Former Ambassador Richard Verma Joins India-US Forum Board

first_imgFormer U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma has joined the board of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), a New Delhi-centric advocacy group aiming at strengthening ties between the two nations, the media reported.Announcing Verma’s appointment, the USISPF said on Oct. 26: “Verma’s extensive career and long-standing knowledge of foreign policy makes him an invaluable addition to the USISPF Board,” The American Bazaar reported on Oct. 27.Verma was nominated as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to India by former President Barack Obama in September 2014 and confirmed by the Senate in December 2014.During his two-year tenure, U.S.-India relations experienced a significant resurgence, with important gains made in defense, trade, and clean energy.“Rich Verma is one of the most profoundly influential individuals for US-India relations, and we could not be more honored and excited to welcome him to the USISPF Board, a powerful group that will undoubtedly make serious strides in partnership and trade growth between the United States and India,” The American Bazaar quoted Mukesh Aghi, the president of USISPF, as saying.In response, Verma said: “While serving as Ambassador to India, I saw first-hand the exciting work that U.S. companies are doing across India and in cooperation with domestic partners.On to new heights in US/India relations — forward together we go! https://t.co/4jcRFh3Fe8— Rich Verma (@RichardRVerma) October 26, 2017The USISPF provides a critical platform to advance commercial ties, and I am delighted to join the Board of this new leading organisation.”Headquartered in Washington D.C., the USISPF has offices in New York, Silicon Valley, Mumbai and New Delhi. — (IANS) Related ItemsIndia US businessIndia US tiesRichard VermaRichard Verma USISPFUS India Strategic Partnership Forumlast_img read more

Read More
India Ranked 5th Among Countries With Bad Loans: Report

first_imgIndia ranks fifth out of 39 major economies with a pile of bad loans, according to a recent report. At 9.9 per cent, the ratio of non-performing assets (NPA) to the total loans collected by Indian lenders is far higher than that of banks of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. In fact, the NPAs of these economies were less than 2 per cent.India features high up the order and is lower than only Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece, the report released by Care Ratings on Dec. 28 revealed. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) have its task cut out to lower these numbers and make the system more robust, it added.The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was a system put in place when the government and RBI flagged the bad loan crisis of the country. It allowed fast resolution of bad loans, and came into effect from December 2016. On Dec. 29, 2017, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017, that debars wilful defaulters and existing promoters from bidding for stressed assets of companies undergoing insolvency proceedings, was passed in the Lok Sabha. The amendment seeks to plug loopholes in the 2016 law.The countries that had higher NPA ratios (to the total loans) than India were Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece, which along with Spain, form the PIIGS countries that have been battling sovereign debt crises for the past few years. Spain has been ranked below India, at 10th. Greece tops the list, with 36.4 NPA ratio while Italy has a corresponding ratio of 16.4 per cent. The corresponding figures for Portugal, Ireland, Russia, and Spain are 15.5, 11.9, 9.7 and 5.3 per cent.India, unlike the PIIGS countries in the European Union, is a growing economy. It features the highest on the list among the BRICS nations. The study takes information from International Monetary Fund to maintain comparability in concepts used in calculations.According to the Reserve Bank of India, Gross NPA ratio of banks increased to 10.2 per cent in September 2017 compared to 9.6 per cent in March 2017. The RBI has further projected that gross NPA ratio could be 10.8 per cent by March 2018.High nonperforming assets (NPAs) and slow deleveraging and repair of corporate balance sheets are testing the resilience of the banking system, and holding back investment and growth, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on India’s financial system stability assessment that was released on Dec. 21.The CARE ratings report categorized countries with low, very low, medium, and high level of NPAs. Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom were listed in the first category, with NPA ratio of 1 per cent, while China, Germany, Japan, and the USA — with less than 2 per cent NPA ratio — was listed in the second category. Growing economies like Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey were listed in the third category. Top 10 countries with high NPA ratio:GreeceItalyPortugalIrelandIndiaRussiaRomaniaUAEHungarySpain Related ItemsBankingEconomylast_img read more

Read More
India Elected to UNHRC With Highest Votes

first_imgIndia has been elected to United Nation’s apex human rights body with the highest numbers. India’s 3-year term at UNHRC begins Jan.1, 2019.India was contesting for this seat under Asia-Pacific category, where it was competing with Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philippines. India received a total 188 votes ensuring its win.A election was held to elect 18 new members for United Nation’s Human Rights Council. A total of 193 members of UN General Assembly (UNGA) participated in the secret ballot. For getting elected to the UNHRC, a minimum 97 votes were required for a country, reported PTI.A happy Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted saying, “I am happy to inform that India has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council with highest number of votes. We have secured 188 votes out of 193.”I am happy to inform that India has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council with highest number of votes. We have secured 188 votes out of 193.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 13, 2018 Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN took to twitter for sharing this news and thanked the people at UN for their support.Voting for a Happy Outcome.Thanks to the support of all our friends @UN , India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates.🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/zhpJAZEs7C— Syed Akbaruddin (@AkbaruddinIndia) October 12, 2018 The other nations elected to UNHRC for 2019-21 are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Togo, Somalia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji, Philippines, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Argentina, Bahamas, Uruguay, Austria, Denmark, Italy.UNHRC is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system. Promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and addressing the situations of human rights violations are among its key responsibilities. It consists of 47 United Nations Member States, which are elected by the UN General Assembly.Description- India contested for this seat under Asia-Pacific category, where it was competing with Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines. India received a total 188 votes in this category. Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
Tech Elites Recreate Burning Man Inside Their Living Rooms

first_imgTo Chad Mureta, a Silicon Valley app guru, the intimate salons of Jess Magic, a New Age troubadour, are “like drugs, without taking anything.”To Sanjiv Sidhu, a so-called software savant whose fortune was once estimated at over $6 billion, Magic’s invitation-only salons are the perfect escape from a business culture where one-upmanship is “crowding out our need to connect.”To Jason Silva, the tech futurist and TV personality, her gatherings are a safe space for entrepreneurs who “sacrifice friendships, relationships and time,” only to “realize that it’s lonely at the top.”Tech elites who are looking for more than extra zeros in their bank statements are finding it in an unlikely place: so-called songversations, emotion-heavy gatherings that combine philosophical rap sessions with improvised music, run by a ukulele-strumming songstress who describes herself as a “heartist.”Branded as “Soul Salons,” they import the cosmic-explorer sensibility of Burning Man’s dusty playa into the cozy living rooms of prominent entrepreneurs, where they sing freestyle on topics as diverse as environmental degradation and heartbreak. Think of it as a free-jazz equivalent of an Esalen retreat.The tech A-list is a curious place to land for Magic, 37, who speaks in the soothing tones of a massage therapist and divides her time between Cardiff, California, and Bali, Indonesia. Until a few years ago, Magic ran a nonprofit for survivors of sexual trauma.A member of the audience at a Soul Salon led by Jess Magic in New York, June 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Zak Krevitt/The New York Times.Despite her wood-nymph aura, or maybe because of it, Magic has found herself in some button-down circles. In 2016, she performed at the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi and at a star-studded birthday party of her friend Ken Howery, a founder of PayPal, on Necker Island.“I don’t know if you’d call this a breakthrough,” she said, “but I got Peter Thiel to sing along and Elon Musk to smile.”Magic, who seems to approach every topic with a sense of giddy wonder, as if she just fell in love five minutes ago, believes that her appeal is rooted in the spiritual hollowness so many business elites feel, despite their wealth.“The finance and tech scene is still riding the waves of hypermasculine values,” she said. “Coffee to get through the day, alcohol to wind down, then sleeping pills at night to turn off the mind from all that they have going on.”“People forget that they are human beings rather than human doings,” she added.Enter the Soul Salon, which Magic calls “a play date for your inner child” and performs as a “gift,” she said (although guests are invited to “contribute in accordance with the value they feel they received”).The salons usually start with a theme — say, the emptiness of consumer culture. As key phrases arise, Magic will begin strumming and humming, weaving those lines of dialogue into a lilting melody. The effect is vaguely akin to Joni Mitchell performing freestyle rap at Davos.As the extemporaneous song grows, others join in with musings of their own, call-and-response style. Not every captain of industry can carry a tune, of course, but that’s not the point. As Magic likes to say, “We don’t sing to be good, we sing to be free.”Andrew Hewitt, creator of GameChangers 500, which ranks the world’s top “for-benefit” businesses, said he has “witnessed some of the headiest Silicon Valley titans be deeply touched through these experiences.”“For people who live most of the time in their head,” Hewitt said, “this feels like magic.”Magic is now extending her song beyond Silicon Valley, with a 10-city tour (a mix of private salons and public events, starting at $35) stretching from the summer solstice to the fall equinox.Attendees of a Soul Salon led by Jess Magic in New York, June 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Zak Krevitt/The New York TimesThe tour began in New York on June 22, when 150 people showed up at a cavernous gallery in Chelseaaround 7 p.m., many dressed in flowing tie-dyed pants, caftans and silk head wraps. (A photography show and a talk sponsored by Peace Accelerators took place at the same time.)Magic looked ready to jam with the “Exile on Main St.”-era Rolling Stones, wearing skintight bell bottoms and platforms, and admitted to being nervous.“One of the reasons why I do what I do, and why I am, honestly, on this planet, is to show up with such a level of vulnerability and sincerity and authenticity, that it almost gives people permission to let it go for a little while,” she said.Whatever the topic, Magic speaks with a faraway sense of wonder, her hazel eyes seeming to sparkle. When the singing commenced, Magic invited the assembled to sit on the floor in a semicircle, where a musician named Elijah Ray droned a mystical tune that called to mind images of saffron robes and singing bowls.As the music swirled, Charles Eisenstein, a proponent of what he calls “sacred economics,” talked about the unending human injury to Mother Earth. “If you knew she could feel, would you stop?” he said.Elijah Ray performs at a Soul Salon led by Jess Magic in New York, June 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Zak Krevitt/The New York TimesWhen his monologue wound down, Magic rose and began a Norah Jones-style ballad, picking up phrases from Eisenstein’s talk. “If we believed,” she sang in a soulful jazz scat, “that me, that me, that me and the river were the same, would it change my ways?”At first, the audience sat silent, seemingly puzzled. But slowly people began to clap their hands and sway to the beat. A man with a floppy hat and wizardlike robe began to gyrate around the dance floor.“It’s Burning Man in Chelsea,” one observer said.© 2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
Grammy Gold

