Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020: Records To Be Broken!

Fingers crossed! If everything goes off well for the next 53 days, we can say that even the pandemic Covid 19 -also called the Wuhan Virus- could not halt the triumphant march of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 13 th edition of what is arguably the richest cricket tournament in the world is being played in the UAE this year. From September 19 to November 10, 2020. Being one of those die hard cricket fans, I must have seen most of the matches- on television of course- since the inaugural match at our own Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru way back in 2008.

For the statistically inclined cricket fan , the IPL is a delight. Records are created and records are broken with regularity. Every year the standards of the game go up, especially in the fielding and catching. The batsmen and bowlers too strive to master something new and innovative to beat their opponents.

Today’s blog post is written with the millions of record tracking cricket fans in mind. All data is taken from the IPL website . Let’s see how many of these records will get beaten in this year’s IPL, even without the customary roar of supporting crowds to egg on the players!

With 5412 runs, Virat Kohli, the skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, (which, by the way, is the team I support) is far ahead of the others as the man with the most number of IPL runs under his belt. I don’t see Rohit Sharma go past him this year as he is 500 runs behind. I wonder if anyone will beat Kohli’s record for the most runs in one season- 973 in the 2016 edition with 4 centuries and 7 fifties. The record for the most wickets for a IPL season is held by Dwayne Bravo, who took a staggering 32 wickets in 2013.

I don’t expect the records for sixers to be broken this time around. Chris Gayle has a total of 326 sixers while De Villiers the man next is way behind with 212! Gayle also holds the record of most sixers in an innings (17) with 13 being the next highest. The record for the highest individual innings also belongs to Gayle: 175. I hope someone breaks it this year! I don’t foresee anyone beating Andre Russell’s overall strike rate of 186. Likewise, Chris Morris’s 38 runs in 9 balls to give him the best innings strike rate of 422 will take some beating!!

The fastest 50 record belongs to K L Rahul ( 51 off 14 balls). Some explosive batting like this could well happen this year. Let’s hope so for the sake of the game. Gayle scored the fastest 100 – in 30 balls. I am not sure if anyone will better this in 2020.

In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga’s overall tally of 170 wickets could well be broken this year as he himself is not playing. The best figures for an innings of 6 wickets for 12 runs by Alzarri Joseph is up for the grabs though only two others have ever taken 6 wickets in an innings like him so far in the history of the IPL. Rashid Khan has the best overall economy rate of 6.55 in 45 matches. One record that I wish will be broken is for the most expensive spell ever : 4 overs for 70 runs by Basil Thampi, an average of 17 runs per over!

In the inaugural match of IPL 2020 yesterday, we saw Piyush Chawla don the CSK colors for the first time, after being so used to seeing him for Punjab and KKR . But in the record for playing for most number of franchises, he is far, far behind! You may know that 4 players ( Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel, Ishant Sharma, and Thisara Perera) have played for 6 different franchisees. But “their baap” – as we would say in India – the eternal traveller- has to be Aaron Finch. The Aussie, who has already passed through 7, will be playing for his 8th franchisee when he turns out for RCB this year! I hope he performs better than ever before!!

So let’s get down to the game and hope IPL 2020, despite all the problems, will provide us with some fabulous entertainment!

Remembering Mr Gupta!

A subject that I dreaded in School was Hindi. Perhaps it was more my fault than that of my teachers. To start with I could not understand , for example, why a chair was of the feminine gender and cloth was of the masculine gender. It was not surprising that I struggled all through School!

Mr Ganesh Prasad Gupta, known far and wide as “Gupu” was one of our Hindi teachers at The Lawrence School, Lovedale. He could pack a punch and I write with considerable personal experience in this matter. This was, of course, long before the days when corporal punishment was frowned upon. Masters could- and frequently did- slap us to put some sense in us. Whether they succeeded or not is highly debatable!

