Posted in Cricket, Sports, Life by udoit on July 30, 2010

One of the meanings of Apocalypse is a prophetic revelation, especially concerning a cataclysm in which the forces of good permanently triumph over the forces of evil. During the year 1995 Boxing Day Cricket Test in Melbourne, Australia, neither Darrell Hair – the umpire who called a “no ball” for an illegal action nor Muttiah Muralitharan (a.k.a. Murali) – the player who bowled, knew that they initiated an Apocalypse in terms of Cricket bowling actions and its rules. In this post, we are going to see how Murali turned that incident into a prophetic revelation to the Cricketing world, especially his response to the injustices and harassments, International Cricket Council (ICC) researches’ revelations, and the lessons we can learn from his Cricketing life.

During the period between his international debut on August 1992 and that famous Boxing Day, Murali became the leading wicket taker for Sri Lanka. Yet, his bowling action was declared illegal; Murali did not criticize anybody. Definitely he would have outraged, frustrated but he worked with the system. He had support of his Captain and the management so he listened to them and underwent biomechanical analysis. Even after ICC cleared his bowling action on 1996, some Cricketers (both retired and active players) publicly criticized him and ultimately in the year 1999 in a one-day match against Australia his bowling was called “no ball” again at Adelaide Oval, Australia. In response, his captain Arjuna Ranatungae walked out with his team but the game resumed following the Sri Lankan cricket board’s order. As usual Murali did not curse or shown his anger publicly. Instead, he co-operated with ICC and Sri Lankan Cricket board, and went through a series of tests conducted by ergonomics and biomechanics experts. To my knowledge, he showed his anger publicly twice; first, in the year 2004 when he instructed his staff and lawyers to sue Bedi who is a retired Cricketer and his long time critic. However, after Arjuna (his former captain) advised him not to do that he left Bedi. Second incident was in the year 2006 at Perth, Australia when he raised his middle finger towards a spectator in the crowd who had painted his face black and had the words “no ball” painted across his chest. Because he was touched by the Australians’ generous donations to Sri Lankan Tsunami victims, Murali agreed to that Australian tour as a good will gesture, despite his announcement on the year 2004 that he would not tour Australia any more due to “then Australian Prime Minister” John Howard’s baseless remarks. After (knowing) all these, the Australian crowd harassed him and made him to lose his temper, but Murali kept his cool except that one incident. Apart from those two incidents, Murali’s response to this issue was always “It is difficult to make sure that everybody understands. Despite all the science, some people do not understand. So, it is better that I didn’t care and focus on the things I could control.” As he mentioned, his performance from the first incident improved day by day for instance during the three year period 1992-1995, he took 80 wickets but after that during the following three year periods such as 96-98, 99-01, 02-04, and 05-07 he took 120, 180, 120, and 190 wickets respectively. It is a great testimony to his words; he lived by his words.

Until the year 2004, according to the ICC rules the legal limit on bending arms were 10 and 5 degrees for fast and slow bowlers respectively. However, because of the many controversies especially the Murali’s case, the ICC conducted a research to analyze the bowling actions of various (both retired and active) players. The ICC‘s research panel comprised of former Cricket players from different countries worked with ergonomics and biomechanics experts to study various players bowling actions. Surprisingly, they found all the bowlers (both retired and active) violated the existing bowling actions rules one-way or other especially some popular (both retired and active) bowlers bended their arms more than Murali. In addition, the study revealed that it is impossible to bowl according to the existing rules. As a result, ICC amended the rule, removed the power from the umpires’ to call “no ball” and changed the process for finding legality of a bowler’s action. The sport Cricket was played at least for two hundred years before that famous Boxing Day and the ICC‘s bowling actions rules were more than one hundred years at that time but nobody realized that the bowling actions rules were not right. Albeit, a few players like Murali are affected by those rules. In Murali’s case, he cannot straighten his arm like others because of his bone structure, so even if he keeps his arm straight, it will give an optical illusion that he is keeping his arm bended. Therefore, people thought his bowling action is illegal consequently he had to go through many struggles especially due to people who did not (want to) understand. When ICC research revealed the truth, the Truth prevailed over the illusions.

