Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A flight less ordinary

I recently read in the papers that a certain gentleman named B N Shukla had filed a petition in 1995 in the High Court against the subsidy provided to Indian Muslims for the Haj. I was shocked to hear that this petition came up for hearing after 11 years, but was extremely pleased to hear the Allahabad HC rule that the subsidies should be stopped.

Ours being a secular country, one would have thought that all religions should be given equal respect and importance, opportunities and benefits. I find it hard to believe that only Muslims are beneficieries of such subsidies for pilgrimages, while Sikhs going to the Nankana Sahib in Lahore or Hindus on pilgrimage to Kailash and Mansarovar are not extended such privileges (of course, now I know it's nothing more than vote bank politics). What's even more astounding is the fact that India is the only country that offers such subsidies; no other nation, not even Islamic nations offer such subsidies. The primary, and probably the only, reason why Islamic nations do not offer such subsidies is because according to Islam, that would be unislamic, for no Muslim should be indebted to anyone to undertake the Haj (I'm not quite sure about the wordings of the religious decree, but it means that no one should take help of any kind for the Haj-they ought to manage on their own). Why then do we have a Haj committee run by Muslims, who believe in living life as per the holy Quran, who believe in the shariat and the triple-talaq, warmly embracing this gimmick by the government?

This brings to mind an old saying: when it comes to money, everyone is of the same religion!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Reverse swing: The white side of cricket

Well, well, well, Darrell Hair is at it again; and again it's the 'brown bastards' (also known as Asians from the sub-continent in the civilised world) who are at the receiving end. What happened during the final test at the Oval was nothing short of a disgrace to this great game that most members of the commonwealth love. Let's be honest, both parties involved were wrong - one for taking matters too far too soon (Pak team) and the other for being too stubborn and acting out of pride (Hair).

Darrell Hair seems to be a magnet for controversy - be it because of his literal interpretation of the law and lack of common sense or the fact that he's an Aussie and we all know that Aussies are a bunch of stubborn bastards (no offence meant). The Pakistani team was guilty of not coming out to the field when they were expected to. Staying in the dressing rooms to register their protest - they could have gone to field and not started bowling, which would have been a far more effective option! Hair on the other hand, suspecting the ball to have been tampered with, should have produced proof. No proof, no charge, it's that simple, be it cricket or in society. In the end, the affair boiled down to who was involved, and unfortunately, both parties involved weren't the ones who could think rationally at the given moment.

During the 1979-80 tour of New Zealand, the West Indies team under Clive Lloyd were recipients of terrible umpiring decisions, and in the second test, they chose to register their protest by staying in the dressing room. When asked by the NZ cricket board chairman, Llloyd is said to have replied "We came here to play cricket; what's happeneing out there is not cricket!". The matter was resolved and the game continued inspite of the delay caused by the Windies team. Different people, different actions, different outcome.

Remember Mike Denness handing over suspended sentences to half the Indian team during the tour of South Africa? When Shaun Pollock appealed and kicked the turf out of anger, that didn't matter to him. When Kallis was seen running his fingers to remove the mud stuck on the seam, he wasn't pulled up. However, the Denness' and Hairs of the cricketing world are on the decline and hopefully their breed would soon be part of folklore, but a folklore that would be best forgotten.

The ICC, in a statement following the Oval fiasco and the Pakistani team's statement that they don't want Hair officiating in any test matches they play in, said that no team has the right to decide who they want or don't want to be standing as umpires in their games. Fair enough, they think that would be placing a team above the game. In that case, I'd like the ICC to explain to me why the yallow Darrell Hair to exempt himself from going and officiating in games played in Zimbabwe. Surely, if a team cannot be above the game, can an individual? White world hegemony or 'brown bastard' paranoia?
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