For reasons best known to himself, Gupu used the phrase, ” steady slap” as against the more common, “tight slap.” He once asked us to write an essay on ” Urban vs Rural” expecting us to write about the differences in outlook, facilities, economies etc. He was a sticker for exactitude. If he expected 1000 words, by God that’s exactly what he accepted. 999 was not good enough. You had to pass the magical 1000 mark.

I was on 950 words or so and the clock was ticking. We had to hand in our papers soon. To cross the much wanted finish line, from out of the blue, I made the Town Guy say, ( in rudimentary Hindi, of course! ) : ” Hey, look at that guy! ” To which the Village Guy asked, ” Where? Which guy? ” Town guy, ” There, there! ” Village Guy, ” Just look at him, ha ha!! ” Town Guy: ” Yes, look, look, ha, ha ha,” There was more along these lines and the essay finished well past 1000 words.

Over 55 years have gone by but I still remember the walloping I got from Mr Gupta, much to the amusement of my classmates. They howled with laughter when he read out the last few paragraphs to highlight how an essay should NOT be written.

Mr Gupta perhaps prided himself on being a stickler for grammar as he would ( for reasons best known to himself) start with the future tense. ” Bewakoof ladka! You need a steady slap!” This was fair warning for fellows like me as to what was coming in the very near future. He shifted then, more hurriedly, to the present tense, ” I will give you a steady slap now.” That was the signal for me to take a deep breath and brace body and soul for what was imminent. Whack! There came the steady slap! Your head reeled and you could actually count the stars. Then seemingly in the distance you could hear Mr Gupta, as correct as always, summarize recent events with his customary, ” I gave you a steady slap!!!” As if you couldn’t make that out!!!

Sadly, Mr Gupta is no more. Wherever he is, if he could, I am sure he would have a chuckle on reading how his ” steady slap” – if not the Hindi he taught- is remembered even after five and a half decades.

The Keshavanda Bharati Case

I read today about the sad demise of Sri Keshavananda Bharati Swamiji of the Edaneeru Matha, Kasargodu at the age of 79. His name will always be associated with the Supreme Court Judgment of 1973 in what has come to be known as the ‘Keshavananada Bharati Case’ . This case was mentioned to us frequently by Professor K Karunakaran ( who taught us Labour Laws in XLRI in 1972-74) as being a landmark judgement. This led me today to go back decades in time and understand what that case was about.

To recapitulate, in 1960, Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji became the Head of the over 1200 year old Edaneeru Matha in Kasargod. It was founded by Sri Thotakacharya , one of the first four disciples of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. In 1971 or so, the Government of Kerala sought to impose restrictions on the Matha property which led Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji to take the case up to the Supreme Court. He questioned the right of the Government to alter the fundamental rights of the citizens of India.

The case was argued for 68 days before a Full Bench of 13 Judges of the Supreme Court of India. It became the centre of attraction during those times for the principles being argued before the highest Court of the land. The Government of the time ( headed by Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi) argued that Parliament was supreme in India and the Government of the day could amend the Constitution if it was for the benefit of the people. The illustrious lawyers Nani Palkhivala, Fali Nariman, and Soli Sorabjee represented the petitioners against the government.

The Supreme Court held by a narrow margin of 7-6 that while admittedly the Parliament had wide powers it did not have the power to alter the basic structure of the Constitution. The judges who upheld Swamiji’s plea were then Chief Justice of India S M Sikri, and Justices K S Hegde, A K Mukherjea, J M Shelat, A N Grover, P Jaganmohan Reddy, and H R Khanna.

In the decades that followed this judgement of 1973 has served to be the cornerstone for determining the ” basic structure” doctrine in constitutional law in India. It covers the supremacy of the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary etc. It was often alleged that Smt Indira Gandhi was very annoyed at the outcome of the case and consequently the judges who ruled against the Government were not given promotions due to them. It is a fact that Chief Justice Sikri retired the day after the verdict, and the Government appointed Justice A M Ray in his place. He superseded Justices Shelat, Grover, and Hegde who had ruled against the Government in the process.

