Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
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Category archive: India
The IPL (twenty-twenty cricket) is so far proving to be one of the best yet. Just now, there was this, from Amit Mishra, this being his last over, to win it for Sunrisers Hyderabad against the Pune Warriors, by 11 runs:
1 W 1 W W W
When Mishra went in to bat, Hyderabad were 44-6. Mishra got 30 and Hyderabad struggled to 119-8, which never looked enough, until Mishra got stuck in, and Pune panicked, as in really panicked, even more than they had already been panicking. At one point Pune were 101-4, for heaven’s sakes, needing just 19 more runs. So, last six wickets for seven runs. In the end, it wasn’t even that close!
As I keep on saying, the English really should be allowed to get in on this.
At least Eoin Morgan (Eoin sounds like Owen) is doing okay. He is the nearest thing to an Englishman making any sort of impact in this tournament.
At his talk chez moi on Friday Feb 22nd (see below) on How globalisation has made the world less rather than more homogenised, Michael Jennings intends to show us some photos. Indeed, he will be dropping by earlier in the week to make sure that the relevant technology can be guaranteed to work properly on the night. This may also require some creativity with the seating.
Here, in the meantime, are a few photos that he has emailed to me, together with commentary. Enjoy.
This is in Sukhomi, Abkhazia, a breakaway non-recognised state that is de jure part of Georgia (and is supported by Russia). Mango is a fashion label that grew out of a stall in the Ramblas market in Barcelona, and is now to globalised retail what the sub-prime market is to home ownership.
An interesting phenomenon occurs when there is a market for a particular international business, and that international business does not operate in that particular market for whatever reason: because the market is too small, too distant, too poor, too corrupt, or there are political problems. Clones of the business will often spring up. These can be particularly entertaining in places where there is no trademark law, trademark law is weak, or where it can be legally difficult to pursue claims from the owner of the trademark. This burger place in northern Cyprus in no way resembles Burger King. Obviously.
One of the most extreme cases in which this phenomenon occurred was in South Africa under apartheid. Many international companies boycotted the country, which in some ways was a modern country with a sizeable middle class, economy and legal system. (In various other ways, it wasn’t and isn’t.) South Africa in 1990 was therefore full of quite good clones of international businesses, that until then were constrained as to where they could operate, but faces competition only from one another at home. Post 1990, the international businesses that they were clones of entered South Africa in a big way, and the South Africans themselves were subsequently able to compete in the wider world. The South African clones weren’t good enough or rich enough to compete in the home markets of the major internationals, and have subsequently expanded into countries that are poorly served by the internationals for a variety of reason - this means Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Asia, parts of the Middle East. Politically dubious markets of questionable legitimacy a lot the time. One often finds South Africans and Russians side by side.
One could write an entire book about fake Apple Stores. The ones in China (this one is in Tianjin) are the most awesome. The entire story of international brands in China is itself fascinating. Everyone is there, because of the perceived size and importance of the market. Yet the country is far more chaotic, far more unstable, far more corrupt, for more authoritarian, has weaker copyright and patent laws and a weaker rule of law in general than many of the markets these companies would generally consider operating in.
India is more problematic in some ways: bureaucratic beyond words, and culturally difficult in ways that make foreign business models work less well, or at least require a lot more adaptation. (Imagine you are McDonald’s, and you are told that you are not permitted to use either beef nor pork in the food you sell). There have historically been limits on foreign investment. Supermarkets are only now in the process of being legalised. Very large companies can find entry to the Indian market - car makers or mobile phone companies. Medium sized companies - which is where most of the interesting stuff happens - find it much harder.
It’s going to be an interesting evening.
I want to live here!
Here being here:
It’s Mumbai though. They will only ever finish half of it, and there will be a slum in the location where they want to build the second swimming pool that they cannot do anything about.
In a way, this would be good. In China, the slum would be demolished and the people living in it would be relocated 3000 miles into the middle of the desert at gunpoint. So there are different ways of doing it.
Incoming from Michael J:
This is right in the middle of Malabar Hill, the poshest address in Mumbai and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Everything in India is next to everything else.
Incoming from Michael J:
Not a great photo, alas, but there is a sign at the entrance to the slum saying that this is in fact a co-op. housing society (proposed). The nearby rich residents have clearly decided that the slum should be demolished and replaced with something nicer and less unsightly for the residents to live in and to make the neighbourhood prettier. But this being India, it remains forever proposed.
