Saturday, May 29, 2021

BookMarks #83: The Great Train Journey

Title: The Great Train Journey 
Author: Ruskin Bond 
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Anthology 
Published: 2018 

After the heavy duty Paradoxical PM and the prevailing covid news all around, it was time to try to relax. And that’s how once again I found myself in the familiar world of Ruskin Bond’s writings. 

The Great Train Journey is a collection of 14 short stories entwined by the Indian Railways encompassing the trains, tracks, stations, and the journeys. In this short story collection, read a a few new ones and got reacquainted with some old ones. And there were repetitions with the stories themselves. 

I think there are at least three where the key plot is driving the leopard out of the tunnel before the dragon like train moves along. And I found Deoli and Shamli to be identical stations – having a station master’s office, a waiting room, a tea stall and few dogs, where the trains stopped for ten minuted but no one ever got on or off. Of course there is one key difference – the author never gets off at Deoli but in Shamli he does! 

It is this familiarity which I guess keeps bringing me back to the works of Mr. Bond! And as he has quoted in the Introduction, these stories also bring back the times “When life was not so full of care and there was time to stand and stare” 

Previously on BookMarks The Paradoxical Prime Minister 
Others works by Ruskin Bond on BookMarks 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

BookMarks #82: The Paradoxical Prime Minister

Title: The Paradoxical Prime Minister – Narendra Modi and His India 
Author: Shashi Tharoor 
Genre: Non-fiction, Politics, India 
Published: 2018 

The Paradoxical PM is a critique of the first four year of Mr. Narendra Modi’s term as India’s Prime Minister by Shashi Tharoor, a member of the Opposition and a former Union minister. So while, he has a given a disclaimer upfront, the book has to be read with the background of an upcoming election (2019). 

The author states that “everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts”. But whom does one believe for the facts! After all given the echo chambers that the web has transformed into and the varying degrees of inherent “Confirmation Bias” that everyone has, getting the real facts is an onerous ask! 

Dr. Tharoor covers the various issues raised during the tenure (2104-18) attempting to highlight the paradox between what is said and what has been done. No issue is left untouched – cow, muslims, Bharat Mata Ki Jai, the Constitution, Hindu rashtra, women’s rights, demonetization, health, education, newspapers and media, governance, minimum governance. foreign relations et al. Here Dr. Tharoor has provided a critique of the government policies and in some areas a good summary of what should be India’s vision. 

A couple of lines which I really liked in the book. 
  • it is the idea that a nation may endure differences of caste, creed, colour, culture, cuisine, conviction, costume and custom, and still rally around a consensus 
  • in a democracy you don’t really need to agree—except on the ground rules of how you will disagree. 
The author has summarized the tenure as “in the end, therefore, he must be judged for himself; since he claims all successes as his own, his transcendent failures must inevitably also be laid at his own door". making the book an apt reading in these Covid times. The combination of arrogance and ineptitude is certainly deadly. 

Of course, there are things unsaid. Like the areas in which the current government couldn’t really do much because of various legacy issues created by the previous regimes. While Dr. Tharoor has highlighted all the failings, the fact that the government still got re-elected in 2019 (with an increased majority) says a lot about the Opposition’s terrible messaging to the voters. The Opposition parties certainly need an image sprucing and better communication. 

Overall, an interesting critique of the Government!

Previously on BookMarks: Think Straight 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Road To Tokyo: Episode 18

The second wave (seems more like a tsunami) of Covid-19 has created havoc in India. Help for oxygen, hospital beds, medicines are all what the social media is talking about. It has also led to more and more restrictions in terms of movement and supplies. And as a collateral damage it has also severely impacted India’s Olympics preparations and qualifiers. Certainly there is more confusion now about the Games than ever before, especially about the participation and travel. 

Meanwhile on the field, these are the major updates for our Indian contingent since Episode 17. 

New Qualifiers 
  • Sailing: Through the Mussanah Cup, India has qualified in three events. Nethra Kumanan becomes the first Indian female to qualify for Olympics sailing, after earning the Quota in Women’s Laser Radial. KC Ganapathy & Varun Thakkar have qualified for the Mens 49er race. V Sarvanan qualified for the Mens Laser race. 
  • Wrestling: Anshu Malik (Women’s Freestyle 57 KG) & Sonam Malik (Women’s Freestyle 62 KG) have booked their Quota places at the Asian Qualifiers. This is in addition to the four Quota places earned earlier though the World Qualifiers. There is one more World Qualifying event in May to complete the set. India also had a good outing at the Asian Wrestling Championships but given the depleted field these results should not be an indicator of actual form. 
Other Updates 
  • Weightlifting: At the Asian Championships, Mirabai Chanu created a new World Record in Clean & Jerk section. 
  • Archery: At the World Cup stage in Guatemala, the Indian archers secured 3 of the 5 Gold medals in the Olympics events. However, quite a few of the leading teams were missing in action. 
  • Hockey: India had good tour of Argentina and secured 2 wins against the reigning Olympics champions in the Hockey Pro League. But the prevailing Covid situation has led to the postponement of their next European leg. 
  • Gymnastics: Pranati Nayak is in contention for the Continental Quota, although it is yet to be confirmed. 
Covid-19 impact 
  • Judo: The India contingent had to be withdrawn from the Asia-Oceania Qualifiers due to Covid cases in the team. 
  • Athletics: The Indian team could not participate in the World Relay championships due to travel restrictions. 
  • Badminton: The Indian Open which was to be qualifying event for the Olympics has been cancelled leaving just the Malaysian Open & Singapore Open as the final two qualifying events. 
Squad Announcement 
Shooting: India have announced a 15 member squad for the Olympics. There have been 2 Quota changes. Chinki Yadav has been replaced by Elavenil Valerian. Manu Bhaker will take the 25m pistol spot instead of Chinki. Meawhile Elavenil, who is ranked No. 1 in the world replaces Anjum Moudgil in the 10m Air Rifle category. Anjum will participate in the 50m 3 Positions instead. India has 2 entries in both mixed 10m Pistol & Rifle events. Here is the full squad. 

10m air rifle (M): Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak Kumar. Reserves: Sandeep Singh, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar. 
50m rifle 3-position (M): Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar. Reserves: Swapnil Kusale, Chain Singh. 
10m air pistol (M): Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma. Reserves: Shahzar Rizvi, Om Prakash Mitharval. 
Skeet (M): Angad Vir Singh Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan. Reserves: Gurjoat Singh Khangura, Sheeraz Sheikh. 
10m air rifle (W): Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan. Reserves: Anjum Moudgil, Shreya Agrawal. 
50m rifle 3-position (W): Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant. Reserves: Sunidhi Chauhan, Gaayathri Nithyanandam. 
10m air pistol (W): Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal. Reserves: P Shri Nivetha, Shweta Singh. 
25m sports pistol (W): Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker. Reserves: Chinki Yadav, Abhidnya Patil. 
10m air rifle (X): Divyansh Singh Panwar, Elavenil Valarivan; Deepak Kumar, Anjum Moudgil. 
10m air pistol (X): Saurabh Chaudhary, Manu Bhaker; Abhishek Verma, Yashaswini Singh Deswal. 

In Other News 
North Korea has pulled out of the Games! What happens to their earned Quotas is still to be decided. And thus improving the medal hopes of some of the Indian contingent. 

Indian Contingent: Sports - 10, Events – 49, Entries - 64, Participants – 90 

Praying for the Covid situation in India to improve fast. Even sports is not able to provide a balm in the current environment.