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Manipur economic blockade: Mary Kom urges PM Modi to intervene, resolve crisis

New Delhi: Distressed by the economic blockade that has crippled her home state Manipur, five-time world champion boxer and Rajya Sabha MP MC Mary Kom has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and resolve the crisis.

File photo of Mary Kom. AP

File photo of Mary Kom. AP

The blockade has been imposed by United Naga Council to protest the state government’s decision to form seven new districts. The UNC claims the districts in the Naga-dominated hill areas will affect land holdings of Naga tribes settled in these areas.

The blockade which has surpassed 50 days now has crippled normal life in Manipur with scarcity of essential goods being a major concern apart form violence.

In a letter to Modi, Mary Kom, an Olympic bronze-medallist, urged him to try and resolve the issue at the earliest.

“It is to bring to your notice that the state of Manipur is going through the toughest of time with unrest situation. The whole section of communities, both in hills and valley, residing in Manipur are suffering due to the economic blockade and counter-blockade and have now turned into ugly consequences of greater destruction and if not intervened in time, there are possibilities of untoward happenings and the people are so insecure,” she wrote.

“Irrespective of the causes and reasons, I strongly recommend and request you to consider this prevailing situation in Manipur a serious matter and kindly intervene at the earliest for peaceful solution and the state be brought back to normalcy. This act will remain a great achievement and the people will remain in owe towards your kind intervention,” she said.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 15:32 IST

Access to playfields mandatory for schools, says government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Access to playfields and engagement of physical education instructor has been made a mandatory requirement for all schools under the Right to Education Act, government told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel said government recognises the role of sports and physical education in the holistic development of children and youth in the country. “As part of this policy, the government has made access to play fields and engagement of physical education instructor a mandatory requirement for all schools under the Right to Education Act,” he said during Question Hour.The Minister said the CBSE places special importance on co-scholastic areas which includes sports and physical fitness and it is expected that the state education boards would also emulate the CBSE example in due course.Goel said a scheme called ‘Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports’ is being implemented by the Sports Ministry as a central sector scheme from the current financial (2016-17). The scheme provides for holding of annual sports competitions in two age group – (i) under 14 and (ii) under 17 all over the country to encourage mass participation of both boys and girls in sports in both urban and rural areas and identification of talented sportspersons through competitions and creation of sports infrastructure facilities, he said.

Twitter suspends accounts of some alt-right figures: USA Today | Reuters

Twitter suspends accounts of some alt-right figures: USA Today | Reuters

Updated: Nov 16, 2016 23:21 IST

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Twitter has suspended several accounts linked to the alt-right movement, a loosely organized group that embraces far-right ideologies including white nationalism, USA Today reported.The accounts suspended by Twitter, which has been criticized for not stopping abusive behavior on its platform, include that of Richard Spencer, who has said he wants blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews removed from the United States, the newspaper reported on Wednesday. (usat.ly/2fXyXDo)The alt-right movement came to the fore during the U.S. presidential campaign, especially after Republican nominee Donald Trump added Steve Bannon to his campaign team.Bannon, who has since been named Trump’s chief White House strategist, formerly headed Breitbart News, a website and voice for the alt-right movement.

“I am alive physically but digitally speaking there has been execution squads across the alt-right,” Spencer, who has a verified Twitter account, said in a YouTube video entitled “Knight of the Long Knives” responding to the suspension.The move by the microblogging service, which did not immediately respond for requests for comment, followed its announcement on Tuesday that it would upgrade some features to better combat cyber-bullying.

USA Today said the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that tracks what it sees as hate groups and other extremists, had asked Twitter to remove more than 100 accounts of white supremacists who violated Twitter’s terms of service.

Others whose accounts have been suspended include Pax Dickinson, founder of alt-right site Wesearchr; an alt-right internet personality who goes by the fake name Ricky Vaughn; and blogger Paul Town, who describes himself as “the leading thoughtleader of alt-right,” CNN reported. (cnnmon.ie/2eGkAWe) (Reporting by Rishika Sadam in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 23:21 IST

Effects of demonetisation: Tea sales go up, but country’s sugar levels are in the dumps

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Rs 500, Rs 1,000 banned: Here are few questions answered as banks open today

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Full speech of PM Modi at BRICS Summit 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Your Excellency President Xi Jinping,Your Excellency President Jacob Zuma,Your Excellency President Michel Temer, Your Excellency President Vladimir Putin,Distinguished Delegates,I join 1.25 billion Indians in once again extending a very warm welcome to all of you in Goa for the eighth (8th) BRICS Summit.I am honoured to chair the BRICS Leaders’ Plenary Meeting. Our exchanges earlier during the day were productive.This session should build on them and deliberate on a pro-active agenda of action for BRICS.The footprint of intra-BRICS engagement has expanded over time to include large areas of economic activity.The scope of our partnership today stretches from agriculture to industry and innovation; trade to tourism; environment to energy; films to football; skill development to smart cities; and from fighting corruption and money laundering to securing our societies.This year, we have taken BRICS to our cities and provinces and linked it directly to our people from different walks of life.Excellencies,We are celebrating 10 years of our partnership under BRICS. A decade of collaboration has produced strong benefits of cooperation.We are entitled to take pride in our initiatives and achievements.The establishment of New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement are indeed signature achievements.In a world of new security challenges and continuing economic uncertainties, BRICS stands as a beacon of peace potential and promise.Our work holds much meaning for the developing world.In the past year, BRICS have played an active role in shaping the global agenda for change and development.Our association with Agenda 2030, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development has been purposeful and productive.And, we remain at the forefront of pushing change in the global governance architectures.Excellencies,While our achievements have been substantial, we need to sustain the positive direction and strong momentum of intra-BRICS engagement.We also need to add more content to it.Let me offer some thoughts for your consideration.First, the process of institution building in BRICS must continue to remain a focus area.The institutions that we build must support the development of our countries and regions.They should enable greater flexibility and freedom, and offer wider choices in responding to our developmental priorities.We look forward to translating into reality the idea of a BRICS Credit Rating Agency.We must also speed up the work on setting up BRICS Agriculture Research Centre, BRICS Railway Research Network, and BRICS Sports Council.There is also a clear need to build norms, create structures and pool our capacities to stop tax evasion, and fight against black money and corruption.Our agencies must also build mechanisms of information sharing to bring to justice the tax offenders and money launderers.BRICS should push for empowering the global governance institutions to reflect today’s reality.Second, transform the quantum and quality of trade and investment linkages among BRICS.In 2015, intra-BRICS trade stood at about 250 billion US Dollars.We should set ourselves a target to double this number to US Dollars five hundred billion by 2020.This requires businesses and industry in all five countries to scale up their engagement.And, for governments to facilitate this process to the fullest. Our agreement on a tax and custom cooperation framework is a good start.The BRICS Trade Fair and Exhibition just concluded in New Delhi should become a regular platform for business exchanges.And, the BRICS New Development Bank must play an active role to support this objective.It can also help integrate our SMEs into global value chains. We must also coordinate closely to preserve the central role of the Doha Development Round and the WTO.Alongside, we should increase our cooperation and convergence at the G-20, WTO and other fora.India has tabled a draft of the Trade Facilitation Agreement for Services at the WTO.It seeks to maximize the benefits of services liberalization and trade to the developing countries.A strong BRICS support to this proposal will be in our collective economic interest.Third, focus on key priorities of our economic transformations.Urbanization, infrastructure and innovation represent the key focus areas for BRICS economies.Under India’s Chairmanship, we have placed emphasis on digital- technology, smart-cities, urbanization, and cooperation between our cities.The next billion internet users will come from emerging markets.Our cooperation must grab this opportunity to transform the basic structure of our economies.Fourth, secure our societies.In the world we inhabit today, security and counter-terrorism cooperation is necessary if we are to secure the lives of our citizens.Terrorism casts a long shadow on our development and economic prosperity.Its reach is now global. It has grown more lethal and adept at the use of technology.Our response to terrorism must, therefore, be nothing less than comprehensive.And, we need to act both individually and collectively. Selective approaches to terrorist individuals and organizations will not only be futile but also counter-productive.There must be no distinction based on artificial and self-serving grounds.Criminality should be the only basis for punitive action against the individuals and organizations responsible for carrying out terrorist acts.Terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support must be systematically cut off.In this respect, we need to deepen the security cooperation between our National Security Advisors.Early adoption of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism will be an expression of our resolve to fight this menace.Fifth, thriving people-to-people exchanges is the lifeblood of BRICS.It brings vibrancy and richness to our partnership.We have chosen to highlight this dimension this year.The BRICS Films Festival, Trade Fair, Tourism Convention, Sports Council, Football Tournament and other related activities will help in creating millions of young stakeholders that will ultimately carry our partnership forward.Excellencies,I am eager to hear from my fellow BRICS leaders on their vision for a stronger, deeper and vibrant BRICS community.I thank you for your attention.Thank you.

