The United States Treasury Department has put India again on the currency manipulator watchlist as the country’s foreign exchange net addition and the bilateral trade surplus with the US have breached two of the three criteria determining manipulation. But is India really on the cusp of being a currency manipulator? Perhaps not! Related Items
The UK government on Monday announced a relaxation of recruitment criteria to allow Commonwealth nationals to apply for jobs in its armed forces to meet a shortage in its ranks, a move that could also benefit Indians. The decision announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) means that people from Commonwealth countries – including India, Australia, Kenya, Fiji and Sri Lanka – will be considered for roles, even if they have never lived in Britain.Read it at NDTV Related Items
Aslew of new product introductions indicate virtual reality technology is coming into its own — but it’s a sector that is still waiting for a breakthrough product to win over consumers.Following several product entries into the emerging field of virtual reality from companies like Samsung, Sony, Canon and Facebook’s Oculus Rift project, Microsoft recently launched the HoloLens, an augmented reality headset, and HoloStudio, a software development kit for the product, in hopes of jump-starting a market that could impact areas from gaming and entertainment to collaboration and business.Microsoft’s move to make augmented reality applications a part of a ubiquitous software platform like the company’s Windows 10 operating system could prove to be a big validation of the technology. Broadly defined, virtual reality (VR) encompasses a set of technologies that places the user in a computer-generated, three-dimensional environment. Augmented reality mixes the physical with the virtual, layering computer-generated objects and information onto the real world.“When the leading investors and companies in Silicon Valley all make bets on something as ‘the next big thing,’ it has one of two implications: They are very right, or very wrong,” says Kevin Werbach, a Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor. “The basic idea that VR and augmented reality will eventually catch on because they add richness to our interactions with computers seems sound. The key questions are when, and how broadly, adoption spreads.”“When the leading investors and companies in Silicon Valley all make bets on something as ‘the next big thing,’ it has one of two implications: They are very right, or very wrong.” –Kevin WerbachFor its part, Microsoft is betting that the time for augmented reality is now. At its Windows 10 preview event in Seattle on January 21, the company demonstrated a variety of uses for HoloLens, including a virtual plumber guiding a do-it-yourself project and an augmented reality version of the open-ended world-building environment Minecraft, which came into the Microsoft fold with its September purchase of video game developer Mojang. HoloLens can create the illusion of an interactive hologram-like figure similar to the image of Princess Leia beamed out of R2D2 in the first Star Wars movie.At the Windows 10 event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the HoloLens effort is a part of higher aspirations for Windows. “We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows,” said Nadella, who also highlighted how Microsoft and NASA were collaborating with the HoloLens technology to control Mars rovers in July.“These are going to be mind-blowing experiences,” said Nadella. “It’s about our innovation going forward: New categories, new experiences and new opportunities.”Microsoft’s event came just a few weeks after Facebook’s Oculus Rift held demonstrations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for spatial 3-D audio, games and movies. Oculus Rift was also the centerpiece of several entertainment marketing events at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con. In addition, Oculus Rift has an effort called Story Studio, which creates virtual reality enhanced movies. When Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said immersive gaming would be the focus of the company’s initial efforts, but added virtual reality will be a platform for many other experiences.“Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post announcing the deal. “This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.” Zuckerberg’s bet, like Microsoft’s, is that augmented and virtual reality will simply become part of daily life.Of course, virtual reality has a way to go to be an integral part of daily life. And it’s unclear whether virtual reality will first become a business tool or a consumer-facing product. And then there’s the hardware issue; virtual reality headsets are large and bulky. There’s also a question of who will develop the software and applications for virtual reality. In addition, there are concerns that the virtual reality push may fall in the dustbin of overhyped products that includes 3-D television and Google Glass, which has been decommissioned for now by Google.“We will see how this plays out,” says Peter Fader, a Wharton marketing professor. “HoloLens and Oculus Rift are products with incredible potential and could be transformational. But if they launch the wrong way, they could turn into a joke. We could have Google Glass all over again Twitter .”Business First?Aside from the Minecraft demonstration, Microsoft’s presentation of HoloLens involved a series of business-focused applications. For instance, HoloLens was shown as a way to educate and collaborate, or to refine engineering designs.That business-first focus is the best approach, says Fader, who notes that Google Glass would have done better if it started as an industry-specific product. Segway would have also fared better if it was used primarily for security and police uses instead of being billed as a game changing invention for the masses, he adds.“The nice thing about the HoloLens is that it can work in a broader array of sectors,” says Fader. “But it may be better off being quietly introduced to sectors. The fact we’re talking about it means there’s risk that expectations will be too high.”Though plenty of consumers are using personal devices at work, Fader’s theory is that so-called “consumerization,” or the emergence of the individual customer as the primary driver of a product, is an anomaly. Products that are rolled out as business tools first usually prove they can scale. Often companies will slowly roll out a product to smaller markets and then expand its reach. Thus, Canon’s strategy, which revolves around targeting its augmented reality software and hardware at specific industries such as health care, makes more sense, says Fader.Wharton operations and information management professor Kartik Hosanagar agrees that HoloLens is likely to be embraced by businesses and entertainment products first. “The first markets will be in entertainment (movies, gaming), medical (training doctors and surgeons) and military applications,” Hosanagar notes. “It will eventually reach social applications, but again I feel the first applications will be in business.”According to Wharton management professor David Hsu, there is an interactive element to HoloLens that will be good for business collaboration. “Three dimensional rendering could be powerful,” Hsu says. “But to me, HoloLens is clearly a gaming and entertainment application first.” Hsu’s take isn’t a huge stretch, given that Microsoft also owns the Xbox gaming system. It’s possible that HoloLens could become an add-on to the Xbox much like the Kinect motion sensor did. “Microsoft’s use cases feature business, but things like complex engineering aren’t going to be something we all encounter a lot.”Gaming and movies could be an easy way to highlight the technology and then move into business, says Hsu.“I think we’ll see adoption of VR in entertainment first because it’s much easier for people to accept wearing a headset and stepping beyond the ‘real’ world for the coolness factor,” says Werbach. “There will also be business situations where immersive visualization is particularly valuable, such as an architect designing a building, or distributed meetings in which high-fidelity human interaction is important. Those are both huge markets, even if they [account for] a sliver of the time that we use computers.”In the long run, Werbach says that the collaboration enabled by VR will be significant. “Facebook buying Oculus was a bet that VR will have a place in social networking, but there is an even stronger case for business networking,” Werbach notes. “One day, people will wake up and realize that conference calls are an awful way to conduct globalized business.”Wild CardsHow long will it take for VR to hit its stride and become a mainstream technology? Hsu acknowledges that product cycles have become compressed, and that there are many wild cards that could come into play as VR products are developed. One killer app, for example, could quickly garner wider public acceptance for the technology. “Instead of technologies taking five to 10 years to be developed, it could now be two to three years,” says Hsu.Hsu says there are multiple technologies that may better enable VR technology. For instance, 3-D printing has become increasingly common as a way to manufacture some products. Consumer applications for 3-D printing have also gathered momentum. Companies like Hewlett-Packard are projecting a day where physical and virtual realities work together, Hsu notes.The future of virtual reality will likely depend on the quality of the content created for these new devices. Companies like Microsoft and Oculus need software developers to create new applications and entertainment firms to generate compelling content. VR will need a killer application that brings a mass audience to the technology. “It’s a chicken and egg problem,” says Hsu.That chicken and egg conundrum is one reason why Microsoft launched HoloStudio, a software developer kit that is tied into Windows 10. Microsoft hopes to make developing VR applications as easy as building software for Windows.Forrester analyst James McQuivey said in a research note that Microsoft’s developer strategy could give VR adoption a boost. “By building [holographic computing] into Windows 10 and demonstrating these kinds of applications, Microsoft is creating something more like an open web browser — and all that this implies about the power that it would give Microsoft — than a closed Xbox-like ecosystem,” said McQuivey. “Any company can use Windows 10 to add holography to existing applications or services. And anyone can build a headset that exploits Windows 10′s holographic computing capabilities.”McQuivey also said that Forrester expects Google and Apple, two companies with their own armies of software developers, to enter the VR fray.According to Fader, however, Microsoft is likely to push HoloLens to market too soon — possibly for the 2015 holiday shopping season — as part of Xbox. Microsoft, which has its own game titles, can also create the content for HoloLens. “The risk is that Microsoft will blast this out too fast even though there’s no compelling reason to get the technology out there,” says Fader.Werbach notes that augmented reality may become the norm before VR because it is easier to find value added information and the content can be delivered on current smartphone and tablet screens. Google Goggles, which allow someone to take a cellphone picture and get additional information, and Google Translate, which translates languages, are examples of augmented reality applications.