Friday, June 27, 2008

A 'green' experience

A few days ago a movie making competition was announced. The topic was Environment friendly X. 'X' being my company where i work. The following is the script or call it the story on which the movie was made. Its a small one - tailored to fit into 7 mins of time. It isn't such a masterpiece (wrote a better one before this, read 'My angel has died'), but what is interesting here is the execution of the movie. The characters as you would come to know are not played by humans but rather depicted by fingers. Our entire 'studio' was a small whiteboard on which a white paper was put. Hands had been 'dressed' up in surgical gloves applied with paint - black, green and white. The best part was the use of mobile phones and small LED torches for lights. It was a good experience. And, yesterday i had my first encounter with the high tech gadgetry that is involved in movie making. I had been to a editing studio to dub my voice for the character 'green'. Today the second phase of editing will start where the audio and video clips would be spliced together. Let's hope something nice comes out of this. Here's the story:
...Ages ago, mighty forces created a place called Earth. The earth was ruled by Emperor Green. Verdant, pure and healthy; his glory was in the flight of birds, the rush of rivers and the smell of soil. The sylvan empire attracted many – some small, some big, some young, some old; and it became a home for all. All was peace until one dark day, King Black invaded with his forces and lay siege to the empire. A pitched battle followed where Green fought the Black with all his might but soon his powers started waning and he got bruised and hurt. Green was losing!
Green, panting, ‘Who are you and what do you want?’
‘Your time is up Green. I shall rule the Earth. This Earth shall be mine and so shall be your subjects’, said Black.
‘I won’t let that happen. My subjects shall never bow before you.’
‘I laugh at your innocence Green. It is your subjects who have called me. Look around. Your subjects have changed everything. They have cut your trees. They pollute the air. Your water is deadly. They are my slaves already!’
Watching the battle from a distance, X knitted its brows in concern. Something needs to be done. He joined forces with Green to fight the Black. Green surprised at this intrusion asked, ‘Who are you?’
‘My name is X.’
‘Why are you helping me?’
‘Don’t be afraid I am your friend.’
Black, ‘Hello! Who do we have here!? X! I think I have heard about you. Aren’t you the one who has stepped up the efforts to become Carbon neutral!?’
‘Yes I am the one. And it is not just about going Carbon neutral, we are a front-runner in implementing environmental-friendly practices’
‘I can’t believe I have a supporter here’, a surprised Green said.
X said, ‘Don’t be surprised my friend. I have stories to prove my loyalty to you.’
‘Once upon a time there was a SE called Tom. He had a curse on him that he shall waste electricity. He would not shut down the pc, keep the lights on and the fans running. And when it came to my notice, my green army went to him and made him aware of his doings. Today, at X people take care to save power.’
‘That was good of you. People don’t realize how much it hurts me when they waste power.’
‘And that’s not all. Tom had other things to learn too. He had picked up the bad habit of wasting paper. Unnecessary print outs and thoughtless use of writing paper was fun for him. We taught him about reusing paper and that wastage of paper means killing of trees.’
A frowning Black said, ‘Do you think that will be enough?’
‘We have at least made a start. Come to our campuses and you shall find that we even recycle waste water to be used in gardening and cleaning purposes. We have adopted the practice of rain harvesting too. Our buildings are energy efficient. We paint our buildings in pastel shades, to reflect heat. There are also skylights for the optimal use of sunlight.’
Black chuckled. ‘Plenty of stories! But of what use, eh X!? As long as people like Tom are there things shan’t change.’
‘Yes,’ inquired Green, ‘what happened of Tom? Did he change? Or did he go back to his old ways?’
X smiled. ‘You would be happy to know that Tom has gone green and these days he spreads the message of environment friendly practices.’
‘Damn!’ said Black. ‘But I won’t let you win.’
‘You are mistaken Black’, said Green now regaining strength, ‘As long as people like X are with me the game shall stay balanced.’
The game is balanced. Which side are you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

