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Friday, September 23, 2016

young Eenam Gambhir slams Pak at UN General Assembly - calls it 'Ivy league of terrorism'

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have traded pointed barbs at the UN general assembly, in a rhetorical exchange that underlines the deep differences between the two sides – and the dim prospects for meaningful dialogue.  Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, invited the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to address the Israeli parliament and said he was willing to speak to the Palestinian legislative council in Ramallah. But Netanyahu insisted on Thursday that the central problem was Palestinian rejectionism, not Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The two leaders’ speeches reflected their very different personal styles, with Netanyahu relying heavily on the theatrical and confrontational style he has brought to his recent general assembly addresses that have seen him deploy props and, last year, a period of silence.

Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism…  that is how  First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, described Pakistan soon after its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ended his speech at the UNGA debate on September 21. Exercising India’s right to reply after Sharif’s address, which focused mostly on what he described as violation of human rights in Kashmir, the delegate said Pakistan was a “terrorist state” which conducted “war crimes” against Indians through its “long-standing policy” of sponsoring terrorism.

Its uncommon for a diplomat of relatively junior rank to make headlines. Most times, they are relegated to doing the running around to make their seniors or political masters look good. And if they do hit the headlines, it’s mostly for the wrong reasons.  But when Eenam Gambhir, first secretary at the Permanent Mission of India in New York, took the floor to exercise India’s Right to Reply following a combative speech by Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif accusing India of human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir, she won only praise back home. Relatively low-profile till now,  she is a celebrity with millions of searches made on the web about her.  Gambhir’s crisp speech—carefully drafted and vetted by senior Indian diplomats —rebutted Sharif point by point though she took much less than her allotted seven minutes.

*Ivy*  is a widely cultivated evergreen climbing plant (Hedera helix) native to Eurasia.   Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the North eastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group;  Ivy League has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.

Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly session on Wednesday, said Pakistan wants peace with India but maintained it is "not possible without resolving the Kashmir issue". The premier reiterated Pakistan's stance of resolving the issue of Kashmir through dialogue with India and said Pakistan has "gone the extra mile to achieve this".  As the unfriendly neighbour has done often, there was reference to the death of Burhan Wani  - referred as a leader of peaceful freedom movement.  One cannot fault him – for that is what ‘peace’ means in the strife-torn neighbouring country. 

It was to be rebutted .. Rejecting Pakistan’s repeated demand to the United Nations to resolve the Kashmir dispute, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan and India should address their issues, including Kashmir, through “dialogue”.  Already India is experiencing the pain of its martyred soldiers at Uri – Eenam Gambhir, the first secretary of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN grabbed the opportunity to exercise the right to reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statements at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).  She not only slammed Pakistan for calling HizbulMujahideen commander BurhanWani a patriot but also called it a “terrorist state” which keep on funding terrorist activities.  While calling Sharif’s “long tirade” about the situation in Jammu andKashmir at the UNGA, she called Pakistan a host to the “Ivy League of terrorism”and “global epicenter of terrorism”

“What my country and our other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which have spread well beyond our region,” she said. She also accused Pakistan of channelizing billions of dollars from international aid, to train, support and finance terrorist groups in its region. “That terrorist attack is part of a trail of continuous flow of terrorists trained and armed by our neighbour and tasked to carry out terrorist attacks in my country,” she a said while mentioning about Uri attack that claimed 18 Indian lives.

Firstpost today writes  that a  “brainstrust” of 5 senior staffers sitting around Syed Akbaruddin's desk on the 4th  floor of India's permanent mission to the US in New York's East 43rd  St put their heads together to write up the 513 word stinger that has broken free from the trap of knotty officialese while Pakistan errs on the other extreme with cuckoo outbursts at its annual whine fest in New York City. Syed Akbaruddin, a 1985 batch IFS officer, is India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations - the boss in the New York outpost.

