Australia draws first blood

The first Ashes test is now behind us and after a long time the Australian team has drawn first blood in an Ashes series and looks like seriously winning it and regaining the urn.

Midnight Breakfast in their Ashes article dated 21st November 2013 had predicted that this Ashes series might belong to the “Mavericks” (players with X-factor) like Warner, Johnson, Watson and Pietersen.

We had also mentioned the names of Michael Clarke, Stuart Broad as impact making players.

Most of our predictions have come true with Warner, Johnson, Clarke and Broad all performing for their respective sides.

The so called “Bad Boy” of Aussie cricket, Warner was till recently making all the headlines for the wrong reasons. He was picked in this series on the back of his great domestic performances and he did not disappoint the faith of the selectors. He hit a quick century in Australian second innings to set up a mammoth total for England to chase along with captain fantastic Clarke (who also scored a century). He had also made an elegant 45 in the first innings and took some very important catches.

Johnson who was also making a return to Aussie test squad bowled with great pace and gave a dose of chin music to the English batsmen and one can say literally blew them off. He returned with 9 wickets in the match and also scored 64 runs in the Aussie first innings to bail his team out of a poor position of 132/6 along with Brad Haddin.

Stuart Broad who was termed as the villain by Aussie media for his controversy in the Ashes first leg overcame the boos and hostile reception of the Gabba crowd to take 9 wickets in the match. He was also among the very few England batsmen who looked a little comfortable against the body line bowling by Mitchell Johnson.

We had also predicted this Ashes to be very competitive and not one sided affair as the few earlier ones. Australian victory has only but cemented this fact and set up the stage beautifully for cricket lovers to sit back and enjoy this intense rivalry.

The caravan now moves to the beautiful Adelaide Oval where the England team will feel a little comfortable as Adelaide has historically been a batting beauty and also known to assist spinners which will bring England’s trump card Swann into the picture.

So we all hope that in spite of the laid back background and seagulls on the ground, the game is a closely fought one.

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Will this Ashes series be remembered by the name of the Mavericks!!

It is time to renew the greatest rivalry in cricket i.e. between England and Australia; yes it is time for “The Ashes”

Historically the Ashes series is played in gap of 18 and 30 months biennially in England and Australia because of the reverse weather seasons in the two countries. But this year it is been played in less than 5 months as historically the Australia leg has been played before the World Cup which will be held in Australia. As the World Cup is going to be held in Australia in 2015, the series has been scheduled now.

Every Ashes in the past have produced some phenomenal performances and it has been responsible in making or breaking careers of many cricketers of both the countries.

In the past some individuals have had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the series and that particular series is still remembered by the name of that impact player. The 1930 Ashes is still remembered as the Bradman’s Ashes, 1981 as Botham’s Ashes and 2005 as Flintoff’s Ashes to name a few.

This time we have a feeling that this Ashes will belong to the so called “Mavericks”, Shane Watson, David Warner and Kevin Pietersen.

Shane Watson: Arguably one of the most talented all-rounders going around currently in cricket, Watson is an impact player who can turn the match into Australia’s favour if it is his day. In his 46 test matches, he has scored 2998 runs at an average of 36 and taken 64 wickets at an average of 31. These statistics do not justify the talent of this player and the Australians might be hoping that this would be his time and he would be able to turn the fortunes of the Australian team.

David Warner: Often considered the bad boy of Australian cricket, there is no doubting his ability to demolish the opposition bowling attacks. He is an explosive batsman who can tear apart any bowling attacks and can change the course of the game in minutes. Last year was not a good one for him due to his off field antics and was even dropped from the national team on those grounds. But he has fought his way back by scoring heavily for New South Wales in typical Aussie fashion. He looks determined to put his past behind him and let his on field activities make headlines

Kevin Pietersen: He has been dubbed by the legendary Warne and Aussie media as the “Walking Ego”. But even they are aware that they need to keep his batting in check if they are garnering any hopes of regaining the Ashes. He is one of the best batsman going around and the challenge of playing against arch rivals Australia often brings the best out of him. Pietersen would be hoping to continue his good form against the Aussies in this series also. He is also achieving a landmark of playing his 100th test match for England in the very first match in Gabba.