When you decided to fight the injustices and harassments against you, you have two options. First, you have to work with the system by listening to elders and experts, scientifically analyze the problem, and challenge it using the existing legal system. Second, you fight against the system publicly with anger at the same time try to drive people’s support towards you, so that a mass movement will solve your problems. Murali know that the second option is not for him because driving a mass movement for a sporting issue is much harder than working with the system. He could have easily used his ethnic background to create a social stir but it would not be the right way. In addition, since he chosen to work with the system, he did not have any break in his career. As a result, he retired from Test Cricket this month (July 2010) with the world record for highest wickets — a tally of 800 wickets. Since, the current active bowler who has the next highest number of wickets is at below 375 wickets, he will definitely hold that record for another 10 years. Anger management is a necessary skill, because many people suffer their entire life due to a stupid, catastrophic mistake committed during the heat of that moment. Some people lose their loved ones, career, or valuables due to anger. Many people lose peace, harmony and quality in their life because of anger. When you get angry or disappointment, take a deep breath and slow down to analyze the situation and find either a solution or a middle ground to settle. It will give profound peace, harmony and satisfaction.

In summary, Murali with his unique bowling action not only delivered balls that bamboozled the batsmen besides he delivered a revelation regarding long time misconceptions. He is Muttiah Muralitharan not the Messiah Muralitharan however his Cricketing life delivered a prophetic message to the people. That is why, on his farewell when he said, “I have nothing more to achieve” everybody agreed with him. His long time critic Bedi said, “I still do not accept his bowling action but he is a wonderful human being.” What else, a person needs to achieve in his or her life?


A musical writer

Posted in books, writers introduction by udoit on June 26, 2010

Lalgudi Saptarishi Ramamirtham is a Tamil language writer who is also known as La.Sa.Ra. During his teen-ages’, he was inspired by Ernest Hemingway  so he started writing short stories in English. He switched to writing Tamil stories, but his writing continued to possess influence of Hemingway. He wrote contemporary social stories based on Hindu mythology. This post discusses about his writing style and two of his stories.

Like Hemingway, La.Sa.Ra also used detached descriptions of actions to capture scenes precisely. He considered writing as a holistic ritual in which the stories manifested themselves. He wrote them as a transcriptionist. Thus, he gave more emphasis to emotions rather than his viewpoints. He provided materials to the readers to feel the stories as well as live with its characters. In an interview, he said that the readers’ tongues should burn when they read his writings about fire. In other words, he created different moods using words as musical notes. As a result, he wrote too slowly during his seventy years of writing tenure . He had written less in numbers (three hundred or so short stories) compared to his counterparts.

In the majority of his stories, he captured the emotions, frustrations, needs etc. of women. One such a story is “Parkadal” which means ocean of milk in Hindu mythology. I feel “Milky way” will be a good English title for that story. In that, he starts depicting heroine’s (Jagatha) melancholy, love, anger and sacrifice during the days when her husband leaves to a different town for work and she has to stay in the big combined family with her husband’s parents, grandparents and brothers’ families.  Then gradually, the focus switches to Jagatha’s mother-in-law in a fascinating, gripping plot. At the end, Jagatha feels that family as “Parkadal” from which the terrible poison and the “Amirtha” — the nectar of immortal life — were emerged.   In summary, he  illustrates livelihood of south indian (educated, middle-class) combined families using a series of detached descriptions of various events and a mythological metaphor.