first_imgIt’s unusual to hear the name Balakrishnan in relation to jazz music rather than software development, but David Balakrishnan, violinist and founder of the Turtle Island Quartet has been at the vanguard of innovative music for over 20 years.TIQ has been blending the classical string tradition with many styles and inspirations, including folk, bluegrass, swing, funk, R & B, rock, hi-hop and world music from Latin America and India. The group was nominated twice for the Grammy and this year they bagged it for best classical crossover album with the Ying Quartet, 4 + Four.Balakrishnan, who studied music at University of California, Los Angeles, and then did his masters degree in music composition at Antioch University West, is a world-class violinist and composer. He has received several grants, including one from Meet The Composer foundation, which awarded him its prestigious “Music Alive” extended residency with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, which will result in six orchestral works composed over a three-year period. The NCO also commissioned his most recent composition, Darkness Dreaming: Indian Gypsy Jazz Music for Two Guitars, Violin and Orchestra.“We are so excited and thrilled to receive the Grammy, to represent the community of alternative string players looking to go beyond the limits of only one style in a category that is often regarded for pop is a big honor,” he said. “We feel that we are part of a movement of redefining what classical music is by integrating jazz, American folk, rock and roll and blues with a 200-year-old art form.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
India’s Software Industry Reboots

first_imgOver the years, Indian IT service companies have established themselves firmly on the global stage. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 firms turn to them for part of their IT and business process outsourcing needs. Some, such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys Technologies and Wipro Technologies, have become global brands, competing head-to-head with multinational IT service providers.The software products story, however, is different. To be sure, many global companies, including SAP, Microsoft and Oracle, leverage India for product development either through their subsidiaries or by outsourcing to Indian technology service providers. And a few Indian firms have developed their own products and are commercializing them through the licensing model. But homegrown successes are limited when it comes to full-fledged software product companies – those that develop and own software, and sell it themselves or through partners. The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) estimates that of India’s total software and services revenue of $52 billion in fiscal 2008, the software product segment accounted for a mere $1.4 billion, with the top 10 companies taking in more than 80%.This could well change in coming years. Software products form the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. $1.3 trillion global IT industry. According to a recent study by Nasscom and Bangalore-based management consulting firm Zinnov Management Consulting, sales of software products are expected to increase from $294 billion at present to $537 billion by 2015. The study estimates that by 2015 the addressable market for Indian software products could be $290 billion to $315 billion.Som Mittal, president of Nasscom, is bullish about India’s prospects. “We believe that the Indian software product industry is at an inflexion point and has the potential to grow to $9.5 billion to $12 billion by 2015,” he says. Subash Menon, chairman of the Nasscom Product Forum and founder-chairman, managing director and chief executive officer of Subex Ltd., agrees: “Recent market indicators suggest that this segment is undergoing rapid transformation and is approaching a new phase of accelerated growth.”The optimism is not unfounded. Since 2001, India has produced 371 product start-ups. Two-thirds of these were formed in the last three years, 100 in the last year alone. While most of the early players in the Indian software product space focused primarily on the financial and accounting segments, the newer companies are looking at areas such as business intelligence, security and content.In the last three years, total venture capital investment in India grew at a compound annual rate of 42%, reaching $543 million in 2007. Funds invested in the software product segment grew slightly faster – by 43% – to $156 million. Says Sudhir Sethi, chairman and managing director of IDG Ventures India: “We are extremely bullish about software product firms from India.” IDG Ventures India is a $150 million venture fund that has made eight investments in the last 18 months, five of them in the software product space. Soon it will fund another software product firm. “Of our total investment of $50 million until now, $38 million has been in software product firms. We have put our money where our mouth is,” says Sethi. According to S. Sadagopan, director of the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, “It is just a matter of time before software products from India will explode.”Reasons for OptimismTo understand where the optimism stems from requires a look back in time. India’s software products business dates back to the early 1980s, when companies such as HCL, Softek, Wipro and TCS launched Unix-based compilers and office applications in the domestic market. According to the Nasscom-Zinnov study, from 1985 to 1990, India was home to some 350 software product companies.These companies faced the inherent challenges of the software product business: gestation periods of three to five years and the need for deep pockets. Lack of a domestic market and a dearth of professionals with relevant experience added to their woes. Over time, some of these companies shut down. Most others morphed into services firms. “This was the time that the services business had started to grow and it was a much easier alternative,” notes Bharat Goenka, cofounder and managing director of Tally Solutions. Goenka was one of the few who stuck it out. Today, Tally is among India’s top 10 software product companies by revenue.While many of the challenges continue, a confluence of factors including a strong and growing domestic market, disruptions in technology and business models, a growing talent base, a now-well-established “India” brand, and increased venture capital funding is expected to boost the segment in coming years.Take the domestic market. When it lacked strength, Indian players were compelled to build software products for other markets, such as the United States. Capturing the nuances of customer requirements was tough, and marketing the product was expensive. In recent years, however, a thriving economy has fueled the growth of domestic technology demand. Nasscom estimates that the total domestic IT market (comprising hardware, software, services, business process outsourcing, etc.) has jumped from $8 billion in 2004 to $23.1 billion in 2008. Over the next few years, India is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing IT market, according to the Nasscom-Zinnov study.The domestic market accounts for $500 million of the Indian software product segment’s $1.4 billion in revenue. The Nasscom-Zinnov study anticipates that, in line with Indian companies’ increased technology spending, revenue from the domestic market will grow to $4 billion to $5 billion by 2015. Sharad Sharma, co-chair of the Nasscom Product Forum and chief executive officer of Yahoo! R&D India, notes that software products are typically formed in the shadow of early adopters and friendly, sophisticated companies. Until now it had been hard to find these in India. Now the possibility exists in both the corporate and consumer sides. Citing the example of Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile services provider, known for its innovative business model, Sharma says: “Close proximity to such companies gives Indian firms a new product-friendly environment to work in.”Much of the growth in the domestic market, however, will be fueled by demand from the small and medium business (SMB) segment. There are two key reasons for this. First, the Nasscom-Zinnov study estimates, the SMB share of domestic IT spending will increase from 38% at present to 50% by 2015. Second, SMBs’ requirements and buying patterns open a door for domestic providers.According to Pari Natarajan, chief executive officer of Zinnov, “Multinationals find it easy to sell to large Indian enterprises because their buying patterns are similar to that of large enterprises elsewhere in the world. But SMBs have very different and localized needs. This makes it difficult for multinationals to address them and presents a huge opportunity for Indian players.”Working closely with Indian SMB customers will also help Indian companies make their products both “enterprise-ready” and suitable for other markets, especially emerging markets, Subex’s Menon says. “The domestic market is a great place to make mistakes and learn, and that too at the lowest cost. It is also a great place for building references.”Delivery-model DisruptionsRecent disruptions in delivery models as well as advances in technology may also work in favor of Indian software companies. Take Software as a Service (SaaS), for instance. Under this delivery model, the ownership of the deployment, integration and maintenance of the IT infrastructure moves from the customer to the vendor. This shift could make it financially more viable for Indian customers, particularly those in the SMB segment, to opt for software products.The SaaS model has another advantage. Typically, vendors spend huge amounts on supporting multiple platforms for different customers. With an SaaS model, this money can be spent on driving innovation more quickly.Zinnov’s Natarajan, meanwhile, is betting on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). With its loosely coupled architecture and ease of integration, he says, SOA will help Indian companies sell their products globally, even in companies well-penetrated by IT. “SOA allows different vendors to act independently of each other. Large global companies are therefore now willing to look at niche solutions from smaller players.” Yahoo!’s Sharma is optimistic about cloud computing. He sees it as having the potential to change the software product landscape the way merchant foundries did with chip design in the late 1980s. The emergence of merchant foundries such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which manufactured other companies’ chips, separated chip design from the expensive activity of chip manufacturing. This led to a spurt of companies engaged only in chip design, fostering innovation. “To my mind, the same analogy works with cloud computing,” Sharma says. “It is a great leveler for Indian companies.”An Easing Talent CrunchThe challenge from a talent crunch continues, especially in the area of product management. But a growing pool of professionals with expertise in software products gives cause for cheer even here. An estimated 170,000 product R&D professionals (including 30,000 expatriates with global experience) work with multinationals’ subsidiaries, Indian technology service providers and Indian software product companies.According to Haragopal Mangipudi, vice president and business head of Finacle, the banking product from Infosys Technologies, “Earlier, when we looked for people for product management, product alliances or product marketing, we could not find people with the relevant experience. While the challenge does remain, it is far easier now.”Software products being designed and developed from the ground up at multinationals’ subsidiaries in India are expected to produce more experienced people. Since March, Yahoo! India has been launching a fully “made in India” product every month. Symantec’s India center works on a complete ownership model for products including Security 2.0, Information 2.0 and File System Analyzer. Google Map Maker is one of the most recent products from Google India. All of these are global products. Says Vinay Goel, head of products at Google India: “Professionals are now able to get the relevant product experience without having to move outside India.”This pool of professionals is expected not only to add value to the current players, but also to spawn start-ups – especially with the Indian software service industry no longer providing easy pickings. “The market has changed,” says Zinnov’s Natarajan. “Unless one is in a very niche segment, one can no longer be a small service player from India and survive. It therefore does not make sense for wannabe entrepreneurs to set up services companies.”This is not to say that every new software product start-up from India will find the going easy. One of the biggest constraints at present is angel funding. In Silicon Valley, angels play a critical role in identifying and supporting a start-up and building it to a size where it catches the interest of venture capitalists.Natarajan estimates that the United States has 225,000 such angels, among which many support software product start-ups. India, he says, has about 225 angels, of which very few fund software product firms. Sharma of Yahoo! cites this factor as the “weakest link in the chain.”Investors need to be far more knowledgeable, patient and comfortable with funding product start-ups, adds IDG Ventures’ Sethi. “Given the nature of the software product business, the failures are higher than in the services business. But even failures will have a positive spin-off. The experience that comes from these will add strength to the product ecosystem.”Reprinted from knowledge@wharton Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
Number of Indian Students Rises in Australian Universities