The applause for India's strident tone, content and the brevity of the rebuttal on September 21 has been stirring. “Deception”, “deceit”, “lies”, “terrorism”, “toxic curriculum”, “sermons”, “preaching” - the word cloud from India’s rap taps into the collective loathing Indians feel about Pakistan’s web of lies. No wonder then that the Eenam Gambhir slam dunk is taking a dizzy ride on social media platforms.  By slamming Pakistan’s baloney so hard on the world stage, India is responding to the change in how audiences consume foreign policy and meeting them where they are, in language that is evocative yet blunt, something that appeals to outliers who are shunning elitism in droves.

Short attention spans have been fully factored in - a 500 worder for a Pakistan pushback is as good as it gets.  Firstpost adds that the decision (of Gambhir speaking) was taken well before the group  finished writing this.  It was the youngest officer, a woman at that.  A top diplomat who oversaw the latest India offensive to the last detail admits there is a deliberate change in style. “Diplomacy has to reach audiences spead across wide swathes of the world, not just Indians in a limited sphere of operation,” he said.  “If they want to come to the United Nations and talk about India, we will do what we have to do. Our default position is that this has to be sorted out bilaterally, however if you (Pakistan) bring this to the UN, we have a counter narrative ready which is stronger,” says the official.

Every paragaph of the India counter has at least one mention of the word terrorism — This was a consensus among the group of five who authored that powerful speech.  Apart from being chosen for being the youngest, Gambhir as the woman factor was strategy, not randomness. “They (Pakistan) talked about women and all that bluster, we said chalo, we’ll send a woman in reply. The optics are not lost on us. We got it right. The whole world could see that the bullies were watching while Gambhir spoke." External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to raise the terror attacks in Uri and Pathankot in her speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) most likely on September 26.

The United Nations General Assembly  is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation.  The General Assembly meets under its president or Secretary-General in regular yearly sessions.  The first session was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Westminster Central Hall in London and included representatives of 51 nations.

With regards- S. Sampathkumar
23rd Sept. 2016.

500th Test ~ (in)experience of Selectors .. !!

Jan 2000 ~ Test no. 1481 – Australia beat India by an innings and 141 runs – VVS Laxman scored a brilliant 167 – do you know or remember who were the Indian Openers  ?

        At Kanpur, in the 500th test -  India seemed to have made the ideal start, winning the toss  on a pitch full of cracks that is  expected to widen and offer lots of help for the spinners from the third day onwards. Their top order had made a confident start, and halfway through the first day they were 154 for 1. New Zealand, though, had come to India with the belief that they had the tools they needed to compete hard. Over the second half of the day, their five-man attack showed what it was capable of, and left India 291 for 9 at stumps.

Cricket’s comparative snobbishness is a peculiarity that sets the game apart.  There are comparisons all the way all around though many a times it may not matter.  At a time when quality Coach is premium, remember that Kapil Dev won 1983 WC with no supporting staff and relatively unknown Mansingh being the Manager.  Then there is Mumbai Indians model ..  owned by Reliance, they are  one of the most successful teams in the IPL. They won the 2011 Champions League Twenty20 after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 31 runs in the final. The team won its first IPL title, in 2013, by defeating Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs in the final, and 2nd in 2015.

They can easily field a strong X1 with their support staff having Ricky Ponting, Robin Singh, Shane Bond, Jonty Rhodes, Paras Mhambrey,  John Wright, Rahul Sanghvi and Sachin Tendulkar. They had Anil Kumble too !  ~ so now comparison is on a team led by Mannava Srikanth Prasad.  Indian Cricketers predominantly came from Bombay, Karnataka and Delhi, this man is from Guntur, Andhra – played 6 tests with highest of 19 and played 17 ODIs aggregating 131 runs.

The man who made a majestic 174 at Adelaide and who once hit Bob Willis for 6 fours in an over is in news making strong statements – he is quoted as stating : "there were lots of discussions" around the future of MS Dhoni's limited-overs captaincy around the time he retired from Test cricket in December 2014. Dhoni's unexpected exit from the longest format mid-way through India's Test series in Australia came as a "shock", Patil said, but he was happy that Dhoni decided to move on when he realised his mental and physical fitness were not up to scratch.  Patil, whose four-year term as chief selector ended a couple of days ago, said his panel deliberated making a leadership change in ODIs then, but eventually decided not to, keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup was only a couple of months away at the time.  He added that Dhoni’s decision to retire was a selfless one. 

