Monday, March 2, 2015

The PDP - BJP Alliance and a willing suspension of disbelief

The PDP - BJP alliance has got off to - well - let's say an inauspicious start. Within minutes of taking his oath as the new CM of Jammu & Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayed allegedly thanked Pakistan, Millitants and Hurriyat for "allowing" elections to take place peacefully. The actual clip is here and perhaps what he was saying was slightly more nuanced. Nevertheless, apart from causing a lot of heartburn to BJP's supporters, it also provided ammunition to the opposition to corner the government in the Lok Sabha and then stage a walk-out !
It has required some real imagination and actually working on that famous saying : Politics is the art of the possible - to make this government happen. The fractured mandate reflected the fractured polity of the state. This article by Ram Madhav - BJP's chief negotiator gives an insight into what it took for realizing the art of the possible here.
But the early signs are not encouraging at all. Apart from the above mentioned comment on "allowing elections to happen", the new CM has talked about "making the army responsible for its actions", while some PDP folks have allegedly demanded the return of the mortal remains of Afzal Guru. Also, the early news coming in on the allocation of portfolios is not very encouraging for the BJP.
There is very little doubt that the average BJP supporter - who has seen Article 370 being shelved for the time being for instance, will be quite aghast at these statements. I feel that the patience of the BJP leadership will be severely tested - time and again over the coming weeks and months and it will require either a willing suspension of disbelief from the supporters or incredible verbal gymnastics to make this alliance continue for any significant length of time. Stranger things than a PDP-BJP alliance have rarely happened in the past - it will require more strangeness to allow these two strangers to work together in any sort of constructive manner. A lot of heartburns and some humble pie eating will be needed to sustain this for a long time.. Interesting times ahead. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some thoughts on the "terror boat" incident

The "terror boat" incident has brought about some very "interesting" reporting from the media and reactions all around. Here are some of my thoughts.

1) It is now abundantly clear, that a large and more importantly an influential section of India's media is opposed to this government at a very basic ideological level. Hence, communicating events in an even handed, objective manner from the government becomes crucial. The very semblance or suggestion of the government (and more particularly this government)  taking any credit, due or undue, (which I think is the basic issue in the terror boat controversy) will be questioned by sections of the media and will also be piggy backed by the opposition.
In light of this, it is imperative that the government and the armed forces must ensure that all agencies involved speak in a consistent manner. Let complete investigations be done - before taking credits or apportioning blames. The downside of the suggestion that the government is trying to get political mileage from military incidents - in terms of adverse press and consequential fire fighting is not worth the risk of making premature, self congratulatory assertions, which are hard to prove.

2) Irrespective of one's political leanings, I think it is a fairly safe assumption to say, that for large sections of India's population - India's armed forces remain the most credible and trustworthy institution of the Indian state. For some - still a substantial proportion, India's military goes beyond just the credible and trustworthy tag - it is a positively "sacred" symbol. And so, it is a rude shock to such people - when pointed questions are asked of the armed forces by India's intellectually "liberal" parts of the media. Many of us look at strategic affairs with a very binary mindset : namely "us (India, India's military)" vs "them (the enemy, Pakistani terrorists or Pakistan)". For this mindset it hard to even believe that it is indeed just intellectual curiosity and pursuit of the truth and not some sinister design behind sections of the media's "investigations" into incidents such as the "terror boat". Seeing India's media people speaking on Pakistani news channels discussing military incidents is for some - crossing a line when it comes to strategic affairs. (Incidentally - I have never understood the purpose of calling Pakistani ex-military folks on The News Hour and having arguments and scoring points either).
This is a very basic difference in world view - which is not easy to reconcile with. To see one's sacredly held institution or belief be questioned is very difficult to take and we know that very well know. It is also important to understand that for some - nothing - and in this case - the government and more specifically the military is not a holy cow and hence will face scrutiny. There are indeed some areas where people will find it easier to see questions related to the armed forces being raised such as : questions on meritocracy or indeed when it comes to issues raised on possible corruption in arms related deals. People would prefer however if media spends more time campaigning for the rights of soldiers such as one rank, one pension etc, but questioning military incidents and operations is harder to digest to quite a lot of people.
Having said all this - we all do realize that questions will be asked - some out of a duty towards truth, and some perhaps out of sheer antipathy towards the present government. It is also true that in all likelihood the questioners are not anti-national, and any advantage or debating points gained by the other side is merely a collateral damage in the pursuit of truth. Every citizen has their own judgement of whom to give their benefit of doubt. And so - while the government and the armed forces will do well to communicate much better in future incidents, I am of the opinion that - giving the benefit of the doubt to our professional armed forces is a very good idea - for they are keeping the "Idea of India" alive far more than anyone else. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