first_imgNearly 190,000 foreign students applied to study in Australia between July and December 2017, with the number of Indian applicants rising by 32 per cent, according to the latest statistics released by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.The rise in Chinese applicants was recorded at 13 per cent, making the country the largest source of applicants, followed by India. Nepal became the third-largest source of applicants by overtaking Brazil, growing by 46 per cent to 12,000 prospective students, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.The number of foreign students applying to pursue higher education in Australia was up by 14.1 per cent between July and December 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.Reports of racist attacks and job squeeze in Australia have failed to deter Indian and Chinese students from seeking opportunities to study in Australian universities in big numbers.The number of student visa granted increased by 7 per cent, with more than 90 per cent of applicants being granted student visas. As many as 41,000 student visas were granted to Chinese nationals, which is a quarter of all student visas given in that quarter. The number of student visas granted to Indian nationals was 20,000, according to the report.The statistics revealed by the government, however, also hint that the number of international students moving into skilled work in the country after they graduate has gone down. This is due to the changes made to the temporary 457 visa, which is set to be abolished and changed this month by the government. Only 3,000 graduates moved on to the 457 visa, a decline of 50 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.“On April 18 2017, the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection jointly announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa which will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages,” a statement from the Department of Home Affairs announced earlier.According to the Department of Home Affairs, a 457 visa lets a skilled worker travel to Australia to work in their nominated occupation for their approved sponsor for up to four years.This new visa is part of the government’s reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programs. The implementation of these reforms began in April 2017 and it will be completed in March 2018, the statement added.The number who transitioned to a 189 or 190 skilled visa also went down, and there was a 30 per cent increase in students transitioning to a 485 “temporary graduate” visa. A temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) is for international students who have recently graduated from an Australian educational institution. It is, however, not a guarantee of skilled labor.Australian universities like New South Wales, Deakin, Canberra and Queensland saw an increase in the number Indian students in 2017, reported SBS.com earlier. “There is a growth of approximately 30 percent over same time last year,” said John Molony, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Deakin University. Related ItemsacademicsAustralialast_img read more

Read More
The Last Chinese Newspaper In India

first_imgA newspaper office is usually chaotic with phones ringing continuously, correspondents bustling with news stories, sub-editors polishing articles, editors debating story angles and placements.But the noise and cacophony is eerily missing in the placid offices of the Overseas Chinese Commerce of India, the only Chinese newspaper published in the country, from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. Situated in Tangra Lane, popularly known as Chinatown because of the dominance of the Chinese community in the area, there is nothing to suggest from outside that the dilapidated building houses the office of the sole Chinese newspaper in India. The gate is stark, except for a white signage with a scrawl in Mandarin atop the entrance.On entering the gateway, a plaque identifies the location as the office of Chinese Tannery Owners Association. The unassuming offices of Overseas Chinese Commerce of India.A few steps and a left turn lead to a hall where old copies of the newspaper are lying bundled up and piled atop each other. A layer of thick dust covers some of them, likely because have rested here for a few months. An elderly bespectacled man, who seems to be in his late 70s and wearing a hearing aid, is sitting on a wooden chair in the next room riveted on some papers that he is carefully studying. The attendant of the building quietly offers his name: K.T. Chang, editor and publisher of the Overseas Chinese Commerce of India. After an introduction, he offers a seat. He is polite, but reticent. He is busy. The newspaper office opens only for four hours every day from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and Chang, along with another “journalist,” have the responsibility to select the news, proof-read and design the 4-page tabloid. The first page of the black and white tabloid carries international news; page two has a mix of China-specific and city news on the Chinese diaspora, page three has pieces on health care and stories for kids while page four comprises news from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The newspaper runs a special edition during the Chinese New Year. Chang agrees to speak briefly between his hectic schedule: “We do not have any correspondents as the local news is not covered by us. We only focus on the news from China and even a news item on India has to be related to China in some way. The articles are being downloaded and printed from Chinese websites. After that, the page is designed for printing.”The newspaper, in publication for nearly five decades, was established by Lee Youn Chin, a community leader and an eminent tanner in March 1969.The newspaper has shriveled over the decades as the Chinese population in the city dwindled and Chinese youth turned to other media. “We publish 200 newspapers daily, but only 180 are sold at a price of Rs 2.50 each. The subscription has dropped drastically over the years because of the young generation switching to English newspapers,” says Chang. He adds with pride though that people in the community still prefer the newspaper for matrimonial ads, obituaries and to announce social events in the neighborhood.“We charge from them as we also need revenue to run the daily. They don’t have to pay in advance for advertisements as our newspaper is circulated only in the locality. They just book advertisements over phones and the money is collected later from their homes.”Although the circulation is restricted to Tangra’s Chinatown and is delivered personally to subscribers, some copies are mailed to customers in Mumbai and Chennai. Liu Chen, a young Chinese professional, who works in a private multinational in Kolkata, says the newspaper offers little of appeal to him: “The news is often trivial and lacks the latest happenings around the world. In an age of social media and glossy newspapers, it is very difficult to remain stuck with this newspaper, but it’s still a commendable effort to keep our culture alive.”As the clock strikes 11.30 am, Chang closes the door of his office and unlocks his bicycle to head home. He has completed his job and sent the next day’s newspaper for printing. As he mounts his bicycle, a slice of Chinese history in India prepares to peddle away with him. Related ItemsChinaMedialast_img read more

Read More
Beyoncé, Bhangra And a Bill In The Millions: The Wedding That Has India Obsessed

first_imgIndian weddings are known for being long and elaborate. But by any measure, the weeklong celebrations for Isha Ambani, the daughter of perhaps Asia’s richest man, are on another level — or planet — of extravagance.Ambani, 27, is to be married to her childhood friend Anand Piramal, 33, a real-estate developer and scion of another of India’s most prominent business families, on Wednesday in Mumbai. Their weeklong bash is said to include at least five events, and there has been much speculation about the cost of luxury hotel rooms, chartered flights, catered meals and entertainment. Bloomberg reported an estimate of $100 million, but a person close to the family has disputed that number. Calculations based on publicly available prices suggest a bill closer to $15 million.Prince Harry’s wedding to the American actress Meghan Markle cost $40 million in a country where labor costs are much higher. But whatever the price, it would be small change for the father of the bride, Mukesh D. Ambani, a tycoon with an estimated net worth of $41.6 billion.Ambani’s businesses, in oil, telecoms, chemicals, textiles, technology and food, touch the lives of every Indian, and his daughter’s wedding is the subject of intense public fascination.Indian weddings have in recent years become a symbol of the country’s new moneyed elite, said James Crabtree, the author of “The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age.”“Of course, a wedding of the pre-eminent corporate dynasty of modern Indian history is going to be a very big and very extravagant deal,” he said.The pre-wedding festivities hosted by Ambani and his wife, Nita, began on Saturday in Udaipur, a north Indian city famous for its palaces, and drew celebrities from around the world.The A-list guests included former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who reportedly danced to bhangra, a type of pop music from India’s Punjab region.Oh, and Beyoncé flew in to perform a 45-minute private concert, with several costume changes.(At one point, Bollywood megastar Salman Khan appeared on stage behind members of the Ambani family, prompting some to joke on Twitter that he had been relegated to the role of backup dancer.)Saturday’s event overwhelmed Udaipur, as the Ambanis’ guests took over the city’s hotels and clogged its tiny airport. Even Mumbai’s international airport set a record for traffic on Saturday, as dozens of private chartered flights made their way north.One wedding guest, who did not want to be identified discussing the Ambani family’s private affairs, said that invitations came in a Dolce & Gabbana box, adorned with pink and gold lace and detachable chains that could be worn as jewelry.She added that the Udaipur event appeared to have about 2,000 guests. One highlight was a Bollywood dance number that the bride’s mother, Nita, performed with her two sons, Akash and Anant.Mukesh Ambani’s father, Dhirubhai Ambani, was a schoolteacher’s son who created a business empire in India at a time when most large-scale private enterprises there were stifled by government controls. His firm, Reliance Industries, eventually came to be seen as the face of India’s industrial renaissance.When Dhirubhai Ambani died, his sons Mukesh and Anil fought over control of the empire. Mukesh ultimately got the petroleum and plastics business and Anil got telecommunications and financial services.Mukesh leveraged his portion of Reliance to build a new phone carrier, Reliance Jio, that has upended the industry by offering unlimited calls and lots of data for $2 a month. The price war devastated Anil’s telecom company.Setting aside their business rivalries, the brothers jointly greeted wedding guests in Udaipur.The wedding ceremony is planned for Wednesday at Mukesh Ambani’s 27-story home, which towers over southern Mumbai and includes a six-level parking garage and three helipads. (Clinton dined at the tower in March while visiting the city to speak at a conference, the Indian news media reported.)The celebrations this week will also include a ceremony at Piramal’s father’s home in Mumbai, and a reception at JioGarden, an event space in Mumbai built by Ambani’s company.Not everyone in India is excited; some critics said on social media that the extravaganza was unseemly in a country with so much poverty.A report last month by the Paris-based World Inequality Lab found that the richest 10 percent of India’s population controlled 63 percent of its wealth in 2012, up from 45 percent in 1981.Kai Schultz contributed reporting.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
Jet Airways to Phase Out Expat Pilots in India