Another story is “Uthrayanam” which means moving towards north in the Sanskrit language. This story deals with the final days of the Hindu mythological character Rama and his devotee Hanuman. In that story, Hanuman was reflecting on his experiences with Rama in solitude. At that time, Rama visits him and enquires about his thinking. Hanuman replies that he thinks that the whole point of his Avatar is to show the people the importance of their fathers’ words. Rama nods his head in agreement. People (usually men) leave their home and goes towards north for solitude during their final days in Tamil culture. By naming this story as “Uthrayanam”, La.Sa.Ra showed his command in Hindu mythology as well as his mastery in Tamil culture.

La.Sa.Ra is the first Tamil writer who used sequence of scenes’ descriptions to depict the stories to his readers like a movie. He wrote stories and columns based on his real life incidents and experiences besides contemporary social stories based on Hindu mythology.  Incidentally, he received India’s highest literary honor award “Sahitya Academy Award” in the year 1989 for his collection of autobiographical essays called “Chintha nathi”.

Justa kaj Daŭranta Paco

Posted in Humanity, Peace, War by udoit on January 18, 2010

Justa kaj Daŭranta Paco”, do not worry there are no problems in your computer or in the font settings. I know, you will be thinking, is it typo or font problems. It means “A Just and Lasting Peace” in the language Esperanto. Last month (December 10, 2009) President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech “A Just and Lasting Peace”, mentioned that he did not bring with him a definitive solution to the problems of war and would need to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

I was thinking, do anybody in modern western world, thought about causes of war to have lasting peace. In the ancient world, there are many moral/religious text preaching importance of love, non-violence etc. Still history of human kind always filled with many wars and sufferings to people. At that time, Google’s doodle image “Esperanto’s green-starred flag” caught my attention.

Green-starred flag

“I am profoundly convinced that every nationalism offers humanity only the greatest unhappiness…”

Mr. L. L. Zamenhof son of Russian (Belarusian) father and Yiddish (German Jewish) mother born in the Russian empire’s Poland, created the International Language Esperanto to play the role of a neutral communication tool between people of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. He published the booklet describing Esperanto in the year 1887. We all know both the world wars happened decades after this language published. Therefore, it is very clear that misunderstanding because of languages, cultures etc. not at all a reason. Incidentally both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin laden, key persons behind the Iraq and Afghanistan wars respectively, were allies to USA in the past. When compare to other leaders they know USA well and USA knows them well.

What could be reasons for human kind’s sufferings due to war? I found the following interesting Zamenhof’s quote:

“I am profoundly convinced that every nationalism offers humanity only the greatest unhappiness…It is true that the nationalism of oppressed peoples — as a natural self-defensive reaction — is much more excusable than the nationalism of peoples who oppress; but, if the nationalism of the strong is ignoble, the nationalism of the weak is imprudent; both give birth to and support each other…”

I first heard similar words from Mr. E.V. Ramasamy a.k.a. “Periyar. As part of his self-respect and rationalism movement, he said that we should not have any pride or affinity towards our caste* or nationality or religion etc. Basis for these are from the popular old moral/religious teachings “love others like you”. In my experience, it is the toughest thing to practice and needs delicate balance while practicing. People, who do not practice become

E.V. Ramasamy a.k.a. “Periyar”

mean and selfish. In case of other extreme, people will force their desires and dreams on others. For example, while advising or helping others acting like a patron, instead of acting like a partner. These patronages lead a group of people always look up for solutions, rather than think and find solutions themselves. The patron thinks him/her superior than others and the oppression starts.

As Zamenhof mentioned one gives birth to other, so no wonder President Obama did not come with a solution to the problems of  war. I will think more (in new ways?) and discuss in the upcoming posts…

Periyar is a notable social reformer and philosopher from south India. He influenced lives of most people in Tamilnadu while he was alive and now.

*Caste is a social classification system found in South Asian countries (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh). It is more like class to categorize people, but it affected lives of people negatively than helped them.