David and Goliath

AAP - 67: BJP -3. Probably the most stunning election result ever in India - and certainly t when it comes to state assembly elections. You might think this is another case of the Biblical tale of David, the underdog - here the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) defeating the Goliath, the giant and favourite - here  - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who are favourites - simply by dint of having won the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and numerous assembly elections since then and having a team of Narendra Modi + Amit Shah at the top who have been undefeated till now in wherever they have seriously put in efforts.
Well - you are right, in thinking that yes - David did beat Goliath. But if you believe or at least go along with the Gladwell version of this (see the video below) , David (AAP) was always going to beat Goliath (BJP). And that is because - this was not a tank fight, like the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections -but that  this was a street fight - and for this fight, AAP was better equipped with their their new, unorthodox and improvised approach - compared to the BJP's more textbook, traditional political ways. And so as Gladwell tells us - it is not the size of the fighter that decides but the suitability of the tools for the nature of the fight that tells us who is going to win.
I am not saying that BJP will always be a Goliath and AAP - David. In fact, in the 2014 elections - BJP were far more modern, innovative and new in their messaging and campaign when they defeated the grand old party of India - the terminally declining Congress. But in this fast changing world of Indian politics, yesterday's David are today's Goliath, and who knows what tomorrow brings.
I am also not saying that with this logic - all underdogs are going to win - or that we should have known this all along. All I am saying (using Gladwell's version of the story) is that perhaps some underdogs are not really underdogs if we look carefully at the nature of the contest, and that perhaps makes a new, upcoming, party which is bringing in new methods of engaging with the electorate to the table, which is more agile and nimble and perhaps most importantly - more enthusiastic, a very formidable competitor - now and for the years to come.
Indian politics has changed completely in the last two years and two men - Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal have changed it. Very few - even till mid 2013 believed Modi could be a viable Prime Ministerial candidate, let alone win a majority on his own - given his past. But he did -and he did that by playing the game by his own rules. And no one, even till today morning - could believe Kejriwal could pull of the kind of stunning victory that he did today - not even his own party. For it is not the victory, but the stunning nature of it, that is most incredible.
Modi and Kejriwal are India's two top politicians and they are 1-1 right now. 2014 LS belonged to Modi - 2015 Delhi is Kejriwals' win. The two victories are not comparable in terms of size at all - the former being like a World Cup - and this like - just another ODI series : Modi's achievement and scale of victory remains far bigger. But what cannot be denied is that Kejriwal took on not just the BJP, but Modi as well (even if it was his home turf)  and beat them in a devastating fashion. This is a win in a head to head contest and no amount of spin should take away that credit which Kejriwal deserves.
We don't know if this will be a one off blip for the Modi -Shah juggernaut or whether Kejriwal will be able to expand significantly across the country. But we now know this - Modi is not invincible any more - that aura is gone; and that Kejriwal is quite simply his only challenger - who can have a national impact (The likes of Jayalalitha or Mamata don't count because they are strictly one state parties). And while I am very, very skeptical of the politics and policies of Kejriwal - India once again does have two different options, different models to seriously think about - something which the suicidal Congress had kind of taken away for a while.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Are Some Double Standards Ok ? - Part 1

I am writing this more as a set of questions rather than opinions about which I am completely convinced. The question broadly is : Are Some Double Standards Ok ? Or should all Double Standards be rejected outright as smacking of hypocrisy etc ? Perhaps there is a middle ground as well. Let's see.

Double standards basically mean that different set of principles being applied to judge similar sets of circumstances for different people. In other words, basically different rules for the two sides playing the same game. And when one does not apply rules fairly, the accusation of hypocrisy comes up. In an era where almost every question is answered by - "But what about ....." or he also did this - hence the question is invalid, double standards get highlighted even more. Hence, my question on Are Some Double Standards are Ok ?Or even  - Is Some Hypocrisy (sort of) Ok ?

Let me try and see this question in light of some recent situations:

1) The Obama Religious Freedom "Edification": In a speech in New Delhi, during his presidential visit, Obama asked for upholding religious freedom in India (still a secular, democratic country). He even invoked the constitution (Article 25) - so he was being quite categorical about this. Of course, the media took this as a jibe at the Modi govt and so on. Interestingly enough, just after his India visit, he went to Saudi Arabia to pay his condolences to the departed king there. Obama hasn't made any statement about the condition of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia (an Islamic republic) and so - some people began to question his credentials of questioning India when he doesn't do the same to Saudi Arabia.