first_imgAfter two unsavory racially-charged incidents with expatriate pilots, Jet Airways has started phasing out its expatriate pilots. According to a Times of India report, 25 expatriate pilots will be sent back by mid-September and the process is set to continue. Out of 2,000 pilots, according to the airline, only 8 per cent of them are expats in Jet Airways.Racial CommentsThe action comes after two of its expat pilots made headlines– one for allegedly making racial comments against two passengers, and one for assaulting the company’s senior trainer in early April. The case of two passengers- a woman and a disabled man being hurled racial abuse by German pilot on April 6 became so famous that Harbhajan Singh tweeted about it. His tweet earned him a defamation notice from the German pilot who was relieved of his duties from Jet Airways.The troubles when it came to expatriate pilots started when these incidents came to light. Jet Airways had foreign pilots in its service since 1990s– however, the call to remove them from service by unions was made for the first time. The National Aviators’ Guild, Jet Airways domestic pilot labour union, had directed its members not to fly with expat pilots from May– on the grounds that expatriates are paid more for lesser productivity.Removal of Expat PilotsNAG President D. Balaraman said to CNNMoney:“[Expat pilots] work for eight weeks and get two weeks off.They’re trying to make us work for 11 weeks to get the two weeks off, which we feel is unfair.”According to a Rediff report, an Indian commander in Jet earns an average annual salary of around Rs 5.5 lakh while his foreign counterpart is paid around $12,000. This works to around Rs 14.3 lakh at the current exchange rate. Expats also get generous housing and travel benefits in their contracts.The decision to go on a strike was relaxed after the airline promised talks over the issues. The Guild had then sought removal of expat pilots.Homegrown TalentThe airline on the other hand, had claimed it had to hire expats because because Indian pilots won’t fly certain aircraft in its fleet– Boeing 737s and ATR regional turboprops being prime examples. The spokesperson for the airline said it had to cover gaps caused by shortage of skilled Indian pilots.To this, pilots spoke to Rediff.com, saying that airlines in India don’t have a system to develop homegrown talents, thereby creating dependence on expatriates.An Air India pilot added:“An airline does its fleet planning much in advance. It can easily recruit Indian pilots and train them for the future.”Growing DemandIndiGo President Aditya Ghosh told Rediff, “In the past 10 years, we have inducted 941 fresh Commercial Pilot License (CPL) holders, who had only a basic flying licence, and trained them to become captains and trainers on the A-320 airplane. Quite a few of these young CPL holders are now flying as pilots and trainers in IndiGo and abroad.”Jet Airways claims to have hired more than 400 Indian pilots in the past 16 months.Aviation industry is growing at almost 20% per year and is said to be on its way to become the third largest by 2020.  Around 400 of India’s 6,300 pilots are from overseas, if you look at government figures cited by local media. Expat pilots are in demand in China as well– who has been offering six figure salaries for foreign pilots  willing to come fly in the country. Related ItemsAviation IndustryControversyExpatIndiaJet AirwaysLittle IndiaNewsPilotslast_img read more

