Sports and Genes

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2010


India was hosting the prestigious Hockey World Cup this time. Media publicized the whole event quite well. Hero Honda roped in Sehwag, Priyanka Chopra and Rajyavardhan Rathore to promote Indian hockey. People had forgotten about the rift that had erupted between the Indian hockey players and the FIH just few months back. Sports enthusiasts were ready to keep aside some time of their TV watching for hockey matches. After plundering their arch rival Pakistan, Indian hockey team got back into their groove with miserable losses against Australia, Spain and England. By the end of the tournament, India managed to finish 8th in the tally table. I do not follow Hockey much, have never touched the hockey stick in my entire life, but that is never a criteria for me to not notice that we guys were never a match to the Europeans, South/North Americans or the Australians in this sports. They were quicker on the field, their passes were precise, they had stronger legs. Our guys looked totally illeqipped and underprepared when compared to their counterparts. That reminded me of a discussion I once had with one of my friends about the athletic ability and genetics. On a serious note, this can not be an excuse for the dismal performance of our sportsmen in any sport, this is just a parallel thought on the role the genes could play and how influential they are.

None of us can deny cricket is the only sports Indians seem to have excelled in. At the same time, I do not consider Cricket is an athletic game. Hope you all agree with me. Let me consider some athletic games (case study kinda). In Tennis - though we have soft corners for Paes, Bhupathi and Sania Mirza but let's be frank in accepting that they can not even come close to win a singles grandslams tournaments. Football - we hear the names of Bhutia and Chhetri now and then, but Indian football is ranked 130th in the world currently. That says it all. So in which other sports is our 100 billion populated country good at? When it comes to Track & Field events, it is sad that I can remember only PT Usha and Anju Bobby George - former  won at least an Olympic medal, latter cant boast about the same. Swimming, Gymnastics... I do not know a single Indian who has shone in the international level.

Enough of scratching our heads to get the names of Indian sports personalities. Now try answering these:

Name a white athlete who holds the world record in sprinting (100m / 200m).. It is always a Caribbean or black Americans who have ruled this sport. 

Name a black guy who has won an Olympic medal in swimming (any style, 100m to 400m).. It has always been the reign of white people in water.

Why Chinese gymnasts always dominate that sport...?

Why Kenyans / Ethiopians always win marathons..?

Don't these questions ring a bell in our minds..?

Researchers say, athletic performance is affected by genes (particularly the genes which regulate cardio vascular endurance, lung capacity and muscle fibre type) and there are also more important external factors like motivation, training and equipments, nutrition and environmental influences. Apart from them there are also characteristics that are less influenced by genes such as reaction time, agility and balance. Check this, this and this for more info. Myriad of research papers would have been published at the expense of millions of dollars all over the world, but till date genetic scientists have not been able to pin-point a gene/set of genes that affect the athletic performance of human beings. So it is a secret yet.

Until then, Indian athletes, footballers, tennis players, hockey players have another excuse for their under performance - their 'inferior genes';)

Women's Day Quiz!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Monday, March 08, 2010


On the occasion of Women's Day, I wish all my female readers, friends, cousins, colleagues a very happy Women's Day. And a special salute to my Amma and sis.

Below is a mail FWD I got containing a collage of 25 famous Indian female personalities. Name them!

I will keep the contest open for few days and will update the answers in the end.

Update - 15th March:
My friend Rekha had forwarded this mail to me. It is always fun to answer these Who's who kind of quizzes, especially pictorial ones. That is why I posted it in my blog. Without any help I could recognize 22 pics. I could not name 13th, 14th and 15th pic. Then an intelligent Google search revealed me the name of the person in 15th pic. Rekha gave me the answer for 14th. I still am not convinced about the answer for 13th pic. 

So here is the list of answers:
  1. Madhubala
  2. Indra Nooyi
  3. Arundhathi Nag
  4. Kirron kher
  5. Medha Patkar 
  6. Kalpana Chawla
  7. Sudha Chandran
  8. Shabana Azmi
  9. Kiran Mazumdar
  10. M.S.Subbulakshmi
  11. Usha Uthup
  12. Sania Mirza
  13. Kiran Desai (I doubt this...)
  14. Kamala Selvaraj
  15. Rukmini Devi Arundale - famous dancer
  16. Shubha Mudgal
  17. Arundathi Roy
  18. Karnam Malleswari
  19. Shobha De
  20. Kamala Das - Rebellious bilingual (Malayalam & English) poet who passed away recently. She had gotten converted to Islam and had assumed the name Kamala Surayya in later part of her life.
  21. Barkha Dutt
  22. Kiran Bedi
  23. P.T.Usha
  24. Shanaaz Hussain
  25. Mira Nair

Update - 19th March:
13th pic is of 26 year old Lakshmi Venu who joined as board of director for TVS in August 2009. 
Thanks to Rekha for giving me this answer too.

Gem of a medley

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010


The almost forgotten face of the singer Bela in this post of Deepak Iyer, brought me back the memories of my school days. Those were the days.. yes, how can nostalgia be explained without the phrase, 'those were the days'. Those were the days, when TV shows were not riding a tiger named TRP, those were the days when singing shows were taking baby steps, those were the days when (few) singing and (very few) dancing shows were not bitten by the bug named reality, those were the days when judges of those programs were treating each other with respect, naively critical and never harsh on the participants Those were the days when participants never begged for TV audiences' SMS votes standing in front of the camera making faces. Those were the days when the contest winners were neither lured by crores nor by brand new cars. Those were the days when a Final was called a Final and not a Grand Finale. Those were the days when there used to be music and only music in the singing shows unlike today's reality shows which brims with high intensity drama every minute. Those were the days when the singing shows were unadulterated unlike today, where every week a celebrity pair appears in the singing shows to promote their new movie or music. The only purpose of those programs was to entertain the audience with sheer quality music.

Those were the days, when TVS Sa Re Ga Ma was very famous singing show on Zee TV. It was then hosted by the small screen heartthrob, chikna Sonu Nigam, who shot to fame after this TV show. I would not be exaggerating if I say, this TV show taught me to enjoy music. Below is a clipping of ONE OF THE BEST MEDLEYS I HAVE SEEN ON TELEVISION by Jagjit Singh. It was the Mega Final of Sa Re Ga Ma, where there were 10 'mahaan hastis' of music industry to judge the penultimate male and female winner.  Naushad saab, Anil Biswas, Rajkumariji, O P Nayyar, Pt Jasraj, Khayyam Saab, Begum Parveen Sultana, Kalyanji, Anandji and Jagjit Singh himself - were the judges. In the third episode of the Mega Final, Jagjit Singh renders this gem of a medley.

Almost all the finalists sitting around Jagjit Singh are quite big names today. From left to Right are Bela, Sudeshna, Sanjeevini - debuted as lead singer in Kareeb with Chori Chori jab nazre milee, Mohammed Vakil - though he is not much heard of these days, he was and still is my favourite singer, Mukund and Parthiv Gohil - debuted as lead singer in Saawariya in 'Yoon Shabnami' song.

Last but not the least, TVS Sa Re Ga Ma was a brain child of Gajendra Singh, who is now directing Amul Music ka Maha Muqabala in Star TV. But the two shows are incomparably poles apart.. Those were the days... :-/