But cricket is not an individual sport and these players will require the help of other players to win the series for their side.

Some other players who could make the difference:

Australia:

Michael Clarke: Australian captain has been in sublime form in test cricket for the past 2 years and he would be hoping to continue the same

Bailey: He would be making his test debut in the first test and would be hoping to continue his great ODI cricket form in tests too.

Mitchell Johnson: He is making a comeback in test cricket and would be rearing to unleash his pace against the English batting

England:

Ian Bell: After his initial struggles he has come into his own and was the best batsman in the last Ashes. He would be hoping to continue the same this series also

Stuart Broad: Australian media has given him a pasting after his controversy in the last series. He would be hoping to silent them by his on field performance.

This Ashes series will be battle between Australian bowling against the English batting.

Midnight breakfast predicts a well fought series and we expect it to be a draw with England regaining the Ashes. But England remains the favourite because of their form. Only time will tell who the eventual winners are and whether the Mavericks will be able to stamp their authority on the outcome of the series.

ET article points out issues earlier raised by Midnight Breakfast

Midnight Breakfast had earlier posted on the poor state of infrastructure in India and the urgent need to improve the same dated 2nd November 2013 with the title “Infrastructure or Inferior structure”

https://midnightbreakfast.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/infrastructure-or-inferior-structure/?preview=true&preview_id=677&preview_nonce=cb9da35de2&post_format=standard

ET article points out least 6 projects of the Golden Quadrilateral Project that are running behind schedule by around 9 years

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=ETNEW&BaseHref=ETM/2013/11/11&PageLabel=23&EntityId=Ar02300&ViewMode=HTML

Golden Quadrilateral Project aims at connecting the four metropolitan cities of India which as was highlighted by Midnight Breakfast’s article is important for a developing country like ours.

This delay again raises the question of bureaucracy,  red tap ism etc.

The now well documented “policy paralysis” has indeed paralysed some vital organs of a vibrant economy which is now sputtering at a meagre sub 5% growth, well below par for a country of the potential of India.

UPA govt and; (Absence of) Foreign Policy

Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and now Sri Lanka ( After India`s vote against the pearl shaped island nation) brings to the fore the absolute lack of India` s foreign policy.

Pakistan continuously needles India all along its border with India knowing very well India` s spineless response with the PM shamelessly indulging in pointless `chat` with his pakistani counterpart even as Indian nationals getting killed by Pakistani terrorists. Standard reply being “lets give peace a chance” or the Pakistan government stance is different and the attacks are the handiwork of few radical elements.

China` s aggresive stance along its border with India in the well documented Daulat Beg Oldie incident points to heightened level of confidence over the meekness of India` s potential response. Standard reply being such incidents keep on happening (& pvtly that India cannot afford to confront China).

Our PM may just skip his meeting at the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Sri Lanka. Predicrably, considering the looming elections Tamil Nadu based political parties (in an attempt by the DMK to shift focus from the gargantuan 2G spectrum scam as it faces an impending whitewash in the upcoming elections)have started dictating what to do to our government and the PM guess what? Has given in to their demands reinforcing the notion of absence of independence of foreign policy. India being a federation of states will have consultations between the centre and states but dictation of foreign policy to centre and its acceptance by the centre is bizzare.

Sri Lankan Tamils are not even Indian nationals whereas when Indian nationals are getting slaughtered the same PM doesnt find it necessary to skip his meeting with his Pakistan counterpart. Why the double standards? As i write this PM has decided to send his external affairs minister to the same CHOGM meet. What for ?

After economic policy failures, repeated foreign policy blunders of the present government points to the rot that has set in.

Diwali-“A Gateway for Inner Enlightenment”

Why do we need a festival to realize that we exist? A big Question mark…Life has become so messed up that we all have just forgotten to live. Every one of us has become slaves & ultimately a mere machine.

