Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King Lives On….In Our Hearts.

“We are the World….” he sang. We were the World to him. Now he is no longer in this World.

There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

There were none to lend a helping hand to him when he was down with financial troubles. Creditors were always circling around him like vultures. They still are.

That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

That change never happened because he was the only one who believed in it.

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race.

The world was a better place when he was there. Now that he has gone, the world will never be the same again.

Nevertheless, the King of Pop lives on having moon-walked into our hearts, forever.

Long live the King! May his soul rest in peace.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Formula One has averted the crisis - for now

The revolt has been put down, compromises has been made and the show goes on. The eight teams have agreed to participate in the 2010 Formula One World Championship until 2012 and eventually cut costs to the levels of the early 1990’s. In return, the FIA has agreed to impose no further regulations. The 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to 29 April 2009 will be in force for 2010 and onwards.

The big cheer is that FIA President Max Mosley will not to stand for re-election in October this year.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Formula One no more!

The news hasn’t sunk in yet. In fact, it refuses to sink in. A formula one race featuring Williams, Force India and a couple of entrants, is simply not acceptable. It is not the Formula 1 that I am so familiar with, having watched the likes of Benetton’s, Jordan’s, Minardi’s, McLaren’s, Renault’s, BMW’s, Ferrari’s jostling for positions at the first corner.

I am still hoping that the FIA and FOTA would put aside their differences and continue racing. But that would only satisfy my greed.

Watching cars trundling around in a procession is not exactly exhilarating. At one point in time, certain manufacturers with deep financial pockets had achieved so much of technological development on their cars; they were ahead of others at least by two years. This resulted in the same old teams racking up podium finishes while the rest were just also-rans, filling up the grid. This made Formula 1 boring. In order to bring parity, the FIA continued introducing fresh rule changes almost every year, thereby reducing the technological gap. It almost paid off this year where the Brawn’s have dominated along with the Red Bull and a couple of other manufacturers putting in competitive performances.

But at what cost? The regulations have made the F1 races less thrilling to watch. Technically speaking, the engine size has been constantly whittled down. The cars are no longer as fast as they used to be in the 70’s and the 80’s. Simply putting it, it is no longer the driver stomping on the gas pedal and going as fast as possible, harking back to the old adage: better the driver faster the car. Just look what technology has done these days. There is no point having a supremely gifted driver driving the car because the car is the limiting factor. There is so much of electronics aiding the driver these days; one does not need to be a Senna or Schumacher.

Formula One is supposed to represent the ultimate, to be the most advanced and most competitive racing formula. However, with budget caps and regulations it is no longer Formula One. High end sports cars these days almost match the performances of a Formula One. That should say it all. Formula One is supposed to be “the next level” that is very difficult to reach. Sadly they have it all screwed up.

I have never seen the yellow helmet race, having tuned in to F1 when the red one was making its mark. We will never see them again. I will probably stop watching Formula One as it has come to embody rules, regulations, budgets and restrictions. It is not about racing anymore.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chhattisgarh: Flattering to deceive?

Chhattisgarh, carved out of Madhya Pradesh as the 26th state is largely a forested area dominated by tribals and blessed with rich mineral resources.

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India, the state government has decided to set up four 'Star Industrial Areas in the districts of Bilaspur, Raigarh, Rajnandgaon and Raipur.

Chhattisgarh is rich in minerals. It is endowed with rich deposits of coal, iron ore and bauxite. No wonder Chhattisgarh has integrated steel and aluminium factories. The state also has deposits of copper-ore, manganese ore, rock phosphate and limestone. Most of the mining activity is concentrated in the areas of Raipur (cement), Korba (coal), Durg (iron ore and dolomite) and Bastar (tin and corundum). Though mining holds a bright future for the state, a substantial portion of the regions identified with mineral resources are covered by forest areas and/or occupied by tribal communities, thereby making their extraction impossible.

Anyone reading the above mentioned facts would feel that the state is poised on the cusp of development.

Let’s do a reality check.

I came across a document on the web that labeled Chhattisgarh as “a rich state inhabited by poor people.” It boasts of a Per Capita Income of $ 264 which works out to 72 cents per day. The tribals’ eke out a living by selling forest products. However, even this occupation has been endangered as the government seeks to rehabilitate tribals away from the forests with an eye on the rich mineral deposits. The government has been acquiring land for industrial activities, saying that the ‘industrialization’ would benefit the tribals. I wonder how?

On the other hand, the tribals also have to contend with naxals on one side and the Salwa Judum on the other. They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Reports of Naxals massacring the tribals are plenty and so are the reports that the state government backed civilian militia, the Salwa Judum who loot, murder, rape the tribals regularly with impunity. Ultimately, it works to the government’s advantage as the tribals flee their birthplaces to the neighboring states, thereby posing no threat to the land acquisitions.

The ordeal does not end there. The tribals who have flown the coop to other states are suspiciously looked upon as supporters of naxalites and are being denied basic amenities.

This is the real face of India. The government prefers to cater to mining and industrial lobby rather than the welfare of these dirt poor tribals in Chhattisgarh.

Ramachandra Guha portrays a more vivid picture in his article “A War in the Heart of India.”