Monday, June 8, 2009

King Roger

"In an era of specialists - you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist... or you're Roger Federer" – Jimmy Connors

Roger Federer has just won his 14th grand slam. Ironically , it is the French Open where he has achieved this feat, a tournament that has eluded him for years now. Many of us believe that if not for Rafa , he could have achieved this feat a couple of years earlier. Anyways , its Roger’s time and we must speak only of him. Critics will continue to argue that had Rafa played the finals , the result could have been different. Well Roger can’t do anything about. He can’t choose his opponents.

All of us who have followed Roger’s game and have believed in his game have evolved as much as he did. First it was the time when Roger has to prove that he had the game to beat the best. As a youngster when he beat Pete Sampras , the World began to watch him. Then he had his many tournaments when he was still evolving as a player. This was also the time when no player could fill the gap left by Sampras. We had Roddick , Hewitt , Hass etc all trying to reach the top spot. We as tennis fans were also in search of the next Sampras. It was also the time when Roger started cementing his place amongst the finest players of the game.

Then came the era when Roger’s game was unbeatable. The backhands were punishing ; the ball from that backhand could go in any direction. The serve was big , the drop shots were added to his armour and suddenly we began to wonder if we are watching the most complete player the game has ever produced. This was the time when we watched his game munching popcorn and relaxing in a couch. After all he was bound to win. We were only willing to be overwhelmed by his game. This was also the time when we began seeing Roger chasing the French Open. All was still well, after all even Sampras never came close to winning the French Open. We always thought that if not this year then it could be next year. Rafa was still the player who could only play on clay. We were still chasing Roger because we know that we were witnessing something special.

Then came the 2007 Wimbledon finals. Rafa and Roger met in the finals. Roger had the game to beat Rafa but we realised that Rafa was improving his game by leaps and bounds and that there could be a player who would challenge Roger’s supremacy. Rafa in this match said that he would try and win the next Wimbledon. But how could he , after all our man was supposed to win the 6th consecutive Wimbledon and in his own way own the grass courts. The turning point was in the finals of 2008 French open when Roger lost the match and with it his confidence. We were suddenly alarmed because we knew that achieving a career grand slam would now be even more difficult and more importantly Wimbledon was at stake. We could no longer watch Roger’s matches munching snacks and with Roger’s victory on our mind. I think this was the first time, when as tennis fans , we began connecting with Roger. We cried when he cried during the Wimbledon finals , we skipped a beat when he missed an easy return of serve or was down a break. We were now truly Roger’s supporters and well wishers. When he lost his No 1 title , it hurt us more than it could hurt him. After all he believed that his No 1 title was not as important as the Wimbledon.

All this has made the French Open victory even more sweet . The reason is that we see Roger’s resurgence as the resurgence of a man who was cheated by destiny. Had he not gone through his ups and downs , we might have only have rejoiced on his victory and spoken about his greatness but we could have never connected with him.

The most important facets of Federer’s game according to me are his elegance in executing some of the finest shots and the variety of shots he can produce. Many a times I end up arguing with my friends who say that Federer does not chase the ball unlike a certain Nadal. That is true and I am happy about it. I don’t want to see him rolling on the ground trying to chase the ball. It shows the confidence of a man who know that if not this point ,he will win the next. Why bother running around the court like a sprinter !

As I write this today , I hope that I read it when I am old. At that time, I might want to recall how I felt when I was still young. I know that I will remember Federer’s tennis and my memories associated with his game. I will remember the 2009 Australian Open when all of us cried with him. And I will certainly remember the 2009 French Open when Roger achieved immortality..

I read the following article posted on the Roland Garros website following Roger’s victory. I am sure you’ll enjoy it. I certainly did.

“The tennis gods brewed up a storm around Roland Garros on Sunday afternoon as they prepared to welcome a new member into their midst. Roger Federer repelled the rain, thunder, and a certain Robin Soderling to take his rightful place among the immortals of the game.”

