was ironic because at heart Jinnah was a diehard Congressman, whose early associates were Gopalkrishna Gokhale and SN Banerjea.

Jinnah was a towering national leader much before Gandhi returned from South Africa and entered public life. He was better known than Motilal Nehru, Tej Bahadur Sapru and M.R. Jayakar. Gandhi’s rise to prominence lies in the Khilafat movement which Jinnah bitterly opposed. Jinnah was a permanent secular liberal while Gandhi adjusted his secularism according to the prevalent condition and the requirement. He was constantly humiliated by congressmen and was not treated nicely.

All this did not dishearten Jinnah to such an extent that he demands a separate homeland for Muslims. Till 1937, Jinnah saw “no difference between the ideals of the Muslim League and of the Congress, the ideal being complete freedom for India. In October 1937, he said that “all safeguards and settlements would be a scrap of paper unless they were backed up by power.” In Britain the parties alternate in holding power. “But such is not the case in India. Here we have a permanent Hindu majority....”This is where Jinnah went horribly wrong. His constant humiliation led him to majority-minority trap. He forgot that the key issue to Muslim development was through empowerment on all fronts including politics. Jinnah was so frustrated and in that he raised the slogan of “permanent Hindu majority”

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, aristocrat by temperament, catholic in taste, sectarian in politics, and the father of Pakistan, was the unlikeliest parent that an Islamic republic could possibly have. He was the most British of the generation of Indians that won freedom in August 1947. As a child in the elite Christian Mission High School in Karachi, he changed his birthday from 20 October to Christmas Day. As a student at Lincoln's Inn, he anglicised his name from Jinnahbhai to Jinnah. He wore Savile Row suits, heavily starched shirts and two-tone leather or suede shoes……Despite being the Quaid-e-Azam, or the Great Leader of Muslims, he drank a moderate amount of alcohol and was embarrassingly unfamiliar with Islamic methods of prayer. He was uncomfortable in any language but English, and made his demand for Pakistan — in 1940 at Lahore — in English, despite catcalls from an audience that wanted to hear Urdu.”

However the status assigned by Indian historians and media-persons to both persons is sharp contradicting. Nehru is a super-hero, jinnah is the all purpose villain. But the reality is If Nehru compromised on minorities’ rights then Jinnah on India’s unity although both men were secularists. A.G. Noorani writes, “Therein lies the tragedy. Nehru harmed secularism by denying the legitimacy of minority rights. Jinnah ruined it by the two-nation theory.” He adds, “ Yet, it is doubtful if, in the entire history of India’s struggle for freedom, anyone else has been subjected to such a sustained, determined denigration and demonization as Jinnah has been from 1940 to this day, by almost everyone - from the leaders at the very top to academics and journalists.”The Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, for a united India failed and dragged it “into the abyss of inevitability.” Everyone including Nehru and Patel had given up; only Maulana Abul Kalam Azad remained opposed to it.

India would have been surely different and better had Nehru taken some realistic steps or had sardar vallabh bhai Patel became the first prime minister of India? Similarly for Jinnah, had he been somewhat less egoist, History would have been different.
[Note:-Being an Indian I had not touched Jinnah’s aspects as a nation head and had only focussed on his role before partition]

20 YEARS OF HAPPINESS,BELIEF AND STRENGTH

After living in the hearts of over a billion people since his teenage days, can he yearn for anything else? Can there still be a void in his life, really, something more to be accomplished in this ephemeral world?

Well, Sachin Tendulkar is a man of possibilities, of the unthinkable: in his quest for perfection, if not greatness, he has shattered stereotypes and smothered barriers; indeed, he has dignified so many records that even history books rise in ovation.

Yet, Sachin might feel he is still an incomplete epic, an unfinished masterpiece: he cannot, and won’t, rest on his laurels until the World Cup too snuggles into his teeming trophy chest. For that, of course, he has to wait two more years; and yet, cruelly, there’s no guarantee that the dream will be fulfilled.

Today, he will complete 20 years at the pinnacle of the sport. One has seen many Sachin gems during his voyage, right from Old Trafford in Manchester to Newlands in Cape Town, to SCG in Sydney to Basin Reserve in Wellington; one has seen many more dangerous-looking deliveries too disintegrate from his presence, bedazzled by his sparkling strokeplay.

The personal favourite, however, is from lower climes, from the Ranji stratosphere: the 1991 final against Kapil Dev’s Haryana. It’s not for sentimental reasons though: it was the first time one saw him bat in flesh[although not me], blood and with gay abandon; it was love at first sight, of course.

Chasing an impossible 355 on the last day, Mumbai were quickly reduced to 34 for three. And then Sachin arrived. The script, as it would happen many times later, immediately changed on its head: it was an innings of pure genius, almost blasphemous to even think possible from a lanky lad’s seemingly too-heavy willow.

That is when one first witnessed the Sachin Tendulkar phenomenon too: with each boundary, the monstrous Wankhede seemed to get smaller and smaller, and noisier and noisier; by the evening, it was nearly full, and the ambience inside had turned electric. Amazingly though, his shots could be heard even over this aching din.

Later, when he would make the progression to live television, the country regularly came to a stop when he got going, and got going only when he stopped, or indeed when an insolent delivery stopped him.

