By Another Name
Stuck in Square One
Take Your Pick
What are Vavá and Didi famous for? If you’re foxed, try this one: What was the common passion of Pele, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff? If you’re still in the woods, you’ve no business to be around, at least this month, the month that will decide who lifts the FIFA World Cup.
The real name of Vavá was Edvaldo Izídio Neto, widely considered one of the best strikers of his generation. The Brazilian footballer Waldyr Pereira was nicknamed Didi who played midfielder. He played in three World Cups: 1954, 1958, and 1962, winning the latter two and was named the tournament's best player in 1958.
European countries have mustered a formidable contingent of teams intent on defeating Brazilian plans for a sixth unprecedented title, that I plan putting half my money on. There appears however some threat from other neighbors like Argentina and Uruguay. I’m staking half of what I plan on a European team.
What can we look forward to over the course of a month? There won't be much tactical innovation. With almost all the world’s best players plying their trade in the top European leagues, few national managers will venture to try formations that are not frequently deployed by the leading clubs.
For the vast majority of those watching through, the tactical nuances will be irrelevant. For them, the games will be about personalities, about the excitement that comes with discovering the next big global star. Almost every World Cup has seen one, right from the time the 1958 Brazilians captured the imagination of the planet.
What a pity FIFA has allowed to have turned the World Cup into a cash cow funded by such ethically untroubled sponsors as Coca Cola, Gillette and Seiko. A game played and watched by the working classes has been commandeered to turn profits for plutocrats and dictators. Though turned into an unedifying corporate jamboree that now masquerades as the World Cup, I still watch at least one match a day. Who was it who said – Tariq Ali, the Marxist, I think – that in our times, not religion, but football is the opiate of masses?
By Another Name
It wason October 26th, 1863, a group of football teams in England decided to get together and create a standard set of rules which would be used at all their matches. Admire the Brits for this. They are always rule-minded, even in matters of plundering others as during the time of their empire. They formed the rules for “Association Football”, with the “Association” distinguishing it from the many other types of football sports in existence then in England, particularly Rugby Football.
British school boys of the day liked to nickname everything. How dead right is Netaji Mulayam Singh: boys will be boys. They were particularly fond of affixing “er” at the end of names.to these nicknames. Thus Rugby was, at that time, popularly called “Rugger”. Association Football soon came to be known as “Assoccer”, which was quickly reduced to just “Soccer” and sometimes called “Soccer Football”.
Folklore has it that the inventor of the nickname was Charles Wredford Brown, an Oxford student around that time. He is reported to have said that he liked soccer instead of rugger and thereafter the name caught on.
In the beginning, both Rugby and Soccer, along with cricket, were the sports for “gentlemen”, i.e., those folks who didn’t have to work for their living, but soon the games became popular among the common folks too like Cricket now being played by every butcher, baker and candle-stick maker in India. However, the so-called upper classes continued calling it soccer while general public called it football.
The preferred name soccer is still common in the United States and Canada. But the countries that are mad about the sport as in Europe and Latin America, it is just football. So, soccer for the Yanks and their Canadian cousins, and football for the rest of us, you and me included. And as the Bard reminded us
….that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
And it is. Isn’t it?
Stuck in Square One
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Whoever wrote the above much-cited nursery rhyme – the only one I remember – and for whom, if there’s one person to whom it applies most eminently is India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. After the 1962 knockdown by the Chinese, the legacy of the great dynast couldn’t be pieced together again for a reasonable presentation. Ever since then, every now and then, a brick gets placed, then gets knocked down again. The latest was the attempt when Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi successfully navigated Sino-India talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. Their three-hour substantive talk was, in fact, an unusually long diplomatic meeting. Normally, real substantive work precedes the formal rounds of talks. Talks are rounded off by oft-repeated clichés like: “It was resolved to work together to achieve peaceful cooperation and inclusive development for the benefit of our people and in the interest of peace, stability and prosperity….” How many times have you read that or a sentence like this?