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Education, Hard work and Progress

Posted in Community, Education, Empowerment, Income Generation by udoit on December 6, 2009

Reducing the gap between rich and poor is an interesting and the most controversial subject for many years. One of the popular solution to that problem is reducing the gap in the early school education’s standards. President George W Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act’s focus area was to cut the achievement gap between well-off and lower-income students or between minority students and non-minority students. This post tells success story of one such a program “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” (SSA). SSA is Government of India’s effort to universalize elementary education by community-ownership of the school system. It is a response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country. The following paragraph is from SSA program’s monitoring report.

This school built and acquired facilities, equipment and other provisions worth Indian Rupees Rs.1,000,000 (about USD $25,000). It has Internet facility and a Science laboratory having instruments worth Rs.50,000 (about $1,250) with separate sections for Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There are separate toilets for men and women staff, boys and girls students. Each classroom has a TV. Movies and other programs are broadcasted from library and Headmaster’s room during lunch break. There is a spacious noon meal center facility that can accommodate hundred students. The school with compound wall and various blocks such as class rooms, library, lab and storage rooms looks like a college campus.

Mangudi middle school - Noon Meal center

Noon Meal center

Story Highlights 

  •  Middle school in a small village transforms its status due to a visionary Headmaster, supportive villagers, teachers and students.
  • Passion and hard work combined with Government and community involvement can make anything possible.
  •  An Institution stands for its motto “Education, Hard work and Progress“.

It is neither about a Private school nor a Public school in wealthy neighborhood of a City (State/District capital). It is about Mangudi Panchayat Union Middle School, located 7 kilometers from Aranthangi, Pudukottai District, Tamil Nadu. The Mangudi village’s population is 1,581 and 241 children study in that middle school with 0% dropout rate. If this school in a small village without proper road access can do so much, why other schools with better road access cannot do none of these? Let us see the reason.

Mr. Jothimani, Mangudi middle school’s Headmaster is the key person behind these achievements. During his 20 years of experience as school teacher and teacher training instructor (includes one year as SSA program instructor), he completed over 200 training courses on teaching and school management. All those knowledge and experience combined with his relentless efforts, enabled to create a “dream school”. Whatever he taught in SSA program about community-owned education system, was implemented in Mangudi Middle school through villagers, village education committee and Tamil Nadu Endowment Trust (a trust constituting Tamils living in all over the world).

Headmaster Mr. Jothimani

Mr. Jothimani (on the left)

“If this school in a small village without proper road access can do so much, why other schools with better road access cannot do none of these?”

Mr. Jothimani, his team and Mangudi villagers proved that poor children can get best education with community ownership and a good leadership. In summary, they reduced the gap between the Poor and Rich in village children’s school education. Mr. Jothimani is awarded Tamil Nadu state best teacher award for year 2009. It is really an honor to that award. I want to finish this post by listing more features of Mangudi middle school:

  • Promotes hygiene and health awareness among children. Children who are not able to take bath in their homes, can take bath in school bathrooms.
  • The school has separate pits for bio-degradable and non-degradable wastes. The pits are constructed at the cost of Rs.10,000 (about $250).
  • The school garden has both ornamental and medicinal plants. The school has over 50 trees like ‘Pungan’ and ‘Neem’ giving cool shade and healthy air.
  • Under a Savings Scheme, children deposit small amounts every month (recurring deposit). When they graduate out of the school, the accumulated lump sum will be handy for their higher educations.
  • Special training is given thrice a week for interested students  to develop oratory skills .
  • Received Tamil Nadu State government’s best elementary school award for 2007-08, Unicef’s ten star award for hygiene and sanitation facilities and a several awards from various organizations.
  • Students has good knowledge of desktop productivity softwares, like word processors, PageMaker and PowerPoint. Students prepare PowerPoint presentations as part of their group assignments and do presentations in their class room.
  • There are several student’s committees to oversee and do various day-to-day activities like Records maintaining, Library management, Drinking water facilities, and Hygiene oversight. 200 out of 241 students actively participate in these committees.


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