Full text of PM Narendra Modi’s speech at Brics Leaders’ Plenary Session

Outlining his thoughts for positive direction and strong momentum of intra-Brics engagement, Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the Brics Leaders’ Plenary Session, said, “In a world of new security challenges and continuing economic uncertainties, Brics stands as a beacon of peace, potential and promise.”

Here is the full text of the PM’s welcome remarks:

Your Excellency President Xi Jinping,
Your Excellency President Jacob Zuma,
Your Excellency President Michel Temer,
Your Excellency President Vladimir Putin,

Distinguished Delegates,

I join 1.25 billion Indians in once again extending a very warm welcome to all of you in Goa for the eighth (8th) Brics Summit.

I am honoured to chair the Brics Leaders’ Plenary Meeting. Our exchanges earlier during the day were productive.

This session should build on them and deliberate on a pro-active agenda of action for Brics.

The footprint of intra-Brics engagement has expanded over time to include large areas of economic activity.

The scope of our partnership today stretches from agriculture to industry and innovation; trade to tourism; environment to energy; films to football; skill development to smart cities; and from fighting corruption and money laundering to securing our societies.

This year, we have taken Brics to our cities and provinces and linked it directly to our people from different walks of life.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Planery Session. (Photo: MEAIndia)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Planery Session. (Photo: MEAIndia)

Excellencies,

We are celebrating 10 years of our partnership under Brics. A decade of collaboration has produced strong benefits of cooperation.

We are entitled to take pride in our initiatives and achievements.

The establishment of New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement are indeed signature achievements.

In a world of new security challenges and continuing economic uncertainties, Brics stands as a beacon of peace potential and promise.

Our work holds much meaning for the developing world.

In the past year, Brics have played an active role in shaping the global agenda for change and development.

Our association with Agenda 2030, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development has been purposeful and productive.

And, we remain at the forefront of pushing change in the global governance architectures.

Excellencies,

While our achievements have been substantial, we need to sustain the positive direction and strong momentum of intra-Brics engagement.

We also need to add more content to it.

Let me offer some thoughts for your consideration.

First, the process of institution building in Brics must continue to remain a focus area.

The institutions that we build must support the development of our countries and regions.

They should enable greater flexibility and freedom, and offer wider choices in responding to our developmental priorities.

We look forward to translating into reality the idea of a Brics Credit Rating Agency.

We must also speed up the work on setting up Brics Agriculture Research Centre, BRICS Railway Research Network, and Brics Sports Council.

There is also a clear need to build norms, create structures and pool our capacities to stop tax evasion, and fight against black money and corruption.

Our agencies must also build mechanisms of information sharing to bring to justice the tax offenders and money launderers.

Brics should push for empowering the global governance institutions to reflect today’s reality.

Second, transform the quantum and quality of trade and investment linkages among Brics.

In 2015, intra-Brics trade stood at about 250 billion US Dollars.

We should set ourselves a target to double this number to US Dollars five hundred billion by 2020.

This requires businesses and industry in all five countries to scale up their engagement.

And, for governments to facilitate this process to the fullest. Our agreement on a tax and custom cooperation framework is a good start.

The Brics Trade Fair and Exhibition just concluded in New Delhi should become a regular platform for business exchanges.

And, the Brics New Development Bank must play an active role to support this objective.

It can also help integrate our SMEs into global value chains. We must also coordinate closely to preserve the central role of the Doha Development Round and the WTO.

Alongside, we should increase our cooperation and convergence at the G-20, WTO and other fora.

India has tabled a draft of the Trade Facilitation Agreement for Services at the WTO.

It seeks to maximise the benefits of services liberalisation and trade to the developing countries.

A strong Brics support to this proposal will be in our collective economic interest.

Third, focus on key priorities of our economic transformations.

Urbanisation, infrastructure and innovation represent the key focus areas for Brics economies.

Under India’s Chairmanship, we have placed emphasis on digital- technology, smart-cities, urbanisation, and cooperation between our cities.

The next billion internet users will come from emerging markets.

Our cooperation must grab this opportunity to transform the basic structure of our economies.

Fourth, secure our societies.

In the world we inhabit today, security and counter-terrorism cooperation is necessary if we are to secure the lives of our citizens.

Terrorism casts a long shadow on our development and economic prosperity.

Its reach is now global. It has grown more lethal and adept at the use of technology.

Our response to terrorism must, therefore, be nothing less than comprehensive.

And, we need to act both individually and collectively. Selective approaches to terrorist individuals and organisations will not only be futile but also counter-productive.

There must be no distinction based on artificial and self-serving grounds.

Criminality should be the only basis for punitive action against the individuals and organisations responsible for carrying out terrorist acts.

Terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support must be systematically cut off.

In this respect, we need to deepen the security cooperation between our National Security Advisors.

Early adoption of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism will be an expression of our resolve to fight this menace.

Fifth, thriving people-to-people exchanges is the lifeblood of Brics.

It brings vibrancy and richness to our partnership.

We have chosen to highlight this dimension this year.

The Brics Films Festival, Trade Fair, Tourism Convention, Sports Council, Football Tournament and other related activities will help in creating millions of young stakeholders that will ultimately carry our partnership forward.

Excellencies,

I am eager to hear from my fellow Brics leaders on their vision for a stronger, deeper and vibrant Brics community.

I thank you for your attention.

Thank you.

Lies or not, it’s worrisome how we reacted to Barun Kashyap’s ‘gau rakshak’ incident

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Indian female taxi driver documentary hopes to inspire, embolden women | Reuters

By Umberto Bacchi

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Selvi was 14, she was married off to an abusive husband who forced her into prostitution. Over a decade later, her escape and journey to becoming one of India’s first female taxi drivers are the subject of a documentary film, “Driving With Selvi”, that aims to inspire women to break out of traditional roles, its director said.”Many girls in small villages or marginalised communities in India never learn to dream,” filmmaker Elisa Paloschi said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”I think that Selvi’s (story) shows that you can dream and will inspire people to think about their future.”India is home to a third of the world’s child brides, and around 50 percent of India’s women were married before turning 18, according the U.N. children’s agency. Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

“My life was over,” Selvi, whose surname is not given, says in the film, explaining how her violent marriage pushed her towards suicide.”I thought it was better to kill myself than to stay. But then I realised that if I were dead I wouldn’t be able to prove myself. That’s why I ran away”.Selvi found her way to a girls’ shelter in the southwestern city of Mysuru, where she learned how to drive.A few years later, as she was about to set up what has been described as India’s first female taxi company, she met Paloschi who was fascinated by her charisma.

“You can tell she has some greatness in her,” the filmmaker said.Eleven years in the making, “Driving With Selvi” opened in London on Friday and is to premier on U.S. television to mark the International Day of The Girl Child on Tuesday.The documentary has won praise from human rights activists.

“It tells so powerfully that when these girls are given the chance to be empowered, are given skills, care and support, they can change their circumstances and that’s incredibly inspiring to see,” UNICEF UK’s deputy executive director, Lily Caprani, told filmgoers after a screening in London on Friday.Paloschi is now planning to embark with Selvi on a bus tour of southern India to bring the movie to small communities as part of a campaign called “Save Her A Seat” that aims to challenge the marginalisation of women.Women are among the most excluded groups in India, with almost 43 percent of working-age women confined to domestic work, according to a report published in March.”This film has such an incredible power to create social change and I think that Selvi is a great spokesperson for that,” Paloschi said. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

New twist in Sunanda Pushkar case: Delhi police asks ED to probe IPL angle

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a new twist, Delhi police has written to the ED to probe IPL angle in Sundanda Pushkar’s case. Earlier, Delhi’s economic offices wing (EOW) was investigating and probing the share-holding pattern of the defunct IPL team Kochi Tuskers. The main focus of the investigation is the Rs 75 crore (4.75%) sweat equity officered to Sunanda by Rendezvous Sports World, who was a member of the consortium that won the Kochi IPL franchise. Sunanda had to give up her shares after ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi tweeted about the ownership pattern in 2010. Sources said that Sunanda had been offered this equity in lieu of the funds she had arranged for the team. The incident took place before she married Shashi Tharoor. Who was Sunanda Pushkar?Sunanda Pushkar, was born to a Kashmiri Pandit family in 1964 and graduated from the Government College for women in Srinagar. She married Sanjay Raina in 1988, however the couple divorced in the same year. She later went to Dubai and married Sujith Menon in 1989. Long after his demise, she married Shashi Tharoor in 2010. It was the third marriage for both of them. She was a sales manager in Dubai and also co-owner of Rendezvous Sports World.What were the controversies surrounding her?In April 2010, Pushkar gave up her stake in the IPL Kochi team after Lalit Modi said that she owned sweat equity in Rendezvous Sports World—they won the IPL franchise bid for the Kochi Team. It was alleged that Shashi Tharoor was also a benefactor of the franchise.On the eve of her death, she had a verbal spat with Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar on a social networking site, after rumours that Tarar had an affair with her husband. Even though Tarar denied these allegations, the ugly spat between the two women was followed by a series of ambiguous tweets by Tharoor, who later said that his account was hacked. Read more…

