Saturday, October 26, 2013


One would remember the fabled battle between different animals as to who was the greatest as well as that of different parts of the human body which in a humorous way teaches the kids of the importance and utility of each part of the body. A similar battle appears to be in the horizon between three unlikely contenders - Sachin, Crude and Onion.

Sachin- the undoubted master of tons is reaching a new milestone of a double ton in Tests before he raises the bat and looks into the blue sky to thank the Lord and his father at least in Test matches. He would have undoubtedly hoped that the attention would remain on him after being the cynosure for nearly a quarter century. Imagine the maestro's expression as the crude prices marched towards a ton taking a sizeable portion of the headlines. Even as the crude prices were being tamed, the humble onion thought it befitting to salute the maestro by mastering a ton by itself. Being a Marathi, the khanda is precious to the palate of the maestro and its intentions would have been treated with a fist thumping except for the fact that it was rivalling and even eclispsing the maestro's farewell Test.

Undoing even the crude's feat, the onion managed to make the anchors in Arnab, Rajdeep and the others virtually team up to give the primetime to it. Unlike the crude (petrol and diesel apart from the LPG), there was none to share the space.It appeared as though the other end had collapsed and the onion carried the bat and the match into the rival camp. Individual sportsmen like Leander and Anand were also put to shade. There was no exhibition of jubilation or thanksgiving by the onion on reaching the milestone. Instead, it looked like a batsman whose century was of no importance as the follow on was yet to be avoided. The politicos of every shade desired to make their presence felt but the onion would not share space with its single minded devotion of achieving its task. It has politely declined to attend any press conference or be taken in by the inviting barbs or belligerent anchors in the electronic media. Unfortunately, the crowd also was not appreciative of its feat and was booing it to achieve lower scores. Lesser batsmen like Kumble and Kirmani were feted on such accomplishments.

The khanda which is priceless to the palate of the Maharashtrians and most Indians deserves a far better treatment than the one that is being meted out to it. Even the sacrificial bakra of Bakrid is given a far better treatment. May yours truly implore on the denizens of India to recognise the feats of the onion and cheer it to achieve the landmark of double ton on the 200th Test of Sachin! Let us also commend the dark horse of the race on its feat!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


It is irresistible to pen the thoughts that cross one's mind as Sachin decides to call it a day. It is not the run machine or the records against his name that fascinate me. It is not even his simple raising of the bat on reaching a milestone nor the humility with he doffed the skipper's cap. People may wonder as to how these aspects of a great sportsperson does not fascinate any one let alone yours truly.

Just let us look at our own livelihood and whether we have been able to last with impact for close to a quarter of a century. Government servants may serve a tenure of more than three decades but in anonymity with small contributions. Those in the private sector take to leapfrogging from one to another that sometimes service of two decades in the same entity is viewed with derision. Entrepreneurs live through their business but it is an Ambani or a Birla or a Tata who cut the ribbon. In the sports arena, life is still shorter. It may not last even a period of 5 years that persons who stride their field for a decade are considered legends. An isolated Bobby Fischer could claim to legendary status without attempting to defend his title. Therefore, the longevity of a sportsperson deserves felicitations and accolades.

There may be quarters which would rumble stating the case that it is the feat that contributes to the longevity. Talent alone may not suffice. Roll back in time and we would come across several talented players who did not live the entire span due to sheer overconfidence. The effort to innovate and keep things grounded on the shoulders of rising expectations is the root of achieving legendary status. The early break may have contributed to the feasibility of a longer tenure but the utilisation of the same to the maximum is what contributes to legendary stature.

Sachin has managed to stay rooted in the face of rising expectations, achieving expected feats that despite mounting pressure none could clearly state that he should give way. We have seen several persons go out on terms of the selectors but the best achievement is he is doffing the cap on his own terms.

Let me admit that one this count yours truly is green with envy, full of admiration for a feat that would remain to be achieved for a long time to come. Let all the records give way to this fabulous achievement!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


It was a regular forward to the inbox of my mail that set me thinking. The mail was about a 11 year old who had contracted a rare disease which was to be met with a treatment that was expensive. The reading of this mail took me to the day I had the occasion to interact with some who had set up a date with the Alzheimer's. These gutsy people too did not complain about they having been chosen for the date but were looking at avenues to meet the costs of the treatment.

Move over and we find NGOs as well as individuals who are willingly to spare the extra penny or make over the rupee by cutting on some comfort to a genuine needy person. A visit to most hospitals treating the reviled cancer shows that blocks have come up on the generosity of such individuals. 

The two scenarios make it clear that the link of connecting the needy to the willing is not definitely established in all cases. Some are fortunate for the media to assist in their hour of crisis while others face times of adversity by grinning and grimacing at the situations that confront them. The email prodding me to sign a petition to the Health Minister was a simple click away but several minutes of ruminating over and an inadvertent click later, I found that we should be aspiring for a better solution than to expect the Government to intervene in every matter.

Imagine a Health Bank that would attract donations which would entitle the donor to a 100% tax rebate. This Bank would attract the generous to donate their mite. An initial contribution of a day's salary by all Government servants, politicos and persons enrolled to the New Pension Scheme would ensure that the corpus is large enough to set the Bank rolling.

The corpus so derived could be invested in gilt bonds to ensure that the investments are inflation immune. The income of such Health Bank needs to be exempted from taxes and hence the Bank should be a 100% subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India. This would also ensure that the management is in secure hands and at no time the same would be subject matter of scams. In addition to the statutory audits of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the donors may also audit by appointing an auditor or more to ensure that the annual reports are free and fair.

The pooling of the funds and its management being framed, the moot question would be how would one determine the donee who would be entitled to the support or the extent to which they would be entitled. This needs the active support of the medical fraternity. They would require to identify the needy and also mention the extent of the rebate they are willing to provide on the treatment. The minimum is that the professional fees are waived by the doctors and the hospital waives the ward charges. This would ensure that the cost of the medicines is picked by the Bank. The costs should be at wholesale rates which would be directly met to the manufacturer. This way the true needy person derives the benefits.

The benefits could be extended on a proportionate basis by all concerned in case wherein the patients would be able to meet a portion of the cost. This would be an alternative social security scheme in place with zero involvement of the Government. This would also revive the spirit of co-existence which is ebbing away especially in urbane India. If NGOs can inspire faith why not a Health Bank?

It would also be necessary to rope in each automobile manufacturer to provide a well equipped ambulance as part of Corporate Social Responsibility to the Health Bank which could deploy the same on need basis to all districts. The para medical staff of the Bank as well as the drivers would thus provide yeoman's service to their bretheren in need. The charges collected could meet partially the costs of maintaining the service. The remnant could be picked up by a corporate as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.

Is anyone listening? The above may not be the ultimate and may require lot of further fine tuning but could a beginning be made?