The question is : Is this double standard ok ? Should Indians take the criticism (or observation) from Obama seriously or shout hypocrisy on account of his failure to say the same to Saudi Arabia ?

In my opinion - the double standard here - if it indeed can be called that is justified. India, as a self proclaimed - secular country - has to be judged in a different parameter to a theocracy - and so if are not measuring up to our own standards - and it is being pointed out, we have to be big enough to take the criticism. It can be no consolation that religious freedom is better in India than Saudi Arabia - we have to aspire and be judged upon a higher standard.

(Note: I am not further bringing in Obama's comments in his breakfast prayer meeting - it is basically the same point made, but in a little more pointed way).

2) The AAP "Hawala at midnight" row: Without going into the details of it, the double standard in question is very simple. Can BJP & Congress - who themselves do not disclose their funding sources, question AAP - a party which discloses on the details of the person donating - and which is possibly a shell company. At the outset - it is hypocrisy from the other political parties and merely an electoral issue brought in - in the last moment.

In my opinion, AAP has to follow two rules - one laid down by the government and ensure compliance with that. And second - their own standards of transparency - that they proclaim with self righteousness. The jury is still out on this one if they have lived up to the second rule.

3) Conversion/ Ghar Wapasi: The recent controversy regarding assorted members of the Sangh parivar trying to "re-convert" people back to the Hindu fold is well known and was perhaps blown out of proportion by the media. There are many facets in question here - starting from the fundamental right of freedom to practice any religion to the question of inducements and indeed fraud being done. It also brought out lot of talk about the evangelical project in India - which has been going about their business of spreading Christianity - quite successfully it would appear - in various parts of India.
But the one, really interesting argument that I noticed in between all the sound and light being made was this: Christianity and Islam are by definitions proselytizing religions, but Hinduism is not. It is only modern versions of the Hindu religion such as Arya Samaj which have brought in this concept. And so it is fair game for Christians and Muslims to spread their religion through conversions, but not so for Hindus. Hence any and all efforts by Hindu organizations to covert or reconvert people back into the Hindu religion is not acceptable.

I found this line of thinking - the most interesting at a theoretical level. However, it has neither any impact at either the ground level thinking of Hindu Orgs,  nor should the law consider it. The law should be equal for all faith groups. I found Nitin Pai's article on this quite in line with what should happen. The one personal opinion I do have about conversions is that - conversions should be allowed only above the age of 18. If we believe people, only above 18 have the wisdom and intellect to decide who to choose while voting,  I think - it is fair to argue that similarly the decision to change religion can also be looked at in a similar light. It should allay fears of mass conversions being carried out in dubious manner in tribal areas where I do think it is possible that people are converting without sufficient knowledge and facts.

I had quite a few other topics to think about, but this post is almost becoming TLDR, hence breaking it into perhaps two parts. More on this later.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two small points on common reactions to a terror attack

After my last post on reactions to a terror attack, I want to make an observation about a couple of the very common and standard responses that I have seen.

1) Terror has no religion. This is commonly spouted by most politicians as well as liberals while condemning the latest terror attack. Case in point, the French President himself said in the aftermath of the attack that the person involved had nothing to do with Islam. Or if we go a few months, back, Barack Obama said ISIS had nothing to do with Islam. Pretty much, every politician in India including Narendra Modi also says the same thing.

I do not agree with this politically correct - bull shit or capitulation. First of all if you say - terror has "no religion" - then are you implying that it has something to do with those who have "no religion " ? Are you implying terror has something to do with Atheism ? But more seriously, if the terrorists are actually telling us that they want an Islamic state or are doing it to avenge their religion's Prophet, how can it have nothing to do with religion ? It can be argued and it should be argued that it is possibly based on a very wrong and distorted view of that religion - and that wrong and distorted view needs to be challenged - sure, but to deny links with religion and all that goes along with its indoctrination and training is simply being in denial.

2) All Muslims must apologize for a terror attack done by Muslims. This is another common response - typically from the other side or the right wing - which asks, nay demands, all Muslims not just condemn but apologize for the misdeeds of the terrorists.

There are a lot of problems with this view:
a) The ones that you are able to communicate with and have a dialogue with, are living in the same society as you are, and have nothing to do with it. If they had anything to do with this, then you wouldn't know them or speak with them anyway.
b) How does a Muslim living in say India or Indonesia bear any obligation for the misdeeds of these terrorists - you cannot logically link the responsibility.
c) What benefit will you gain anyway if a few apologized for the sake of it - it is pointless. What next ?