Box Office: ‘Miss Peregrine’ tops with $28.5 million, ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ ‘Masterminds’ bomb | Reuters

By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” topped a feeble crop of new releases to pick up first place at the weekend box office, opening to $28.5 million.That’s a mediocre start given the fantasy film’s $110 million budget. However, the adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ best-selling young adult novel is doing well overseas where it made $36.5 million from 59 territories, so its global grosses could push it into the black. Burton is responsible for blockbusters such as “Batman” and “Planet of the Apes,” but his commercial touch has been spotty of late. He hasn’t had a major hit since 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” with audiences rejecting the likes of “Dark Shadows,” “Frankenweenie,” and “Big Eyes.” Fox and Chernin Entertainment backed “Miss Peregrine’s.”Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson said he was pleased with the results, but said it was too early to say whether or not a new franchise had been created.“It’s a promising start, but it’s too early to tell,” he said. “There are multiple books and they are best-sellers, so the door is open.”Sequels or not, “Miss Peregrine’s” is in a much better position than “Deep Water Horizon,” after the expensive adventure drama from the “Lone Star” team of Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg collapsed with a $20.6 million opening. The look at the men and women who were forced to grapple with one of the worst oil spills in history cost roughly $120 million to produce after incentives are taken into account. The hope is that strong word-of-mouth will bolster sales in the coming weeks and that the film will follow the blueprint of other adult dramas such as “Fury” and “The Town” by showing some endurance. But analysts are skeptical.

“You don’t spend that much money on this kind of film,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “It’s a tough sell.”Critics liked the film, handing it an 82% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the strong reviews didn’t translate into ticket sales. Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, has had a rough period at the box office. It is struggling to find a replacement for “The Hunger Games,” the hugely successful young adult series that concluded last year, and has seen the likes of “Gods of Egypt,” “Blair Witch,” and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” falter at the multiplexes. At the same time, the company’s share price has dropped more than 50% since last fall. Lionsgate’s movie arm hopes to regain its stride with the upcoming release of “La La Land,” an acclaimed musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and “Hacksaw Ridge,” a war drama from Mel Gibson.Then there’s “Masterminds.” The heist-comedy about a hapless band of robbers was originally scheduled to be released last year, but found itself entangled in Relativity Media’s bankruptcy proceedings. Freshly emerged from Chapter 11, Relativity had hoped that its release would signal to Hollywood that the studio has put its financial troubles behind it. Yet, “Masterminds” eked out a feeble $6.6 million, a disastrous result for the mid-budget comedy. At one point during its bankruptcy proceedings, Relativity predicted that “Masterminds” would generate $125.4 million in revenues for the studio over its lifetime and $47.1 million in profit. Those projections now look very rosy.

Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” also bombed in its expansion. The drama about a chess prodigy from Uganda only managed to generate roughly $2.6 million after moving from 52 to 1,242 screens. It has made a disappointing $3 million since it opened. Disney is primarily in the blockbuster business, offering up Marvel adventures, “Star Wars” sequels and spin-offs, and the latest Pixar fantasies. It has, however, tried to do a series of uplifting, lower-budgeted dramas such as “Million Dollar Arm” and “McFarland, USA,” with middling results.Last weekend’s champion, “The Magnificent Seven,” slid to third place, earning $15.7 million. The Western remake with Denzel Washington has racked up $61.6 million in its first two weeks of release.The animated comedy “Storks” and Clint Eastwood’s “Sully,” took fourth and fifth place, earning $13.8 million and $8.4 million, respectively. “Storks” has made $38.8 million in its first two weeks in theaters, while “Sully” has racked up an impressive $105.4 million over its first month of release.

In limited release, Bleecker Street’s “Denial,” a drama about a Holocaust denier, debuted to $102,101 on five theaters for a $20,420 per-screen average. The indie studio will continue to expand the film’s release in the coming weeks pushing it into ten new markets and more than 25 theaters.“It’s accessible, it’s intelligent, and it’s riveting,” said Jack Foley, Bleecker Street’s distribution chief. “People come away having had an outstanding time at the movies.”A24 also bowed “American Honey,” a buzzy look at a mag crew that took Cannes by storm, in four theaters where it made $75,370 for a per-screen average of $18,843.Overall ticket sales fell short of the year-ago period when “The Martian” kicked off to a massive $54.3 million. Revenues were down nearly 25% at roughly $114 million, the third straight weekend of declines.“There’s so much competition for the movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “You’ve got the fall television season kicking into high gear and people are so distracted with the presidential election. The films out there are not resonating on their own or there are too many distractions.”

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Surgical strikes across LoC: CISF chief briefs Rajnath Singh on security arrangements

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Sheena Bora murder case: Peter Mukerjea’s plea to defer charge-framing rejected

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Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu reshuffles Cabinet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has made some changes in portfolios of his council of ministers. According to an official release on Wednesday, RWD Minister Kumar Waii has been given additional charge of Home while Water Resource Development (WRD), Geology and Mining minister Kamlung Mossang would handle additional charge of Food and Civil Supplies. Animal husbandry, veterinary and dairy development minister Rajesh Tacho would handle additional portfolio of Sports and Youth Affairs.Jomde Kena has been made new health and family welfare minister while his earlier portfolios of Transport, Supply and Transport, Legal Metrology & Consumer Affairs has been withdrawn and attached with Chief Minister. The chief minister also allocated portfolios to 25 newly appointed Parliamentary Secretaries out of total 26, who were sworn in on Sunday.Accordingly, Thangwang Wangham is in charge of Power (Electrical) while Gojen Gadi is the parliamentary secretary for WCD, SJETA & Land Management) Phurpa Tsering (Health Services) and Tirong Aboh (Geology & Mining), an official release informed. C T Mein has been given the charge of Environment and Forest, while Punji Mara got the department of Horticulture, Phosum Khimhun (Hydro power), Jambey Tashi (RWD), P D Sona (Tourism), Bamang Felix (Education), Markio Tado (Food & Civil Supply), Likha Saaya (Transport, Supply & Transport), Gum Tayeng (WRD), Tapuk Taku (Tax & Excise) and Kumsi Sidisow (PHED).Karya Bagang got the portfolio of Industries, Textile & Handicrafts, Nikh Kamin (Disaster Management), Techi Kaso (UD, Housing, Town Planning & Municipal Affairs), Mutchu Mithi (PWD), Pani Taram (Home), Mama Natung (RD & Panchayati Raj), Tatung Jamoh (Agriculture), Nyamar Karbak (Sports & Youth Affairs), Dikto Yekar (Art & Culture) and Zingnu Namchoom (Planning).Portfolio to former minister Jarkar Gamlin would be allocated within a day or two, the release added.

Uri attack: 17 soldiers, 4 militants killed in attack on army camp in Jammu and Kashmir

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Uri attack: 17 soldiers, 4 militants killed in attack on army camp in Jammu and Kashmir

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Poor administration is key reason for failure of Indian athletes, says Arvind Kejriwal

Panaji: Poor sports administration is the key reason for the failure of Indian athletes to win medals at international sporting events, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday.

File image of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

File image of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

Kejriwal met a delegation of sports administrators from Goa.

“Kejriwal pointed to the pathetic state of sports administration in the country as the main reason for India’s failure to perform at international events, and promised to remove corruption and red-tape to improve the situation,” a statement by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said.

Kejriwal met the delegation of sports administrators from the field of basketball, chess, cricket, table tennis football, at a party volunteer’s home in Taleigao, located near the state capital.

The delegation has requested the AAP to come up with a multi-tier sports policy aimed at having appropriate focus on various levels of sports, such as general public, serious enthusiasts and professional athletes performing at the national, international levels.

Olympians Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa: 3 inspirational faces that could become brand icons

Can PV Sindhu become the next sports brand icon in India? She has shown grit, performance and strength of character that has seen her get the elusive medal for India at the Olympics and the first silver medal in badminton. Will we see her selling products that resonate with this can-do-it attitude of hers?