Our Life has a superb cast, but we can’t figure out the plot.

Every festival in India is steeped deep in history and the festival of Diwali is no exception. The celebration of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India when it was an important harvesting season. As the religion developed, various mythological stories and explanations were attributed to this festival to give it religious validation.

The only reason for this write up is, Realization of our existence!! Diwali as a festival brings everything. It is called the festival of lights. But we call it, “The festival of Enlightenment”

Enjoy Yourself. These are the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead. We should make it a point that we live each day as a blessing rather than a formality. Let us all mark this Auspicious Festival as a gateway of togetherness & a feeling called LIFE. Live & let Live should be the motto & each day should be celebrated rather than Passed. All are one & Diwali is for all. We should not forget that even Diwali has Ali in it.

MIDNIGHT BREAKFAST WISHES YOU ALL

“A VERY HAPPY DIWALI & A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR”

Infrastructure or Inferior structure

Today India is one of the major developing countries in the world and catching the eye of every major economy and business corporations- The MNCs

India is considered to be gifted with a very talented demography and with it the country’s economic growth is expected to be prolific in the coming years and decades to follow.

But for this to be truly attainable on a sustainable basis the major point required by a developing country is good infrastructure and more essentially for a country like ours in which almost 70% of the total population is still living in the villages. These villages need to be interconnected with the metro cities to achieve all round sustainable growth. We need to build many other laterals apart from a few golden and silver quadrilateral highways. This is very vital from free and efficient movement of goods across the country thereby boosting overall trade and industry.
Also the intra city/town infrastructure needs to be excellent so that people do not waste their precious time just in traveling and improve overall efficiency and output of the workforce.

But is this really the case in India??

Let’s consider and analyse by narrowing it down to the city I live in, Mumbai!! The city of dreams, The financial hub of India, One of the most important city of India.

Recently we heard a case of a big ditch that got created on the flyover in Goregaon. The repair took 3 weeks and the people faced problems of huge traffic snarls for that period of time.
In the last five years we have often heard of building structures collapsing which are not older than 15-20 years. We also hear about the poor planning of the city roads for traveling.

After hearing this we start wondering whether this is the same country which boasts of building structures like The Taj Mahal, Sanchi Stupa, Qutub Minar which have stood the tests of time and also talk about well-planned cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (Now in Pakistan). These things were built in ancient times and are still standing. But after so many years and technological developments we are building weaker infrastructure than those build in ancient times.

We are forced to ask is this “Infrastructure or inferior structure”??

Inferior structure of our government and regulatory bodies, Inferior structure of a highly corrupted society, Inferior structure of a weak democracy!!

Please give us your views as to who are to be blamed for this state of affairs.

Life in the fast lane in Mumbai – Running to reach on time to work or Running towards death!!

Lifestyle disease is no longer a strange term to we Mumbaikars. The principal cause is ‘Stress’. Stress affects every sphere of our life starting from health to happiness. It leads to hypertension, diabetes mental depression, obesity, chronic diseases and other stress related chronic diseases which are popularly known as “Lifestyle diseases.” We all know how fatal they are.

In a city like Mumbai, where people swear by each minute, there’s one major factor contributing to the stress levels of its citizens apart from the lifestyle habits that’s not being discussed and considered with due importance. The government and the municipal bodies also have their role in it.

‘It’s the time and manner we Mumbaikars commute to work.’

About Fifty seven per cent of Mumbai’s 125 lakh resident population lives within three kilometres of their place of work; 69% within five kilometres and 81% within 10 kilometres. 89% live within fifteen kilometres from their place of work and only 1% lives beyond.

44% do not use any other mode of transport for their daily work commute, they walk. 3.1% use bicycles, 2.8% use personal motorcars and 8.5% use public transport such as auto-rickshaws and taxis. The rest use the suburban railway system and BEST buses.