Read More
Outsourced Spouses

first_imgLong before outsourcing became a buzzword, Indian immigrants were the granddaddies of outsourcing – of spouses, of all things! Not surprising, in a culture where matrimony is the be all and the end all of life. Whether you’re shy or outgoing, rich or poor, educated or not, gay or heterosexual – marry you must! It’s the Indian thing, the desi thing, and the patriotic thing to do. Rujul Pathak and Dushyant Pota: “It’s like the sweet and sour balance in food, the yin and yang.”Years ago, when the Diaspora was young and evolving, it was largely single Indian males who were venturing out into the world to seek their fortune. The wave of largely single male students and professionals who came to America in the 60’s usually headed back to India for an authentic homegrown spouse. Over the years that tradition continues to thrive. Now we may be in the 21st century and this may be America, but more than a few second-generationers – born and brought up in the U.S. – are still outsourcing their spouses from India.The children of the Diaspora have come of age and now eligible girls and boys are as likely to be in India as in the United States, Dubai or the United Kingdom. Their back office can be anywhere from Bangalore to Mumbai to Punjab – wherever concerned grandparents, uncles and aunts and nosy neighbors exist.In the past, as even now, most of such cross-country weddings took place by word of mouth. Indian relatives are a hardworking lot who take duty and relationships very seriously and for them finding a suitable spouse for a niece or a nephew or even a cousin far removed is a badge of honor.A girl has just to reach the magic age of 18 and the matchmaking begins in earnest, with suggestions of a suitable boy in Chennai or Chicago. In India everyone’s a matchmaker at heart and there’s always the cousin of a cousin or the friend of a friend who knows the perfect boy. Aneja Raj and Divya RavindramBesides the home office, there are the professionals, matchmakers in every community whose sole business is to find appropriate spouses for returning NRIs. Even the national media are involved, with reputable newspapers devoting pages and pages to matrimonial ads, assisting cross-country couples to get hitched.In India’s marriage-crazed culture, everyone’s a matchmaker.The love story of Sonal and Ajay Israni, who are both physicians in Philadelphia, could easily be subtitled “The Tale of Two Aunts.” Sonal lived in Bombay and Ajay in the United States and the two might never have met had it not been for the persistence of these relatives.“My dad’s sister and Ajay’s dad’s sister are friends, and for six years they were trying to get us together and neither of us was interested in meeting the other,” recalls Sonal who came from Bombay for her residency in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sonal and Ajay Israni were brought together by two persistent aunts.Finally pushed, the two emailed each other and then spoke on the phone. Sonal was working in Atlanta at the time and Ajay came down to meet her.She says, “Neither of us thought we’d be able to make a decision, but within six weeks we were engaged. It’s amazing how for six years our aunts had tried to bring us together! We had both dated other people and had thought we wouldn’t need families to introduce us and would meet someone on our own. But it’s true, sometimes the old fashioned way is the best way.”Another couple who met the old-fashioned way and have been married for nine happy years are Rajiv Jain, born and brought up in New Jersey, and his wife Jyoti, who has spent her whole life in Bombay.“I never went to India with the sole thought of looking for a life partner,” says Rajiv, who works in information technology. “I was not opposed to the idea, if I met someone that would be great and luckily for me I met Jyoti.”Once again it was an uncle who united the two. They met formally at Jyoti’s house over sweets and savories, and then got to know each other better on several more occasions.Says Rajiv, “We met a few more times and I was hooked and the rest as they say is love.”Today the couple lives in Old Bridge, NJ and has two sons Rahul and Rishabh.  While this outsourcing of spouses is ably assisted by a cadre of relatives and matchmakers, now there’s a new matchmaker in town – the Internet! Yes, artificial intelligence is taking over jobs generally done by humans. Rajiv and Jyoti Jain: “I never went to India with the sole thought of looking for a life partner”Matrimony websites are taking giant leaps in getting couples connected, no matter where they live. Immigrant parents can take heart: they may have lost their village, but have gained a world full of same caste, same region prospects from London to Chennai to Atlanta!Indeed young – and sometimes, not so young – Indians from Hong Kong to Birmingham to Frankfurt are finding suitable spouses on the Net, without the intervention of family members. There are scores of dating and matrimony sites, such as Bharatmatrimony.com, shaadi.com, indianmatrimonials.com, mydesimatch.com, and snehaquestcom, which have assumed some of the traditional duties of parents and relatives.You can even find matrimonial websites targeting narrow subgroups, such as patidarmatrimonial.org, aimed at the Patel Patidar community, or falgunimehta.com, which targets the Gujarati, Marwari and Kutch communities. If you’re planning to visit India over the vacations, Falguni Mehta’s Marriage Bureau promises to have the widest prospects ready on your arrival!Bharatmatrimony boasts that almost 200,000 profiles on its system are from the United States, Middle East, U.K and other parts of the world.Says its chief operating officer Seema Singh-Zokarkar, “Many have distinct preferences when it comes to searching for their life partner, giving specific geographical locations in their search criteria; some members are open to relocating to any part of the world if they find the right match. So I would say the trend is mixed. But yes, of late there has been an increase in the number of cross country couples.”That trend did not escape another NRI, Anupam Mittal, who spent 10 years in the United States. He recalls that while in India he had a brief encounter with a “marriage broker,” somebody who carried bio-datas in his bag and hopped around from house to house, trying to facilitate a match and get a commission if it materialized.“This got me thinking – how many bio-datas can this man carry in his suitcase and how many people can he visit in one month?” asks Mittal.“Does this mean that this man’s strength (the stronger he is the more bio-datas he can carry) and his traveling abilities (the more people he visits the better my chances) will determine whom I marry? What if my soul mate is in Timbuktu – this guy cannot get there?”This was Mittal’s “Eureka” moment and he decided to use the Internet to connect couples around the world. The result was Shaadi.com. Mittal says while 65 percent of the registrants are from India, 35 percent are NRIs, the majority from the United States.Aneja Raj, the campaign manager of Bharat Matrimony.com in Chennai, himself found and wooed his spouse on the site! He laughs, “Just to prove the fact that it works!” Hemant and Leena Kandalgaonkar: “We met on the first of December and by Jan 9 we had decided to get married”Divya Ravindran, a physician in California, had posted her profile on the site and they really hit it off. They emailed each other and exchanged views and chatted for some time. Then followed the long phone calls and as things began to jell, they told their parents.“It turns out we were from the same caste and all those things that make everybody else happy!” says Divya.As a next step, she and her father visited Aneja in Chennai. Says Aneja, “By that time we had talked so much to each other, we were really excited and within five minutes, I was holding her hand!”Divya and her father stayed with Aneja’s family then all of them went to Divya’s family home in Karnataka where they were engaged. Within three months they were married and now Aneja is in Los Angeles too, working with an Internet based security company.“I think the Internet has really opened up our opportunities much more instead of just restricting us to Indians within our own country,” says Divya, who was born and brought up in the U.S. “You are able to meet Indians, whether it’s in the U.K. or Australia. Indians are all over the world and you are seeing more of it now because we can communicate much easier now.”The electronic matchmaker also worked for Hemant and Leena Kandalgaonkar, both previously divorced and living on different continents.“We met on the first of December and by Jan 9 we had decided to get married,” recalls Leena, who was living in Bombay as an independent woman with a good job, a car and an apartment of her own.Hemant was in Toronto, the treasury director in a Canadian corporation and a Canadian citizen for 30 years. Says Leena, “Our ideas matched. Both of us come from the same social background, we are both Maharastrian Brahmins. Both of us had been divorced, so we knew where we didn’t want to go wrong this time and really knew there is a lot of give and take, compromise and understanding.”Having just seen each other’s pictures, they decided to get married even before they physically met.This cross-country romancing is happening with the second generation too. It is facilitated in part by instant messaging and email, which seem to magically erase geographical boundaries and make everything immediate and easy.But alas one person has to relocate and both partners have to adjust. “What we were looking for in marriage was companionship,” says Leena. “I was 46 and Hemant was 53 and at that age we were looking for companionship. Life in North America is very lonely if you don’t have a partner and with the severe winters for 5-6 months, you move from home to work, work to home, and you need somebody to come home to.”The changes for the relocating spouse can be daunting. Recalls Sonal who married Ajay Israni, the physician in Philadelphia. “When I first came, I didn’t know how to drive a car, I didn’t have a social security number, I didn’t have anything. Most Indian girls stay at home with their parents and they’ve never lived independently so it’s hard for them to have to manage their own households.“I never had to do anything for myself back home. There’s the invisible hand syndrome in India: you drink a glass of water and you leave it somewhere; it’s taken away, it’s put in its proper place and you never have to worry about it. Over here, there are no invisible hands so you have to do everything.”It’s been a real learning curve, learning to change light bulbs or check the fluid level in the car. But the hardest thing, she says, is having one’s parents and siblings so far away.The couple is now moving to Minneapolis where they have both accepted faculty positions with the University of Minneapolis.  Rujul Pathak, a journalist from Bombay who is married to Dushyant Pota, an IT auditor in California, says she did not have to make too many adjustments as she had visited the U.S. several times before. “It’s been a month and a half and we are doing all right! We have realized we are from different backgrounds, even though we belong to the same caste. Our upbringing has been different and so has our social circle. I am an extremely independent minded person and sometimes I question the constant ‘answerability’ about everything that you do or plan to do. This is one thing that is almost taken for granted once you are married!”At the same time, Dushyant, who has lived in the U.S. for three years, says: “I always wanted to marry a girl who has been born and raised in India, who has seen, felt and lived India like me. For Indian girls born and raised here, India is just a country where her parents are from. It’s hard for them to associate themselves to the culture, traditions, customs in India.”Rujul says, “It’s like the sweet and sour balance in food, the yin and yang. For the first time in life I have realized what it is to truly miss family and friends back home, what it is to run your own home without help from anyone and what it is to stay home, cook and clean while feverishly looking for employment.”The outsource-a-spouse tale is one of surprises, hilarious incidents – and sometimes, dashed expectations. That’s inevitable when people brought up with different worldviews decide to become bedfellows. They can have dreams together – or nightmares!Jyoti recalls quizzing Rajiv when she encountered him in Bombay on her stereotypes about NRIs. She says: “I thought he would be ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) completely. So I had a big list of questions for him to answer, which I thought he would definitely flunk. Questions like asking him whether he knew Hindi – in Hindi. Did he eat only boiled food and sandwiches? Did he ever watch Indian movies or listen to Indian music? Did he know any Indian actors besides Amitabh?”And the most vital question: was he vegetarian? Says Jyoti, “This was important to me and I thought staying vegetarian is very hard especially when you are away from home. But Rajiv’s parents had done a good job in raising their kids and making them aware of their culture.”For Jyoti, coming from the warmth of Bombay, the hardest adjustment has been New Jersey’s cold weather. She had never ever worn a sweater and now even in May she is discovering herself bundling up in sweater and socks.Rajiv had his cultural adjustments too: “When we would watch American shows, I would laugh and she would wonder why. When we watched Indian movies, I would be pestering her as to the meaning of a joke for the subtitles don’t always work!”So does outsourcing your life partner make for happiness? Is an imported spouse better than a homegrown one? It’s all about expectations and realities and overcoming the perception rampant among many parents and some prospective grooms that a homegrown spouse is more traditional while an Indian woman raised in America is too “American” – read bold, independent and outspoken.Just as outsourcing raises the ire of workers here, some Indian American women see red too when they complain of Indian-American men who are happy to date them, but then go back to India when it comes time for commitment and marriage. Often times, they are pressured by parents who push their mythology of a traditional Indian daughter-in-law.According to Dr. Sangeeta Gupta of Los Angeles, who did her dissertation on the retention of ethnicity in the Indian American community and is currently doing research on Indian American women and their relationships with their in-laws, women who grow up here often feel misrepresented.“Many Indian American women work harder to learn about and maintain Indian traditions because they are trying to establish their identity in this country,” she says. “They want to connect with the Indian side of themselves. It’s a fallacy to believe that bringing a bride from India will guarantee that the traditions will be maintained.”Asked about the darker side of cross-country alliances, Rujul, who worked with Times of India, says, “For every person who is disillusioned by rich NRI’s exploiting and wooing innocent girls into a hell-like matrimonial setting, there is a person who is scanning every website possible to find that perfect, rich NRI husband who can fulfill her dreams of a racy and plush life style.”She feels that the yearning for settling down in the U.S. has decreased amongst Indians over the last 3-4 years, and one of the reasons is the fast growing Indian economy and good job prospects there.She adds, “Also it seems that the media has teamed up with films to paint quite a gory picture of life in the U.S. and NRI grooms.”In fact, the real picture is itself quite gory (see sidebar).A major impetus for outsourced marriages, according to Sharmila Rudrappa, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, are Indian IT workers, many of whom came here in the 1990s.While second generation Indian Americans are comfortable in the dating scene here, the recent Indian techie immigrants find it harder to get acculturated. “They are seen as these nerdy, IT types, so for them to find suitable partners or even someone who will date them in the U.S, it’s much harder,” she says. “Even if they wanted to date white women, they may not have been conversant with the American dating scene, so for many of these individuals, the only option for romance is to have amma and appa arrange a marriage.”And so as Bombay, London, New York and Dubai become ever closer, through email and air travel, couples in the Diaspora are finding each other in the most unexpected places. Sometimes these marriages fail and sometimes they work very well. It’s all about expectations and adjustments.As Sonal Israni says of her whirlwind romance and marriage to Ajay, “For six years people have been trying to get us together. We didn’t even want to meet and kept coming up with excuses. So it has to be something to do with a cosmic or karmic connection.”Indeed, it has to be karmic or cosmic – otherwise why would a goddess-like Bollywood star leave the glitz and glamour to become an NRI wife in California? The hugely popular actress Madhuri Dixit is married to Los Angeles physician Dr. Sriram Nene and lives part of the year in California. Padmini, the noted dancer and heroine of Raj Kapoor movies, who left the film industry to marry a physician in New Jersey, started the trend many moons ago. The most recent is Pooja Batra, who has moved to the U.S. to live with her NRI husband. Movie magazines are full of stories about her having signed up with the Wilhelmina Modeling agency.As India becomes ever more cosmopolitan, its inhabitants are sometimes more westernized than Indian Americans. They know what’s hot and what’s new and follow international trends religiously.The jet set circles are the same and for the movers and shakers, New Delhi, New York, and London are all on the same radar – with fashion shows, overseas holidays and international shopping making it one big chic biradri. Many of them have been educated in London or in the Ivy Leagues in the U.S., and so they bump into each other in all the right places.Even the British royal family is getting into the outsourcing act! One hears that Lady Ella Gabriella, the 23-year-old daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent is planning to marry her Indian boy friend, Aatish Taseer, and may well settle down in New Delhi.Now that’s some royal outsourcing!  Related Itemslast_img read more

Read More
Nadal withdraws from ATP Finals after loss to Goffin

first_imgRafael Nadal of Spain returns to David Goffin of Belgium during their singles tennis match at the ATP World Finals at the O2 Arena in London, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)LONDON — Rafael Nadal will have to wait another year to win the ATP Finals.The world No. 1 withdrew from the elite, season-ending tournament after losing his opening match to David Goffin 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4 on Monday at the O2 Arena.ADVERTISEMENT View comments LeBron: Smith comments a shot at Phil Jackson, not Ntilikina Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Nadal pulled out of the Paris Masters at the quarterfinal stage 10 days ago and admitted ahead of the ATP Finals on the indoor hard-court he struggles on, that his knees, which have caused him trouble throughout his career, were still “not perfect.”Despite having qualified 13 consecutive times for the ATP Finals, only eight of which he’s been fit enough to compete in, Nadal has never won the event. Spain will still be represented, as Nadal will be replaced by U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“My season is finished,” Nadal said. “Yeah, I had the commitment with the event, with the city, with myself. I tried hard. I did the thing that I had to do to try to be ready to play. I tried, but seriously was miracle to be very close in the score during the match.”After two breaks of serve each, Goffin claimed an ugly opening set via a tiebreak and was on the verge of victory in the second, but Nadal’s fighting spirit saved four match points to force another tiebreaker and draw level. Nadal’s exit simplifies Federer’s path to a seventh ATP Finals title. The winner of 2017′s other two Grand Slams returns to action against Alexander Zverev on Tuesday after defeating Jack Sock on Sunday.Making his debut at the ATP Finals earlier, Grigor Dimitrov withstood a comeback attempt from Dominic Thiem and held on for a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 victory.The sixth-ranked Dimitrov maintained his focus despite being narrowly denied a chance to serve out the match in the second set, and then being broken at his first chance in the third.“Every year you learn more about yourself, about the game, about the players,” Dimitrov said. “I’ve done also a lot of work on and off the court. It’s finally starting to kind of, like, come together.” Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA However, the third set proved a step too far for the 16-time Grand Slam champion, who began to struggle with his movement and was in visible pain. Goffin secured a double break to be 4-1, but Nadal rallied once more. He could retrieve only one of the breaks.“It was tough even if he was not moving 100 percent,” Goffin said. “He was hitting the ball really hard. It’s never easy to finish a match, to finish a set against him. Even if I lost four match points in the second, I had no regret. I kept going in the third.”Nadal ominously waved goodbye as he left the court, bringing to an end another auspicious season. He won his 10th French Open in June, added a third U.S. Open in September and, at 31, became the oldest man to end the year atop of the rankings.With the Australian Open still over two months away, Nadal was confident playing in London wouldn’t have done any lasting damage.“The good thing is (this injury is) nothing new,” Nadal said. “Everybody of my team, we have the right experience on this thing. We hope to manage it well, to have the right rest, the right work, and try to be ready for the beginning of the next season.”ADVERTISEMENT Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Read Next LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