However, hours before leaving India, the Chinese Foreign Minister delivered a departing kick – after all it is the football season – and conveyed China’s stand on the Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas to Indians domiciled in Arunachal Pradesh, an issue that has been rankling the Indian government for years. He not only defended the stapled visas policy but also went on to describe the move as “a goodwill gesture”, a remark that India’s China policy managers would find hard to digest. Here’re are the exact words of the Chinese visitor: “China has resorted to a special arrangement of issuance of stapled visa to address the need for travel of local people. This gesture is out of goodwill and flexibility and if we do not do that we will not be able to address the concern of outbound and overseas travel of these people.”
What does it mean? Let's try to connect the dots.
At the delegation-level talks between the two foreign ministers, Sushma Swaraj spiritedly raised the stapled visas issue and conveyed the Indian government’s concerns to Wang that this was an issue that has remained unresolved for years.
By describing the issue as “a goodwill gesture” by China, Wang has conveyed that China has, in fact, hardened its stand and the stapled visas policy is here to stay.
The Chinese pursue a similar policy of issuing stapled visas to Indians domiciled in Jammu and Kashmir while China issues regular visas to visitors from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. By doing so, China has virtually taken sides in the India-Pakistan dispute on Kashmir. Coupled with this is another red rag for India – the presence of thousands of Chinese troops in PoK.
What can India do? Should India retaliate by issuing stapled visas to visitors from Tibet? Can India do so when India officially recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China even though China describes Arunachal Pradesh as “Southern Tibet” and claims virtually the entire Indian state?
These are the contentious issues that the UPA government struggled with for ten long years without any breakthrough. It remains to be seen how the Modi government will tackle this issue.
Clearly, China will be a tough nut to crack for India. Let’s wait and see whether Modi the strongman would be able to charm President Xi next month when the two meet on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil.
Frankenstein – or The Modern Prometheus, to use its full title – is a novel written by Mary Shelley, wife of the more-famous poet by the same name – about an eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment, who is variously referred to as a “creature”, “specter”, “the demon”, “wretch”, “devil”, and “ogre” in the novel. The most common association with the name Frankenstein is with something that you create but it just spins out of your control and threatens to boomerang.
This is exactly what President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan did when, after overthrowing Bhutto, he, as the military dictator of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he created Taliban.
For 17 long years, one American Administration after another almost blindfoldedly poured $4 billion into the pockets of some of the most brutal men on earth – with the overall aim of exhausting the Soviet Union in a futile war in Afghanistan. It was CIA director William Casey who unreservedly backed a plan by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA, assisted by Britain's MI6, in all conceivable black arts. Their leaders were especially trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and merrily continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989. Perceptive observers of the international scene told both the Americans and Pakistanis that they were playing with fire. “I warned them that we were creating a monster,” Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is on record to have warned the US Administration.
The brazen assault by Taliban over the weekend on the international airport in Karachi is a reminder – if one was needed – of the past stupidities. Will this be the crisis that finally persuades Pakistan’s government and its powerful military to acknowledge the Taliban’s pernicious threat and confront it in a comprehensive way? It should. The attack is proof that Pakistan’s security is crumbling and the military, the country’s only stable institution, is in danger of getting out of control. And that poses grave threat not only to the Pakistani polity but the entire South Asian region.
Take Your Pick
Matter of Retrieval
"Breaking news... As soon as the election results were out, Gursharan Kaur, Manmohan Singh's wife rushed to Sonia’s house to take back the remote control !
Plan for 2019
Congress Party has started preparation for 2019 in dead seriousness. The key slogan chosen is: "Tufaan ke baad boonda-bandi, abki baar Rahul Gandhi"
Matter of Resolve
2014 election has proven one thing that a guju can do anything to get US visa!!
Changes in McDonald’s Menu
All McDonald chain outlets plan to introduce shortly
Jalebi = McRings
Khaman Dhokla = McCubix
Kachori = McSpiceball
Samosa = McPyramid
Bhajiya = McNuggets
Modi is loving it.