While the residents of Kasargod will for long remember Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji for all the good work he did for the Edaneeru Matha, students of law, politics and the Constitution, all over India will never forget him for this landmark case, settled 47 years ago.

Om Shanti, Shraddhanjali to Srimath Swamiji.

Farewell, Shyamgaru

In 1972, I reached the famous Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur having been selected for their Post Graduate Honors Diploma in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations. On the first day in campus, a well-built, handsome, bearded guy walked up to me and asked after the preliminaries in Bengali, “Are you related to Shobir Sengupta?” I replied that I hadn’t even heard of Shobir Sengupta. He said I looked so much like him that he thought I might be his brother. Once it was established that I clearly was not and that my smattering of Bengali ended with “hello”, “good bye” and “I love you”, we switched to English. We chatted for a long time. This guy, as it turned out, was to be my classmate but he wasn’t staying in the hostel like most of us. He was a local Jamshedpur boy and his name was M. Shyamsundar Rau.

Our close friendship of over 48 years sadly came to an end on August 19, 2020. Shyam or ” Shotgun” as we called him (because of his resemblance to the star of those days another Bihari Babu, Shatrughan Sinha) passed away aged 70 in Vizag due to the Covid 19.

The large number of condolence messages that poured in to his family bear testimony to his character. If ever there was a true friend- it was Shyam. He was always caring about his friends, always enquiring about their families and circumstances. Whenever it was required he was there to help. I am not at all surprised to see that he is missed by ever so many professional colleagues, friends, and well-wishers. Before networking as we now know the term became an essential social skill, Shyamgaru was good at it. He had the knack of reaching across to a wide spectrum of society. The many languages he knew came in handy for this facet of his personality.

For most of us Jamshedpur was a new place. We had a large number of fellows from the South, many venturing to these parts for the first time. There were many from Delhi and the North too. We soon realized that the student culture in Jamshedpur had several nuances. Under the veneer of cosmopolitan existence, there was an under current of local Bihari versus the outsider. Our Institute culture, at least in those days, encouraged us to be within the campus most of the time and not get involved with the local students. Despite this, there were the inevitable fights. Shyam armed with his handy hockey stick rescued some of our more adventurous but foolish guys from getting badly beaten up on several occasions.

Shyam helped many to settle down amidst these alien surroundings. He was the last word on what was available where. In the first few days he took us out to what became our frequent haunts. He also became the de facto local guide/ security consultant for the girls in our class.

He was full of life, and always laughing. We used to kid him about his craze for the Hindi movies in the old days. He was one of those ” First Day First Show” types. If it was a Dev Anand movie he simply had to be there on the first day for the first show! We remember him kitted out for the movie ( and a brawl, if required) in his jeans, t shirt and keds.

Not surprisingly as he came from a family that had served Tata Steel (or TISCO as it was then called) for generations, he joined the company when we graduated from XLRI in 1974. He was initially assigned to their Coal Mines in Naomandi. Over the decades he had professional stints in Warner Hindustan, Smith Kline Beecham, and DCM. He was a popular figure in the HRM/PM circuit- always active in professional bodies such as NIPM, NHRDN, and ISTD.

I was happy to know that at a fairly advanced age, he did his Ph.D earning the right to be called Dr M S Rau. His last assignment was in the capacity of Executive Director of the Indian Society for Training & Development ( ISTD).

We were happy that he decided to stay with his son, who is employed in an IT company here in Bengaluru. We used to meet once in a few months and talk nostalgically of the good old days. When we hosted our XLRI Class of ’74 gathering in our house in September 2019, my wife and I never imagined that it would be our last time seeing him.

He went to Vizag to visit his daughter and then the Covid pandemic set in confining him there for the last few months. We heard he was hospitalized for a week and was in the ICU. He seemed to be recovering but perhaps had a relapse and the end came on August 19, 2020.