The other big retirement Patil's panel had to deal with was even more high-profile: the retirement of  legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Patil recollected the precise moment he first had a chat with Tendulkar about his plans for the future, in December 2012. Patil said Tendulkar made the decision to quit ODIs after he and fellow selector Rajinder Hans had that chat with him during the Nagpur Test against England.  "We have never told any player, let it be Sachin Tendulkar or any other player, 'that is enough, now we are going to drop you'. We wanted to ask 'what's the plan in your mind'. – does that sound an euphemism !!  Tendulkar's Test retirement came a year later, following a farewell series against West Indies in November 2013.

Former India opener Virender Sehwag, who had previously told ESPNcricinfo that he was "hurt" by the manner in which the selectors dropped him in 2013, more recently said it would have been nice if the selectors had offered him a farewell Test as well. Patil said while he empathised with the players, it was not their right to ask for a farewell match.

Now former wicketkeeper MSK Prasad has been chosen to succeed Sandeep Patil as the chairman of India's selection panel. The decision was taken at the BCCI's 87th  annual general meeting in Mumbai, after the board had invited applicants for the selection job for the first time.   

Former offspinner Sarandeep Singh, former batsmen Gagan Khoda, Devang Gandhi and Jatin Paranjpe are the other four selectors named in the five-member panel. Former India seamer Venkatesh Prasad has been  retained as chairman of the junior selection committee. 

By  picking a five-member selection panel, the BCCI went against one of the Lodha Committee recommendations that was approved by the Supreme Court in its July 18 order: to trim the selection panel to three members. The Lodha Committee also said only former India Test players should be eligible to be appointed to the men's and women's selection committees, provided they had been retired from the game for at least five years. Khoda and Paranjpe have not played Test cricket.  BCCI's eligibility criteria, however,  has a proviso or representing India or more than 50 first-class matches in India- fair for in this land there have been great cricketers who somehow never had the distinction of representing the Nation. 

The highest wicket taker in Ranji, Rajinder Goel (637); highest run getters (2,3,4) Amol Muzumdar, Mithun Manhas and DEvendra Bundela  - have never played for India.  So that way, the relative inexperience of MSK Prasad should not be talked about.

Sandeep Patil, the previous chairman of selectors, played 29 Tests and 45 one day internationals. Venkatesh Prasad, the chief selector for juniors, featured in 33 Tests and 161 ODIs. In contrast, India's new five-man national selection committee has played a total of 13 Tests and 31ODIs. In this new panel  MSK Prasad played 6 Tests and 17 ODIs. The others-  Devang Gandhi (4 Tests, 3 ODIs), Sarandeep Singh, (3 Tests, 5 ODIs), Gagan Khoda (2 ODIs) and Jatin Paranjpe (4 ODIs).  Coincidentally , even though BCCI has scrapped the traditional practice of having one selector from each of the five zones, each member of the new committee belongs to a different zone. Prasad is from Andhra (south), Khoda from Rajasthan (central), Gandhi from Bengal (east), Paranjpe from Mumbai (west) and Singh from Delhi (north).

One needs to wait and see whether the experience of the Selectors in anyway impacts the performance of the Team.  Getting back to that Q at the start, surprisingly in that test at Sydney in 2000 – there were no regular openers – VVS Laxman opened with MSK Prasad, the wicket keeper in both the innings.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Sept. 2016.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Porsche accident kills one in Chennai ~ and its aftermath !

Auto rickshaws are wonders on road ~ they can manoeuvre unimaginably – seemingly fly, criss-cross, could get into a gap where there in none – would ask the sky when you try to catch one; when stopped for a ride, they would either say – ‘very short or very long ~ and yet chose to sit idle in a stand’ – some say they cause most accidents, some hail its drivers as most helpful lot !