Read More
The cold returns for Winter Games in mountainous Pyeongchang

first_imgHow cold is it?So cold that tears spring to the eyes. So cold the ink in a pen grows sluggish and fades as it scribbles over a page. So cold that South Korean men sometimes flash back to being posted for hours on the frozen frontline during mandatory military service. So cold at least six people were treated for hypothermia last month after a pop concert at the open-air Olympic Stadium.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“We all hope it will be better in February, but if it’s like it is now, there will be big trouble. It’s just too cold for outsiders,” says Choi Jong-sik, 64, smirking in his short-sleeve shirt as a visiting reporter removes layer after layer of thick outerwear for an interview at Choi’s Pyeongchang restaurant.Vancouver and Sochi, where ski jumpers were landing in puddles, got complaints for being too warm, as might Beijing in 2022, but the weather in Pyeongchang will likely dazzle spectators, and confound organizers and athletes, in its bitterness. Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university PLAY LIST 01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa In this file photo, Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium is seen in Pyeongchang, South Korea. After two straight balmy Olympics where some might have wondered if it was even winter, let alone the world’s pre-eminent freeze-dependent sporting event, athletes and visitors alike will finally experience a no-joke chill in their bones. Vancouver and Sochi got complaints for being too warm, as might Beijing in 2022, but the weather in Pyeongchang will likely dazzle spectators, and confound organizers and athletes, in its bitterness.PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The cold is back for the Winter Games.After two straight balmy Olympics where some might have wondered if it was even winter, let alone the world’s pre-eminent freeze-dependent sporting event, athletes and visitors alike will finally experience a serious chill in their bones during the games in mountainous Pyeongchang.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq LATEST STORIES MOST READ View commentscenter_img The wind is brutal, and it pounds the entire area, including the stadium and the rooftop, where the gusts rattling through the big AC units sound like a doomed bomber plummeting out of the sky in an old war movie.Despite the cold, organizers have done little to protect stadium visitors. Spectators will have to sit exposed for as long as five hours in the elements during the nighttime ceremonies. There are no built-in heating systems for the seats and the corridors, and it’s too late to build a roof and too expensive to install central heat, officials say.Many of the concertgoers last month where six were treated for hypothermia reportedly flocked to the arena’s toilets for a rare bit of respite from the cold.Organizers plan to provide each spectator at the Olympics ceremonies with a raincoat, a small blanket and heating pads — one to sit on, one for the hands and a pair for the feet. They also plan to install polycarbonate walls above the highest seats across the two northwest sides of the stadium to block the strongest winds. About 40 portable gas heaters will be placed in aisles between the rows of plastic seats, and lots of hot coffee and tea, fish sticks and heated buns will be on sale.Still, by the time the opening ceremony starts at around 8 p.m., the wind chill at the stadium could be minus 14 degrees Celsius (about 7 F). That is much colder than the wind chill at the ceremonies for the Vancouver and Sochi Games, which were 5 degrees and 4 degrees C, respectively, according to South Korean officials.When Associated Press journalists visited the area earlier this month, it was minus 18 degrees C (a little below zero F) midmorning at a resort near Olympic Stadium.Sochi temperatures soared at times. On Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, for instance, it was 16 degrees C (61 degrees F).The coastal areas of Gangneung, where skating and hockey will be held, are warmer than Pyeongchang. But it’s still cold. Tourists can be seen in thick quilted coats standing on piers and posing for pictures as huge, frigid blue-green waves crash behind them; they run and laugh, trying to dodge the spray.Locals often smirk when they see bundled up tourists waddle around Pyeongchang like penguins. Choi, after an interview, stands outside his restaurant, still in his short-sleeve shirt, smoking a cigarette while a well-layered-up reporter shivers nearby. “Sometimes I go out like this and the people in warm coats look at me like I’m crazy.”A drive into the mountains twists through isolated former mining towns and past frozen fields, frozen rivers, frozen forests and dramatic granite peaks that look in places like they’re sliding into the valleys. The sun sparkles on the brittle ice covering the landscape; the wind roars through the pine trees like traffic on the interstate. “It’s cold, and it’s going to get colder. But what can we do?” says Ahn Young Ju, 36, a restaurant owner in the remote town of Nammyeon in Jeongseon county, which will host the downhill skiing events. “We were born here, so we try not to think too much about it.” Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Olynyk scores career-high 32 for Heat in return to Boston Pyeongchang sits nearly half a mile above sea level in the northeastern corner of South Korea, not too far from the border with the North. It is one of the coldest parts of the country — wind chill in February is often in single digits (Fahrenheit) — and notorious for a powerful, biting wind that gathers force as it barrels down out of Siberia and the Manchurian Plain and then across the jagged granite peaks of North Korea.It can be hard to get people here to talk about, or even acknowledge, the cold. It is simply a fact of life, and stoicism is often the rule when confronted with outsiders’ weather-related questions.“The only thing foreigners can do is the same thing locals do: bundle up,” Nam Sun-woo, 60, a fishmonger in Pyeongchang, says. “Not many outsiders understand how cold it gets here. It’s not like where they’re from. This kind of cold is completely different.”The weather will be on display, and maybe a major nuisance, at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in Hoenggye village. The much-criticized 35,000-seat open-air pentagon-shaped arena, which cost 118.4 billion won ($107 million), will be used only four times — during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics — and then torn down.On a recent blustery day, from the top of a nearby 17-story building, the white angular stadium looks a little like a giant discarded Lego piece. It rises isolated on a wide, flat plain, muscular mountains cascading down behind it. It looks vulnerable and exposed — all those thousands of orange and pink seats laid bare below the wide dome of sky — but also slightly magical as the sun glitters off millions of tiny ice flakes blowing across the plain.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’last_img read more

Read More
Freshman Trae Young doing it all for No. 17 Oklahoma

first_img“I had the opportunity to coach Kyrie Irving at the same age, and he was similar like that before he got hurt,” Collins said, remembering a younger version of the NBA All-Star. “There was just a maturity to his game that he had. He knew how to change speeds. He looked like a veteran from day one and that’s how Trae is out there. He plays at his pace. He knows where he wants to go.“He looks like he really enjoys playing with these guys. It’s really fun to watch but not fun to play against.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderYoung burned Collins’ Wildcats for 25 points and 10 assists in the first half of a 104-78 win on Friday. The freshman finished with 31 points and 12 assists.It was another stellar night in a string of big games for the 6-foot-2 guard, who is bringing his hometown team back to national prominence. The Sooners struggled to an 11-20 record a year ago, but they look more like the team that went to the 2016 Final Four at the moment. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Young leads the nation in scoring and assists. The Norman North High graduate has the locals buzzing, too. Friday night’s crowd of 11,259 was the biggest for a non-conference game at the Lloyd Noble Center since 2008, when Blake Griffin played for the Sooners.“When you’re winning, that’s the main thing,” he said. “This is fun. The crowd, it’s continuing to grow. They played a huge, huge role tonight. The way we jumped out right out the gates, you can just tell — this is the best time to be a Sooner.”Young scored 43 points in a win over Oregon. He had 29 points and 10 assists in a win over then-No. 3 Wichita State and 29 points and nine assists in a victory against then-No. 25 Southern California. But he really captured the attention of college basketball fans across the country when he tied an NCAA record with 22 assists against Northwestern State on Tuesday. He also had 26 points in the 105-68 win.“Obviously Trae’s ability to dictate and attack from the backcourt — that frees up a lot of other people,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Trae is shooting the ball well. Guys are comfortable making the extra pass. Moving the ball well. Good spacing. Making good basketball plays. They have done a good job of that.”Young shoots out beyond 25 feet with ease. He is fast and quick with rare court vision. It adds up to one difficult package for opponents.ADVERTISEMENT “With how deep he can shoot it from, you have to extend out on him, and then it just opens the floor,” Collins said. “He does a great job. He changes speeds well and he is shifty. And so the moment you are kind of a little off balance, he does a great job getting into your body and kind of playing off your movements. He’s got incredible vision. I always knew he was an incredible scorer. But the one thing I think he is underrated is his ability to pass. I thought he made some great passes and found guys.” 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Scott scores 18 in Wizards’ win over short-handed Magic Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Oklahoma guard Trae Young celebrates after a fast-break basket against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Tyler Drabek)NORMAN, Okla. — Trae Young is picking up admirers with every dynamic performance for No. 17 Oklahoma.Check out this testimonial from Northwestern coach Chris Collins.ADVERTISEMENT Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’ BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC View commentslast_img read more

