Monday, March 27, 2006

Looking forward to Delhi 2010

I normally don’t watch ending ceremony’s of sports events as I get sentimental. However, I happened to be watching the Commonwealth Games ending ceremony on Sunday. Putting aside a possible cynical aspect of their existence (colonial linkage), they do at least bring people together to celebrate diversity.

Some of you may know that India (Delhi) will be hosting the next games in 2010. During one of the many open-air / stadium extravaganza acts, India had an opportunity to shine and present a welcome to 2010. And ‘shine’ they did with over 1000 dancers with an illuminating effect. The act was sensibly timed and tasteful. It was also great to see a Sikh receive an award on the main / master stage.

However, I was astounded by a comment made by one of the BBC presenter/ voiceover/ commentator/ narrators. He negatively claimed that the Indian segment was too long and that they should save it for the start of the 2010. In my view it certainly was not long. Instead it showed imagination and a sneak preview into what is to come. It is the new hosting country’s right to encourage a warm welcome and India did a great job in Melbourne.

I certainly question the Dame Edna dance routine afterwards – the same commentator suggesting that it (the Dame Edna routine) was ‘tongue in cheek’, in my view it was long, irrelevant and rude. At the start of the Dame Edna routine, she/he interrupted a presenting athelete.

This whole episode started me thinking about how such comments made in the context of general media/journalism. Stereotyping and preference unfortunately exist in this domain. In last weeks article I suggested that it was good to see Indian medal winners – What a result! Rather than welcoming and encouraging athletes from nations that are putting in a good effort, they are instead sidelined by a patriotic stance.

The evidence is clear. Next time you watch an international tournament, see if you notice how much ‘over play’ is exhibited by the sports production team for leading players or runners. Take for example, the Womens relay. I couldn’t see the performance of other nations in detail.

Maybe there is a hidden agenda? Some may argue that at least we get to see Monty perform in the England cricket team. My issue is not about who plays for England. I’m concerned about how other countries are viewed (or not as is the case maybe in many championships).

We need to realise that the media bites in selective and subtle ways. So subtle that the ‘knock on’ implication will affect what facilities are available. I remember a few years ago that it was only through the wonderful efforts of a few brave members of the ethnic community in West London who developed a kids soccer camp (in Southall (UK)/surrounding areas) with the leading football coaches from Brasil. After the event, they were approached by premiership clubs. These clubs should have been there and willing to offer such camps from the start.

Sports although competitive should not compromise their importance in bringing humanity together. The task of unity becomes difficult when the media are narrow-minded and living with shutters on their windows.

Read more!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What a result...!

Medals Table
Last Updated: Mon Mar 20 2006
Gold, Silver and Bronze:
Australia 42, 38, 32 : Total = 112
England 18, 21, 15: Total = 54
India 12, 8, 3: Total= 23
Scotland 8, 5, 6: Total = 19
Canada, 7,16,14: Total = 37

The table above shows for the first time (maybe I just started noticing!) India having an acclaimed total in the ranking of medals at this years Commonwealth Games.Every time the Olympics are on I’m always saddened by the contrast that the countries with the least populations have the most number of participants. I wonder if it is down to facilities or an approach to life.

Maybe it is more fundamental than that? It could be down to the fact that countries that find it difficult to survive cannot then turn to participative sports.

I’m also fed up with some racist propaganda that suggests that certain ethnic groups have selective advantages vs sports. Call me an idealist but I hold to the truth and belief that everyone has potential and can achieve, they just need a chance.

At this years Commonwealth games Indian Shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang won the gold in men's 50 m rifle three positions pairs shooting event. They also won gold in the Men's 10 metres Air Rifle pairs' event. Sharpe shooter Tejaswini Sawant also won gold in the 10 meter Air Rifle women’s individual event, while Avneet Kaur Sidhu claimed silver in the same event. Continuing with shooting events, Sarmesh Jung and Jaspal Rana won gold in the Men’s 25 meter centre fire pistol event.

It was also interesting to see that residents of the Kiyamgei Mayai Leikai village in Manipur were jubilant as their home girl Renu Bala Yumnam Chanu clinched gold in the 58 kilograms weightlifting. The 20-year-old had won on Saturday but her home was unfortunately out of electricity and could not watch the games on television. Twelve hours later the villagers streamed into Renu Bala's house to congratulate her family. A tear-eyed Tampha, Renu Bala's mother, said she was proud of her daughter and said, ‘Due to power failure I could not watch the game. I feel that the gold medal that my daughter won came a little late to her. But I am very happy and proud of her. I was very restless during the last few days, worried about her performance during the game. I was so worried that I could not even watch the game.’ H. Sanajaoba, the village chief, said Bala’s achievement despite her humble background, was an inspiration for other youngsters. Bala’s family said though extremely impoverished, the young girl had for years trained on her own with stones and iron rods, till being spotted by a local athlete. ‘She got the gold and we are very proud of her. And I think her getting a medal will encourage our new generation in this sport,’ he said.