Some were taken aback when in  Porsche, the sports car maker announced that the redesigned 2017 Boxster and Cayman models would jettison their six-cylinder engines, a long-time Porsche staple, for turbocharged flat-fours. Dr.-Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, usually shortened to Porsche AG is a German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans. Porsche AG is headquartered in Stuttgart, and is owned by Volkswagen AG. They are very costly, of course.

Vikash Anand (22) is a MRF Formula 1600 champion. The Chennai racer made a comeback in March this year — after a sabbatical that lasted nearly 18 months — with double victories in the MRF 1600 category in the second round of the MMSC FMSCI National Racing Championship. In August, Vikash again secured a double win in the finals, clinching the championship title and also won a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy. .. .. whole of Chennai and rest of the globe now know him for a different reason. 

The number of drunken driving cases in police records this year is on course to surge past last year's tally. According to police statistics, cases have been registered against at least 32,600 people for drunken driving on the city roads in 2016 until the end of August. Police personnel had booked drunken driving cases against 35,000 people for the whole of 2015.  With almost four more months to go in the year and puja holidays, Diwali and Christmas yet to come, it is likely that the number of drunken driving cases would go up further and even hit the 50,000-mark before December 31, police sources said.

TOI quoting a former Public Prosecutor, reports that the State government's patronage of Tasmac shops is serving as a hindrance to the efforts of law enforcement agencies to bring down the number of drunken driving cases in the city.   Police do conduct surprise check-ups in the nights.  To keep motorists guessing, the cops are also shifting the location of vehicle checkpoints every week. As per the rules, when motorists are caught drunk, they need not pay any fine to the traffic enforcement officer.  They have to leave the vehicle behind and then collect it the next day after paying a penalty in the court.
Sadly on that fateful Monday morning following Tamil Nadu Premier League finals involving Chennai Super gillies and Tuti Patriots, some celebrated in the midnight, hailing the victory.  A Porsche car slammed in parked autos killing one and injuring many others.  Its driver, a law student was fully drunk.  Vikas Vijayanand,  22, has been arrested. At least three more drivers were wounded when, around 3.30 am, he rammed a dozen auto-rickshaws parked in a row at the city's Cathedral Road. One driver, 29-year-old G Arumugam, was killed on the spot. His seven-year-old daughter has been orphaned as she lost her mother recently. "Tough action should be taken against rich people who drink and drive. My brother lost his wife and child his other child is an orphan," said G Vinayagam, Arumugam's brother. Some of the autos were almost reduced to a crumpled heap with the impact.

Anand killed and injured them,  when he rammed a speeding Porsche into parked autorickshaws early on Monday .The Adyar traffic investigation wing has sent the car for inspection.  The Chennai police have initiated proceedings to suspend racer Vikash Anand's driving licence and have approached the Regional Transport Office for it even as the accused moved the principal sessions court here on Wednesday seeking bail. TOI reports that City public prosecutor M L Jegan appeared before judge G Jaychandran and sought adjournment of the matter till September 29 to file a detailed counter. However, counsel for the accused, advocate B Kumar, requested the case to be posted on Thursday. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge posted it to September 23.

Vikas, whose competition licence has been revoked by the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India, was reportedly driving the car at 140kmph while returning from a party . While he was negotiating a curve opposite Stella Maris College on Cathedral Road, the vehicle hit a median and swerved to the left. Airbags and the car's superior safety system saved Anand and Charan from the impact, but killed Arumugham, an autodriver. One good note is that upon hearing the news about the tragic accident, Nadigar Sangam general secretary and actor Vishal  stepped in to finance the educational expenses of Manisha (7), daughter of the deceased auto driver Arumugam through his educational trust.

Sad a precious life was lost due to the rich man’s partying, inebriation and driving – life perhaps will never back for the kith and kin of the deceased, and the injured.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept. 2016.

India's 500th Test at Kanpur ~ some history and Q on 1st Test and 1st victory !!