Sunday, June 7, 2009

An Ideal time for the Women’s reservation bill

The new parliament following the UPA’s emphatic victory has started its session. We will see the budget being presented sometime in July. We will also see the ministry of foreign affairs playing a key role in rebuilding Sri Lanka and overseeing efforts to ensure that the interests of the tamil minority population are not clouded amdist the euphoria of the government’s victory. At the same time , with Meira Kumar having been appointed as the Speaker , all of us would like to believe that the government is trying to send a clear message that it is serious about representation of women in India’s parliament.

The empowerment of women must begin at the grassroots level. It wouldn’t matter to a woman in a village if Meira Kumar is the LS Speaker , however instead if the Panchayat had adequate representation of women , it would be easier to solve cases of domestic violence against women. Many of these cases in fact go unheard. Reservation for women in the Panchayat is a welcome move and we have to see if the government indeed goes ahead and implements the bill. This brings me to the Women’s reservation bill.

This women’s reservation bill has been long pending. Neither the NDA not the previous UPA government was able to pass the bill. The RJP , SP and LJP have already said that they are against the bill and would do anything to stop it. We recently heard Sharad Yadav saying that he would kill himself if the bill was passed. The BJP has indicated that it is willing to support the bill. Its leader , Shri Advani has clearly indicated that the 15th Lok Sabha will see a new beginning in govt-opposition relationship. Parties such as RJP , SP etc which oppose the bill received a drubbing the election and cannot conjure enough strength to stop the bill . Added to this is the support from the BJP for the bill. The UPA cannot get a better opportunity than this to pass the bill.

The significance of the bill stems from the fact that women are considered the wiser sex. Added to this is their experience is running a family. They are also considered to be less corrupt when compared to men. More than anything , in a land where crime against women has been rampant for ages now , this is all but a small means of seeking forgiveness.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Elections 2009 – Yet another analysis

It has been quite sometime since the results of general elections 2009 were announced. The dust has settled down. The new lok sabha session has also begun. So what can one conclude from the results ? We have all heard several knee jerk reactions to the results. We hear about the Left and the BJP facing an existential crisis. We also hear about Rahul Gandhi being the real winner in this election. We need a closer look at the results before we can conclude on any of these.

All of us heard news channels screaming loud that this was an issueless election. An election in which one cannot actually point a finger at the government for non-performance. Kudos to the previous government for having implemented the RTI and NREGS. The NREGS has certainly been the UPA’s flagship achievement. One must also take time to appreciate the state governments which have actually implemented the NREGS. States like Bihar and AP have certainly benefitted from this program. But we must also remember that Infrastructure projects took a backseat under the UPA regime. The telecom sector also did not see any technological advancement. The auction of the 3G spectrum was marred by chaos. The Nuclear deal’s success still remains doubtful in my opinion. India with its vast amounts of Thorium could use alternative techniques for meeting its energy demands. Nontheless , it’s better to wait and then comment on the Nuclear deal.

The BJP failed to highlight the failures of the UPA government. They instead chose to attack the mild mannered Manmohan Singh. The projection of Modi as the PM in waiting and the Varun Gandhi speech only added to the misery. The issue of India’s hiding their wealth in tax havens was raised a little too late. In addition to this, with the media strongly waging a battle against them , it was always going to be an uphill battle for the BJP. If not anything , they could have at least highlighted the incompetency of the Home ministry under Shivraj Patil, an inefficiency that gave us 26/11.

There is also another misconception that the new government without the Left would introduce a flurry of reforms in sectors like insurance and retail. People who think so fail to understand that the Trinamool Congress is more pro-left. The people of WB have only voted for a party which was more leftist in its ideology.

Rahul Gandhi has been declared as the unofficial winner of this election. It is true that his decision to go alone in UP has fetched a few more seats for the congress. This was always going to be easy in UP , where the people have always voted for the Gandhi family. The same charm did not work in Orrisa where Rahul Gandhi camped for several days.

It is not easy to analyse the results of any Indian election and pinpoint to a host of factors that have led to a result. However we can safely say that the NDA lost elections 2004 and theUPA won elections 2009.
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