Chanderpaul retires..

Last Friday, Shivnarine Chanderpaul bid adieu to international cricket. Not surprisingly, this piece of news didnt receive much media coverage. The local newspapers here were busy analysing Indian cricket teams humiliation down under.

Debuting in 1994, the now 40 year old Chanderpaul nicknamed ‘Tiger’ had a cricketing career spanning more than 2 decades. Famous for having that awkward frontal stance, many Indian cricket fans would remember him as a thorn in the flesh for India while playing the Windies in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Chanderpaul was probably the most underrated cricketer in that 10000 + test runs club. He was just 40 odd runs short of Lara’s test run aggregate when the selectors led by Clive Lloyd decided to pull the rug from under his feet. Tony Cozier has this insightful piece on it.

Known for his unshakeable patience, Chanderpaul would be remembered for sticking to batting basics and grinding the opposition down. Very much in the mould of Kallis, who too retired recently, in terms of temperament, but slightly more unconventional in terms of batting technique and eon’s away from the sheer flamboyance of Lara.

‘Odd – even’ pilot of Delhi

Politicians are expected to have dollops of showmanship in them. Afterall, its their bread and butter to play to the galleries and tom tom any achievement. Except, in this case though, the Delhi government led by CM Kejriwal has gone one step ahead and introduced a discredited idea as a pilot for around a fortnight in the name of reducing air pollution. And expectedly, when the pilot didnt lead to desired results, Kejriwal patted himself anyway saying that congestion had reduced in Delhi.

Remember, it was the SC that initiated the process of ‘CNG’ isation of vehicles plying for commercial purposes way back in 1998 due to alarming levels of air pollution in the capital city state. That led to the state transport buses fleet, auto / taxi fleet etc being ‘CNG’ ised. Now again the judiciary is campaigning for improvments in the air quality of Delhi as the air quality index is worse than even Beijing. It was in response to this that the Delhi government introduced the “odd – even” rule in Delhi. Essentially, this rule meant that odd digit ending liscense plate numbers would be able to ply only on odd days and likewise for even digit ending liscense plates.

First of all, pvt cars contribute an insignificant amount to the total quantum of particulates. Thus, attacking this source is pointless.

Secondly, experience of cities ranging from Mexico City, Paris, Beijing (authorities had taken many other stringent measures to improve air quality around Beijing Olympics) and a few African cities shows that this rule encourages perverse reaction from the affected public such as corruption at lower levels, increase in car purchases as people would want to buy a ‘secondary car’ since their primary car would be useless half of the time further increasing congestion, fake liscense plates etc.

Thirdly, direct policy actions like the ones in London and Singapore, which have a congestion tax levied during peak hours and in certain areas of the city as also Punitive cascading taxes on second and third cars has been found to be better way to curb pollution. These cities provide excellent public transportation systems as alternatives which no Indian city can boast off (Except Mumbai to an extent, with its excellent suburban train network, local buses, autos / taxis).

There is an interesting thought provoking article on this by Mr Dalmia of the Dalmia Group.

In another article in Reuters, Dr Lucas Davis, in a research paper talks about how the odd – even plan failed to curb pollution levels in Mexico City when it was conducted in 1989. In fact, it led to undesirable outcomes like purchase of secondary vehicles which increased congestion further. What worked was tightening the emission standards which improved the air quality substantially over a period of time.

Incidentally, the central government policy of not passing on the crude decline to consumers and keeping gasoline / diesel expensive and the move to advance BS -6 are steps in the right direction.

Delhi government pilot is nothing more than a publicity stunt whereas the central government move is just what the doctor has ordered.

Temples of India – A perspective

Couldnt think of better topic to start off the new year with.

When one thinks of the education system of the bygone era in India, the gurukul system comes to our minds. What is unknown is that temples were at the forefront of our education system too in the not too distant past, read the pre – British era. Had this tradition continued, may be India would have had its very own version of Duke, Georgetown University etc.  Rather than education factories, India would have had genuine world class institutions of higher learning. Subhash Kak has this wonderful piece here  where he explores this angle.

After temples & the education system, here’s a piece by Madhulika Dash on how Indian temples used to be the epicenter of socio – cultural development. Temple cuisine used to be typically based on the science of Ayurveda and involved a judicious use of spices etc.

If the above was the state of affairs in the not too distant past then what happened over time? This brings us to the topic of temple control in India.  Temples in India, especially the temples in the South are controlled by the government. Here’s a piece on it. Not getting this? Isnt India a secular country? Why does the government have to poke its nose in temple matters? If it wants to control religious institutions why not other religious institutions too ?

Came across on IndiaFact’s this ppt by the Temple Worshippers’ Society based in Chennai.

Temple’s were the epicenter of our civilisation. An entire ecosystem viz. of Nandanvan’s, Kalyanis (water tank), gaoshalas, pathshalas (vedic school’s), arable land, vocation, arts & music developed around it. This has been successfully throttled by the powers that be. It’s time they are freed and allowed to regain their lost glory.