Decades ago, on 25th June (yes, the same day when Kapil won WC 1983) in Test no. 219, India debuted at Lords – the first Cricket test between India and England.  England's batting was opened by the Yorkshire pair, Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes, who had established a world record of 555 runs for the first wicket the week before against Essex at Leyton. In his second over, Mahomed Nissar, by sheer pace and swing, dismissed them both – just a day before some of the Indian players had woken up their tour captain, the Maharajah of Porbandar, and told him they were not willing to play under C.K. Nayudu, the man whom he had nominated to lead India in the Test.

Much water has flown under the bridge, as India is set to play their 500th test at Kanpur today.  The series moves on to Kolkata and then to Indore for the next two Tests. New Zealand hasn't won a single Test in India since 1989. Of the 31 Test matches played in India, New Zealand has won just two, losing 13 and drawing 16. The two sides have taken part in 10 series on Indian soil, and eight of these have gone in favour of the hosts, with two ending in draws.  

Statistically in 499 matches thus far, India has won 129; lost 157; drawn 212 – and if they are not adding still, you need to remember that Test against Aussies at Chepauk in 1988 – the tied test ! .. .. do you know when did Indians tasted victory first in Test Cricket and against whom ?

"Nana Sahib with his escort" by Unknown engraver (London Printing and Publishing Co.) - History of the Indian Mutiny (late 1950s, about 1860). Found at Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Nana Sahib,  born as Dhondu Pant, led the Kanpur rebellion during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he was entitled to a pension from the English East India Company. The Company's refusal to continue the pension after his father's death, as well as what he perceived as high-handed policies, compelled him to revolt and seek freedom from company rule in India.

Kanpur is one of the largest cities in India by land area and populous too. Kanpur is situated on the bank of the Ganges River and has been an important place in the history of modern India. Kanpur was one of the main centres of industrial revolution in India. It was known as Manchester of the East. Towards the end of 19th  century, Sir John Burney Allens established a group of companies such as Kanpur Textiles, Cawnpore Woollen Mills (Lal-imli), Flex Shoes Company, Elgin Mills and North Tannery under the banner of British India Corporation having headquarters at Kanpur. In the beginning of the 20th  century, Lala Kamlapat established a group of companies such as; J.K. Cotton Mills and J.K. Iron etc.  The British Government also established a number of factories like; Aircraft Manufacturing Depot, Kanpur (Now HAL), Ordnance Factory, Kanpur (Manufactured the Nirbheek Revolver) and Parachute Factory in 1886 to supplement their defence requirements.

In earlier centuries, it was part of the Oudh kingdom and then came into the hands of the British. At this time, the British realized the strategic importance of the site of Kanpur. European businessmen had, by this time, started establishing themselves in Kanpur.  Kanpur later became one of the most important military stations of British India.

That elusive victory came at Chepauk in Feb 1952 in Test no. 345 against England – a win by an innings and 8 runs.  Our  hero was Vinoo Mankad, who bowled superbly in each innings, taking twelve wickets in the match for 108. His performance of eight for 55 in the first innings has seldom been bettered in Test cricket when it is considered that the pitch gave him little assistance. Mankad's bowling inspired the whole side, the fielding being far better than in previous matches and the batting possessed a more adventurous spirit, necessary for the occasion. Carr led England for the first time, Howard standing down with pleurisy, this being the one change from the Kanpur side.

During the afternoon of day 1,  the death of King George VI was announced and arrangements were changed, the second day being made the rest day.  The win came at their 25th attempt. 

Wayback in 1979, when West Indies toured India, the last test – the 6th of that Series was played at Kanpur.   Interestingly that test (No.845) played in Feb 1979 was scheduled to be a six day match between 2nd  and 8th  Feb 1979.  West Indies were without their star players as they were playing in Packer’s World Series and banned.  Sunil Gavaskar led the Indians, scored runs and won at Chepauk, in an otherwise dull series.  Though that Kanpur test  was scheduled to be a 6 day affair to enable a result – that did not happen eventually !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept. 2016.