Rio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi MalikRio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik

Rio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik

Harish Bijoor of Bijoor Consults says Sindhu has what it takes to be a `great’ brand icon. “She has won an Olympics medal and has shown tremendous grit while getting it.”

Concurring with Bijoor’s opinion, Piyush Pandey, Ogilvy & Mather says that Sindhu is a brand in her own right and any brand should be able to use her as long as she is featured in ‘dignified’ commercials. “I hope she does not sell toothpaste and washing soap,” he says.

In the past, we have had Abhinav Bindra, India’s sole gold medallist, who was instrumental in getting the nation to leap up in joy at the country’s first gold medal in any Olympics. Bindra won it for shooting at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. However, he was seen only in a few commercials. Many would find it hard-pressed to recall the advertisement Rajyavardhan Rathore, winner of India’s first-ever silver medal in an individual event — the men’s double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics. That’s the short-lived glory of memory with regard to Olympics.

Alpana Parida, managing director, DY Works, a Mumbai-based brand strategy and brand design firm, says that when the country was willing to watch Sindhu play and root for her on Friday at the Olympics even as a test match India vs West Indies was on, it shows that a sport like badminton has also caught the eye of the nation. Though that match did not take place on the second day of the fourth test because of rains, the country was backing and hoping Sindhu would get the gold at the Olympics.

Parida says that Bindra’s sport is a lone sport while Mary Kom was widely known after a film was made on her. In the case of Sindhu, the game itself was the high point, says Parida. “You could see her competitive spirit and see her courage, strength of character against her opponent. These qualities become inspirational.”

The advertisements that will echo what Sindhu stands for then must focus on her strength of character and competitiveness, say brand specialists. Bijoor says products that are connected to sports would augur well for Sindhu.

Arun Pandey, founder, Rhiti Sports Management, a player management agency, believes even oil could be a good fit for Sindhu. “Anything that stands for health will work well with Sindhu. Like health drinks, for instance,” he says.

The public memory of an Olympic medal winner is ephemeral. It is thus important for these players to cash in on their image that is bright now.

Pandey of Rhiti Sports cites the instance of hockey. “There have been so many iconic players in hockey and yet how many of them are remembered,” he asks.

He says that it then becomes the responsibility of the sports management agency to make sure the player is represented in a wide range of commercials and get what they deserve.

“When I signed Saina Nehwal in 2011, I had to talk to a number of brands about how she could united a nation with her presence. Some corporates understood the message and signed her. Later, those who did not want to sign her, also came back to sign her. Hence, it is our responsibility as managers of players to communicate to corporates.”

Many believe that Sindhu and the other medal winners like Sakshi Malik and even Dipa Karmakar who came fourth can be the face of inspiration, and not just women’s issues.

“Dipa Karmakar is a great story and any brand should be eager to cast her. She is a woman who braved the odds in a sport that no one in the world expected an Indian in. And she missed the bronze by a whisker,” say an analyst.

Piyush Pandey believes the time has come for other sports to be in the limelight without being overshadowed by cricket. “Some of these players like Saina, Sania are known to India and the Rio medal winners and Dipa Karmakar too will remain in public memory. They are great role models if used meaningfully.”

India level Twenty20 series with 10-wicket win | Reuters

HARARE Mandeep Singh blasted a quick-fire unbeaten half-century as India crushed Zimbabwe by 10 wickets to level the Twenty20 series on Monday.

The result sets up a series decider in the third and final game that will also be played at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat, but could only muster 99 for nine in their 20 overs as the Indian bowlers strangled the run-rate.

The tourists made short work of their reply, racing to their victory target off 13.1 overs as Mandeep Singh (52 from 40 balls) and fellow opener Lokesh Rahul (47 from 40 balls) put on a century stand.

All the Zimbabwe batsmen struggled to score quick runs in their innings with none managing more than a run a ball. Peter Moor (31 from 32 balls) was the only one to muster any sort of resistance.

Debutant seamer Barinder Sran took for wickets to lead the Indian charge, while fellow paceman Jasprit Bumrah picked up three wickets in his four overs.

India also handed a debut to seamer Dhawal Kulkarni, though he was by far the most expensive of the bowlers as his one wicket cost 32 runs.

(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Indian national arrested in Zimbabwe for rape not associated with cricket team: MEA

Amid floating media reports that a member of the Indian cricket contingent has been arrested on charges of rape in Harare, Zimbabwe, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs refuted the claims and said that the Indian national who was arrested is no way associated with the Indian cricket team, reported CNN-News 18.

According to the ANI, the person arrested is an Indian affiliate with one of the sponsors of the matches, has been arrested on allegations of raping a local woman. The agency also reported that the accused has claimed to be innocent and has agreed to cooperate with the probe and undergo DNA tests.

Official sources in India stated that the person arrested was in fact affiliated to one of the sponsors of the ongoing limited-overs series.

“Regarding media reports of an Indian cricketer being involved in an alleged case of rape in Harare, we have spoken to our Ambassador to Zimbabwe. The report is totally false. No Indian cricketer is involved,” the sources said.

The BCCI, on its part, refused to comment, claiming that it is yet to ascertain the exact facts of the issue. “We are keeping a close watch on the development. It is a serious issue. Being aware of the sensitive nature of the issue, the BCCI won’t make comments without ascertaining facts,” said a top Board official on condition of anonymity.

Earlier on Saturday, media reports emerged that an Indian cricketer was arrested on rape charges in Harare. A Zimbabwe news portal, New Zimbabwe quoted police spokesperson assistant commissioner Charity Charamba as saying “There are allegations of rape against an Indian national by a Zimbabwe woman.”

The Zimbabwe news agency also reported the presence of Indian ambassador at The Meikles Hotel, where the Indian cricket team is currently staying, to thwart the “un-named player’s arrest”. The reporter further said that attempts were made to broker an out of court settlement with the woman.

The reports were picked up by Pakistan media as well. The reports also stated that India’s ambassador to the African nation, R Masakui, had tried to prevent the player’s arrest last night at a Harare hotel.

Further details on the case are awaited.

The Indian team is currently on a tour to Zimbabwe for the T-20 series. The Indian team had won ODI matches 3-0 against the hosts, however, it has lost the first of T-20 matches by two runs to the host in the ongoing series.

Lukaku scores twice as Belgium batter Ireland | Reuters

BORDEAUX, France Belgium rediscovered their most blistering form to batter group E rivals Ireland 3-0 thanks to a brace from Romelu Lukaku and an Axel Witsel header on Saturday.

The victory of the world’s second-ranked team was in stark contrast to their limp defeat in their opening Euro 2016 match against Italy.

Despite dominating the opening half, it still took until the opening minutes of the second period for Belgium to take the lead when Lukaku finished a counter-attack by rifling a shot into the far corner.

Ireland had a brief positive spell but Witsel made it two for Belgium with a pinpoint header after 61 minutes, and Lukaku completed the rout with a simple finish after another counter-attack nine minutes later.

With Italy having beaten both the Belgians and Sweden to win the group, the victory puts Belgium in second place on three points with the Irish and Sweden stuck on a point apiece.

“We were under pressure before today,” Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, the game’s outstanding player, said. “And we came out with the right reponse.”

Coach Marc Wilmots made three changes to the Belgium line-up that struggled against Italy, and they immediately appeared more vibrant and cohesive.

Their speed and fluidity improved, with the introduction of Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco giving them a menace out wide which had been missing in their opener.

De Bruyne kept his place despite a subdued showing against Italy and, vastly improved, he set the tone with a searing 13th-minute corner which Toby Alderweireld headed wide, before finding his range with a free kick.

Ireland were not without their own threat, as Meunier’s adventures down the right flank left space for Shane Long to exploit, although Martin O’Neill’s side ultimately failed to register a single shot on target during the entire 90 minutes.

Belgium began to dominate, with De Bruyne’s teasing delivery forcing a diving header from John O’Shea on 20 minutes, which inadvertently set up Eden Hazard to fire over.

Wes Hoolahan then cleared off the line as Alderweireld headed another fine De Bruyne corner goalwards.

As Irish resolve strengthened, Wilmots was again left pondering how to forge an effective attacking unit from the Golden Generation’s wealth of striking talent.

It took only three second-half minutes for an answer to emerge, as De Bruyne tore down the right before crossing for Lukaku, who opened his body and sent a curling left-foot effort into the corner of the net.

The goal seemed to release the pressure on Belgium, who celebrated furiously with Wilmots in the corner while their supporters threw flares onto the pitch.

Yet Ireland were justifiably left seething as Alderweireld’s penalty-box high foot on Long in the build-up went unpunished.

