Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympics 2008 - A revelation to India

And suddenly, everyone's excited about India's performance in Olympics. Most of the papers are blaring victory horns over India's medal winning performances. They definitely should - it is indeed laudable that Indian's have had a historical performance at Beijing - 3 medals and counting.. But most of us fail to notice the pattern that spreads large around the medals that were won. I might be even taken to be a pessimist, but I couldn't help observing that except for the pugilists, none of the other medals were won by planned effort. Amongst the entire lot who went to Beijing, only the pugilists managed to put up a good show as a team. And perhaps it is for the same reason that Vijendar's effort seems to be of lesser magnitude than the rest - that he perform well was almost taken for granted. I could see in our boxers what I saw in Federer, doing extremely well was casual and winning a mere consequence. The confidence which comes with quality practice (thanks to Bhiwani boxing nursery - a dedicated boxing school) shone brightly in them.

Take nothing away from Bindra - he was brilliant, but the results could have easily gone either way as he himself stated. Oh yes! even the shooters had to go to Italy for quality practice. Sushil's success was purely individualistic talent and the brave man's fortune for he couldn't even manage to get support for his diet from the authorities. While everybody's mesmerized with our performance in Beijing, it is time for the Authorities to stand up and deliver - they better take good care of the athletes. That would be the only way to ensure that a billion strong nation doesn't need to be rapacious over a solitary medal.

Most of us wonder what it is that we lack - 'facilities' which most of us would agree upon. I had chanced to read in a recent article which says that the lack of communication and reachability is the culprit. It says that the athletes go unnoticed as they are not able to communicate and commute to the locations which would facilitate honing their skills. They are not able to project themselves and their abilities to the right channel. Antagonists would say thus "Talent can hardly go unnoticed". But doesn't this seem logically improbable? A country with half our population are able to produce talents of such variety - Are we genetically decrepit that we don't possess physical talents? No way! the issue is not with the lack of talents for sure, but with exposure and channelization of resources - as our pugilists have demonstrated: practice and the right kind of facilities were the key.

I'm excited, not because we won three medals, but because we have exposed to ourselves, the sure-shot way to excellence. For me, the proudest moment was not when the athletes stood on the podium kissing their medals, but when the coach of a boxing nation like Cuba stood up watching and said when we were going for weigh-in before the match "you are going to win".

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Pensive Thinker - Part one

"What do you think could be the difference between an invention and a discovery?", I asked, trying not to spill the glass of water that I held precariously, trying to balance myself on one foot, for no seemingly good reason whatsoever. "None, I think..." came the reply, quite instantaneously from one of my room-mates. Four of us stood in a conglomerate within precincts of our tiny kitchen, trying our hand at a cup of tea - one at making, two of us at drinking it and one other abstaining from it. An uneasy silence of fifteen seconds was broken by me again - "Okay, Let's start with the definition of both." That got the person making the tea into the act, and said he : "invention is creating something new, innovative, something that is non-existent at present. Discovery is finding out something that is already there. Like the discovery of America..". "Precisely!", answered the third, probing with his fingers, for the existence of a imaginary pocket that would never be found in his track-shorts. "Anything that is created new is an invention. Electric bulb is an invention!" said another with finality, flinging a tennis ball careless amongst the pile of dishes that was strewn around.

I decided to take it one step further - "Okay. Now that we have the definitions in place and agreed upon. Can one us try and corner how an invention takes place. For instance, electric bulb was being worked upon for ages and every input required for the creation was already known to the inventor..". "Not really!", he snapped his fingers still groping for the pockets - "Agreed that he had the data/analysis required for the right configuration, but it was by a stroke that the right permutation of these inputs clicked." A mild smile played on the others lips. "Okay, now you have to identify or at least provide me with a quantifiable example of the spark, that you had mentioned", I said. "There's a very thin line of difference!!" he managed to spur it on having been able to recover the tennis ball from the mess. "Perhaps he learn't the correct permutation for the invention" volunteered the one with the probe on. "But, isn't learning and documenting discovering a fact that you haven't known so far?", said me again.

The next ten minutes was one of the rarest happenings in our house - all were in deep contemplation between cups of steaming tea. "It is impossible to identify that" said one placing his tea cup down with determination to put an end to this conversation. "You know what? Let's just call this as a lucky chance or an educated guess that we call as an invention." said another trying to put through the same determination in a gentlemanly fashion.

post-mort: If we all had agreed that the inventor had all the inputs for the invention, then is it not closer to discovery, because the invention comes about by chance? If yes, doesn't it mean that there is nothing to be invented in this world? If yes, don't we all know everything in the world and that we are just trying to remember things that we already know everything about? What a miracle!!