भीगा भीगा मौसम

आज मौसम फिर भीग गया…
सर्द हवाएं कुछ कह रही हैं
दिल में कुछ अरमान फिर जाग उठे
आज उड़ने को जी करता है…
कहीं दूर बहुत दूर
इन बादलों पे सवार
हाथों में हाथ
कुछ परिंदों के साथ
दूर बहुत दूर उड़ने को जी करता है…
मीठा है बारिश का पानी
ठंडी है इसकी छुअन
इस पानी की थिरकन पे
कुछ गाने को दिल करता है
हवाओं के ज़ोर पे
दूर बहुत दूर उड़ने को जी करता है…
मैंने अपनी आंखें बंद करलीं
सिर्फ एक एहसास जगा रखा है
कभी खुशबू, कभी सौंधी ज़मीन
के होने का पता चलता है
इन दरख्तों की मस्ती में खेलूँ
झरने की किलकारियों से कहूं
आज सावन में भीगने को जी करता है
दूर बहुत दूर उड़ने को जी करता है…
बाहें फैलाये मैं खड़ा हूँ
हवाओं ने मुझे अपनी आगोश में लिया है
चेहरे पे टपकती बूंदे मुझे भिगो रही हैं
मेरे गम कतरा कतरा ज़मीन में बह रहे हैं
मैं ज़र्रा ज़र्रा खुश हो रहा हूँ
जैसे होश से जुदा होता है कोई
मैं अपनी बेहोशी में कुछ कह रहा हूँ
इस रस में भीग जाऊं आज
बे-फिक्र, बे-राह, बे-रोक
बस उड़ता चलूँ आज
दूर बहुत दूर…
कहीं दूर बहुत दूर…


"I don't think the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government can ever reach a decision. The Congress party has two mouths and is playing a double game. I really wish L K Advani becomes India's next Prime Minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least my pain and daily suffering would ease then."
Afzal, who has been convicted in the December 13 attack on Parliament, has cried for attention. The BJP and a section of media have responded with alacrity by voicing their perplexity at the delay caused by the UPA government in executing the death penalty. The others have clamored against this ‘blood lust’ and are appalled by the insensitivity shown in this case.
I haven’t followed the Afzal episode very closely and so cannot afford any observation here; but, certainly, after going through some of the stuff thrown up by Google there seems to me that there is sufficient doubt with regards to the execution of the case and there is quite a sizeable community out there which is voicing its concern over this issue.
But even if we assume that Afzal is indeed guilty and that the death penalty in his case is justified, isn’t it going bit too far by constantly asking for his death, and pushing him in front of others who are waiting for their turn at the hangman’s? He has filed a petition before the President asking for clemency and there are many other clemency appeals along with his. Can’t we just wait a little longer before a decision is taken on this matter? Why, indeed, this ‘blood lust’?
There are so many angles to this issue that it does deserve more than a cursory look. Should Afzal’s hanging be demanded when on the other hand a pardon is being sought for Sarabjit? Sarabjit Singh has been held guilty for bombings in Lahore and Multan in 1990 that left 14 people dead. He was to be executed on April 30. However, the intervention of the Indian government led to the execution being postponed by Pakistan. Afzal is convicted for conspiracy and treason against the Indian State. The Supreme Court says that, "…the incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This, even after there are plenty of questions still unanswered in Afzal’s prosecution case. What happens to the collective conscience of the society when after some years of hanging Afzal it comes to light that he was actually innocent?
As said earlier, even if Afzal’s guilt is corroborated, his execution before others in the list seems totally unexplicable. A death penalty is given in the rarest of rare case. So, if there are twenty people who have been awarded the death sentence; each of the twenty crimes must have been of the highest order deserving such a sentence. Now to pick and choose one among them for a prior execution over others defeats the very premise on which a death sentence is awarded. The moment Afzal’s execution is pushed up the order on the executioner’s list; the nature of Afzal’s crime would be deemed to be far more serious thus implying that the rest of the convicts did not commit a ‘rarest of rare’ crime! It is absurd to first classify a crime as ‘rarest of rare’ and then again choose from such the ‘rarest of the rarest of rare’. The fact that the parliament, the heart of Indian democracy, was attacked is not reason enough for an early execution of Afzal. This fact does not make Afzal’s case any more special than that of the person, ahead of him on the death list, who might have brutally killed someone thus earning a death penalty for himself.
It doesn’t smell fishy here. Rather, it stinks of cheap politics. Afzal’s fate has too many threads attached to it. There is the threat of making a martyr out of him if he gets hanged. This would be too hot to handle in the already volatile Kashmir. Letting him off with a life sentence might appear as an act of vote bank politics; and at the same time not letting him off might also result the same with only the difference that the vote bank will now appear saffron instead of green.
In all this, the fight for providing Afzal a just trial has been lost. What awaits him is indeed a matter of conjecture.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The extraordinary leagues

