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South Asia

The privatisation of cricket

The Hindu, 9 March The most remarkable thing about the Indian Premier League player auction was the spectacle it generated. The heady mix of wealth and fame proved intoxicating for many, not least representatives of the media, who celebrated the auction as a triumph of the new India of the free market. For others it… Read more

India in denial

The Guardian, Comment is Free 8 January Harbhajan Singh’s three match-ban from Test cricket for his alleged on-field racist abuse of Australian Andrew Symonds has elicited howls of outrage from Indian cricketers, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) and the Indian media. This morning the story is in banner headlines on the front page of every… Read more

A blind eye to bigotry

Five years on, those behind the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom are still running the state The Guardian, 1 March Five years ago this week, across the Indian state of Gujarat, the stormtroopers of the Hindu right, decked in saffron sashes and armed with swords, tridents, sledgehammers and liquid gas cylinders, launched a pogrom against the local… Read more

India’s tryst with the death penalty

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 11 February [Note: Muhammed Afzal has been sentenced to death by hanging for his alleged role in the attack on the Indian parliament on 13 December, 2001.] IN 1793, the French Convention was debating the fate of the deposed and imprisoned king, Louis XVI. Thomas Paine, an Englishman who had… Read more

Unreality TV

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 28 January ALL words can be cheapened by misuse, especially when they are misused by the powerful. The reality they refer to is disguised, rather than revealed. But what happens when the word in question is “reality” itself? On his visit to India, Gordon Brown, still the bookie’s favourite to… Read more

A rasika’s tribute

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 17 December HERE I am in London and the December season is underway in Chennai. To the unconverted, Carnatic music is staid, forbiddingly technical, repetitive, elitist. And some of its devotees do seem determined to live up the stereotype, preoccupied with tradition, treating the music like a zone of purity,… Read more

Who’s afraid of the Asian bloc?

India Today, Champions Trophy Collectors Edition, October 2006 In the course of the this year’s Lord’s annual lecture on the ‘Spirit of Cricket’, Martin Crowe gave vent to what he clearly considered home truths about the state of the global game. “Let’s face it – Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are being kept on the international stage… Read more

Misbegotten Afghan adventure

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 17 September NEARLY five years after the U.S.-led coalition dispatched the Taliban and proclaimed a new dawn for Afghanistan, foreign troops are waging a full-scale war against insurgents said to control as much as half the country. Meanwhile, millions of Afghans face starvation, and the development and democracy promised by… Read more

Chronicle of an obsession

Review: You Must Like Cricket? Memoirs of an Indian Cricket Fan by Soumya Bhattacharya (Yellow Jersey Press). [An edited version of this review appeared in The Guardian, 2 September] Like Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, Soumya Bhattacharya’s memoir is an intimate, often wry account of “thirty years of following a team. Three decades of highs and… Read more

A non-believer’s guide to divine music

Do you have to be religious to understand sacred music? Comment is free, The Guardian, 15 May I was with a group of westerners attending a a concert of Carnatic music – south India’s classical music – in Chennai. An affluent looking middle aged man in the row in front of us turned and smiled. He… Read more