Read More
Nuggets stop Warriors’ 11-game winning streak

first_imgMOST READ Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed “When you’re missing shots, you don’t let it affect your defense, but this is a feel-good game,” Durant said. “You want to make shots, that’s what gets us going, that’s what gets the crowd going.”Golden State has regularly relied on big third quarters this season, and in this game, it couldn’t even muster a strong fourth after going into the final period down 73-62.It was also the second night of a back-to-back for the Warriors, who beat the Lakers at home on Friday. They fell behind 53-41 at the break Saturday.Harris had his second strong game after missing one with a bruised elbow.The Nuggets had lost five straight on Golden State’s home floor dating to a 100-99 win at Oracle on April 10, 2014.It was an especially slow start for Golden State, which began 6 for 18 — with Durant going 1 for 5 and Thompson missing his initial four shots as the Warriors shot 7 for 21 in the opening quarter. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Next Kevin Durant out with Achilles injury; to undergo MRI on Tuesday PLAY LIST 03:12Kevin Durant out with Achilles injury; to undergo MRI on Tuesday01:43Who are Filipinos rooting for in the NBA Finals?02:25Raptors or Warriors? PBA players take their pick of NBA champ01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, left, is fouled by Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler during the second half of an NBA basketball game. APOAKLAND, California — Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t see much passion from his team Saturday (Sunday Manila time).Golden State better find some fast for Christmas Day, when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town for a prime-time holiday rematch of the past three NBA Finals.ADVERTISEMENT 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’ Westbrook, George lead Thunder to victory over Jazz Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Draymond Green had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in his second game back after missing five of six with soreness in his right shoulder. He took a sharp elbow to the face from Jokic with 7:27 remaining and went down hard, then was getting X-rays on his left elbow afterward.Klay Thompson scored 15 for the Warriors but was 6 for 21 overall and 1 of 10 on 3s as Golden State went just 3 for 27 from deep. A night after posting his first career double-double with season bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.Patrick McCaw’s floater with 7:13 to go pulled Golden State to 82-71, but the Warriors couldn’t do much more to fight back.“I can’t remember seeing many teams hold that team to 3 of 27 from the 3-point line,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “So it’s a hell of a win for us and it’s going to make Christmas obviously that much merrier.”The Warriors were sloppy, lacked a flow on offense, looked a step behind most of the night and never got rolling trying to play catch-up much of the evening. Fans headed for the exits with a few minutes left, a rare sight at Oracle Arena.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Gary Harris scored 19 points to lead a balanced Denver offense and the Nuggets stopped the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak with a second impressive road victory in two nights, beating Golden State 96-81.“It didn’t feel like we were into it emotionally tonight. Sometimes after a long winning streak, whatever reason, you let your guard down a little bit. It wasn’t there,” Kerr said. “The biggest concern for me tonight, I didn’t see a lot of joy. … We weren’t having much fun.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderNikola Jokic added 18 points and nine rebounds and Jamal Murray had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nuggets after their Friday win at Portland. They held the defending NBA champions to a season low for points.Kevin Durant had 18 points and six rebounds in a particularly poor shooting performance for the typically efficient NBA Finals MVP. He was 6 for 17 and missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Warriors shot 38.6 percent. View commentslast_img read more

Read More
Victolero praises Ginebra’s defense in Magnolia loss

first_imgRead Next 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netBOCAUE — Defense wins championships.Unfortunately for Magnolia, it’s the same title-tested Ginebra defense which doomed the Hotshots in their Christmas Clasico clash at Philippine Arena on Monday.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ View comments LATEST STORIES Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues Tenorio says Ginebra can’t be satisfied with win over Magnolia Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’ Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:46US defense chief agrees it’s time to take another look at defense pact with PH01:20US Defense chief Mark Esper visits Manila American Cemetery for wreath-laying ceremony01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City “I give credit to Ginebra because they played a very good defense, especially when they gave us low percentage shots,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero of his team’s struggles against the reigning 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup champions.Ginebra didn’t look like it missed a beat from its championship run, limiting Magnolia to 36 percent shooting from the field and a paltry 18 percent clip from threes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over Thunder“We had tough shots and they weren’t going in. We can’t convert,” lamented Victolero in his team’s second outing this 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.In contrast, the Gin Kings had their way as they shot 44 percent from the field, with the tandem of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar making a living down low as they scored 32 of the team’s 46 points in the paint. “We allowed them to shoot 56 percent from two-points, and most of those were in the paint with Slaughter and Japeth. We had a hard time defending those two big guys and that’s the story of the game,” he said.Despite the defeat, Victolero could still draw positives from this game, especially with Ian Sangalang notching a career-best 25 points on top of 11 rebounds in the loss.“Ian has always been consistent for us since the last conference. I think he can still improve on a lot because he’s just 26 years old,” he said.Victolero sees the long break as a chance for the Hotshots to go back to basics and allow the injured players to heal up as they still await the full recovery of Paul Lee and Marc Pingris, as well as the return of Jio Jalalon and Rafi Reavis to their lineup.“At least, we have a long break to improve on the aspects of our game that we need to improve on. One loss won’t break our conference and I told them that these things happen,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC “Luckily for us, we have the time to wait for the other guys to be 100 percent. We’ll wait for Ping, Rafi, and Jio, and also with Paul because I want to see this team as a complete unit and what we can do with a complete lineup. Hopefully, by January they’ll be with us and let’s see how far we can go.”Magnolia’s next game is slated on January 10 against Kia.last_img read more

Read More
Debutants’ Ball

first_imgI don’t know. I have no clue why it happens. “That’s 33-year-old Anupriya Patel’s reply when asked what her advice to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb inflation would be. The first-time MP from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, has no pretensions of being a politician despite being Apna Dal founder,I don’t know. I have no clue why it happens. “That’s 33-year-old Anupriya Patel’s reply when asked what her advice to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb inflation would be. The first-time MP from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, has no pretensions of being a politician despite being Apna Dal founder Sone Lal Patel’s daughter. Room no. 1401 at Delhi’s Ashok Hotel, where she is staying, is chock-a-block with supporters but that doesn’t stop Anupriya from admitting that she hates being surrounded by people 24×7. “If I become a minister tomorrow, this crowd will swell. I’ll have new-found relatives.” She also admires Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav for his ability to remember every party worker’s name and face; this, despite regular tiffs with the government led by his son, Akhilesh Yadav.Apna Dal is a BJP ally but Anupriya says “these people are mad”, when asked about Sangh Parivar affiliates Bajrang Dal and Sri Ram Sene. She even claims she is against arranged marriages and supports live-in relationships, even if she herself took the traditional route. The psychology graduate from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, however, has her task cut out as an MP. “My two priorities are setting up a university and a super-specialty hospital. Then I want to provide housing, drinking water and sanitation to tribals in my constituency.”One of the 315 MPs who have entered the Lok Sabha for the first time in 2014, Anupriya represents a new breed of politicians who are ambitious, goal-oriented and outspoken. From Congress’s Sushmita Dev, who admits to having used money, political patronage and muscle power for electoral success, to Nationalist Congress Party’s Mohammad Faizal, who rubbishes the perception that Modi is anti-Muslim, to Babul Supriyo, who dismisses politician’s white kurta-pyjama as mere symbolism, the 16th Lok Sabha’s ‘freshers’ epitomise the young and restless India which believes in performance over posturing.advertisement”Today, people demand instant results,” says Lakshadweep MP Faizal, 38, who defeated Hamdullah Sayeed, son of veteran Congress leader P.M. Sayeed. Faizal, an MBA from Calicut University, is already working on a tourism promotion model aimed at generating employment in the 11 islands and plans to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lakshadweep to showcase its potential.For Nizamnagar MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha, 36, daughter of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao, representing a newborn state brings with it immense responsibility. During campaigning, she had released a personal manifesto for her constituency apart from the party manifesto. “I have to deli-ver everything I promised,” says the BTech graduate from Hyderabad’s Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. Daughter of Assam Congress veteran Santosh Mohan Dev, Sushmita, 41, considers politics to be a means and not an end. “I will leave politics the day I feel I have failed in my job,” says the lawyer-turned politician, an alumnus of Miranda House in Delhi.Nearly half of the 60 newcomers under 40 belong to political families. But they aren’t ready to accept that fact as the primary catalyst for their success. “Political patronage perhaps helps in getting a ticket but to earn votes, you must work at the grassroots. I visited all 436 villages in my constituency while others could not touch even 200,” says Dushyant Chautala, 26, the youngest-ever Lok Sabha member. Dynasty Never DiesThe Indian National Lok Dal MP from Hisar, who is the grandson of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, has scripted a family revival of sorts with his win after his father Ajay Singh Chautala and grandfather were jailed last year on corruption charges. Dushyant points to the other MP from his party, Charanjeet Singh, who won from Sirsa, as an example of a rank outsider making it big in polls. “He doesn’t have a political background. He joined politics at 21 and worked his way up to become an MP at 36. “He finds support from TRS MP from Peddapalli, Suman Balka, 31, an Osmania University student, who was part of the long agitation for the creation of Telangana. “If you work for a cause, opportunities will come your way. I got a ticket for my commitment to the people,” says Balka, who ticked off a security guard in Parliament for asking if he belonged to Andhra Pradesh. “It’s Telangana.”Another dynast, Chirag Paswan, 32, son of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, believes political patronage can at times be a liability. “There are several instances of those with money and patronage being pushed into oblivion,” he says. The BTech dropout decided to join politics in 2011 after seeing immigrants from Bihar “being subjected to humiliation in Mumbai, where he attempted-without much success-a foray into Bollywood as an actor. He is seen as one of the prime movers behind LJP’s coup in stitching an alliance with BJP and winning all the six Lok Sabha seats it contested-including Jamui, where Chirag defeated Speaker of the Bihar Assembly, Udai Narain Choudhary. BJP’s Nandurbar MP Heena Gavit, 26, a medical student who sat for her MD exams after the polls, says that being the daughter of Vijaykumar Gavit, who represented the constituency four times, certainly helped, but intent, a willingness to work for the poor and dedication were key to her success in unseating nine-time Congress MP Manikrao Gavit by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.advertisement Outsiders Get a Look-inOlympic gold medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, 44, feels joining politics was a natural progression from his military and sports background. The BJP Lok Sabha MP from Jaipur Rural says it’s important for good people to join the nation’s decision-making process. “If we don’t occupy them, others will.” Like Rathore, Priyanka Singh Rawat, who has an MA in political science from Rohilkhand University, Uttar Pradesh, entered politics because she believes educated people can serve society more responsibly and with greater impact. “I always wanted to do something for the country and realised politics is the best platform,” says the 28-year-old BJP MP who beat Congress stalwart P.L. Punia by a margin of more than 2 lakh votes in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh.Dr. Dharam Vira Gandhi, 62, one of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) four winning candidates from Punjab, attributes his success to the ability to connect with people. Of three-time MP Preneet Kaur, Union minister in the UPA regime, the Patiala physician says, “She failed to calculate the impact of my ground-level connect with people over the past decade.” Gandhi happily waives his consultation fee for the scores of brick kiln workers and hand-to-mouth farm labourers who queue up each day outside his modest clinic in Sukh Enclave, not far from Kaur’s plush address, the Moti Bagh Palace. He plans to keep working at the Gandhi Heart Clinic: “Parliament works for a maximum of three months each year. The rest will be for my patients and the people.”Most of the newcomers, cutting across party lines, feel that corruption cannot be weeded out by mere legislation. Several even blame the system for forcing politicians to turn corrupt. “The change must come from people and not politicians,” says Sushmita. Dushyant recounts how every village today demands money from politicians to hold various sports tournaments. Kavitha, however, believes that politicians have to play a bigger role in rooting out corruption. “We (TRS) don’t want our state to get into what India as a nation has been suffering for so many years. We as leaders have the responsibility to play the role of watchdogs,” says Kavitha.Sociologist Dipankar Gupta says AAP, despite its poor show at the hustings, has provided and model and structure for good people to join and succeed in politics. “AAP’s success was inspiring. The voter must support a candidate who promises development instead of one who offers free alcohol,” agrees Sushmita.advertisementBJP’s Karnataka MPs, Bhagavanta Khuba, 47, and Pratap Simha, 37, feel their victories represent the change Sushmita wants-both won without big money or political muscle. Now, they hope for a change in the culture of political parties. “Parties operate like the mafia. Most are fiercely clannish. As a result, even the brightest aspirants are kept out of politics,” says Simha, who has a master’s in journalism from Mangalore University.The new brigade is determined not to repeat the terrible performance of MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha: Over 74 bills were left pending as the House spent only 13 per cent of the allotted time in legislation, Parliament’s primary mandate. They also hope that uproarious scenes-from members coming to blows to pepper spray being brandished-which typified parliamentary proceedings in recent times are a thing of the past. “It will be our collective responsibility to see that such things don’t happen. We are here to discuss, debate and get our job done,” says Bollywood singer Babul Supriyo, 44, who secured on a BJP ticket from Asansol in West Bengal. Dushyant believes that unlike the last Lok Sabha, it’s not a divided house, so the Government will not face much trouble in passing legislation. “The challenge for the Government is to get the Opposition’s voice heard in the Lok Sabha and ensure bills are not stalled in Rajya Sabha.”Dipankar Gupta plays down the surfeit of young parliamentarians, pointing out that the 1980s saw resurgence of leaders such as Chandra Sekhar but there were no dramatic change to Indian politics. Gupta feels that the performance of first-time MPs, irrespective of party affiliation, will depend on the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. “He must bring in the changes as he has a clear and decisive mandate. The younger politicians will certainly follow. I see no reason why that can not happen,” he says. “I don’t have much hope from those who come from political families. But the self-made are often the most hard-working. Moreover, MPs from regional parties, despite their language barrier, try to articulate their views more often in Parliament than those from national parties,” says Nani Gopal Mahanta, who teaches political science at Gauhati University.Whether or not these ‘freshers’ usher in a new era in Parliament, what India wants is less talk, more action. “I don’t want to give a bhashan (lecture) on something I don’t know. I would rather focus on something I can do,” says Kavitha, as if on cue. She should. The nation will be watching.Follow the writer on Twitter @KDscribewith inputs from Santosh Kumar, Asit Jolly, Rajeev P.I., M.G. Arun, Amitabh Srivastavalast_img read more