“One of the interesting land mines for VR is that some people find it disorienting and nausea-inducing,” says Werbach. “I don’t know how fixable or widespread that problem is, but it should give us pause in envisioning VR becoming ubiquitous.”Lessons from Google GlassThe lessons of the Google Glass experiment color views of VR’s potential. Google said on January 15 that it would halt public sales of Google Glass Explorer edition products. The glasses, which went for $1,500, captured a lot of tech buzz, but failed to define a compelling need for the product.In a blog post, Google said that the Glass program would be shut down “so we can focus on what’s coming next.” Various reports indicated that Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who joined Google via the Nest acquisition, would take over design.Fader says that Google Glass became a mainstream topic too fast. Fortunately, HoloLens and Oculus Rift won’t be worn in public during people’s daily travels — the way Google Glass was meant to be — given that they’re too bulky, notes Fader.Social acceptance aside, Fader says HoloLens should stay small and focus on business.“If you look at success stories like the personal computer, they trickled down,” says Fader. “If you go too big too soon, you’re Segway or Google Glass.” Related Items
Paper Boat, a fledgling Indian brand from Bangalore-based Hector Beverages, is aiming to hold its own in the country against global giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. But can traditional Indian drinks really give popular colas and juices a run for their money?When Neeraj Kakkar, a former Coca-Cola executive, turned entrepreneur in 2010 and set up Hector Beverages, competing with the cola giants was the last thing on his mind. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Kakkar zeroed in on the beverages market (after rejecting ideas in areas like education, child care and women’s empowerment) simply because it was familiar territory; he had worked with Cola-Cola in India for seven years and was part of its senior management in the country. As an entrepreneur looking at the growing popularity of functional beverages worldwide, he felt it had potential in India, too. It was just a business decision.But today, Kakkar sees himself and Paper Boat as “protectors” of traditional Indian beverage recipes. “At Hector Beverages we believe that if we don’t do something now these recipes will disappear in the next 20 to 30 years.”Management consultancy firm Wazir Advisors estimates that the unorganized market for ethnic beverages in India is around $200 million to $250 million, while the organized market is barely 1% of this. Paper Boat is the dominant brand in this segment with the largest portfolio of flavors. Others include Dabur India, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Parle Agro. These players have only the one or two flavors — primarily mango or lemon.V.T. Bharadwaj, managing director at Sequoia Capital, an investor in Hector Beverages, considers Paper Boat to be a “path breaking” product which has the “potential to transform the beverages landscape in India.” He points out that unlike the U.S., which has traditionally been dominated by colas, India has a short cola history. “India has a rich history of traditional beverages and it’s a shame that no one has tried to present them in an attractive and aspirational manner.”According to Bharadwaj, branded ethnic beverages are a category that was “waiting to be created” in India. “It is category that is waiting to explode and has the potential to break the back of the cola market.”According to market estimates, in the first half of 2016 Coca-Cola and Pepsi were pushed out of the top five highest sold beverages in modern trade outlets in India by fruit juices from Dabur and PepsiCo, and the decades-old rose drink Rooh Afza from Hamdard. Commenting on this in a media interview, Devendra Chawla, president, food and FMCG brands at Future Group, said: “Traditional drinks and tastes have come out of the shadows. The past few decades saw high decibel marketing and commitment of resources from global brands, but consumers are going back to favoring what they perceive are healthier and traditional flavors.”Global trends also show cola growth slowing down. In another media interview, Euromonitor India country manager Janaki Padmanabhan said: “Globally, cola carbonates have received a lot of negative publicity due to high sugar content and lack of nutritional value.”On the Traditional TrailInterestingly, Kakkar and his co-founders Suhas Misra and Neeraj Biyani (both former colleagues at Coca-Cola) and James Nutall (a packaging industry professional in the U.S.) thought of Indian beverages only after their first two product launches — Frissia, a protein drink (in 2011) and Tzinga, an energy drink (in 2012) — failed to create waves. Even as the co-founders were grappling with what to do next and exploring other functional beverages such as vitamin water and smoothies, they hit upon the idea of traditional Indian drinks serendipitously. (Misra and Nutall later exited the company in 2014 and 2015 respectively.)In the summer of 2012, Nutall’s parents were visiting India and he wanted to buy Aam Panna for them — a refreshing raw mango drink that Misra’s mother used to send daily with his lunch to help him keep cool during the scorching heat of New Delhi. (Hector Beverages moved its headquarters from New Delhi to Bangalore in 2014.) While Nutall’s colleagues cautioned him against buying Aam Panna from street vendors to avoid “Delhi belly” (an upset stomach), despite searching in various shops Nutall couldn’t find a safe alternative. “This is when we realized that traditional Indian drinks could have a great market if produced and packaged hygienically. We didn’t do any formal market research. We just followed our instincts,” says Kakkar.Paper Boat has sailed a long way since then. From two flavors in 2013 — Aamras (sweet mango) and Jalzeera (cumin and lemon) — Paper Boat currently has a portfolio of 13 flavors, each comprising specific Indian spices and condiments. The flavors include Aam Panna (raw mango), Jamun Kala Khatta (Indian black berry), Kokum (a berry belonging to the mangosteen family), Anar (pomegranate), Chilli Guava (guava), Neer More (curd-based) and Thandai (milk-based). While all these flavors are available in 250-milliliter doy packs (sealed flexible plastic bags designed to stand upright), the company recently launched Aamras and Anar in 500 milliliter tetra carton packs also.All Paper Boat drinks are made without preservatives, added color or carbonation, and on average it takes the firm 18 months to develop a flavor from idea to launch. Currently, 11 flavors are in the pipeline in different stages of development and are scheduled to be launched by the end of 2017.Hector Beverages has two manufacturing plants — one in Manesar near New Delhi and the second in Mysore near Bangalore. Manufacturing capacity has increased from one million packs per month in August 2013 to eight million packs per month at present, while distribution has increased from 20,000 outlets to 120,000. Kakkar and Biyani are looking to double capacity by the end of 2017.Last year, the company partnered with Indo Nissin Foods for distribution and with this they expect to further ramp up their distribution substantially. Funds, they say, are not a constraint. So far, Hector Beverages has raised$42 million from angels and venture funds like Sequoia Capital, Catamaran Ventures and Foothills Ventures. While Kakkar is tightlipped about sharing any details on revenue and profitability, he says the company has been “growing more than 100% year on year.”Making Traditional ContemporarySo what is the secret of Paper Boat’s success? Kakkar lists authentic recipes right on top. In food, he notes, the central piece is getting the recipe right. “The traditional way to develop a product is at the center of different nodal points. But in a country as diverse as India, trying to satisfy all groups doesn’t work. So when we develop a recipe we try to get it as close to any one group as possible,” says Kakkar. Adds Biyani: “We are extremely strong in product development. Whether it is identifying the right vendors, sourcing at the right time or establishing the right processing standards, we have developed a very strong knowledge base.”Biyani cites an example. For making Aamras, the firm uses only naturally ripened mangoes in order to produce the most authentic taste. This requires that each mango must be monitored individually from when it should be plucked to whether it should be put on hay or on coconut leaves for ripening to deciding when it is ready for processing. All this in turn depends on natural factors like temperature, humidity, rainfall and so on. “We buy thousands of tons of mangoes and for every single mango to be individually monitored not only requires a large and trained manpower but also passion and dedication. This is true for each of our products,” says Biyani.The other key pillars of Paper Boat’s success are its design, packaging and messaging. Infusing tradition and authenticity with a contemporary feel has been central to Paper Boat’s philosophy. Shripad Nadkarni, formerly director of MarketGate Consulting, a strategic business and market consultancy firm and creator of Paper Boat’s brand DNA, recalls that right at the beginning the firm realized that “traditional” and “authentic” had the inherent danger of being perceived as “old and stodgy.” To safeguard against this, they added the concept of “alive.”