Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another rail disaster: what comes next?

India woke up from uneasy dreams to witness one more devastating train accident on Monday. This time it was at Sainthia in Bengal’s Birbhum district where the Uttar Banga Express entered platform No. 4 at a speed of about 80 to 90 kmph and ran into the Vananchal Express from behind which was just rolling out off the station. The impact of the fatal collision was so huge that a coach of Vananchal Express was tossed over on a nearby pedestrian footbridge. Sixty-three passengers were announced to be officially dead, numerous has suffered severe injuries. In past one year, this is the sixth major accident. The total number of deceased from rail accidents in the last fourteen months, as put forward by various media reports, has reached a whopping 428. Only since April this year, the figure is a shocking 250. The alarming rise of railway accidents in the country (more than 162 accidents since Miss Mamata Banerjee took over the charge of the Railways ministry, 40 accidents since April 2010) has made the entire nation feel extremely vulnerable and apprehensive about a safe rail travel. But the out of the ordinary minister of Railways and her top notch officials seems to be quite unaffected by the frequent accidents. The minister, being suspicious about the cause of the accident, had assured to “take strong steps against those who are behind this,” obviously hinting towards a sabotage.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 and beyond

The vuvuzela horns have stopped buzzing. Paul, the octopus has retired from oracle predictions and went back to his formal job – to make children laugh. Columbian pop star Shakira’s titillating Waka Waka has lost its impetus. The FIFA World Cup 2010 is now history. For one month we were glued to ESPN, spending sleepless nights to assiduously follow the thrill of the greatest show on Earth. Apart from the tainted IT firm Satyam which was one of the official sponsors of the FIFA tournament and the ubiquitous and talkative Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan who was seen in the galleries and later found posing beside Shakira for a valued World Cup memento, India was nowhere in the picture. Needless to say, the holy land of masala cricket is not likely to be there anytime in near future. However it did not stop the Indian television channels to emulate each other and implement all-out efforts for loudening and sustaining the hype surrounding world’s most watched sporting event. After all, football is a mass television-packaged entertainment drenched with television money. The wedlock between football and television is making both the parties richer and richer everyday. Just before the semi-finals, Uruguay’s manager Oscar Tabarez had commented in a press conference that the other three semi-finalist countries Netherlands, Germany and Spain have “more footballers than we have people.” Similarly it can be said with some certainty that India perhaps have an abnormally higher number of football experts than it has genuine admirers of the beautiful game. For every football expert of one television channel, there was always an equal and opposite expert in the other; although there was not necessarily an equal and opposite fact available to constantly argue upon. A football expert in Indian television is someone who does not necessarily needs to be associated with the game. Indian television producers have uniquely promoted even wary political lackeys and stupid film stars as football experts – just to cash-on their dubious public appeal.