## March 27, 2007

### Less parallel

Two odds and ends, among many, noted of late:

In the recent Maharashtra SSC examination in mathematics, "students will need to score only 11 marks [out of 60] to pass" (this report among others).

Why this? To combat copying, these exams now come in four varieties, or "sets": "A", "B", "C" and "D". Students assigned set "B" complained that question 6 was too difficult, or outside the prescribed syllabus. They and their parents appealed to the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. Even though the Board found that "the question papers were as per the prescribed structure and no questions were asked from outside the curricula", they also concluded that "though there was not much difference in the difficulty level between the sets, they were found to be less parallel." [Emphasis added]

Their solution? Award 15 marks -- the maximum possible -- for question 6 to all students who took the exam (regardless of which set). The pass mark being 26 out of 75, it's thus only necessary for a student to collect 11 of the other 60 marks in the paper to pass.

If my mathematics doesn't fail me at this advanced age, that's 18 per cent. [Emphasis added]

But at this advanced age, I don't know what "less parallel" means.

***

This BBC report is about the "financial cost of India's failure" in the World Cup. We read that unofficial estimates of corporate losses because India is returning home amount to "at least \$35m".

Fair enough. Corporate losses are news, and should be covered. But it is the hint in the last paragraph that leaves me wondering. Kunal Dasgupta, chief of Sony Entertainment Television that is broadcasting the Cup, says the "format of the tournament is flawed." Why? Well, Dasgupta explains:
In a 48-day tournament, if teams like India and Pakistan are out for playing bad cricket in two matches, there is something really wrong. We were against this format and even told the International Cricket Council to reconsider it.
As my good friend from Minnesota RS Mani, who alerted me to this, observes: "Does this imply that the only tournament format that makes sense is one where India and Pakistan can win?"

Does it?

And if it does, why not make matters simple and put together a format in which India or Pakistan or both are more or less guaranteed to win the Cup?

Well, I gave it a shot and came up with this that I propose as a Bai-Law, sorry Bhai-Law, sorry Bye-Law to the Laws of Cricket:
It is hereby and hereunder and heretofore and forevermore till the cows come home declared that in any World Cup match involving India or Pakistan and another team, runs and wickets and umpires and run-rates and power-plays and pinch-hitters and cameos and finishers and flaring the ball off the edge of the bat and the glorious uncertainties of the game are all immaterial. The other team loses. Period.
That should take care of Kunal Dasgupta's concerns.

Now if someone can explain what "less parallel" means.