“The balance between ‘alive’ and ‘authentic’ is very important,” Nadkarni says. “We were clear that whatever we do must connect with today’s consumers. So while the product itself is traditional and the recipe and ingredients are all about authenticity, the packaging, design elements and communication, etc. are all contemporary.”Nadkarni, too, is a former Coca Cola executive. From 2000 till 2005 he was vice president of marketing and head of new beverages at Coca-Cola India. After quitting Coca-Cola, he set up MarketGate, which he later sold to the Publicis Groupe. Nadkarni, who is an angel investor in Hector Beverages, set up Fingerlix, a ready-to-cook food startup earlier this year.Nadkarni believes that India is “at the cusp of a taste revolution.” He notes that as a society, India has long suppressed the need to indulge. “It is only now discovering the whole aspect of indulging in taste and we are seeing this in food and beverages.” Adds Bharadwaj: “Products like Paper Boat are also tapping into a sense of a confident India that is now comfortable with its roots and product history.”Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director of Wazir Advisors, agrees. “Indians are now proud of being Indians. I see this trend gaining ground especially with xenophobia becoming stronger in the Western world. Also, India has so much diversity and therefore variety in all things ethnic — food, drinks, clothes, handicraft, music, etc. This offers a huge opportunity.” Sahni adds that Paper Boat is on the right track in tapping into the “ethnic mood” of the Indian market. “Paper Boat has a unique positioning and a great understanding of consumers leaning towards ethnic products with modern packaging and hygiene. Haldiram’s in sweets, snacks and fast food, and Patanjali Ayurved in FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] are on the same track.”Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of consulting firm Third Eyesight, points out that food flavors are “deep-rooted in our psyche” and “familiarity and habit” attract us to flavors that we grew up with. He believes that Paper Boat has “very successfully tapped into this need for familiar flavors, while riding on smart branding and modern packaging for convenience, safety and shelf life.”Ramesh Kumar, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, says: “Paper boat entered into the psyche of consumers in a unique manner — nostalgic emotions associated with cultural origins and ingredients. The brand’s strengths are associated with ethnic taste and recipes of the bygone era that are vanishing in a world of fast-foods.” Pointing out that Paper Boat “implicitly” offers a “healthy lifestyle,” Kumar adds that the brand’s pouch-style packaging and other design elements definitely give it a “contemporary appeal.” Harish Bijoor, brand-strategy specialist who runs his own firm, Harish Bijoor Inc., also thinks that Paper Boat’s strength is that “it is different in every way. It has used differentiation as the cornerstone of its brand strategy. Ethnic drinks was a rebel space — a rebel space against the carbonated cola beverages for sure. The packaging, which is unique, functional and efficient, led in this space. The pricing is premium and the advertising stance with conversations with consumers is unique as well.” Bijoor, however, inserts a note of caution. Pointing out that more than 60% of India’s population is below 35 years, he suggests that Paper Boat’s evoking of memories and its nostalgia for a simpler, carefree life is risky and could result in its being perceived as “geriatric.” He adds: “Classy and conversational is nice, but the volumes are not there. And while margins may be there for now, these will be under pressure as mass distribution needs will eat into them.”Coping with HeadwindsHaving tested the waters well, the challenge now for Paper Boat is to sail full steam ahead. Nadkarni observes that at present the brand value of Paper Boat is much more than its business value. “The brand value makes one think that it is a Rs. 1,000 crore ($150 million) brand whereas it is only a fraction of that. The big challenge for the team is to commercialize the strong bond that consumers have with the brand and bridge this gap,” he says.Distribution will play a key role in this. Juices and cold drinks have a universe of around five million outlets in India. Paper Boat is available in only around 2.5% of those. For an impulse purchase such as Paper Boat, visibility and accessibility are very important.This is even more critical as other players with strong distribution networks have spotted the potential in the segment and are making their moves. Dabur, a leading Indian FMCG firm and a leader in fruit juices, for instance, has recently launched traditional drinks under the brand Hajmola Yoodley. Hajmola is a popular brand of digestive tablets from Dabur comprising traditional Indian herbs, spices and edible salt and is estimated to have around 50% of market share in this segment. Interestingly, like Paper Boat, Hajmola Yoodley is also sold in doy packs with colorful graphics. While Yoodley is yet to make its mark, experts feel that it is only a matter of time.“What was unique to Paper Boat has been usurped by others and has closed the several windows of differentiation it had opened,” Bijoor says. “The brand now needs to think differently to grow and stand apart from the rest.”Paper Boat co-founders however are not fazed. Says Biyani: “We are way ahead in product development and are working on products others would not even be thinking of. Our processes are very different and are a strong competitive advantage. We are at a great place and the sky is the limit. We believe that we can actually give a run to the currently dominant beverages.” Adds Nadkarni: “There is no doubt that the category will grow dramatically. But Paper Boat has the first mover advantage and being the leader will benefit the most.”Meanwhile another challenge is the price point. At Rs. 30 for a 250-milliliter pack, Paper Boat is a premium beverage and priced more than double that of Pepsi and Coca-Cola’s products. Pointing out that Paper Boat’s price is intimately linked to the product quality, Bharadwaj says the company needs to address this challenge with ingenuity. According to him, if Paper Boat continues as a premium, aspirational category it can certainly grow to become a Rs. 1,000 crore brand. However, if it can break the price barrier it has the real opportunity to break open the cola market. “But you can’t break the cola market at this price point,” he notes. Related Items
Indian software giant Infosys will soon open an innovation hub in Raleigh, North Carolina, and hire 2,000 Americans within the next four years.This innovation center will focus on advanced technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and advanced analytics, cloud computing, and big data management.North America contributes around 60 per cent of Infosys’ total annual software export revenue, which comes to $10.3 billion.“The new hub, which will open in early 2018, will have an initial capacity to house 500 American workers, who will be hired over the next two years and the remaining by 2021,” according to a statement by the company. “The investment in North Carolina reinforces our commitment to open four such technology hubs in the U.S. and hire 10,000 Americans over the next four years.”The move is being seen as a response to US President Donald Trump’s decision on H-1B visas.Infosys is planning to open a total of four such innovation hubs in the United States. The one in North Carolina will be its second innovation center. The first one has been established in Indiana and will employ a total of 2,000 Americans.As a part of the recruitment process, the IT giant will hire graduates from colleges and universities in North Carolina. Local professionals who are in line with Infosys’ training curriculum will also be considered for the job openings.Infosys will collaborate with North Carolina Community College System to tailor-make training programs for the new recruits. The local authorities are also expected to contribute $3 million towards upskilling the workers.The hub, located in the innovation incubator of Raleigh, will support the development of co-created solutions for our valued clients in North Carolina and the region around,” company president Ravi Kumar said.North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper said, “Innovation, technology, and education are part of who we are as North Carolinians, and along the course of this project, Infosys leaders have found that to be the case every step of the way.”The Infosys decision was also hailed by North Carolina’s Mayor Nancy McFarlane, who called the company a key member of their community. She added: “The partnership between our city and Infosys will boost innovation and benefit businesses, schools, and workforce development in the area.” Related ItemsAmerican IT SectorIndians IT USInfosys Innovation Hub North CarolinaInfosys Jobs AmericaInfosys North CarolinaInfosys USAIT Jobs AmericaLittle India
A day after the February 26 Balakot air strike, as Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaged in combat over the Naushera sector in Jammu and Kashmir, news filtered in of an Mi-17 crashing in Budgam. Six IAF personnel on board and a civilian were killed; among them was sergeant Vikrant Sherawat. With preliminary probe findings suggesting that the helicopter was shot down by India’s own ground-based air defence systems, Vikrant’s family feels cheated over being kept in the dark all these months — the IAF officers who brought his remains home had alluded to a “technical fault”.‘Facts hidden from us’At their house in Bhadani village here, Vikrant’s father Sri Krishan, 62, lies on a wooden bed, anguish writ large on the farmer’s face. “We had the right to know the circumstances in which he died. We don’t understand the politics. But it could be because of the elections that the facts were hidden from us. The way the Pulwama attack was politicised to seek electoral mileage, it seems the matter [friendly fire] was hushed up to avoid embarrassment to the government in election season,” says Mr. Krishna.Vikrant’s widow Suman says that a week after the incident, she had stumbled upon an article in a Hindi daily suggesting that the chopper was possibly hit by friendly fire. Kanta Devi, the late sergeant’s mother, says that a couple of his Air Force friends from neighbouring villages had also hinted at it, but advised her to keep mum in view of the political situation.Court of Inquiry The Court of Inquiry probing the incident is expected to submit its report in the next couple of weeks but until a definitive official version is shared with them, all Vikrant’s family has is information through the media.“News reports suggest the senior-most officer among those guilty is being transferred as punishment. I demand that all officers responsible for it be given strict punishment,” said Ms. Devi.