Shyamgaru, we your old friends over the decades will miss you a lot. As you may have preferred, I end this tribute with a few lines sung by Kishore Kumar : ” Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” !

Vanakkam, Ms Harris

The United States of America, the world’s most powerful nation, goes to the polls in November 2020. Naturally speculations run high- despite the Covid 19 or Wuhan Virus pandemic that is raging around the world- whether the Democrats can wrest power from the sitting President. In 2016, Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency for the Republicans. Going by his recent speeches, he seems confident of being re-elected later this year. Continue reading “Vanakkam, Ms Harris”

French Biriyani

If you want to see parts of Bengaluru which you don’t ordinarily see in the movies, you must watch the recently released Kannada movie, ” French Biriyani.” The lockdown has had the side effect of us seeing more movies than we have seen in long! So, while fishing around for an interesting movie, I chanced upon this absorbing title. I wondered what on earth could have made the French and Biriyani come together in a Kannada movie! Continue reading “French Biriyani”

Churchill: A Reassessment!

In 1970, I was 19 and had many heroes. Over twenty years had passed since the end of the Second World War and the Independence of  India but the legacy of 89 years under the British Crown was strong in my country.

Being an avid reader of military history from my childhood, naturally many of my heroes were of the victorious British forces during the Second World War. Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, Field Marshal Lord Slim, Group Captain Sir Leonard Cheshire VC, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding are some names that come readily to mind.  One also admired the simplicity and dedication to duty shown by King George VI during the war years. But all these names, the King Emperor included, were overshadowed in published literature by one man: Sir Winston Churchill, (1974-1965)  the war time Prime Minister of Britain from 1940-45 and again from 1951-55. Continue reading “Churchill: A Reassessment!”

What’s In A Name- Part II

In my last post, I had written about a few amusing incidents that came to my mind involving names of people. Here, are a few more!

In some organisations, people are called, not by their names but by their initials! In one such organization, in those days, addressing people as AHP, DAP, PSP, DKR etc was the norm. For many years, people knew me as BPR. They  knew my surname was Rao but I am sure most didn’t have a clue what P stood for in my name, leave alone the B. We once interviewed a candidate called B.R. Acharya. He wasn’t selected, which perhaps was a good thing for him as you know what he would have been called had he joined!!

My Dad’s name was abbreviated to B A Rao when he joined Burmah Shell in the old days.    His friends called him “Bar” which was quite appropriate considering he was fond of a drink. This reminds me of his saying often that amongst his friends were a Daruwala, a Batliwala and – you may not believe this- a Sodabottleopenerwala!! These gentlemen, as you would have guessed, were from the Parsi community. It was common, amongst the Parsis, to have names that reflected the business or profession they traditionally were in.

Sometimes, even abbreviated names are further abbreviated. A case in point was a Tata Steel executive who was a guest faculty at XLRI, Jamshedpur when we were students there. His name was AVLRN Murthy, so naturally he was called, “A to Z Murthy”. Later I came to know that even this paled in front of another such name : AVSRKN Murty.

I have noticed that people spell “Rao” in various ways. In previous generations, relatives in the prestigious Indian Civil Service (ICS) chose “Rau.” An opening batsmen for England with Indian origins during my childhood was Raman Subba Row. This, I felt was misleading as “Row” could be pronounced as in ” row” a boat. It could also be -as in an argument ended in a ” row.”!

While abroad, I have found the rhyming method generally works well. People are prone to pronounce Prem to rhyme with “gem” . I have learnt to say, “Prem rhymes with “game” which makes it more easily understandable. Likewise , rhyming Rao with ” Wow!” also does the trick!! So ” Prem Rao” is like ” Game Wow” !!