A sane way of dealing with this situation would be to give the residents of the slum legal title to where they live. They could then sell it to developers, and use the money from it to build themselves palatial houses elsewhere. Everyone would then be better off.
Unfortunately, Indian bureaucracy is too stultifying for this to happen, and in addition Mumbai itself is too corrupt for it to happen in a fair way. Even if it could happen legally, gangsters would find a way to steal the money.
Micklethwait’s Law number about seven states that if you want to cheer yourself up about your own country, ignore your own country and look instead at all the others.
I’m trying to write a big old piece about how hard cricket is to organise these days.
Meanwhile this evening at the IPL, this just happened, to Dale Steyn!!!:
6 2 4 6 4 1
The batsman doing this was AB de Villiers, which explains it.
An earlier over by Steyn was a maiden. Against Chris Gayle. Maiden overs are rare in the IPL.
Now Simon Hughes is calling AB de Villiers a genius. Like he says, Steyn is now the best bowler in the world. What’s more, AB kept the bowling for the final over, thus making sure his team won.
The second 6 in that Steyn over was particularly amazing. It was a yorker on middle and leg that would have splattered most batsmen’s stumps. AB smoked it over extra cover into row … about Z. Shot of the tournament for me, that I’ve seen. Steyn just smiled.
In the previous game West Indian Dwayne Smith, playing in his first ever IPL game, had to hit 14 off the last 3 balls to win it. He did exactly that. 6 4 4. Off Hilfenhaus, who is also no mug at bowling. The first three balls of that last over had gone dot wicket dot.
Best day of the IPL yet.
I love what James Tooley has been doing with his life, namely telling the world about how the world’s poor are now getting themselves educated. The world’s poor are not getting education from their governments. They are purchasing it from their fellow citizens.
This is Tooley’s description of how he got started learning about this global educational miracle, and triumph of the free market economy. It’s from his book The Beautiful Tree (Chapter 1, pp. 3-7):
After a stint teaching philosophy of education at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, I returned to England to complete my doctorate and later became a professor of education. Thanks to my experiences in sub-Saharan Africa and my modest but respectable academic reputation, I was offered a commission by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation to study private schools in a dozen developing countries.
The lure of faraway places was too enticing to resist, but I was troubled by the project itself. Although I was to study private schools in developing countries, those schools were serving the middle classes and the elite. Despite my lifelong desire to help the poor, I’d somehow wound up researching bastions of privilege.
The first leg of the trip began in New York in January 2000. As if to reinforce my misgivings that the project would do little for the poor, I was flown first class to London in the inordinate luxury of the Concorde. Forty minutes into the flight, as we cruised at twice the speed of sound and two miles above conventional air traffic, caviar and champagne were served. The boxer Mike Tyson (sitting at the front with a towel over his head for much of the journey) and singer George Michael were on the same flight. I felt lost.
From London it was on to Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai. By day, I evaluated five-star private schools and colleges that were very definitely for the privileged. By night, I was put up in unbelievably salubrious and attentive five-star hotels. But in the evenings, sitting and chatting with street children outside these very same hotels, I wondered what effect any of my work could have on the poor, whose desperate needs I saw all around me. I didn’t just want my work to be a defense of privilege. The middle-class Indians, I felt, were wealthy already. To me it all seemed a bit of a con: just because they were in a “poor” country, they were able to latch onto this international assistance even though they as individuals had no pressing need for it at all. I didn’t like it, but as I returned to my room and lay on the 500-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets, my discomfort with the program was forced to compete with a mounting sense of self-criticism.
Then one day, everything changed. Arriving in Hyderabad to evaluate brand-new private colleges at the forefront of India’s hi-tech revolution, I learned that January 26th was Republic Day, a national holiday. Left with some free time, I decided to take an autorickshaw - the three-wheeled taxis ubiquitous in India - from my posh hotel in Banjara Hills to the Charminar, the triumphal arch built at the center of Muhammad Quli Shah’s city in 1591. My Rough Guide to India described it as Hyderabad’s “must see” attraction, and also warned that it was situated in the teeming heart of the Old City slums. That appealed tome. I wanted to see the slums for myself.