Muzaffarpur AES deaths: SC asks Centre, Bihar to explain steps to curb outbreak The death of children in Muzaffarpur in Bihar due to acute encephalopathy could have been prevented had a health awareness campaign been conducted and correct information provided to the families, said an Indian Medical Association (IMA) study team, which released its ground-report on Monday.The team said that it can be reasonably concluded that the prevailing heat and humidity, together with malnutrition, contributed substantially to the deaths. Dehydration, hypoglycaemia and the heat syndrome too played a significant part.“Awareness is key. Tepid sponging and correction of dehydration and hypoglycaemia can start right from home. A package programme focussed on health awareness, free meals to children, especially at night, and public availability of ORS (oral rehydration solution) may be simple interventions which may prevent further deaths of this scale,” noted the report.Also Read The Association said going by its observations, there are no definite conclusions that can be made about the aetiology of the syndrome as of now.“The current problem seems unlikely to be an infectious cause with the present evidence and we feel that litchi consumption cannot be attributed as the major factor, as even infants have been affected. The persistence of very high atmospheric with temperature humidity through out the day and night without fluctuations might be causing a heat syndrome in children,” noted the report.It added that reduction in body temperature with tepid sponging, increased fluid intake and adequate food intake may prevent this syndrome. While affected children have to be given IV dextrose for correction of hypoglycaemia to prevent significant brain injury, foolproof scientific, epidemiological study and follow up among children who survived in previous episodes (in 2014 and 2015) should be done systematically.Measures to uplift the living conditions of the affected population should be undertaken as an immediate package programme, noted the Association.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday issued a warning to insurance companies that have delayed financial aid to farmers whose crops had been destroyed by post-monsoon rain, while exhorting farmers to fight the crisis instead of despairing.“Do not worry… I know the addresses of these insurance companies,” said Mr. Thackeray, who was on a day-long tour of three districts in Marathwada to interact with farmers and survey the ravaged cropland in the region.The Sena chief was accosted everywhere by despondent and frustrated farmers, several of whom complained of not having received even the loan waiver promised by the government during the drought earlier this year.“This is a major crisis. I appeal to all of you not to despair. The Sena is resolutely behind you all,” he said, while remarking to farmers, “This is not the time to shed tears but to combat the crisis.”This was the Sena’s chief second visit to the region in less than three days. He had toured parts of Aurangabad district on Sunday.“I could have been sitting pretty in Mumbai and playing politics. But I returned to Marathwada as I care about the farmers,” Mr. Thackeray said, trying to assuage disconsolate farmers in Nanded, Parbhani, Latur and Beed districts.In June, Mr. Thackeray had similarly warned that his party workers would not hesitate to “straighten” insurance companies and banks denying financial aid to drought-hit farmers in Marathwada. The Sena chief, who surveyed a number of rain-hit villages, refused to answer any questions on the impasse over government formation. While his party is in a game of brinkmanship with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), thus delaying the government formation process, Mr. Thackeray is projecting himself as being above petty wrangling for power.At a village in Kandhar in Nanded, when a tearful farmer related his condition, Mr. Thackeray, Sena ministers and assembled officials repeatedly reassured him of immediate help.In yet another incident, two minor girls, ostensibly daughters of farmers, went up to the Sena chief and presented him with a ‘bouquet’ of the rotting soybean crop, appealing to him for immediate help.Mr. Thackeray directed party workers to make provisions for fodder and set up help centres at the taluka level to facilitate disbursement of insurance aid.During his visit to Aurangabad, Mr. Thackeray had dubbed the ₹10,000-crore relief package for farmers announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis “grossly inadequate” and demanded that the government provide compensation of ₹25,000 per hectare to farmers without any conditions.
Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending 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 Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Betis took advantage of a great performance by goalkeeper Antonio Adan and a bad night by Madrid’s forwards, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who was making his league debut after serving a five-game suspension for shoving a referee in the Spanish Super Cup final last month.“It was bad luck after all the chances that we created,” Madrid midfielder Casemiro said.Ronaldo had played only three other matches with Madrid this season, including against APOEL in the team’s Champions League debut, when he scored twice.“This is not the start we wanted after three games at home,” Zidane said. “We didn’t expect this.”Key winAtletico Madrid moved closer to the lead by earning a hard-fought 2-1 away victory against Athletic Bilbao.Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stopped Aritz Aduriz’s penalty kick before halftime and Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco scored second-half goals to leave the Madrid side within four points of leader Barcelona.It was the second consecutive win for Atletico, which remains unbeaten after five rounds.“To win in this stadium you need to play a great match and I think we did that,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We controlled the game and were very effective. It’s a very important triumph for us.”Correa opened the scoring from inside the area after a cross by Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion in the 55th minute, and Carrasco added to the lead with a low shot into the far corner after a well-placed pass by Antoine Griezmann in the 73rd. Griezmann had also helped set up the first goal with a pass to Koke. Paraguayan striker Antoino Sanabria scored the winner with a header from close range to give Betis its first win against Madrid at the Bernabeu since 1998.The result ended Madrid’s streak of 73 consecutive games scoring at least one goal, keeping it from surpassing the record scoring run established by Brazilian club Santos starring Pele in 1963.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 shutoutMadrid, which was coming off home draws against Valencia and Levante, is seven points behind Barcelona after five games. It trails Betis by one point.“This gap to the lead won’t change the way we do things,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We will keep fighting. It’s a long championship.” Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa MOST READ E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad “It was Griezmann’s best match so far this season,” Simeone said.Raul Garcia netted an injury-time goal for Athletic, which has now lost two in a row after an unbeaten start.Winning streakSevilla kept its momentum thanks to Jesus Navas’ 83rd-minute winner at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.He scored from a difficult angle to give the hosts their fourth consecutive win to start the league.The match marked the return of striker Victor “Vitolo” Machin, who left Sevilla in the offseason to join Atletico Madrid but is playing on a loan with Las Palmas until January. He was constantly jeered by Sevilla fans.Rough startDeportivo La Coruna handed Alaves its fifth straight loss with a 1-0 victory at the Riazor Stadium.Luisinho scored in first-half injury time to give the hosts their first win after three losses in the first four matches.Malaga is the only other team to have lost all of its matches so far. It was routed 5-0 at Valencia on Tuesday. No goalsLeganes and Girona failed to take their chances in a goalless first meeting in the top flight.Both teams created clear scoring opportunities but Leganes, playing in the Liga for the second season, had to settle for a point with promoted Girona.Leganes stayed in the top half of the standings, in eighth place, while Girona was 14th. BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Real Madrid’s forward from Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo kneels on the field during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSMADRID—Real Madrid’s faltering start to the Spanish league season continued on Wednesday with a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis.A day after league leader Barcelona routed Eibar 6-1 with four goals by Lionel Messi for its fifth win in a row, Madrid conceded an injury-time goal to remain winless in its three league games so far at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next LATEST STORIES Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Brady, Belichick donate to J.J. Watt’s hurricane relief fund Second-place Sevilla moved within two points of Barcelona by beating Las Palmas 1-0 for its fourth consecutive league victory.Third-place Atletico won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao.Frail homeReal Betis players celebrated as if they had won a title after the stunning win over Madrid at the Bernabeu.“We knew we were coming to play in a complicated stadium, but the team put in a great effort and got rewarded with the late goal,” Sanabria said.ADVERTISEMENT Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City View comments
Anisova, who is a former Ukranian national team player, pumped in 28 points, built on 22 attacks with four service aces while Philips added 22 points.Sta. Lucia coach George Pascua liked what he saw from his team especially with the way it overcame a bad start.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I’m satisfied, but there were still some lapses in the first and third sets,” said Pascua, a three-time PSL champion.“Although we struggled in our reception, I’m glad that our key players are slowly adjusting. We have a veteran setter in Rubie (de Leon) so she already knew how to make the players work as one solid unit.” Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Bhodana Anisova of Sta. Lucia Realty vs Rhea Meneses and Angeli Araneta of Generika-Ayala. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOSta. Lucia posted its first win after squeaking past Generika-Ayala, 21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-15, 15-7, in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Tuesday at Bacoor Sports Complex in Cavite.Imports Bohdana Anisova and MJ Philips combined for 50 points to lead the Lady Realtors, who bounced back from a four-set loss to Petron on Saturday.ADVERTISEMENT Improved chemistry doing wonders for Che’Lu-San Sebastian AFP official booed out of forum John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd PLAY LIST 02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:29Police 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 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers View comments Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Rubie De Leon ended the marathon match that lasted for over two hours with a heady play that caught the Lifesavers sleeping.Generika, which drew 27 points from American import Symone Hayden, dropped to 0-2. The Lifesavers lost to Foton in the season opener three days ago. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH MOST READ Read Next LATEST STORIES
Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim View comments Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Switzerland scored early and twice shortly after halftime to keep alive its impressive run in qualifying.Forward Haris Seferovic netted his fourth goal in the qualifying campaign with a neat flick from close range, and Blerim Dzemaili and Ricardo Rodriguez added to the lead in the second half.___STAYING CLOSEPortugal kept pace with Switzerland with its seventh straight victory since an opening 2-0 loss to the Swiss.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: 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 City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games UST, UP dealt with huge blow as imports Akomo, Ouattara ruled ineligible for UAAP Season 80 Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side LATEST STORIES NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Andorra has four points from a win over Hungary and a draw against the Faeroe Islands.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters An Oct. 10 showdown between Portugal and Switzerland in Lisbon will likely decide which team wins the group to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Three days earlier, Switzerland hosts Hungary and Portugal plays at Andorra.Earlier Sunday, the Faeroe Islands defeated Andorra 1-0 for its second win, securing its best ever qualifying campaign.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games opening___PERFECT SWISS Switzerland’s Blerim Dzemaili celebrates scoring, during the World Cup Group B qualifying soccer match between Switzerland and Latvia, at Skonto Stadium, in Riga, Latvia, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)Switzerland extended its perfect record in World Cup qualifying by defeating Latvia 3-0 Sunday for its eighth straight victory, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal edged 10-man Hungary 1-0 to stay close at the top of Group B.With two games left, Switzerland has 24 points, three more than defending European champion Portugal. Third-place Hungary stayed on 10 points and is out of contention.ADVERTISEMENT Andre Silva scored the winner with a header from close range after a cross by Ronaldo just three minutes into the second half in Budapest.“It was a difficult game from start to finish,” Silva said. “We had to give everything we had. I’m glad I scored the winning goal.”Hungary played with 10 men from the 30th after Tamas Priskin was sent off for an elbow on Pepe.“We were always in control, but it was always a difficult and uncertain match,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.___HISTORIC CAMPAIGNGilli Soerensen scored a first-half winner and the Faeroe Islands defeated Andorra 1-0 to guarantee its best qualifying campaign ever.With two games left, the Faeroe Islands is in fourth place and out of contention for a World Cup berth, but it already has eight points — one more than it achieved ahead of the 2002 World Cup.Lars Olsen’s team beat Latvia earlier in its campaign, and drew with Andorra and Hungary.Its final games are against Latvia and at Hungary.