It was the first imprint in the mind of a glorious, free-flowing Sachin: commanding and yet so humble, regal yet so simple. With him, it’s usually a matter of time before the assault reaches a crescendo; every stroke is a high point, every drive the climax.

Alas, however, Mumbai lost by a mere two runs: he was, of course, heroic in defeat, and calm and assured even in the face of imminent doom; that evening, as time stood still, even a veteran like Vengsarkar could only cry like a child.

In many ways, that near-victory heralded a pattern, a vignette for the future: he would be dominant yet remain vulnerable; he would seem all-conquering yet be susceptible. How many times has he been reduced to that little boy on the burning deck? How many times has the team crumbled, and the players become distraught enough to give up the fight after his fall?

Only he knows how many tears he shed each time India spurned a victory; only he knows how many times sleep evaded him after seeing the taunting face of defeat.

In a merciless country, not too surprisingly, that is one of the grouses against him: oh, he hasn’t helped India win many matches; oh, he hasn’t delivered in the big ones. As wicked as that might be, not to forget how untrue as well, nobody seems to notice the mountains on his shoulders when he comes in to bat; one just has to look into his eye to understand that even sleep had run away in fear the previous night.

How many people can withstand this kind of pressure, this size of expectation? Tendulkar doesn’t face just the fury of one bowler, or the cunning of a team; he faces the anxiety of an entire country each time he pads up for India: one false stroke, indeed one good delivery, can wipe out a million smiles faster than a tsunami.

Is it really possible to see the ball through such a crowd? Can the feet move in such a throng? Can the mind communicate its command to the body in such deafening silence? It’s a miracle, really, that Sachin can even walk into the cauldron of a World Cup final; yet he goes in, erases the million pleading eyes, tames the demons and comes back unscathed for another mauling, for another day.

Sachin, the captain

If Sachin was born to bat, Tendulkar was clearly ordained to lead: after all, there is no nuance of the game that escapes his eye. He catches the tiniest weakness in each batsman and unravels the shrewdest and most-guarded secret of every bowler; he has Plan A and Plan Z, and a million ideas in between.

Yet, somehow Sachin has never been a successful captain; more damningly, there’s hardly been a great batsman who has not gone on to become a great captain, with or without the resources.

Sachin’s record shrieks mainly because he is almost always ahead of the game; it may be only into its first over, but he is already thinking of the fifth, the tenth or possibly the fiftieth. His mind is processing data, nay tactics, at the speed of a dual core; sadly, it’s impossible for the lesser mortals to keep up with him. More significantly, perhaps, they may have found it difficult to execute his plans; at the peak of his own batting, of course, India were hardly a bowling side either: his attack was never good enough to account for 20 wickets. What could he do?

Sachin could only despair as his pacers tired, his spinners flagged and other shoulders sagged; as for him, even in defeat he never had to hunt for enthusiasm or energy. Only his body language betrayed the grief, and the quiver in his voice the trauma.

Actually, Tendulkar the captain needed ten other Sachin s to make India the most formidable side in the world.

The moment he realized it was an untenable dream, he gave up captaincy; he dedicated the rest of his life to other captains, in pursuit of the same goal. For Sachin, the planning never ceases, the plotting (of the rival batsman’s downfall) is an unending process.

Indeed, he remains the biggest cog in the think-tank; not a single stratagem is devised without a little finetuning by him, not a single match has been won without a particularly sweet coup from him. Sachin has always been the captain of the team without officially being one.

He is not Sachin

As the advancing years slowly rendered him back to mortality, he encounters a new charge: he is not the same batsman anymore; he doesn’t bat like he used to. True, this is not Sachin at all; this is some other imposter batting in his frame, scoring the same number of runs but in a much, much more human way.

Those who have seen the real thing up close, of course, will lament in hope; those who have heard the crack of his rasping shots will continue to long for the vintage little boy: the others can only snigger and make crude remarks about his role in the team.

Luckily, just a couple of weeks ago, Hyderabad happened, the 175 materialized; let us, however, be assured that it was an accident, that we may not see it again, at least not in a hurry; but yes, it very clearly showed that the old little Sachin still resides in Tendulkar’s body.

The bitter truth, however, is that it’s not the same body any longer. In fact, it has probably been dissected more than even his own batting; there isn’t a single part inside which hasn’t seen an injury or met a surgeon. He has gone through so much pain that it’s a marvel that he can even walk, forget run or play.

Indeed, there came a time when he couldn’t even lift a spoon with his left hand; the tennis elbow was so excruciating and humbling that he actually thought he could never wield a bat again. In his mind, the end had already etched in big, bold letters. Yet, Sachin didn’t give up; he had come on a mission to this planet and he would finish it.

Eventually, through true grit and a numbing fitness regime, he got his elbow back on its feet. He was tempted to use a lighter bat but he gave up the idea almost the next instant; now THAT wouldn’t be Sachin: he subtracted a few dynamic strokes, including the stunning lofted drive over mid-on against pacers, and added a few pedestrian ones.

Runs started coming from behind the wicket, rather than from the front; the booming cover-drives and cascading straight-drives are a distant dream now. Why, he seems to have even lost that special ability to read the ball before it was delivered, or be in position to play before it reached him. Yet, the hundreds keep coming almost as if out of their own will.

What else could one want? What else could one ask of him? Well, how about turning back the clock and becoming that precocious kid all over again? Yes, we want the little Sachin, just one more time. For ever.