Her story represents both sadness and success. Sadness in the context that only her determination made her achieve for her country. Her success verifies the belief that ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’!Just imagine how many more sporting heros are out there. All we need is to push for their equal rights to participate.

Maybe commercial sports organizations are missing an opportunity to demonstrate a contribution. Commercial reality bites but quality will shine through.

Read more!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Why do Sikhs celebrate Holla Moholla ?

This Sikh festival is celebrated in the month of Phalguna , a day after Holi. Every year a festival is held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, India. Hola Mohalla was started by Guru Gobind Singh – Sikhs would gather for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi. It reminds the people of valour and defense preparedness. A number of feats can also be seen, for example: Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing up straight on two speeding horses. This three-day festival also includes music and poetry competitions.

There are also a number of durbars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. On the last day a long procession, led by the Panj Pyaras, it starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through gurdwaras, for example at Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji, ending at the Takth.

For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens with sewa (community service) take place.

The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh felt that Holi, had lost its original meaning over the years. It was no longer a celebration to reaffirm fraternity and brotherhood. In 1757 AD he decided to revive the spirit of Holi and weave its essence into a festival created in the Khalsa traditions.

Early morning prayers at the gurdwaras mark the beginning of the festival. The Guru Granth Sahib is brought out with ceremony and placed on the dais. Akhandapathas, Kar seva, Shabads and Kirtans are performed The Karah Prasad is distributed to the congregation, after it has been consecrated by the Guru. At noon, men and women from all castes and creed eat together at the guru ka langar.

Stories are narrated about the bravery of Guru Gobind Singh in prose and verse. Tribute is also accorded to Guru Hargobind, who led his army to free 52 captive kings from the Gwalior jail in 1612 AD. Colorful processions are also organized on Holla Mohalla.

Researching this Article
The Internet has so many useful resources, for example historic references. This article is an adaptation from items that I found while researching the original question. For example: is an online encyclopedia that is edited in a collaborative manner around the world –It has so much history and appears well moderated.

Interestingly, whilst researching I came across an excellent new online video, called Sikh on The Street: please visit:

I was deeply moved by this video (also downloadable), it showed us that there is still much to do to communicate the wonders of Sikhism, who we are and what we believe in – Interfaith communication is essential to help avoid ignorance and disrespect from each other.

The Sikhs contribution to world history is amazing. The sacrifices for freedom should always be remembered in our hearts.

Read more!

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscars – Full of Frills, Fans and Fantasy?

It was interesting to find out that George Clooney, a winner from this year’s Oscars said, ‘We are the ones who talked about Aids when it was only being whispered... We talked about civil rights... I'm proud to be part of this Academy, proud to be part of this community.’If we decipher these words what do we discover? Yes, it is wonderful that movie ‘stars’ and makers can bring into our homes points of social cause but I have to admit that I feel a sense of cynicism and contradiction when I see the world media going crazy over who is wearing what. Who is dating who. Who’s in and who’s out. The endless parties and ego trips or the ego trips and the endless parties!

It is good to raise awareness and in an increasingly celebrity obsessed world maybe they (the actors) can help focus peoples minds, but the double standards that they portray do not help.
It is not a case of envy, as being a super star comes with its own pressures but there is an opportunity for some calming down. Living the dream should not be at the expense of the rest of the world living out their nightmares.Last Thursday night I was out at a team building event, it started off at The Comedy Store in Leicester Square, London, UK. The show was not for the light hearted but it was good that many of the jokes steered away from anti-religious connotations. Instead, one of the five lined-up comedians suggested that although he enjoyed last summer’s Live8 concert, what value did Bill Gates bring to the event. He may have been unaware of both Bill and his wife Melinda’s commitment to the global vaccination project. Here we can see someone putting some of their money to good use. Please visit:
It is also true that many actors are goodwill and humanitarian ambassadors for the United Nations, for example: Angelina Jolie.

So, although there are people that are willing to help, the vast majority of corporations and sponsoring organisation sit silently amongst the glow of their product placements into both our movies and subsequent lives. Is there not time for us to ask for some corporate responsibility? Is it not time for us to stop the Oscar madness? Is it not time for us to realise that movies are stories and that actors are simply copying or emulating real lives. Their party going is another way to escape reality. The true reality is what we can achieve by the people for the people.

Frills, Fans and Fantasy cannot change the world. George is right that movies can create awareness and that his ‘little club’ helps. However, the true power lies in our personal ability to ‘push’ for change and not play to the fanfare of awards.

Read more!