Witsel put the contest beyond the Irish 13 minutes later, arriving in the box to head the impressive Meunier’s cross beyond Randolph, whose outstretched hand could not quite divert the thumping effort wide.

In the 70th minute, Belgium added a third in a delicious move that encapsulated the invention and panache that has long been expected from this talented squad.

Meunier, again influential, dispossessed McClean and sent a long ball forward for Hazard down the right.

The attacker, outrageously lapping the linesman on the outside, raced to meet the pass before crossing for Lukaku who swept home with aplomb as Belgium secured their biggest winning scoreline at a major international tournament in 46 years.

“As a team, we had to give a response to everybody who watched the game against Italy,” Hazard said. “The way we responded was good and we really deserved this victory.”

For Ireland, though, there was nothing but disappointment as their winless run at the European Championships was extended to seven games.

“When you’re attacking you’re at your most vulnerable,” O’Shea said. “So we’ll have to work on that.”

This was an emphatic response from Belgium to their critics.

With their first clean sheet in nine matches and a dazzling second-half performance, they had finally realised their potential in a high-profile fixture, reaffirming their title credentials with clinical precision and real style.

(Editing by Ian Chadband)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Truck queues back up after fighting closes Afghan-Pakistan border | Reuters

TORKHAM BORDER CROSSING, Pakistan Hundreds of trucks lined roads leading to the normally bustling Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday, with drivers increasingly frustrated at an impasse between the two countries over their disputed frontier.

Pakistan is going ahead with plans to build a barrier at the crossing, saying that it is necessary to keep out Islamist militants sneaking in from Afghanistan.

But Afghanistan rejects the Durand Line border drawn up in 1893, and the row over a solid recognition of that boundary led to armed clashes between the neighbouring countries on Sunday that killed four people.

“We’re just sitting here waiting for some good news,” said Musa Jan, an Afghan truck driver from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, stuck in Pakistan since Sunday night.

“We just want this to end so we can go home and get back to making an honest living.”

Hundreds of brightly painted trucks lined both sides of the road at the end of the Khyber Pass, unable to deliver their cargo. The smell of rotting fruit filled the air, and drivers sheltered from the sun under their vehicles during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Thousands of vehicles normally pass through the crossing every week, making it a vital trade link between the countries.

A ceasefire agreed by Afghanistan and Pakistan is holding, but the weekend skirmishes reflected strained relations between them in recent months.

Afghanistan, struggling to contain a stubborn insurgency led by Taliban militants, blames Pakistan for harbouring fighters and allied networks on its territory.

Pakistan denies it supports militants, and says it is building the gate at Torkham to stop the movement of militants coming the other way, from Afghanistan.

“In the past there would be small skirmishes, but nothing like this,” said one guard at the crossing, Shafi Ullah, referring to the weekend clashes.

“But we will build this gate at all costs. … There is terrorism, there are blasts – it all comes from that side (Afghanistan).”

Pakistan’s top foreign policy official, Sartaj Aziz, told parliament on Thursday that Afghan forces started the clashes.

“There has been no aggression or provocation by Pakistan,” Aziz said.

Afghan officials, however, blame Pakistan.

“The past three times, Pakistani forces attacked us and our forces were in a defensive position and defended themselves and our soil,” said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province where Torkham is located.

Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad, Omar Zakhilwal, on Thursday accused Pakistan of reneging on ceasefire terms that he said included halting construction of the gate.

Zarwaid Khan, a Pakistani border guard, said construction of the gate was continuing and there was no fighting on Thursday, although he said the situation was still “delicate”.

“We are watching and waiting,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Sultan in NANGARHAR, Afghanistan and Asad Hashim in ISLAMABAD; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

CBI probe is politically motivated: Virbhadra Singh

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was questioned by CBI in a disproportionate assets case for two days last week, hit out at the central government accusing it of unleashing political vendetta on Monday.”A simple case which is pending with Income Tax has been made a tool to harass me by ordering probe by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate,” he said during an informal interaction with reports. When asked about the queries by CBI, he said, “CBI is not God, I replied to the questions asked by it. I have not done anything wrong and have always stood by the truth and strongly believe that it will prevail.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Replying to another question, Singh said the properties of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal are being probed and enquiries would continue. Referring to the issue where Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association led by BJP MP and BCCI boss Anurag Thakur is asking the state government for land to set up the National Cricket Academy, he said he was not against cricket but the irregularities allegedly committed by the HPCA cannot be ignored or condoned.When asked about the Sports Bill pending assent of the governor, Singh said the Governor should return the Bill to the Vidhan Sabha as it was pending with him for a long time. He also appealed to the employees of state-run Himachal Road Transport Corporation to go not ahead with their strike and discuss their demands with the Transport minister. He, however, rejected the demand of the HRTC employees to convert the HRTC into Roadways.

Muhammad Ali remark: Minister EP Jayarajan admits mistake, blames channel

Thiruvananthapuram – A day after being extensively trolled in the social media for his gaffe describing late legendary boxer Muhammad Ali as a Keralite, Sports Minister E P Jayarajan on Sunday admitted his “mistake.”

In a Facebook post, the minister, who was mauled on social media, said “a mistake is a mistake” and hoped the state’s enlightened people and sports personalities would understand his folly.

Soon after reports of Ali’s passing away broke on Saturday, a Malayalam television channel had contacted the minister for a condolence message.

EP Jayarajan. Image Credit: Twitter @mathrubhumiengEP Jayarajan. Image Credit: Twitter @mathrubhumieng

EP Jayarajan. Image Credit: Twitter @mathrubhumieng

Jayarajan had in the phone-in news programme said, “I came to know only now that Muhammad Ali had died in America. Ali was a prominent personality in Kerala’s sports scenario. He had won several gold medals for Kerala and had taken our state’s fame skyhigh.. I wish to convey Kerala’s sorrow and the sorrow of the state’s sport lovers.”

Explaining the circumstances that led to the mistake, Jayayrajan said he was on his way to attend a function yesterday when he was called by the television channel for his reaction. The person who called him said “our Muhammad Ali died in America. He has won several gold medals,” and that the minister should give a condolence message, Jayarajan said.

“At that time, I was not aware that the boxing champion of yesteryear had passed away,” Jayarajan said. Immediately, he was connected live on the channel.

“I was not aware that the channel wanted my reaction for the death of Muhammad Ali, the boxing champion and a US citizen, who had left the sporting arena 40 years ago. That matter did not come to my mind also.I thought it was some veteran sportsperson of Kerala who had passed away,” Jayarajan, a CPI(M) central committee member, said.

“However, what I have said is wrong. A mistake is a mistake. The media who contacted me later, I have given the right condolence message,” he said.

The minister said normally, when he is contacted for reaction, the newsdesk of the concerned channel gives a brief about the subject. But no such thing happened this time.

“This confusion led to the error. Kerala’s enlightened people and sports personalities should understand this mistake…,” he said in the post.

Cook reaches milestone as England win to clinch series | Reuters

DURHAM, England Alastair Cook became the first Englishman to reach 10,000 test runs before leading his team to an emphatic nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second test on Monday to wrap up the series.

Cook scored 47 not out as England eased to their target of 79 after Dinesh Chandimal made a fine century to lift Sri Lanka to 475 in their second innings on the fourth day.

Having been bowled out for 101 first time round, however, the tourists only delayed the inevitable and England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with a day to spare.

“It’s a very special moment for me, but the game is not about personal milestones, it’s about winning games and scoring runs to do that,” Cook said.

“But it’s a real special day and it’s great that my family are here to see me do it.”

Sri Lanka had resumed on 309 for five and England’s only success in the morning session was the dismissal of Milinda Siriwardana for 35, well caught by Alex Hales at third slip off James Anderson to end a sixth-wicket partnership of 92.

Anderson found the inside edge of Chandimal’s bat when the right-hander was on 69 but wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow spilled a simple chance and the 26-year-old took full advantage, reaching his sixth test hundred with a thick outside edge for four off Chris Woakes.

He received excellent support from Rangana Herath in a seventh-wicket stand of 116, Herath making a breezy 61 before he was trapped lbw by Anderson, the England fast bowler’s 450th test victim.

Anderson bowled Shaminda Eranga for one to complete another five-wicket haul and Stuart Broad ended Chandimal’s defiant knock on 126 with a clever slower ball that clipped the top of his off stump.

Suranga Lakmal was the last man out, skying a catch to Broad off Woakes.

Cook, needing five runs to get to 10,000, clipped Nuwan Pradeep to the mid-wicket boundary to reach the milestone before raising his bat to all corners of a sparsely-populated ground.

Hales was bowled by spinner Siriwardana for 11 but Cook calmly completed the job with Nick Compton, who finished unbeaten on 22 as he battles to retain his place at number three in the order.