As we traveled through the middle-class suburbs, I was struck by the ubiquity of private schools. Their signboards were on every street corner, some on fine specially constructed school buildings, but others grandly posted above shops and offices. Of course, it was nothing more than I’d been led to expect from my meetings in India already - senior government officials had impressed me with their candor when they told me it was common knowledge that even the middle classes were all sending their children to private schools. They all did themselves. But it was still surprising to see how many there were.
We crossed the bridge over the stinking ditch that is the once-proud River Musi. Here were autorickshaws in abundance, cattle-drawn carts meandering slowly with huge loads of hay, rickshaws agonizingly peddled by painfully thin men. Cars were few, but motorbikes and scooters ("two-wheelers") were everywhere - some carried whole families (the largest child standing in front; the father at the handlebars; his wife, sitting sidesaddle in her black burka or colorful sari, holding a baby, with another small child wedged in between). There were huge trucks brightly painted in lively colors. There were worn-out buses, cyclists, and everywhere pedestrians,
whose cavalier attitude toward the traffic unnerved me as they stepped in front of us seemingly without a care in the world. From every vehicle came the noise of horns blaring - the drivers seemed to ignore their mirrors, if they had them at all. Instead, it seemed to be the responsibility of the vehicle behind to indicate its presence to the vehicle in front. This observation was borne out by the legend on the back of the trucks, buses, and autorickshaws, “Please Horn!” The noise of these horns was overwhelming: big, booming, deafening horns of the buses and trucks, harsh squealing horns from the autorickshaws. It’s the noise that will always represent India for me.
All along the streets were little stores and workshops in makeshift buildings - from body shops to autorickshaw repair shops, women washing clothes next to paan (snack) shops, men building new structures next to the stalls of market vendors, tailors next to a drugstore, butchers and bakers, all in the same small hovel-like shops, dark and grimy, a nation of shopkeepers. Beyond them all rose the 400-year-old Charminar.
My driver let me out, and told me he’d wait for an hour, but then called me back in a bewildered tone as I headed not to the Charminar but into the back streets behind. No, no, I assured him, this is where I was going, into the slums of the Old City. For the stunning thing about the drive was that private schools had not thinned out as we went from one of the poshest parts of town to the poorest. Everywhere among the little stores and workshops were little private schools! I could see handwritten signs pointing to them even here on the edge of the slums. I was amazed, but also confused: why had no one I’d worked with in India told me about them?
I left my driver and turned down one of the narrow side streets, getting quizzical glances from passers-by as I stopped underneath a sign for Al Hasnath School for Girls. Some young men were serving at the bean-and-vegetable store adjacent to a little alleyway leading to the school. I asked them if anyone was at the school today, and of course the answer was no for it was the national holiday. They pointed me to an alleyway immediately opposite, where a hand-painted sign precariously supported on the first floor of a three-story building advertised “Students Circle High School & Institute: Registered by the Gov’t of AP.” “Someone might be there today,” they helpfully suggested.
I climbed the narrow, dark staircase at the back of the building and met a watchman, who told me in broken English to come back tomorrow. As I exited, the young men at the bean-and-vegetable counter hailed me and said there was definitely someone at the Royal Grammar School just nearby, and that it was a very good private school and I should visit. They gave me directions, and I bade farewell. But I became muddled by the multiplicity of possible right turns down alleyways followed by sharp lefts, and so asked the way of a couple of fat old men sitting alongside a butcher shop.
Their shop was the dirtiest thing I had ever seen, with entrails and various bits and pieces of meat spread out on a mucky table over which literally thousands of flies swarmed. The stench was terrible. No one else seemed the least bit bothered by it. They immediately understood where I wanted to go and summoned a young boy who was headed in the opposite direction to take me there. He agreed without demur, and we walked quickly, not talking at all as he spoke no English. In the next street, young boys played cricket with stones as wickets and a plastic ball. One of them called me
over, to shake my hand. Then we turned down another alleyway (with more boys playing cricket between makeshift houses outside of which men bathed and women did their laundry) and arrived at the Royal Grammar School, which proudly advertised, “English Medium, Recognised by the Gov’t of AP.” The owner, or “correspondent” as I soon came to realize he was called in Hyderabad, was in his tiny office. He enthusiastically welcomed me. Through that chance meeting, I was introduced to the warm, kind, and quietly charismatic Mr. Fazalur Rahman Khurrum and to a huge network of private schools in the slums and low-income areas of the Old City. The more time I spent with him, the more I realized that my expertise in private education might after all have something to say about my concern for the poor.