What happens by making these sort of petulant and stupid demands is that the real issue of terrorism and how to counter it gets lost and gives the opponents of those making this stupid demand a chance to accuse people of bigotry and racism and the debate gets lost. And if you are unlucky you get pwned very badly too :)

So what can you do or ask of Muslims if anything at all ? Nothing in my opinion. Those who are actually living in these middle eastern countries or African countries, from where this radical Islamic terror is emanating - have to find their own solutions. And those living in the democratic world - are and have to be part of the debates in these societies.

Edit: Curiously enough, Garry Kasparov had to see the following today evening itself....

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How do folks react to a a terror attack by Islamic Terrorists ?

So, yesterday, we had yet another terror attack, by Islamic Terrorists. As John Stewart says, you just can't make sense of these things.

Having said that, many folks (and I am guilty of judging myself) do react and we then get to see the views, and more importantly the inherent biases within the people in their reactions.

And in these myriad reactions, I did some very, very broad generalizations to categorize the reaction of the different types of people as to how they react to a terror attack by Islamic terrorists. Note : these reactions are when a "western" or democratic country is attacked and not say for ISIS related attacks in the middle -east.

 I wonder if others think this categorization is reasonably accurate.

PS: Where should anyone stand on such issues ? Apart from a feeling of solidarity and grief with the victims, there is no one right answer that I know of, for all the other questions. Where do I stand - I admit I am what a lot of people would call a bigot in this matter, and my views are probably closest to Type 2. I could be Type 1 as well if you consider that in India - Type 2 is not really a category. And my biggest problem is with folks in Type 3 - because they control the dominant media narrative. But more bitching about that on some other day.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Debate

I have followed this debate about Islam, over the last few months and found this entire debate rather interesting. Here are some of the more important videos and some good articles about this debate that I found.

1) A Bill Maher monologue

2) Reza Aslan slamming Maher.

Some fact checks about Aslan's claims: Revisiting Reza Aslan's response to Bill Maher about female genital mutilation

A critique : Critics Of New Atheists Are Becoming More Slanderous In Their Quest To Defend Islam

3) This is where it went really viral. When Ben Affleck and Sam Harris had a debate on the Bill Maher show.

This was a great peace by a Pakistani woman: An Open Letter to Ben Affleck

And on the same topic this was a great read too: An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims

4) Reza Aslan brings more "sophistication" while reacting to the debate.

Some further reading  on this topic in writings  by Reza Aslan and here's another one:

5) Sam Harris defends himself here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Old Forward: Cricketer Funny Bios

DISCLAIMER: I am not the writer of the below material. I first came across them in the Bulletin Board of my previous company and folks there too forwarded without attribution.

A google search of some of the text gave only a couple of matches. Perhaps this is where we find that the original author could be one who writes at, but that one is a blog open to invited readers. Here's the best stuff from that page, published below for easy reading and as a fan.

Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble was to bowling what Dravid is to batting. Dravid redefined batting by not playing a shot, Kumble redefined spin bowling by not spinning the ball. Dravid was associated with the straight bat; Kumble with the straight ball.
It is an irony that a man named after a circle preferred to bowl straight. This wasn't because he couldn't spin the ball. One of the cleverest bowlers of all time, Kumble estimated early on in his career that a leg break- googly bowler could beat batsmen only half the time- either when he played a leg break mistaking it for a googly or when he played a googly mistaking it for a legbreak. He discovered that if he bowled straight, a batsman playing either for the googly or the leg break could be foxed.
Consequently, his leg breaks never turned. He had a variation- the deadly flipper which was bowled with the same action as the leg break and didn't turn. In fact, it was identical to the leg break in all respects, except that he called it a flipper.
To understand how this enabled him to get wickets, one should remember again that Kumble was one of the cleverst cricketers to have played the game. Having read in his childhood how Clarie Grimett used to snap his fingers, thus leading to the impression that he had bowled a flipper, and then bowl a leg break, Kumble used to do the same.
The batsmen, having read the Grimett story themselves, would realise that Kumble was bowling the leg break while pretending to bowl the flipper.
Howeve, since they also knew that the two were the same, this paradox would so confuse them that they would be dazed for a while. One second of indecision against Kumble would of course be deadly.
Kumble's moment of glory came when he took 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan. The umpiring decisions were all correct, though one of them, that of Akram being given out leg before wicket when Younis was in fact the batsman facing, is sometimes debated.
On Indian tracks against lefthanders in the second innings, Kumble was deadly, especially if the track had stones planted on it at crucial spots. He used to call them 'his precious stones."
Kumble is particularly noted for his dive. The dive was always like the rotation of the windmill which allows the wind to pass through. Stopping the ball was never the priority. After all, why risk getting injured when the whole team depended on you?
Never one to stand in the way of young talent, Kumble has decided to call it a day when people ask why and not why not. In an announcement that made his sacrifice and quest towards perfection abundantly clear, he said in a recenrt conference that he would retire after taking eleven wickets in an innings.
When a journalist reminded him that it had never happened so far, he said that that was precisely the reason why he wanted to be the first to do it. Since he had taken 10 wickets in an innings once, he hoped to be able to replicate the feat, since everyone knew that No. 11 was the easiest to get out. His logic was as sharp as ever.
A career that started with a paradox has ended in one- people wonder how this gentle giant, this non-spinning spinner can simultaneously be the proud master of world cricket while being a humble servant of Indian cricket. Such are the questions that this cricketer who had all the answers will leave for us.
All said and done, Kumble is undoubtedly the finest spinner to ever play cricket and the second best leg spinner India has ever produced.
Ajit Agarkar
Agarkar is the only cricketer to have his biography started during his playing career. However, the book is yet to be finished because a chapter on three reasons why he's not a total waste as a cricketer is still not completed even after three months of it having been started.
Agarkar is an animal and bird lover with a particular liking for ducks. A team mate challenged him to eat duck for five meals in a row. He lost the bet, but made amends on the cricket field.
Widely panned for being short and wide all the time, he once bowled eighty balls without even one being short and wide. This was particularly impressive when you consider that all of them were either short or wide. He went for 137 runs, but not before he had demonstrated his point.
As a bowler, his variety was bewildeing. His arsenal included bouncers outside off and down leg, full tosses, overpitched deliveries, noballs and wides. He is the only bowler to have achieved the quadruple (the feat of bowling at least one wide each down leg side and outside off stump to both lefties and righties in the same match) 50 times.
He used to practise with a red carpet laid out on the entire pitch. He used to be able to pitch the ball anywhere outside the carpet at will, in keeping with the great traditions of Indian fast bowlers. This used to be called Agarkar's red carpet welcome to batsmen.
Saurav Ganguly
He famously hit an explosive hundred against SL in Taunton with so many sixes that the residents of the town thought they were being bombed.
Towards the end of his career, Ganguly spent 20% of the time convincing the media that he'd never fought with Greg Chappell, 20% convincing them that he didn't have a problem with the short ball, and 60% convincing them that he'd never fought with Greg Chappel about having a problem with the short ball. The remaining time he spent in improving his rapport with the coach and comfort factor against the short ball.
His inclusion/exclusion in the team was used by scientists at the University of Michigan as the starting point for random number generation. It is said that Dravid used to carry a coin around with him and toss it to determine whether Ganguly should play or not.
His career ended when Greg Chappel suggested a new system whereby the coin was substituted by two dice. If the sum of the two scores on rolling them was greater than 14, Ganguly would play.
Ganguly also played soccer. Dravid had a high regard for Ganguly's abilities as a soccer player, once paying him the ultimate compliment- that if he played soccer with God, God would be off side first and then Ganguly. His natural instinct to kick the ball led to a large number of lbw dismissals while playing cricket.
A wonderful defender, he could play on either wing. By an amazing coincidence, like in cricket, Ganguly alternated between being left out and being right back in soccer too.
Rahul Dravid
The great batsmen make fielders redundant by the brilliance of their stroke play. Dravid is the greatest of them all- he makes fielders redundant by refusing to play any shot.
