Saturday, October 25, 2008

The tale of two newspapers...

Its been just over 6 months now that The Times of India kicked off its operations in Chennai.As someone who's been an ardent reader of The Hindu, I was always sceptical about ToI coming to Chennai.If you've been following The Hindu quite seriously, the chances are that ToI will appear to be near blasphemous,with all its page-3 stuff,glitz,gossip and masala. I too had the same preconceived notions about it. It just happened that I got carried away by a 'founder-member' offer and got hold of a 6 month subscription at a throw away price. Actually they were offering a pretty good looking travel bag on the spot, and that tempted me to go for it.(After all, Indians do like freebies,ain't it?)I was pretty confident that I wouldn't be extending the subscription beyond those 6 months.Now, its been 7 months I guess, and I find myself having extended that subscription to,guess what, 1 more year!(This time there was an even better bag on offer,and a throwaway price too, but that's a different issue altogether.)
So what made me extend that subscription?Has The Times succeeded in winning over a reader and make him switch loyalties?Naah,I wouldnt go as far as saying I have completely bowed to The Times,but sure, it has shattered more than a few myths that I had.One,it is not just about page-3,paparazzi and masala.Two, it isn't that bad after all.What I have liked about ToI is that its editorials are fairly balanced, and mostly appear devoid of any particular political bias.Having said that, the articles are moslty elitist at the same time. Now this objectivity is what has struck a chord with me. Ofcourse it still carries a lot of crap like petty crime news and other really trivial stuff. But at the heart of the newspaper are a set of pretty objective articles.The Sunday times is replete with columns from Shobha De,Jug Suraiya,Shashi Tharoor ,et al which makes for some pretty good reading.Having said that, it must be said that The Times still leaves a lot to be desired as far as the other pages are concerned. The sports news is not exactly what you'd call high standard.Its more of images,in-your-face graphics and screaming headlines than quality stuff.Overall, the standard of language is also not that great. That is where it disappoints me.
Now coming to The Hindu-a newspaper that I've been following since the days Sachin Tendulkar was only 19 years old,has been part of my life like any other daily chore that I take up-like I brush my teeth everyday, take bath, I read The Hindu.Until about a couple of years ago,I had a kind of an unquestionable loyalty and faith towards this paper.But it is no longer so. Thanks to a gentleman called N.Ram, who happens to be at the helm of affairs.He has made sure that the newspaper now seems like a mouthpiece of the commies. Having a slight bias is ok, but you dont go as far as beating china's drum in India saying that Tibet is best left to China's red devils.Pallavi Iyer,the correspondent in China infact seems more like she is working for the state controlled chinese news agency Xinhua. Prakash karat , the bete noire of Manmohan Singh and N.Ram were actually university buddies in Delhi's JNU, which is where the CPI and CPI(M) catch their soon-to-be comrades young.That explains why The Hindu's articles and editorials have more than a tinge-of- red all over.One editorial that saw a severe erosion of N.Ram's credibility is his dramatic u-turn on the nuke deal.After having given a thumbs up, Ram chose to speak the left's language.Might well be that dear pal prakash would've given him sound brainwash.And in case you thought I am from the right-wing school of thought and that is why I find this very irritating, you got it wrong. Infact I would like to be as far from the left as I would from the right.Suo motu bashing of the BJP is also becoming more and more frequent these days. There is one gentleman by the name of Harish Khare, who writes a column called 'statecraft', is actually a sycophant of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, in particular. After the so called 'renunciation' of the PM's post, this man wrote an article in which he repeatedly referred to Mrs G as 'Madam Sonia'...which I thought was taking things a bit too further. In his subsequent articles he seems to have consciously shied away from such explicit sycophancy , but his pro congress bias is only too evident.
These are certain things that irk me a lot when I read The Hindu. This is not to say that there's nothing else left to read.It has a kind of seriousness that is pretty much missing in the other newspapers,which make them seem like tabloids.In an age where the line between a newspaper and a tabloid is becoming increasingly blurred , The Hindu still stands by its core values of ethical journalism. Never does it compromise on quality in the name of selling a few more copies. The standard of language is absolutely top class.It is any GRE aspirant's pleasure. The sports and business news sections are also too good to be missed. Its sports section is populated with articles from some wondergul writers, including Nirmal Sekhar,Rohit Brijnath, Vijay Lokapally,Peter roebuck, etc, to name a few. The sunday magazine still remains a pleasure to read. So I have more reasons not to give up The Hindu . And it is very much here to stay. In my opinion, it still remains the best newspaper, if you take out the editorials.Just that I hope the editorials aren't coloured red....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A trend-setter walks into the sunset....

As the 4th test between India and Australia enters the 5th day, one of the game's all time greats has decided its time for him to hang up his boots. Adam Gilchrist walked into the Adelaide Oval to a round of applause that is reserved only for the best of the best.When even your rivals on field join the ceremony of ovation, you know that the person at the receiving end is a legend.Gilly is not just any other cricketer to have donned the wicket keeping gloves.He has been a trend setter as far as defining the role of a keeper is concerned.Not only that, he redefined the meaning of an all rounder-hitherto,all rounders were men who could both bat and bowl, but now it also includes the rare tribe of men who are equally adept ,whether they are in front of the stumps,or behind.As someone who started his international career pretty late(guess he was in his late twenties then), he has an astonishing record,both as a keeper and as a batsman.Very few men have charted the territory that Gilly has,for it is not everyday that you see someone with 414 victims and 5,500 plus runs at an average of around 48 per innings in test cricket.That he scaled these heights in just 10 years,and 96 tests,makes it all the more impressive. His batting was one of those sights to behold, be it test cricket or the 50 over version.A dasher to the core, people would pay to watch him play.

His oneday record is even more staggering.As an opener, he forged great partnerships with the likes of Mark Waugh and Matthew Hayden to become one of the most feared batsmen the game has ever known. Aggression was his middle name,and this is the only way he played.Never could you see him pushing or prodding around,trying to be defensive.
What makes him even more likeable is the spirit with which he played the game.The Australians are not really known for their on field behavior, but Adam Gilchrist stands out as a glaring exception in a bunch of ill mannered brats.Always the one to let his bat do the talking, very seldom would one notice him indulging in the kind of gamesmanship that the Aussies prefer to call 'mental disintegration'.Perhaps the sydney test against India was the only grey spot in an otherwise spotless career. But then to err is human. Gilly can be forgiven for that.
Bowlers and captains around the world will perhaps breathe easily when they play Australia, for they dont have to deal with this decimator.But then you wont get to see those exhilarating innings any more.Cricket stands poorer today. More than anyone else, it is the Aussie side that will miss him. Thank you, Adam Gilchrist,for all you have given us.