Khurrum was the president of an association specifically set up to cater to private schools serving the poor, the Federation of Private Schools’ Management, which boasted a membership of over 500 schools, all serving low-income families. Once word got around that a foreign visitor was interested in seeing private schools, Khurrum was inundated with requests for me to visit. I spent as much time as I could over the next 10 days or so with Khurrum traveling the length and breadth of the Old City, in between doing my work for the International Finance Corporation in the new city. We visited nearly 50 private schools in some of the poorest parts of town, driving endlessly down narrow streets to schools whose owners were apparently anxious to meet me. (Our rented car was a large white Ambassador - the Indian vehicle modeled on the old British Morris Minor, proudly used by government officials when an Indian flag on the hood signified the importance of its user - horn blaring constantly, as much to signify our own importance as to get children and animals out of the way.) There seemed to be a private school on almost every street corner, just as in the richer parts of the city. I visited so many, being greeted at narrow entrances by so many students, who marched me into tiny playgrounds, beating their drums, to a seat in front of the school, where I was welcomed in ceremonies officiated by senior students, while school managers garlanded me with flowers, heavy, prickly, and sticky around my neck in the hot sun, which I bore stoically as I did the rounds of the classrooms.
So many private schools, some had beautiful names, like Little Nightingale’s High School, named after Sarogini Naidu, a famous “freedom fighter” in the 1940s, known by Nehru as the “Little Nightingale” for her tender English songs. Or Firdaus Flowers Convent School, that is, “flowers of heaven.” The “convent” part of the name puzzled me at first, as did the many names such as St. Maria’s or St. John’s. It seemed odd, since these schools were clearly run by Muslims - indeed, for a while I fostered the illusion that these saints and nuns must be in the Islamic tradition too. But no, the names were chosen because of the connotations to parents - the old Catholic and Anglican schools were still viewed as great schools in the city, so their religious names were borrowed to signify quality to the parents. But did they really deliver a quality education? I needed to find out.
Cricinfo boffin Anantha Narayanan:
My surmise was correct. In the 210 4/5/6 match Test series played so far, the England win over India is the most comprehensive and devastating in history of Test cricket. That is what many experts are saying but this is now proved here with hard analytical conclusions.
I found the series utterly fascinating from beginning to end, despite its ever more extreme one-sidedness. Partly, this was ignoble sadism, watching my team slaughter the other fellows. But there was another slightly more honourable impulse at work, I think. The thing is, England have never played like this before. England don’t do whitewashes, or whatever such slaughters are more properly called when the white guys beat the non-white guys. They don’t win the series with a succession of wins, with no draws, and then win the dead test match at the end as well, also by an innings. If anything, I found the final test the most riveting of all. Would England keep it going, and win the lot? Yes they would. Yes they did. Wow. Fancy that.
There was also a backhanded compliment involved in my gloating. I can remember when England slaughtering India at cricket was about as much fun to contemplate as someone torturing a cat. It proved only that England were being horrid to poor defenceless India. It didn’t prove anything about England’s prowess. Ditto New Zealand. But India, in cricket and in the world generally, is now a major force, a fact reflected in their recent number one test match status and nouveau riche economic status, second only in public esteem in that particular contest to China. This result was as freakishly bad for them as it was freakishly good for England, which is all part of how freakishly good it was for England. India can live with us poor little Brits gloating about beating them at a mere game, while they continue to take over our steel industry. So, I gloat.
This, by the way, and I apologise for tangenting off, is one of the sources of anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism is a similarly backhanded compliment, paid by the world to the top country in the world. Americans, we all instinctively know, can take it. If people ever start hating China more than America, then watch out America, because that will mean that China is the top country.
But this is a cricket posting, so I really don’t want to end with that digression. And yes, there are a couple more things I want to say about cricket.