Mohammad Asif oversteps at Lord’sIt is international cricket’s most shameful and defining image. London-based property dealer Mazhar Majeed seated in a hotel room counting bundles of notes totalling 1,40,000. He was unaware that he was being filmed by a hidden camera and that he, and the so-called gentleman’s game, would,Mohammad Asif oversteps at Lord’sIt is international cricket’s most shameful and defining image. London-based property dealer Mazhar Majeed seated in a hotel room counting bundles of notes totalling 1,40,000. He was unaware that he was being filmed by a hidden camera and that he, and the so-called gentleman’s game, would make sensational headlines across the cricketing world within hours. The London tabloid News of the World’s sting operation on Majeed stripped the covers off a million-pound betting racket involving not just the three players at its heart-newly appointed Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and the two spearheads of the team’s pace attack, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif-but the shadowy world of cricket betting syndicates and how they operate and make “masses of money” as Majeed, 35, boasted to the undercover reporters posing as representatives of a Far-eastern gambling syndicate looking to make easy money.That’s just what international cricket seems to offer in its tragic transition from the gentleman’s game to a safe harbour for crooks. Majeed’s sensational revelations have rocked the cricketing world like no other previous scandal in any sport. The expose reveals facts that will horrify millions of cricket fans around the world.Video grab of Mazhar MajeedMatch fixing or spot fixing goes on in all forms of the game-Tests, One Day Internationals and Twenty20s.The scam involved no less than seven players in the Pakistan team and that future games against England this summer were already earmarked for cheating.That his match fixing takes him around the world and had netted him millions.That he made $1.3 million from just one game, Pakistan versus Australia at Sydney in 2010.He had opened Swiss bank accounts for players to launder his and their illicit profits.That he was in touch with an Indian bookie and called him during the sting to ask what he would pay for fixing a match in the ongoing Pakistan series.advertisementSalman ButtThat this is the most sensational sporting scandal ever was evidenced by Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif delivering three no balls exactly as Majeed had predicted, during the just concluded Lord’s Test. It must be a case of deja vu for Lord Condon, the outgoing head of the International Cricket Council’s (IIC) anti-corruption unit who had warned the game’s governing body of spot fixing “spreading like a rash” earlier this year. The former Scotland Yard commissioner, recruited to lead the unit in the wake of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing affair a decade ago, had said fixing, which exploits bets placed on short passages of play rather than match results, remained a serious threat.While the ICC has refused to comment on its ongoing investigation, it is believed that it and Scotland Yard were tipped off a month ago about match fixing in the first match of the England-Pakistan Test series at Trent Bridge.AsifIn a separate long-standing investigation, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs officers were also investigating Majeed, the kingpin of the spot fixing racket on suspicion of money laundering. Two others, a 35-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man, were also arrested in connection with the money laundering case but are out on bail. Majeed, who runs a property company Bluesky Developments with a multi-million-pound portfolio, appears to have cemented his role as the players’ confidant in the financially lucrative world of sponsorship deals and marketing opportunities since Pakistan’s last tour of England in 2006.The increasingly close relationship between Majeed and the players appears to have rung alarm bells with the Pakistani authorities and at the start of the current tour the players were told they were no longer allowed to have agents in their hotel rooms. A team official claims former Test captain Shahid Afridi had also warned his teammates to stay away from Majeed.Mohammad AmirMeanwhile, public outrage at the scandal grew as fans demanded refunds for the remaining games in the series. The backlash started in Yorkshire, which is hosting a one-day match at Headingley. Other grounds staging games in the five-match series have also been affected by the scandal, and could also undermine ticket sales for the two Twenty20 internationals in Cardiff. The county’s chief executive, Stewart Regan, admitted that many will be attending reluctantly, having tried unsuccessfully to cancel their bookings in protest against Pakistan’s conduct.This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated September 13, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy.Pakistan’s manager Yawar Saeed and assistant manager Shafqat Ranan (extreme right) read the tabloid at Lord’s.”The phones in the club office haven’t stopped ringing with people wanting to vent their fury and ask whether they can get refunds on the one-day internationals,” Regan said. “I’ve personally fielded several calls and we’ve had numerous enquiries about cancelling tickets. From the club’s point of view, we can’t give refunds simply because people have got a personal opinion about what’s going on, no matter how much we might agree with them.”What is shocking for the image of cricket is the money involved in mere spot fixing, and not throwing a match: 1,50,000 was paid to Majeed by the reporters posing as gamblers. He also sensationally claimed that the syndicate (the reporters) could make “absolutely millions and millions” by paying him up to 4,50,000 a time for information on matches. He excused the players’ shameful behaviour, claiming: “These poor boys are paid peanuts.”advertisementWhat Mazhar Majeed revealedMatch fixing or spot fixing goes on in all forms of the game-Tests, One Dayers and Twenty20s.He had seven Pakistani players literally in his pocket, aiding him in fixing matches.He made $1.3 million (8,37,000) from just one game-Pakistan versus Australia in the controversial Sydney Test in January 2010. That is somewhat true but for so many Test players to be in on a betting racket and Majeed boasting that he fixes matches around the world means the rot in international cricket runs deep. He also claimed to be in constant touch with an Indian bookie. Cricketers past and present have reacted with shock and horror but not with any great surprise. “Given the shift of cricket’s power base to the east, given the way cricket is placed to offer betting opportunities and that the governing body is weak, it is no surprise to me,” said Michael Atherton, former England captain.The immediate fall-out was in Pakistan. “The incident has forced Pakistanis to hang their head in shame,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Adding sub-continental spice to the allegations has been the rivetting performance by Veena Malik-a Pakistani actor and former girlfriend of one of the players accused, Asif-who has turned a whistleblower.”This is a sad day for international cricket but make no mistake, we will not tolerate corruption in this great game. The ICC will investigate 82 Tests and ODIs for possible match fixing.”HAROON LORGAT, CEO, ICC She claimed that Asif had told her the Pakistani team would not win a single match on its Australian tour last year. “Asif told me he was offered $40,000 by an Indian bookie to underperform in Australia but he had demanded $2,00,000,” she said. The bookie is Delhi-based Dheeraj Dixit, a freelance photographer. Dixit has denied the allegations but he refused to speak to INDIA TODAY, claiming he had been advised by his lawyers. His sudden silence, and his well known friendship with leading cricketers across the world, have put a large question mark over his presence in London when the scandal broke.Allegations linking Pakistani cricketers to match fixing are nothing new but the video footage secretly filmed by the tabloid, brought the scandal into the homes of millions of cricket fans in Pakistan, already reeling from killer floods. Kamran Ahmed, a hospital employee, said it was unbelievable that the players had ignored the people’s attachment to them: cricket is one of the passions that unite Pakistan. The response from the government and politicians was as strong as that of the fans.advertisementHow the sting was plannedA ball by ball account of how the biggest scandal in international cricket was exposed by the News of the World tabloid.AUGUST 16: Posing as a Far-eastern syndicate, undercover reporters meet Mazhar Majeed at the Hilton in Park Lane. AUGUST 18: They meet at the Bombay Brasserie restaurant where Majeed boasts of fixing matches and how he and Pakistan players made money. Explains “spread betting”. Says Pakistan vs Australia Test at Sydneywas fixed and he made 1.3 million.AUGUST 19: He invites the reporter to join him and the players at a restaurant. He borrows a player’s jacket, and he and the reporter go and sit in a Mercedes. The reporter hands over 10,000 which he puts in the jacket pocket. Walks back to the players outside the restaurant, shows the money in the jacket. Fast bowler Wahab Riaz puts on the jacket.AUGUST 21: Majeed invites the reporter to his house in Croydon. Reveals how he launders match-fixing money through a football club he owns and claims he’s opened Swiss bank accounts for the players he “manages”. AUGUST 26: They meet at a hotel where the reporter hands over 1,40,000 in 140 bundles. Majeed counts the money and then reveals which balls would be no balls during the Lord’s Test. It happens as he predicted. This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated September 13, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy.Kamram Akmal (left) during the Sydney Test against Australia.Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government would take the “toughest action” against anyone found involved in wrong-doing but cautioned that authorities were keen to ensure that the sting operation was not part of a “conspiracy” to defame the country. Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani pledged any player found involved in spot fixing would be given a lifetime ban. Interior Minister Malik directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to form a special three-member investigation team that would, if required, go to London to work with the Scotland Yard to probe the scandal.But Pakistani commentators and former players said the latest scandal had occurred only because the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)-currently led by Ijaz Butt, considered close to President Asif Ali Zardari-had failed to act on earlier allegations of similar wrong-doing. Even in cases where it did take action, players were let off with a slap on the wrist.”It doesn’t leave a good impression about cricket and cricketers. It is something one would like to erase and make sure cricket heads in the right direction so that it helps cricket to grow across the globe.”SACHIN TENDULKAR, Cricketer Justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum, a retired judge who headed the inquiry that eventually banished Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rahman from the game and implicated a number of other Pakistani players in match fixing, has said a “soft corner” for Wasim Akram might had influenced him while handing the former Pakistan captain his punishment. Former cricketer Masood Aamir said the manager of the team must be taken to the task as he was responsible for maintaining discipline.”The manager shouldn’t have allowed players to have links with a controversial man like Majeed, who has been claiming he is the agent of several cricketers,” he said.PAY SCALES MATTERHere is what the top players in various countries get as retainership per annum. It excludes match fees, sponsorship money or money got through domestic events like the IPL.AUSTRALIA – Rs 2.9 crENGLAND – Rs 2.9 crSOUTH AFRICA – Rs 76 lakhINDIA – Rs 60 lakhWEST INDIES – Rs 56 lakhSRI LANKA – Rs 56 lakhPAKISTAN – Rs 16 lakhBANGLADESH – Rs 8.7 lakhSource: The Daily Mail Majeed, or Mr Fixer, has a 1.8-million home in Surrey and is a familiar face at cricket grounds around the world. He bragged to the tabloid that he managed no less than 10 players and handled all their contracts, sponsorship, marketing and even claimed to “work very closely with the PCB”. He also claimed that he had been involved in fixing matches for more than two years “and we’ve made masses and masses of money”. He revealed secret signals like changing gloves or tapping the ground with the bat to indicate that a fix was on.The money for spot fixing during a match he mentioned is shocking. He claimed to charge for “brackets” or short periods of play, as much as between 50,000 and 80,000 from bookies. Twenty20 was about 4,00,000. And for merely bowling a no ball, a person could earn 10,000 on each ball. For results of a fixed match, depending on who was playing, his earnings could go as high as 3,00,000 to 450,000.More ominously for the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), he told the tabloid, “You can speak to any bookie in India and they will tell you about this information and how much they’ll pay. If you had the information and they knew that it was coming from a right source they would pay you that kind of money.””Given the shift of cricket’s power base to the East, given the way cricket is placed to offer betting opportunities and that the governing body is weak, it is unlikely that an absolute end to corruption will come any time soon.”MIKE ATHERTON, Former England Captain This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated September 13, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy.The Indian connection apart, it is the larger ramifications that are worrying everyone connected to the game. “It doesn’t leave a good impression about cricket and cricketers. It is something one would like to erase,” says Sachin Tendulkar. Adds Australian captain Ricky Ponting, “The way we won the Sydney Test was one of the more satisfying moments that I’ve had on the cricket field. And now when some of these things came to light, you start to slightly doubt some of the things that have happened.”How Spot fixing is doneEarlier match fixing scandals revolved around individual players or entire teams underperforming and losing matches where the bookmaker’s odds ensured a hefty profit for illegal betting. The latest is spot bets on shorter periods of play. In bookmaker’s language, these periods are called ‘brackets’-events happening in a group of 10 overs. If players score well in the first three overs, punters would be likely to bet on that continuing for the next seven. But if the fixed players then deliberately stop scoring or slow down, anybody with advance knowledge can make a killing. The same happens with bowlers giving away runs or bowling no balls. A fixer like Majeed can prove invaluable to other betting syndicates who are involved in spread betting where wagers are staked on a range of possible outcomes. The players also have secret signals to let gambling clients know that the fix was on. In one case, as Majeed revealed, captain Salman Butt was to indicate he was going along with the scam by tapping the pitch midway with his bat during the over, as players do when flattening a bump. Majeed claimed that on results for brackets, he charges anything between 50,000 and 80,000 per bracket. For Twenty20, his rate was about 4,00,000. On just no balls, if someone knew in advance when it would be bowled, the better could earn up to 10,000 on each ball. During the second Test between Australia and Pakistan in Sydney last January, at the start of the final day Pakistan were in a dominant position but managed to lose dramatically. Majeed claimed the Sydney Test was fixed and based on the shock result in that match it seems he is not lying.Hall of InfamyThey allegedly succumbed to the fixing bug and were thrown out of the gameMOHAMMAD AZHARUDDIN, INDIABanned for life in 2000 for having links with bookiesAJAY JADEJA, INDIABanned for five years in 2000. Alleged to have links with bookies. Ban lifted in 2003.HANSIE CRONJE, SOUTH AFRICABanned for life in 2000. Found guilty of accepting money from bookmakers.HERSCHELLE GIBBS, SOUTH AFRICABanned for six months in 2000. Agreed to underperform in an ODI at Nagpur, but scrapped the deal.AJAY SHARMA, INDIABanned for life in 2000. Found guilty for associating with bookmakers.MAURICE ODUMBE, KENYABanned for five years in 2004. Alleged to have received money from bookmakers.MARLON SAMUELS, WEST INDIESBanned for two years in 2008. Received money, benefit and other rewards from bookmakers.MANOJ PRABHAKAR, INDIABanned for five years in 2000. Tried to implicate Kapil Dev but was later found guilty himself. In fact, investigations by Scotland Yard after the latest scandal broke have revealed that bookies and fixers have raked in profits running into at least 20 million just from Pakistan’s ongoing tour of England with the three players named having received close to 6 million. The ICC is investigating no less than 82 other Test matches and ODIs, including the match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka during the Asia Cup.Just how widespread is match fixing? Cases involving players from almost every country have surfaced over the last 10 years, but the sub-continent is clearly the hub. That cricket betting was institutionalised had been exposed in a series of scandals involving Indian bookies and players. Match fixing first came to light in the mid-1980s when Sharjah started hosting what was referred as the ‘benevolent fund series’ and gangster Dawood Ibrahim made his in Dubai in January 2003. Bookies work under their patronage from Mumbai and Dubai and hire go-betweens who contact players. Spot fixing was introduced to add bookie revenue so that every ball was being bet on.The CBI sources say the role of the administrators of the cricket needs to be investigated as well. “This rot begins from the top administrators. They are aware but do not do much about it.” So far, match fixing involving Indian players has tainted former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin who was given a life ban and Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma who were banned for five years.Indian bookies like Mukesh Gupta claimed to have many top players on his payroll. Stephen Fleming, former New Zealand captain, named sports promoter Aushim Khetarpal who had offered him 3,00,000 (Rs 2.3 crore) to join a betting syndicate. Shobhan Mehta, the big daddy of bookies in the country, was arrested in Gujarat in August this year. Maurice Odumbe, the captain of the Kenyan cricket team, admitted that he had made four trips to meet Mehta in Mumbai before the 2003 World Cup.The Hansie Cronje story exposed the depth of match fixing in 2000 when the Delhi Police tapped his phone and stumbled across the scam. Cronje later confessed to taking about $1,00,000 in bribes from gamblers since 1996. He was banned for life and the plane crash that killed him in 2002 was shrouded in mystery.The crux of the problem is that there has been a shift in cricket’s power base from countries like England and Australia to the subcontinent, where a majority of the bookies come from and where the money in the game has reached astronomical levels. Income Tax authorities in India say that an India vs Pakistan one-day international match will invite a betting business worth Rs 800 to 1,000 crore.The advent of cash-rich Twenty20 tournaments like the IPL has only led to a revival in bookie interest and corruption. One reason given for Pakistan player’s vulnerability to bribery is that they were not picked for the IPL’s last edition. Such tournaments are independent of official cricketing scrutiny by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. An added factor is the change in betting patterns, with spot fixing taking over and being more difficult to uncover. There is also the ICC’s soft approach to allegations of corruption or match fixing and some countries like Pakistan which make a mockery of players’ bans-Shahid Afridi was reinstated as captain four days after been given a six-month ban for ball tampering.The latest scandal will, hopefully, force the ICC’s hand and encourage stricter controls on players and suspected bookies. That may just prove a blessing in disguise and save international cricket from the clutches of crooks and scamsters.with Mihir Srivastava(Aditi Khanna and Tahir Khan reported from London and Karachi respectively)This article appeared in the India Today magazine dated September 13, 2010. Subscribe to the print copy.
The Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi plunged into grave uncertainty on Tuesday over “unlivable” conditions for athletes at the Games Village. Complaints from advance teams of several countries were followed by Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper flatly dubbing the Village as “filthy” and warning that “time had run out”. Village filthy: Hooper”We are disappointed with the condition we find ourselves in. We came to know about this when we paid a visit (to the Village) on September 15,” Hooper said at a press conference. Fennell asks govt to take immediate steps to fix the condition of Games Village’s residential zone.”Cleanliness and hygiene are great concerns. Electricity and plumbing problems, if any, too need to be addressed. We need to put capable resources and staff to fix the issues tower by tower,” he said. “The Village is filthy. One can’t occupy the rooms. There is building dust and rubble and the toilets are not working. Reports of excrement being found are true,” Hooper said without mincing words. “The Village is supposed to provide the athletes the right environment to prepare for the events. But at the moment we cannot say that’s the case,” he said. “The promises made have not been kept. Time has run out. Hopefully we will see significant action to fix the problems,” Hooper said. CWG faces call-off threatEarlier, New Zealand’s CWG chef de mission Dave Currie raised an alarm and even suggested that the Games could be called off. “If the Village is not ready and the athletes can’t come, obviously the implications of that are that it’s not going to happen,” Currie said. “In the timeframe that is left, unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, I think it’s going to be extremely hard to get across the line. They’ve got a little bit of time but it’s kind of two seconds to midnight really,” he said. Fennell shockedCommonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell too sent a hard-hitting letter to Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekar on the state of the Games Village. Fennell wrote that he was shocked at the condition of the residential zone and that many contingents had complained about it. With less than two weeks to go for the sporting extravaganza and the athletes scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Thursday, Fennell expressed doubts over the readiness of the Village. He said the complex had been “seriously compromised”. NZ, Canada, Scotland complainFennell’s letter came after New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland strongly protested against the quality of accommodation at the Village. The contingents asked the CWG Organising Committee to put their officials and athletes in hotels if they could not set the Village apartments right. The complaints included problems with hot-and-cold water supply, doors and windows as well as stained toilets. No pullouts, says OCBut the CWG Organising Committee expressed surprise. CWG Organising Committee CEO Jarnail Singh admitted to the complaints but said no country was pulling out. “The complaint came three days ago. The teams of the respective countries will be shifted to the older block in the CWG Village,” he said. Singh said more than 700 workers were working overtime at the new block ever since the complaints had been made.advertisement
Football governing body FIFA has exonerated its president Sepp Blatter of all corruption charges but has suspended senior executives Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner over bribery allegations.The FIFA ethics committee met to deliberate over the most damaging corruption crisis to have hit the sports body.They provisionally suspended the two senior officers amid allegations that they bribed voters in the presidential election campaign.A full blown investigation will now be conducted and if found guilty, the executive council members could be banned for life from all football activity.Blatter, who had been accused of purposely ignoring the bribery, was cleared by the committee.The FIFA chief will now stand unopposed for a fourth term of presidency.
As humble as Viswanathan Anand is, the five-time chess world champion believes aggression has played a big part in his success.In the Capital for a felicitation function organised by NIIT for young chess players, Anand said the insecurity of losing made him aggressive. “Aggression is a very useful tool. I don’t show it openly but the prospect of losing to some players is so horrifying you might want an extra bit,” Anand said.”Against (Veselin) Topalov (in the 2010 World Championship) I was able to channel that feeling into a willingness to play long games. I was able to feel motivated.”Another thing that got me going was thinking how happy Gary (Kasparov) would be to see me losing and then I thought how nice it would be to not give him that pleasure.”The 42-year-old from Chennai won his fifth world title, beating Boris Gelfand of Israel in Moscow in May. “The hunger is still there to go for the next one,” says Anand. “I am often asked how I maintain my motivation even after five world titles. Frankly, I never took to chess because it was on some kind of a check-list. I will keep playing till I enjoy it. The desire is still there,” he said.Anand’s ELO rating has fallen to 2780 and he is now No. 5 in the world. But he is not concerned.”It might take me seven to eight tournaments to take my rating to something close to the 2850 mark. But then I have played bad intentionally,” he joked.advertisementThe world champion is aware that he may face another tough challenge for his sixth title. He pointed out Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Armenia’s Levon Aronian were players to watch out for.”Both of them and others will be fighting for the right to play me at the next world championship. They are the biggest talents that have emerged in recent times and maybe a few decades. It would be challenging to play either of them and I know most people won’t consider me the favourite,” Anand said.On the national front, Anand feels Parimarjan Negi is progressing well.”Parimarjan prepares well, has a very sharp opening and often has creative ideas. He is actually doing very well in the open circuit but now will get into big tournaments and try to win the world cup,” he said.
Sri Lanka exacted a sweet revenge on India with a crushing nine-wicket victory in the second ODI here on Tuesday, to draw the series level at 1-1.It was an absolutely contrasting performance by the Indian batsmen from their last match, as they were bundled out for a paltry 138 in only 33.3 overs.Chasing a target of 139, which isn’t good enough for even Twenty20 format, Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga (59 no, 60 balls) and Tillekaratne Dilshan (50, 49 balls, 5×4) added 119 runs as the islanders hardly broke sweat while racing to the target in only 19.5 overs.The win also means that India won’t get a shot at No 1 spot in ICC ODI rankings, for which they needed a 5-0 margin in the current series.Although the second ODI was played on a different strip, it was inexplicable as to how a team, which scored 314 a couple of days back, showed complete lack of application to get out inside the 34th over.Save opener Gautam Gambhir, who scored a fighting 65 (96 balls, 4×4), the other batsmen paid heavy price for their indiscretion on a pitch that demanded judicious shot selection. Thisara Perera (3/14) and Angelo Mathews (3/19) ran through the Indian top-order.Although there was a greenish tinge, the pitch, which was primarily on the lower side, also produced the odd deliveries that reared up from the three quarter.India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and expectedly decided to bat despite windy conditions that aided swing bowlers.The visitors got off to a brisk start courtesy Virender Sehwag (15) as he blasted debutant Isuru Udana for a couple of boundaries as they raced to 31 in just three overs.After Udana went for 16 in his first over, Mahela Jayawardene had no option but to turn to Perera whose slower delivery did the trick after Sehwag committed to the shot early for the bowler to take a sharp reflex catch.Failure is a rarity for Virat Kohli (1) these days but today was different. He chased a delivery from Perera that was wide outside off-stump and the faint nick gave Kumar Sangakkara, first of his four catches.Rohit Sharma (0), who is lucky to be still persisted with — purely on the basis of potential rather than performance — once again flattered to deceive as he played on while going for an ambitious cut off a very wide delivery from Mathews.Suresh Raina (1) dragged one from Perera back onto his off-stump. Dhoni (11) hit a couple of fours but then went for a non-existent cut shot off a Mathews delivery. The ball reared up from short of good length and there was virtually no room to play the square cut and Sangakkara took the edge.With all the top-order batsmen save Gambhir back in the pavilion before completion of first 15 overs, the Delhi left-hander had an onerous task of saving his wicket as well as scoring some runs.Irfan Pathan (6) too didn’t stay long but Ravichandran Ashwin (21, 15 balls, 3×4) did throw his bat around during a 28-run eighth wicket partnership after which the burly Tamil Nadu offie was needlessly run-out.Gambhir, meanwhile, got to his 32nd half-century with No 10 batsmen Pragyan Ojha for company. He ultimately ran out of patience as he tried to steer a Lasith Malinga delivery, only for Sangakkara to effect a brilliant one-handed catch.Defending a small target was always going to be difficult irrespective of the conditions and India needed early breakthroughs. However, the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav presented the opening duo with a lot of width as they raced to 64 for no loss before break.When Ashwin finally got rid of Dilshan, the contest was as good as over. It was Dinesh Chandimal whose streaky shot through second slip helped Lanka reach the target with 181 balls remaining.advertisement
India’s Gagan Narang failed to add to his medals tally at the 2012 Olympics as he crashed out in the qualifying round of the 50 metres rifle prone competition on Friday.The 10m Air Rifle bronze medallist was off-colour in his secondary event. He finished 18th in the qualifiers with a score of 593 out of 600. The total was only good enough to give him 18th spot on the table.
Perhaps the greatest wrestler that India has ever produced, Sushil Kumar’s journey to sporting glory started in a small village on the outskirts of New Delhi.Sushil took up wrestling after watching his father and uncle sweat it out in the mud-pits or akharas of his village. His enormous talent was spotted at a very young age and the family made a number of sacrifices to nurture his dreams. Sushil’s uncle even gave up wrestling so that the family could support and fund the youngster’s training.Soon Sushil was creating waves on the international circuit. As a junior he won a number of tournaments and got his first taste of the Olympics at Athens 2004, where he finished in the bottom half but gained valuable experience.In the years to follow, Sushil collected many medals at various international events and capped these performances with a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.The medal spurred Sushil to aim even higher and he built on the success of Beijing to capture gold medals at the world championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2010.Sunday’s silver medal at the London Olympics has been a culmination of years of effort put in by Sushil and his family. He has entered the history books as the only individual athlete to win back-to-back medals at the Olympics.