Talking tennis and politics…
My morning tennis schedule has gone for a bit of a toss of late for various reasons. First, the borewell motor at the court broke down and it took almost a week to repair it, and just as I have begun to get into the tennis routine again, now the borewell has run dry. It’s all rather frustrating as I do look forward to a couple of sets to get my day started on an energetic note. I hope the club does decide to deepen the well or figures out an alternative.
The good Dr. Arun Padaki, who hadn’t been playing for almost a year and half (or maybe longer) had just got back to playing again too, post the new year. His resolution, I suppose! It’s always fun to play with him – his game is good to watch, a throwback to the Ramesh Krishnan era, almost, and it’s nicer still to find that I seem to be more competitive playing against him. My first serve is still rather hit-and-miss, and I haven’t figured out how to up the pace on that. But the rest of my game seems to have improved somewhat over the past year. I wish I had taken up tennis more seriously when I was younger. Still, as the one hobby that I have sustained for 4-5 years now, it’s been rather satisfying and hopefully, I can keep it at for much longer.
On an unrelated note, with borewells running dry all over the place, and with our general lackadaisical attitude towards water conservation, I fear it won’t take any longer than 10-15 years or so before Vandana Shiva’s predictions on water wars become a geo-political reality. At a personal level, while I have been having some success in approaching my goals with a greater sense of purpose and energy, on a more macro note, I have become rather pessimistic about our future prospects.
I am inclined to think that as a country, in the next 15-20 years, we are going to reach a situation where we will be faced with a choice to break up in the Balkan fashion (hopefully, not as violently) or somehow knit ourselves together like the United States did two centuries ago. I fear it could well end up being the former. And then there are all the socio-economic challenges that, pig-headedly we refuse to address seriously. The scale of malnutrition, if the Naandi foundation’s report is anything to go by, is such a tragedy. Water, food, environment – who gives a damn. Instead, we fight over the definitions of caste based reservation for even something as a body like the Lokpal, which is so far removed from the original idea and intent of reservation. And everybody wants to be an OBC now – which is such a farce. And you have people like that irritating Mani Shankar Aiyer talking semantically about the “C” in OBC being Class and not Caste, and I suppose similarly so for the C in SC. Then there’s the idiocy of the idea of a Dalit Christian and a Dalit Muslim. Rather than gradually eliminate caste from the Hindu lexicon, we now start exporting it to the other religions too. And someone will be telling our two-faced news icons on a talk show “Isn’t this beautiful – does anything else better illustrate how India is a melting pot for all religions”. Clap, clap, clap. We create rifts even when there are none.
We don’t usually talk politics at the tennis court, but one early morning when I had arrived rather early to the courts, it was still dark enough that the three of us who were there could do nothing but wait by the courtside talking shop. And it so happened that Raj wanted to know my point of view on India’s prospects – I suppose he imagined I would be considerably more gung-ho, but while I am considerably more enthusiastic about our near-term economic prospects, with this sort of broader pessimism, I ended up sounding like an alarmist to him instead! He didn’t quite agree with me, needless to say.
We so sorely need a third national party with a non-divisive ideology, and a media house that can raise the standard of discourse we are subject to.