“Broad and Anderson are world-class bowlers and you’ve got to show a lot of skill to handle them,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.

“It’s just the Sri Lankan fight that we’ve lost in the past couple of weeks and we’re looking to bring back. There were lots of positives in the last couple of days, Chandimal and Herath showed a lot of character.”

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Tony Jimenez and Ken Ferris)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Manchester United appoint Mourinho as manager – Sky Sports News | Reuters

LONDON Manchester United have appointed Jose Mourinho as their new manager, Sky Sports News reported on Thursday.

The 53-year-old Portuguese replaces Dutchman Louis van Gaal whose two-year reign at Old Trafford ended on Monday, two days after United lifted the FA Cup.

The self-styled “Special One”, Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea in December, ending his second spell in charge of the London club. He has also managed Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ wins Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival | Reuters

CANNES, France “I, Daniel Blake” by British director Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or for Best Picture at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on Sunday.

Loach had already won the highest distinction in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”.

The Iranian film “Forushande” (The Salesman) by Asghar Farhadi received two awards, for Best Screenplay and for Best Actor, won by Shahab Hosseini.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Sarbananda Sonowal resigns as Union Minister; to take oath as Assam CM on May 24

Assam’s Chief Minister designate Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday resigned from the Union Council of Ministers. The resignation letter of 53-year-old Sonowal was forwarded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the President, who accepted it.”The President, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation of Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, from the Council of Ministers, with immediate effect. Further, as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, shall be assigned the Independent charge of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, in addition to his existing portfolios,” a Rashtrapati Bhawan communique said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sonowal was elected BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly-elected MLAs in Guwahati this afternoon and has been invited by Governor P B Acharya to form the government.In today’s ‘Mann ki baat’ radio programme, the Prime Minister praised Sonowal for taking time out to visit NIS Patiala to check on the sportspersons’ training for the Rio Olympics despite elections in Assam.”There were polls, he was a CM candidate but performed his duty as a sports minister. This is a big thing,” the Prime Minister said.Sonowal began his political career with the All Assam Students Union before moving to AGP and later to BJP in 2011. He was made president of the Assam unit of the BJP in 2012. He was declared BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in January 2016.

Injured Federer to miss French Open | Reuters

LONDON Former champion Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Thursday, citing fitness issues, as his record run of appearing at 65 consecutive grand slam tournaments came to an end.

The 34-year-old world number three’s appearance at Roland Garros had been in doubt after he missed the Madrid Open with back problems and suffered an early defeat at the Italian Open in the build-up to the claycourt major he won in 2009.

The last time the 17-times grand slam champion was absent from one of the sport’s four majors was at the 1999 U.S. Open.

“I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year’s French Open,” father of four Federer said in a message posted on Facebook.

“I am still not 100 percent and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready. This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career.”

Federer’s withdrawal will have a significant impact on the draw as nine-times champion Rafael Nadal, ranked five in the world, will now move to fourth seed while defending champion Stan Wawrinka is bumped up to three.

Spaniard Nadal could have faced world number one Novak Djokovic or second seed Andy Murray, as early as the quarter-finals. That scenario has now been avoided.

Federer, who for much of his career has been injury-free, needed a left knee operation after the Australian Open this year, saying afterwards he had torn his meniscus while running a bath for his twin daughters.

Federer, who has been troubled by back problems over the past few years, said he was determined to recover full fitness and prepare for Wimbledon.

“I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season,” said the Swiss, who owns seven Wimbledon titles.

“I am sorry for my fans in Paris but I very much look forward to returning to Roland Garros in 2017.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Sharapova may not play again, says Russia’s Tarpishchev | Reuters

MOSCOW Maria Sharapova may not play again after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium, the president of the Russian tennis federation was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Shamil Tarpishchev told the R-Sport news agency that Sharapova’s situation was “bad”.

The five-times grand slam champion faces a possible ban of up to four years for failing a drugs test at the Australian Open in January.

British media reported that she had been due to attend an International Tennis Federation (ITF) anti-doping hearing in London on Wednesday.

There has been no subsequent comment by the ITF.

Sharapova stunned the world in March when she said she had returned a positive test for the Latvian-made heart medication which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) banned list from Jan. 1.

The world’s highest-paid sportswoman claimed to have been taking meldonium on doctor’s orders for 10 years and had failed to note that it had become a banned substance until hearing of her failed test at the year’s first grand slam.

She was provisionally suspended on March 12 pending the hearing, and has lost a number of her lucrative sponsorship deals.

She said at the time that she hoped she would be allowed to play again.

The World Anti-Doping Agency WADA said in April, after hundreds of athletes had tested positive for meldonium, that bans might be overturned due to a lack of clear scientific information on how long the drug takes to be excreted.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov/Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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After Salman and Sachin, AR Rahman becomes Olympic Goodwill Ambassador

New Delhi: Oscar winning music composer AR Rahman on Thursday agreed to be the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian Olympic contingent, joining cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, ace shooter Abhinav Bindra and Bollywood star Salman Khan.

AR-Rahman_AFP

Tendulkar, Salman and Olympic gold medallist Bindra had earlier accepted the role offered by the Indian Olympic Association.

The IOA said that it has also received an official written confirmation from Rahman.

“It’s absolutely an honour and my pleasure to be a goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent scheduled for August 2016,” Rahman said in a release issued by the IOA.

Welcoming Rahman on board, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, “I would like to welcome AR Rahman on board as a goodwill ambassador of Indian contingent for Rio Olympics. It’s our privilege to have the Oscar winning living legend-music composer on board to spread awareness and promote the Olympic movement.

“As per our plan to reach out to maximum people in the country for Olympic Sports, we are happy that Mr. Rahman has come forward from the field of music to support our athletes and we already have Salman Khan from Bollywood, Abhinav Bindra from Olympic Sports and Sachin Tendulkar from Cricket. I am sure Mr. Rahman will inspire our sportspersons.”

There was a huge uproar after Salman was appointed Goodwill Ambassador ahead of other sporting luminaries. Former and current athletes were up in arms against Salman’s appointment and demanded to know why someone from the field of sports was not named by the federation.

The IOA immediately went into damage-control mode and requested Beijing Games gold medallist shooter Bindra and Tendulkar to be Goodwill Ambassadors.

IAS officer Rekha Rani lands in trouble for marrying actress’ husband

On Tuesday, the SR Nagar police filed a case against actress Poojitha’s husband for marrying Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh managing director G. Rekha Rani, an IAS officer. The Deccan Chronicle reports that former journalist P. Vijay Gopal, who is currently the PA to Araku MP Kothapalli Geetha, cheated actress Poojitha whom he was married to.Police have filed a case against him including IPC Section 496 (marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage) in the FIR. Poojitha has given police evidence of their marriage including a letter from the priest who allegedly performed their marriage in 1994. She has also submitted the ration card, Voter’s ID card, her delivery records, family photos, her son’s birth certificate and school admission records, adds the daily. She doesn’t have a marriage certificate. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Poojitha has told the daily that the wedding took place 15 years ago at the Birla Temple at the sanctorum of Sri Venkateswara Swamy. She has now alleged that Vijay Gopal has cheated her and other women and asked that the police take action. She states that they have a child too and that the couple is not divorced. IAS officer G Rekha Rani is well-known thanks to getting Sachin Tendulkar to adopt a village in Nellore, when she was joint collector there in 2014. She has denied the allegations and stated that Poojitha and Vijay Gopal were not married but only in a live-in relationship. Vijay Gopal also states the same.

Scientists peel back the carrot’s genetic secrets | Reuters

WASHINGTON Scientists have gotten to the root of the carrot, genetically speaking.   

Researchers said on Monday they have sequenced the genome of the carrot, an increasingly important root crop worldwide, identifying genes responsible for traits including the vegetable’s abundance of vitamin A, an important nutrient for vision.   

The genome may point to ways to improve carrots through breeding, including increasing their nutrients and making them more productive and more resistant to disease, pest and drought, the researchers said.   

The vitamin A in carrots arises from their orange pigments, known as carotenoids. The study identified genes responsible for carotenoids as well as pest and disease resistance and other characteristics. In addition to eyesight, vitamin A also is important for immune function, cellular communication, healthy skin and other purposes.   

The researchers sequenced the genome of a bright orange variety of the vegetable called the Nantes carrot, named for the French city. The carrot genome contained about 32,000 genes, a typical total for plants, which average around 30,000 genes, which is more than the human genome.   

“Carrots are an interesting crop to work on because of their wide range of diversity. They are familiar to everyone, and generally well-regarded by consumers, but like most familiar things, people don’t necessarily know the background stories,” said University of Wisconsin horticulture professor and geneticist Phil Simon, who led the study published in the journal Nature Genetics.   