Most batsmen have no shot as their favourite. Dravid's favourite is no shot. While other batsmen would play bread and butter shots, he would offer none and hence got the nickname of "Jammie".
He is a textbook cricketer- a champion at book cricket, which is also the only game where he ever scored more than two runs in one try.
Dravid has always been a tough nut to crack for opposing captains. This is particularly true of one-day cricket where over the first half of his career, opposing captains worried themselves sick about how to get him out.
However, he evolved as a batsman, like all champion cricketers do, and posed tougher questions towards the second half of his career when captains started losing sleep over how to not get him out, since they felt their best chance was to keep him at the crease.
In an ODI final recently, when Dravid was caught at point, he had faced 60 balls and had a strike rate of 5. The captain, who desperately hoped that the fielder would drop the ball, promptly admonished the fielder saying that "You've just caught the World cup, my son."
Dravid is famous for knowing where his offstump is. Once, when Lee had sent his offstump cartwheeling out of the ground, he was able to locate it in the crowd because he still knew where his off stump was.
Dravid's batting is built on sound fundamentals and the simple strategy of boring the bowler to death and putting the fielders to sleep. He then attempts to find the gaps between them.
Dravid is so strong on the leg side that 0-12 fields are frequently employed to stop him. He plays the swivel pull beautifully- eyes on the ball, rocking back, judging the length early. It is a shot of great beauty, especially in the rare instances when he succeeds in making contact with the ball too.
Dravid's batting philosophy in Tests is simple. Give the first 90 overs each day to the bowler, see out even the horrible balls and and then look to dominate. This is not because of a limited repertoire of shots. He had all the shots in the book, but never plays even one in the interest of the team.
Wisden, talking about his debut innings, remarked that "Dravid, a compulsive leaver of the ball, played an innings so breathtaking that it was supposed to be the best innings by him in England till then" and added that "so pretty was the innings that it was even prettier than Ganguly's cherubic face when he was in a deep slumber at the non-striker's end. Fielders stood rooted to the ground, maybe because they figured out they weren't required since no shot was being played. Some say that they were actually in a stupor induced daze. It is even rumoured that a couple were sleepwalking."
He frequently dropped anchor, doing to the team's score what an anchor does to a ship.
But his finest hour was an innings that is still talked off with awe by people fortunate enough to see it. India were in a crisis as usual. In an innings of vintage class, Dravid showcased his superb defensive technique- getting in line with the ball and playing it with a still head and a dead bat. He proceeded to do this ball after ball, six times in a row.
So complete was his mastery that he even defended balls which were wide outside off and down leg, which would have been called wides. It was such an astonishing display under the circumstances that even the fielding team purportedly patted him on the back after the over.
Nothing- not even the docile nature of the track, the utter ineffectiveness of the bowling or the fact that India required 24 runs in 12 balls at the beginning of that over- could shake his resolve. He was a batsman well and truly in the zone.
Sadly, Tendulkar, uninspired by such mastery of defence, chickened out and took the easy way out by hitting the last six balls for four. As ever, in a country that refuses to acknowledge any other batsman, all the plaudits went to him.
Venkatesh Prasad
Prasad had a fascination for the theory of relativity and spent his career examining whether there was a lower limit for speed. The speed at which Prasad bowled has now been accepted as the lowest possible velocity possible.
Prasad had a very good record against many batsmen, especially the ones he had never bowled to. Among batsmen he did bowl to, Gary Kirsten was his bunny.
It all started when Prasad bowled Gary Kirsten in the second innings with a ball he bowled in the South African first innings. Kirsten was so bamboozled by this incident that he used to quake in his boots when facing Prasad later on.
Kirsten said once that facing Prasad was his most educative experience on the Cricket field, since he used to read the autobiographies of famous batsmen when waiting for the ball to arrive. He claimed to have read more books in this fashion than in his entire life outside the stadium.
Frequently, Prasad bowled so slow that all six of his balls in the over were in the air at the same time. This enabled India to take 6 new balls. This was his primary contribution to the team and the reason why his slow ball was considered to be such an asset.
Prasad's batting was less of an asset. In fact, he was such a horrible batsmen that even net bowlers refused to bowl to him, saying they'd rather bowl at the stumps without a batsman.
To improve his batting credentials without taking recourse to any other bowler having to bowl at him, he devised the unique training regimen of bowling in the morning, having lunch and a siesta and returning late afternoon to face the balls that he had bowled in the morning. His batting against himslef improved by leaps and bounds. However, facing himself was hardly the ideal preparation to face any bowler who bowled faster than a lethargic snail and consequently, his batting at the international stage hardly showed any signs of improvement.
He worked on his fielding to make up, and toward the end of his career, so improved his fielding that he was able to reach as close to any ball in the outfield as possible without actually being near enough to stopping it. This gave Indian cricket its second enduring image of the 90s along with the Kumble dive, that of the ball crossing the boundary and Prasad running past it just after the nick of time. The distance between him and the ball has now been accepted by physicists as the shortest distance possible.
After a glorious few years, Prasad lost his place in the side when the selectors found out that the years had taken their toll and that he had lost his lack of pace. He announced his retirement when his bowling slowed down so much that he had diffulty in getting the ball to come out of his hand.

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