Read More
Gaganyaan ISRO teams up with Russian company to train Indian astronauts

first_imgBengaluru: The Indian Space Research Organisation has signed a contract with a Russian company for selection support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts for the country’s proposed maiden manned space mission ‘Gaganyaan’. The contract was signed by Glavkosmos’ first Deputy Director General Natalia Lokteva and Director of Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO S Unnikrishnan Nair on June 27. Glavkosmos is a Russian launch service provider and a subsidiary of the state corporation Roscosmos. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! In a statement on its website, Glavkosmos said it would render to HSFC services on consulting support of selection of candidates for the Indian astronauts, providing medical examination and space flight related training for the astronauts selected. “The work will be provided with support of the Federal State Budget Organisation- U A Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center and Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences,” it said. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Gearing up for the mission, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ISRO has set up a Human Space Flight Centre to facilitate the manned voyage involving a three-member crew. ‘Gaganyaan’ is set for December 2021 launch and is likely to include a woman astronaut, ISRO Chairman K Sivan had said earlier. The initial training would be in the country but advanced training might be abroad, maybe in Russia, he said. ISRO had in May signed an MoU with the Indian Air Force for cooperation in crew selection and training for the Gaganyaan Project. The Union Cabinet gave its nod for the Rs 9,023 crore programme in 2018. In his Independence Day address last year, Modi had announced that the mission would be undertaken by 2022 using ISRO’s own capabilities.last_img read more

Read More
Its really frustrating Sikh Canadian dismayed by extremism allegations

first_imgVANCOUVER – Jaspreet Bal was eating lunch with friends in rural Ontario when she says a “kind, well-intentioned” white man approached them to chat. He asked about her background, and she replied she was Sikh.“Oh yeah, Air India,” he said, recognition flashing in his eyes.Bal was born in 1985, the same year that Sikh militants bombed Air India Flight 182, killing all 329 on board. It was, apparently, the man’s only point of reference for her religion.“It’s really frustrating,” she said. “It’s something that wasn’t OK that it happened, but it will haunt us forever. Nobody stops to make the distinction that it wasn’t representative of the entire community.”The 32-year-old Humber College instructor is among those Sikh Canadians who are dismayed by the narrative that emerged during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent trip to India as Canada was accused of harbouring Sikh extremists.The problem, said several outspoken and politically active Sikh Canadians, is that there is no hard evidence of rising radicalism in the community. Incidents such as Air India and the murder of Indo-Canadian journalist Tara Singh Hayer happened decades ago, and those who support an independent nation known as Khalistan today do not advocate violence, they say.There are roughly 500,000 Sikhs in Canada. Some fled violence in India in the 1970s and ’80s. After prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered an attack in 1984 on the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, her Sikh bodyguards assassinated her, prompting anti-Sikh riots that have since been labelled a genocide by Ontario’s legislature.Every Sikh has their own views on a sovereign homeland, but there’s no violent movement at this time, said Mukhbir Singh, president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, which describes itself as a human rights and Sikh advocacy group.“Our concern is that Canadian Sikhs speaking out on human rights is being mislabelled or made equivalent to extremism,” he said.Often cited as evidence of radicalism are the photos of Talwinder Singh Parmar and other alleged Air India masterminds that hang in a small number of temples and are displayed by some parade attendees. Singh said he cannot speak for those who show the photos but Sikhs reject violence and extremism.The Indian government floating accusations that Canada is soft on Sikh terrorists is nothing new. In 2012, former prime minister Stephen Harper pushed back at the suggestion, saying his government keeps a close watch for extremist threats, but simply advocating for an independent Sikh nation is not a crime.Canadians should question why India has repeatedly pushed this narrative, said Singh. The country is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, which has connections to Hindu nationalists.“I almost feel like this obsession with Sikhs shows that India is almost threatened by Sikhs in the diaspora,” said Singh. “This hard-working community that … is ever watchful of India’s human rights track record, I think it views that as a risk or threat to itself.”Trudeau, whose cabinet includes four Sikh ministers, said during his trip that Canada stands against extremism but its diversity of views is one of its strengths. The visit was overshadowed by the attendance of Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempting to murder an Indian cabinet minister in Canada in 1986, at a reception in Mumbai. His invitation to a New Delhi event was rescinded.The prime minister ultimately signed a framework with Modi that includes increased collaboration between police and security agencies of both countries, which the World Sikh Organization has said could jeopardize the lives of Canadian Sikhs or their families in India.Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Trudeau’s office, said the prime minister would never equate the Sikh community or any one community with extremism, but the government condemns all forms of terrorism. Canada and India collaborate on a broad range of issues including security, she said.Kulvir Gill, a 41-year-old Brampton management consultant and father of two, said he’s faced questions in recent weeks from non-Sikh colleagues and friends, including: “What’s going on with your community? What are you guys all about? Is this who you are? Is this what you do behind closed doors?“So, all of a sudden the entire community is being painted with the same brush. It’s very unfair, it’s very unfortunate,” he said. “I think this, I’ll call it a smear campaign, has really disillusioned a lot of Sikh Canadians.”He said Trudeau walked into an “ambush” when he visited India but he could have done more to defend the community.“The Sikh community is really taking stock,” he said. “I think we’re going to be questioning who really stands up for the concerns of the community and who should we be aligned with going forward.”Arundeep Sandhu, who works in the construction business in Edmonton and has held positions with Alberta’s now-defunct Progressive Conservative party, said there have been no examples of Sikh extremism over the past two decades.He said there’s no real organized movement for Khalistan in Canada and the discussions he hears in the community are much more about how to be a Sikh in the 21st century and how to share the values of the religion with neighbours.“The topic of Khalistan doesn’t come up very often, except in passing, as in: This was a movement in the past tense. It’s been in the past tense for a couple decades now.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the first name of Talwinder Singh Parmar.last_img read more

Read More