Worldwide carrot consumption quadrupled between 1976 and 2013 and they now rank in the top 10 vegetable crops globally, the researchers said. In the past four decades, carrots have been bred to be more orange and more nutritious, with 50 percent more nutrients.   

The earliest record of carrots as a root crop dates from 1,100 years ago in Afghanistan, but those were yellow carrots and purple ones, not orange ones. Paintings from 16th century Spain and Germany provide the first unmistakable evidence for orange carrots.   

Knowledge of the carrot genome could lead to improvement of similar crops, from parsnips to the cassava, the researchers said. Close relatives of carrots include celery, parsley, parsnips, coriander, cilantro, dill, fennel, cumin and caraway. The common weed called Queen Anne’s Lace is a wild carrot.   

The wild ancestors of carrots were white, the researchers said. While orange carrots are most commonly grown, some purple and yellow carrots are grown from the Middle East to South Asia, while some red carrots are grown in Asia.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Pop singer Prince had painkiller Percocet in his system – reports | Reuters

Music superstar Prince’s autopsy found the painkiller Percocet in his system, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and KSTP-TV reported on Thursday, citing sources close to the investigation.

Prince also had a dangerously low red blood cell count, indicating he had been ill, Minneapolis ABC affiliate KSTP-TV said, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials.

A spokeswoman for the local medical examiner’s office that conducted a post-mortem examination of Prince declined to confirm the reports.

The cause of Prince’s death remained undetermined. The medical examiner’s office said in late April the autopsy and toxicology results could take weeks.

The news reports came after federal authorities said on Wednesday they were joining the investigation into Prince’s death.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota will bring federal resources to the local investigation and expertise on the illegal use and trafficking of prescription drugs, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Also on Wednesday, a lawyer for a California addiction doctor said Prince’s representatives had contacted the doctor the evening before his death, adding that the doctor had planned to visit Prince for a “life-saving mission.”

The 57-year-old Prince was found dead on April 21 at his Paisley Park home-studio complex in a Minneapolis suburb. Prescription opioid medication was found at the scene, a law enforcement source told Reuters.

Dr. Howard Kornfeld, who runs Recovery Without Walls, a clinic in Mill Valley, California, planned to fly to Minnesota on April 22, his lawyer William Mauzy said. In the meantime, his son, Andrew Kornfeld, a clinic staff member, traveled to Minnesota on April 21 for an initial discussion.

When Andrew Kornfeld arrived at Paisley Park, Prince was not available, Mauzy said. A staff member found the artist unconscious in an elevator, and Kornfeld called 911.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Chandigarh to host Modi on International Yoga Day; over 10,000 people to participate in event

Chandigarh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join hundreds of people in Chandigarh on the occasion of International Yoga Day on 21 June.

Haryana’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday said the governments of Haryana and Punjab and the Chandigarh administration would jointly host International Yoga Day in Chandigarh on 21 June.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be present on this occasion,” Vij said in Chandigarh.

The event, being organised by the central government, is likely to be held at the sprawling Capitol Complex in Sector 1.

“More than 10,000 people from Haryana would participate in the event. The participants would include school and college students and teachers, Home Guards and police personnel,” Vij said.

The UN had listed 21 June as International Yoga Day in 2014.

The first International Yoga Day was celebrated in New Delhi last year with Modi leading the yoga enthusiasts.

Qatar investigates death at World Cup site as labour rights under scrutiny | Reuters

DOHA The organisers of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup said on Sunday they were investigating the death of an Indian labourer at one of its sites but denied it was caused by working conditions which the wealthy Gulf country is under pressure to improve.

Along with accusations of corruption during its World Cup bid, Qatar has long been under fire from rights groups for labour abuses. Last week, world soccer body FIFA urged Qatar to hasten improvements for builders on World Cup sites and said it would monitor conditions.

Qatar, an energy exporter which has the highest income per capita in the world, is also under pressure from the United Nations to address workers’ rights before World Cup construction peaks in 2017.

Labourer Jaleshwar Prasad, 48, fell unconscious on Wednesday while performing steel work at Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, 50 km (31 miles) north of Doha, a witness told Reuters.

Organisers said the death was not caused by working conditions.

“Al Khor Hospital reported the cause of death as cardiac arrest,” the Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the 2022 World Cup said in a statement.

“The family of Mr Prasad were informed of the tragedy immediately. A full investigation is underway.”

Qatar’s efforts to become the competition’s first Arab host have been dampened by accusations including that workers were forced to live in squalor and to work without proper access to water and shelter in the blazing sun.

About 5,100 construction workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh are building stadiums in the country.

Unions and labour protests are banned and authorities penalise dissent with jail terms or immediate deportation.

Prasad is the third Indian employed on a World Cup site to die of a heart attack in the last six months, according to a February report by the Supreme Committee.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee says there have been no work-related fatalities on World Cup sites, but law firm DLA Piper, in a review for the government in 2013, found evidence of dozens of work-related deaths across Qatar among migrant labourers from South Asia.

Qatar’s government has also denied claims there are higher instances of heart attacks among construction workers and does not publish independently-verified statistics on worker-related injuries and fatalities.

Autopsies and post-mortems on people who die sudden and unexpected deaths are forbidden by Qatari law unless a crime is suspected.

“Workers dying suddenly from heart attacks is something we hear about often, the causes are not always clear. But we’re moving now into the hottest time of the year when the risk of fatality increases,” said Amnesty Gulf researcher Mustafa Qadri. “When a worker dies, Qatar needs to get to the bottom of what happened. People’s lives are in danger”.

Amnesty reported on abuses at a World Cup stadium in a wide-ranging report three weeks ago based on the accounts of 132 workers.

DLA Piper recommended that Qatar launch an independent study into cardiac deaths among migrant workers.

The head of Qatar’s Supreme Committee has said Doha is working to reduce abuses he described as occurring on construction sites all over the world.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

PM Modi to address panchayati representatives in Jamshedpur amid shutdown call

Ranchi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a conference of panchayat representatives at Jamshedpur in Jharkhand on Sunday amid a shutdown called by the opposition JMM to protest the domicile policy and also against Modi using a corporate house stadium to address rural bodies representatives.

Around 3,000 Panchayati Raj representatives from across the country are expected to attend the conference at the Tata Sports Stadium, Jamshedpur, on Sunday.

Along with them, Modi will address 2,58,000 gram sabhas of the country live through radio and Doordarshan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

According to a state government official, the campaign aims to generate nationwide efforts to strengthen Panchayati Raj, and through it increase social harmony across villages, promote rural development, and foster farmers’ welfare and livelihoods of the poor.

The topics discussed in these gram sabhas are about gram panchayat development plans for local economic development, optimum utilization of funds available with panchayati raj institutions, clean drinking water and sanitation, role of women in villages, rural development and social inclusion.

Security has been beefed up in view of the prime minister’s visit and programme.

The main opposition party of the state, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has called a shutdown in Kolhan under which Jamshedour falls.

The JMM has called a shutdown on three issues: to oppose the Domicile Policy announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state; on a case related to elected panchayat in a scheduled area; and also that Modi will address panchayat representatives from the Tata Sports Complex, which belongs to a corporate house.

“Modi is using the Panchayati Raj system for corporate houses. Why is Modi not holding the programme at a government stadium? Modi wants to facilitate corporate houses in the state to set up industries,” Supriyo Bhattacharya, JMM general secretary, told IANS.

The JMM will attempt to disrupt the prime minister’s programme and stop the panchayat representatives. The district administration has made it clear that stern action will be taken if any problem is created during Modi’s programme.

Bombay HC should have stuck to its earlier stand and disallowed Pune IPL match

Bombay High Court should not have allowed the BCCI to hold an IPL fixture in Pune on 1 May, after earlier having ordered that all matches be shifted out of Maharashtra after 30 April. The state was reeling under acute water scarcity and HC allowing leeway to BCCI does not bode well for the state. The BCCI’s plea was that after a 29 April match, it was not “practical” to shift to another venue within a day.

Had it remained firm on its earlier order asking that 13 matches scheduled to be played in Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur be shifted, it would have enforced respect for water-scarcity across the country, which has affected 33 crore people. It cannot be that water is treated as a commodity to be wasted.

Marathwada has been suffering from severe drought conditions. aajlatur.com

Marathwada has been suffering from severe drought conditions. aajlatur.com

The very fact that the BCCI did not approach the Supreme Court with an urgent special leave application could well have been the fear of being blasted off their feet. The apex court is in the midst of hearing a case regarding the drought situation in some dozen states, including Maharashtra.