"Cricket is officially played in whites…" Not any more. It’s not just the colors that have invaded the gentleman’s game but cute girls too in teeny-weeny clothes and stylish pom-poms have found a place in the field. IPL has changed every thing. Or at least the myths surrounding the format of the game have definitely got shattered. A whirlwind romance which started on the weekending April 18th ended on a high with the least expected team lifting the trophy!
IPL started more as a necessity than as an invention on its own. The rival ICL needs to be given some credit for its brave foray that brought the BCCI in a huddle to spawn the IPL. It is interesting to note here that the man credited to have spun the magic of IPL, Lalit Modi, had in fact mooted the idea of a city based league almost a decade ago. But as it happened, nothing came out of it. Call it vindication or luck, IPL in all its Eastman colors has catapulted Modi to never before stardom. And Modi’s efforts too have not gone unnoticed. In almost every match Modi could be spotted near the player’s dugout. Even during the presentation ceremony of the final match he acted almost like an attendant handing out the medals and mementos to the BCCI chief who did the formalities of congratulating the players and the officials.
Coming back to ICL, the one factor which made the difference for IPL vis-à-vis ICL was that it was not a rebel. IPL was very much within the system of BCCI and thus had the all important official sanction to convince other cricket boards to allow their players to join the league. The financial might of the board was another factor on which the IPL rode to success. Modi and his team did not just hijack the initial roll of ICL but outdid it in every scope and manner. Whereas the ICL was just happy in offering the novelty of T20 cricket in a city based league format, IPL joined hands with Bollywood to present the ‘manoranjan ka baap’. Two biggest entertainers of the country were synergizing together to dole out 45 days of unrelenting thrill and drama. ICL naturally had to bow out even before the action had started. Subash Chandra might have indeed wished more but ICL failed to dish any, other than the fact that the person so often seen quipping these lines is the owner of one of the most profitable IPL teams.
IPL has created such an aura about itself that to create a space beside it would take a lot from the ICL. Again, since IPL in its success has made the ICL appear such a failed cousin, Bollywood stars might shy away from lending their glamour as also the corporate which would do a lot of thinking before putting its money in the beleaguered league. Also, with the ICC making it difficult for a contracted player to join the rebel league; any possibility, even if remote, of players joining ICL has been further weakened by the lucre on offer from the IPL.
So is this the end of ICL? I don’t think so. Prior to IPL, ICL had two tournaments of T20 cricket and the second tournament was quite a success after the inclusion of Lahore Badshahs in its portfolio of teams. The inclusion of an all-Pakistani outfit in ICL brought back the flavor of an Indo-Pak rivalry to the cricket field. This is something which is missing in the IPL. ICL should look to leverage more form this ‘extra’ and take the competition to a different level. Another idea which has come up is that of the ICL champions playing against the IPL winners. This won’t happen unless ICL gains in stature and repute on a par with IPL, else the only beneficiary in such an arrangement would be ICL, and IPL won’t like to see ICL get attention by riding on the former’s fame. So what should Subash Chandra do? Take the ICL to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and extend the idea of Lahore Badshahs by having similar Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi outfits. Getting the playing fields could be a problem but just as in India where not all cricket fields are under BCCI, fields in these countries which are not under the control of their respective boards could be used for ICL matches. If required, ICL could even try getting couple of fields from the cricket boards by buying them on lease. Corporate of these countries might also take interest in this venture after having seen the success of IPL. Local celebrities can be pulled into to add color.
ICL should pull out all stops to stand up as tall as IPL otherwise the Darwinian truth might not take long to consume it.