The first concerns a disagreeable new habit that the television cricket commentators have suddenly acquired, probably from Geoff Boycott. Whenever anything happens, instead of pausing, thinking, and then saying something pertinent, in clear-as-a-bell English, they are now groaning. Boycott and Michael Vaughan are the main offenders, so maybe it’s a Yorkshire thing. Ooooooh. Ooooor. Awwwww. Errrrrr. Often there is a rising inflection to it, as if they are disapproving of what they see. In short, the television commentators are starting to sound exactly like spectators. This is not what they are paid to do. They should be sent away on courses, presided over by Richie Benaud, the Pope of the pause think say something pertinent school of commentating. The worst offence was right at the end of one of the games. Instead of saying: England have won by however many runs it was, Boycott groaned and moaned and said something highly non-pertinent. Terrible.
The second thing I want to say about India is that I hope England slaughter them in the one-dayers also. England have already won the only T20 game, but then got the worst of a rained off start to the 50 over series. I hope that is no portent and that England come back hard and win the rest of the ODI series 4-0.
I do not say this out of sadism. I say it because cricket needs India to be good, and nothing provokes cricket goodness like a jolly good thrashing. England’s current excellence is directly traceable to earlier humiliations, when the Aussies five-nothing-ed them in 2006-7 or thenabouts, and when the Windies blew them away in Jamaica, just after Andy Flower became the coach. If India win these ODIs, lots of Indians will say: there you are, when we try, we win. Test cricket is boring, who needs it? We are the one day kings and we just proved it. Our team’s okay. It’s test matches that are the problem, blah blah blah. Cricket very much now needs Indians not to be able to say this, but instead to say to themselves: bloody hell, we are rubbish at ... cricket. All of it. We must spend some of our new money by not being so rubbish, across all the formats.
Against Bangalore in Chennai, during the last four overs of their innings in the IPL Final, Chennai go from 177-1 to 205-5:
2 . . . 1 2 | 6 1 . 1lb 2 6 | W W . 1wd 6 1 2 | 1 . . W W 6
During the exact same time period, also in four overs, in the their first innings in the First Test against Sri Lanka in Cardiff, England go from 168-2 to 172-2:
. . 1 . . . | . . 1 . . . | . . . . . . | . . 1 1b . .
Go Cook. Go Trott.
Generic ITV4 Telly Sport Announcer (Matt Smith?), talking about the IPL Final: “We all know what has to happen for this to be a match.”
Oh dear. Gayle gone. Match over? Probably. Bangalore now 16-2. It’s all happening in Chennai, but pretty soon it will stop happening and just dribble away into an inevitable Chennai win. (That’s how Twenty20 can be dull.)
England now 185-2. Two more days to go in Cardiff after this one, and it’ll probably be a draw, what with all the rain there has been. (That’s how test cricket can be dull.)
Yes, time for a link dump, of things I have cluttering up my screen but which I don’t want to just delete and totally forget about.
John Buchanan, on the left here, looks nothing like Christopher Martin-Jenkins, but he does look a lot like Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending. New York Times, September 30th, 1999. Steven A. Holmes is entitled to say: I told you so.
Since it’s Friday: Project Acoustic Kitty: how the CIA failed at using cats as spies. After many confusions, caused by the cat not doing as it was told (and who could possibly have seen that coming?):
The first mission took place in a park near the Soviet embassy, where the cat was tasked with eavesdropping on two men. A CIA reconnaissance van across the street released the operative, who took a few steps towards her foes and was immediately run over by a taxi.
And finally, just when you think you’ve seen and heard everything, Hugh Laurie sings the blues.
Meaning in sport
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
The most celebrated sporting win ever
Mmmmmm … Asian skyscrapers!
Twenty ten twenty ten
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
Cricket talk tonight
India looking good against Sri Lanka
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Indian Premier League trumps test cricket
Lang Lang crushes Yundi Li!
Dongling at Michael’s
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Africa is big
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
News Media Coalition versus Indian Premier League
Flat pictures for flat screens
Michael Jennings on telecoms at Samizdata
At the dogs
City Cat runs on air
Toy train to Darjeeling
Cricket is ruining the youth of India!
Gandhi on equality for all … except …
Ethereal India photo
Cricket with landmark
At last - the latest mp3 from me and Antoine
Election Watch is postponed
Pauses - Indian accents - English names
Changing the names of cities
Capitalism sermons and Bentley wings