My name almost made me miss an important flight while traveling in the US. At Chicago airport while waiting for a connecting flight, the lady called out, “Mr Ray-o” several times. I ignored the announcement because I never imagined she was calling me! It was only when she said, ” This is the last call for Mr Prem Ray-o and Mrs Sho-ban-a Ray-o” that I told my wife, ” That’s us! Let’s go!!”. We ran to her boarding pass in hand. The name was new to me but I was told that Rayo was a common enough Spanish name! 

So as you can see, when Shakespeare asked , ” What’s in a name?” there really is so much  behind a name.

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Name?

To jog your memory, ” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet! ” wrote William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, in his Romeo and Juliet. Parents while naming their children seldom think of the effect the name may have on him/her as they grow up. Some hate their names so much they wish they had been called by some other name!  A young lady called Savithri once told me how at first she  found it difficult to be part of the crowd in her college hostel. Everyone assumed she would sneak to the authorities about their wayward ways because of her traditional name! 

There are exceptions to this rule, however. One that comes to mind is this story for which you need to listen to the song yourself. In the 70’s and beyond, there was a popular country song, by Johnny Cash called “A Boy Named Sue” (1969) . The lyrics explain why the father did what he did with telling effect!

In a lighter vein, the next story dates back to the years before “political correctness” became fashionable. In the late 80s, one of our engineers Thomas Baby from Kerala went on assignment to the United States. When he reached the office and said his name was Thomas Baby, the girl at the desk gave him a hard stare. When he spoke to her on the phone and said, ” This is Thomas Baby” he heard her draw in her breath sharply. That afternoon, she caught up with him in the cafeteria. She said, ” You are new here. I am okay with this, Thomas, but not every lady would appreciate being called ” baby”!”

A month later in his first review meeting, his boss asked Thomas Baby whether he felt he could improve in some areas. Baby told him, ” I am on top of the technical aspects of my job, Mr H_____ but I some times feel a little hesitant in talking to colleagues at work.’ ” I would hardly say that,” said Mr H. ” You may think it is part of American culture but I am told you are addressing all the women, irrespective of age or position as, “baby”. The young man was shocked but realizing what was happening, recovered fast and said, ” On the contrary, they should be calling me Baby. It happens to be my name!” . They had a good laugh about this, but I am told that later he initiated steps to formally change his name!

Closer to the day, in 2007 in a BPO organisation for which I did some consulting, a British executive called Malcolm Swift visited the Bangalore office.  The staff, who prided themselves on being on an informal first name basis, were told his name was Malcolm. In the first meeting, with team leaders he said, ” I am Swift. Tell me about yourselves. ” The first team leader gushed, ” I love working with people who work fast. My team’s average time to resolve issues is the best in this location”. Another said, ” I am happy to say that our team is swift too! We are well-trained and perform excellently on the job.!”” Ok, I get it,” said Mr Swift, ” I was telling you my name is Swift. Malcolm Swift!”

A loud’ Ahhhhhhh” broke out in the crowd! Who would have thought his name was Swift? ” Oh, Swift, as in Maruti Swift?” asked a young lady from the back, referring to a popular car of that time. For the rest of his stay, his colleagues called him Malcolm but the troops called him, ” Maruti” which never ceased to mystify him! 

So as the old saying goes, ” What’s in a name?” but if you want to know what’s in a name, you should meet someone who has been through a lot- only because of his/her name!

 

 

 

 

Is The Left Getting Left Out?

When I was in school, we would frequently ask , ” Did you make the football team?” and the reply used to be, “I was left out”! from all those who didn’t. They of course punned  on the common usage those days for the outside-left position amongst the attackers.

In those days, in the ’60s, and for the next few decades the Cold War raged.  The entire world was pretty much split into two blocs : the West  (primarily the US, UK, France) and those who supported their versions of democracy,  and the Communist bloc ( principally the erstwhile USSR with its satellite countries, North Viet Nam, and China). Continue reading “Is The Left Getting Left Out?”