These statistics already reveal a lot. But there is one more statistic that needs to be mentioned before embarking of the topic of this write-up. As per a recent survey and estimate by a leading publication house there are about 75 lakh people who travel by suburban railway system daily, nearly equal to the rest of Indian Railway system users. At peak period extended over three and a half hours in the morning and another three and a half hours in the evening the crowd that travels in the tidal direction is about 360 thousand persons per hour while the capacity of the system is close to about 160 thousand per hour and will attain a capacity of 180 thousand per hour by 2014.

During the off-peak period, the frequency of trains is reduced, but consequently the crowd density in the trains and on platforms does not reduce significantly. There are about 40 lakh bus commuters, three-fourths of who travel by the suburban railway.

With this as background, let us get on with the topic.

Practically everyone walks in Mumbai even most of car users and two wheeler users—short and very short distances if not those three kilometres. There is no doubt that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has improved footpath surface by providing good quality and aesthetics interlocking concrete paver blocks but at many places poor adherence to specifications in laying them have resulted in dangerously unevenness of the surface. These new narrow footpaths have not only retained older encroachments but added new ones, compelling pedestrians to walk on the carriageways. Motorcars do get parked on the footpaths which is not at all safe or comfortable. Many places have garbage dumped on the footpaths and the stench and unhygienic conditions also gets a pedestrian go on the carriageway; the stench itself creates some degree of stress. There is this lurking fear that one may get hit by an heavy vehicle, car or two wheeler, good reason for STRESS to get built within without realizing it.

Waiting for a bus and boarding it is also stressful as the noise level on the roads are unbearable, fear of bus starting off before one has boarded the bus and then the noise level within the bus after boarding it. Crowd density in the bus is not comparable to the one in railway system but during peak time it is still high and this also is a reason for creating STRESS.

Negotiating the crowd on staircases, foot over bridges, platforms and the train plus the anxiety while boarding a train or getting down the whole process is STRESSFUL

With walking back home from the railway stations and bus stops becoming an tedious task, not getting a taxi or auto-rickshaw, especially when it rains which keeps roads wet and full of potholes is also a reason adding to STRESS. After reaching home, is there scope to DE-STRESS ?

The noise levels from loudly playing TVs and sound systems give no respite. The only time one can really de-stress is at night time as defined in the noise rule—10pm to 6am. The quietness does provide the necessary restful sleep to cope up with the onslaught of next day’s series of stresses. 
The remaining stress accumulates resulting in ailments such as cardio-vascular as well as high blood pressure, opening up possibilities of stroke. Stresses also triggers off diabetes.

Please give a thought about the analogy I have cited below when you travel in a Mumbai local the next time.

Airline pilots have a strict schedule of number of flying hours they can log per week. After all they do carry between 100 to 300 passengers and their lives cannot be put to risk due to physical fatigue of the pilot. There is also a co-pilot. They are also provided with many other luxuries. All this for persons who are actually concentrating only during landings and take-offs. Most other times the plane is flying on auto-pilot.

On the other hand the motorman of the  railway system is not only stressed up like any citizen of Mumbai for various reasons mentioned above but has to be drive the train with full attention all the time. Slowing down, speeding up at different locations, stopping at stations and starting off every three to five minutes, keep attention on the tracks for any technical snag and possible track crossings by commuters lost in thoughts or in conversations on mobile phones or listening to music on earphones. A motorman has barely three to five minutes before the return trip begins. This motorman carries about 3,500 persons and sometimes nearer 5,000 in the train he is driving. I need not discuss the amenities provided if any to these motormen to de-stress.

The amenities and breaks in work are after all to de-stress themselves and lower the risks to commuters, is it not? 

Railways apart, what is government doing to lower the stress in the stressed up Mumbaikar?

A lot is needed and can be done for a more efficient and stress free transport system for the financial capital of India.

The government seems to be busy trying to meet the needs of the very small section of our population, perhaps not realizing that its inaction is leading to a majority of people getting stressed up affecting their health. Under Article 21 of Indian Constitution that is unacceptable.

Kindly share your views and opinions for the same.