Despite the High Court’s order, the politicians themselves seem to have no problem with water being wasted in their sake. At least three cases have emerged of water being used to spray make-shift helipads for ministers. One is of course the infamous spraying in Latur district, where water is being sent by trains from Western Maharashtra so people can have something to drink.

Here are the other brazen use of water in drought-hit parts of the country: One, what was done for Eknath Khadse in Latur, the same was done for Karnataka’s chief minister, Siddaramaiah. The CM was to garland a statue while on a tour to study drought in Bagalkot district. The district administration deployed two tankers of 5,000 litre capacity to spray the road so the visiting VIP doesn’t have to encounter dust.

Uttar Pradesh too has regions under water scarcity conditions. Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister, took a helicopter to Bundelkhand’s Lalitpur. The spot where he was to land, a helipad was prepared, and you guessed it right, sprayed with water. Bundelkhand is, according to reports, running a water conservation project to save, what else, water. It is as if there is an epidemic of defiance of the concept of respect for water which Bombay High Court was enforcing.

On Monday, union agricultural minister Radha Mohan Singh visited Bhiwandi, just an hour’s drive from Mumbai in a fast car with police escort, to attend Kisan Gram Sabha on Tuesday as chief guest. He chose to use a helicopter, despite the sharp public reaction to the insensitivity displayed in Latur. These politicians defend the use of helicopters by saying that choppers are time-savers. Right now, the urgent need is to save water if it could be found. But that does not seem to have been understood by the VIPs.

However, our very important community of leaders who time and again visit drought-hit areas to study its impact, fail to understand that unavailability of water is the reason for the situation. They needn’t go there to know this, but if they have gone to study how well the administration was handling measures to ameliorate the impact, we don’t know if that was their priority at all.

If Khadse and politicians like him explain the use of helicopters, and therefore implicitly the use of water to keep them dust-free, chances are the district administrations are not going to knocked on their knuckles from the state’s headquarters. Imagine any chief secretary from Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Lucknow marshalling the gumption to pull up the district collectors who were, after all, keeping the chief ministers happy.

And they are the people who have to facilitate water to the people. It is one thing that Latur has become the image of water scarcity, but any number of villages are in dire straits. And the ministers haven’t helped their cause one bit.

Disappointed with sports budget: AICS to take up low allocation with finance minister

New Delhi: Disappointed at the low budgetary support on sports this year, the All India Council of Sports on Tuesday decided to take up the matter with the Union Finance Minister to request him for a hike in the allocation.

The AICS today held its second meeting with Vijay Kumar Malhotra on the chair and decided to send a delegation under his leadership to meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the issue of low allocation on sports in this year’s budget.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. AFPFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. AFP

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. AFP

“Members expressed their disappointment over the Sports Budget allocated this year and requested President, AICS to take up with Finance Minister for enhancement of budgetary allocation for Sports. A delegation of AICS Members should accompany the President, AICS to meet the Finance Minister,” said a release issued by the AICS after the meeting.

The allocation for Sports Ministry got a marginal hike of Rs 50.87 crore from last year in the union budget for 2016-17, presented by Jaitley. The total allocation was Rs 1592 crore this year as against Rs 1541.13 crore last year.

“Members hoped that President, AICS would be able to impress upon the Union Minister for Corporate Affairs to amend the Schedule VII of Indian Companies Act 2013 so as to allow the Companies to spend CSR Funds for the holistic development of sports instead of only for training,” it added.

The members present decided to request HRD Ministry to set aside at least 5% of Education Cess for promotion of sports. It was also recommended to request Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federations to provide Medical Insurance Policies to National Medal Winners and International Sportspersons.

Malhotra and the members present congratulated Dipa Karmakar who became the first Indian Gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games for her historic feat. Sports Authority of India Director General Injeti
Srinivas gave a detailed report on the preparation of the Indian contingent for Rio Olympic Games.

“Altogether 75 sportspersons in 8 disciplines have qualified for Rio Olympics. DG SAI mentioned that many more are likely to qualify and the total number may reach upto 110.

“Shri Rajeev Yadav, Secretary, Sports mentioned that International Olympic Committee has been successfully persuaded to provide Indian Cuisine in the Games Village for the first time,” the release said.

The members also appealed to Malhotra to take up with DoPT to amend the guidelines so as to provide a minimum of 5% posts reserved for sportspersons instead of up to 5% which has resulted in not making it mandatory to keep the vacancies reserved for sportspersons.

It has also been decided to take up with appropriate Ministries for simplification of Custom Duty Tariff Rules in respect of those imported sports equipment and sports goods which have no recycling or re-sale value like javelin, pole vault pole, archery equipment, etc.

AICS was constituted last year by the government as an advisory body to the Sports Ministry on the matters related to the promotion and development of sports in the country.

Jawan killed, 3 injured in blast near Assam Rifles camp

One Assam Rifles jawan was killed and three others were injured in a bomb blast at the transit camp of the force near Minuthong in Imphal West district this evening, police said. Unidentified militants planted the powerful bomb near the Assam Rifles camp. The injured were admitted to hospital, police said. Re-enforcement of security forces including Assam Rifles and Manipur Police were sent to the spot after the blast. A search operation was conducted in and around the transit camp like the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex and Namthallong village, police said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No militant group has claimed responsibility, they said, no one has been arrested.

Facebook Live: Will Mark Zuckerberg rule BCCI broadcast rights?

New York: Let’s say you’re a Facebook user, you’re at an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match and you begin streaming live on your smartphone as play begins. Facebook users in 60 coutries can log in and watch the entire match free of cost.

Can traditional broadcasters ask fans not to broadcast live from their phones or will sports officialdom clamp down new rules to limit live streaming from smartphones? What if Facebook wants to bid for the rights?

Last season, a company which makes incense sticks and another which makes cement bought the bid documents, so Facebook or Twitter are not a long shot.

Would you rather see Sachin and Dhoni on linear TV or Facebook Live?Would you rather see Sachin and Dhoni on linear TV or Facebook Live?

Would you rather see Sachin and Dhoni on linear TV or Facebook Live?

Harsha Bhogle is out of IPL 2016. So what?

Before we go further on that, let’s talk Harsha Bhogle. BCCI has brought Bhogle’s IPL 2016 commentary contract to a screeching halt. Twitter has erupted, we’ve certainly not heard the last word on this one.

Harsha Bhogle has more than 500,000 likes on his Facebook page, more than 3 million follows on Twitter. What does it take for Harsha Bhogle to seamlessly begin his own live stream on Facebook – nothing except a tripod, a decent microphone and he’s ready to roll.

Bhogle is an independent powerhouse in cricket commentary, so BCCI cannot stop any live stream on his personal Facebook page. The views Bhogle will get will be phenomenal, just going by what we know about how Facebook Live operates.

Now let’s come to companies.

Facebook and a potential IPL bid

Are there pre-conditions that may stop social media powerhouses from bidding for IPL rights? Yes, but there are obvious workarounds too.

Media reports say BCCI will begin the bid process for the next tranche of IPL rights in May 2016. The 2015-2017 rights are held by Sony.

The most recent bid document for the IPL seasons 2015-2017 defines bidders by their “experience” in broadcasting cricket and other sporting events:

“The bid objective contemplates that eligible bidders shall have “extensive experience” in broadcasting live’cricket and other premium sporting events.

Strictly speaking, the case against a social media empire that has not bid for or broadcast cricket can be lack of “experience” but what if / when Facebook joins hands with an existing sports channel to bid for rights?

Social media and sport broadcasting in the US/ UK

In the US, Fox Sports and ESPN are already using Facebook Live generously to supplement their sports coverage.

In the UK, BBC and Sky have enjoyed big successes with Facebook Live.

BBC Sport was the first brand outside the US to use Live especially those under 24 who form more than half of their viewers. If all Facebook needs is a legitimacy crutch in the garb of a sports broadcaster with domain experience, the market has plenty.

What if you’re so done with the limited menu of commentators and you find a Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid commenting live on the match on their Facebook pages? Would you mute the TV volume, watch the visuals there and engage with Sachin or Rahul instead?

In the US, Facebook and Twitter have begun bidding for sport broadcasting rights. Twitter, in recent weeks, bagged the rights to live-stream 10 NFL games next season.

What does the IPL bid document say?

As of now, the 2015-17 bid documents for IPL cricket in India defines television sets to includes “portable/hand held devices such as tablets, smartphones, other devices with screens that may receive content via internet delivery.” Given that Facebook is already the world’s largest population of smartphone users, does Facebook qualify to bid basis definition of receiving platform?

What happens if every Facebook user in the stadium goes live during the match?

Facebook currently allows a 90 minute live feed at a time. When that finishes, you can start up a new one.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network and comes to users free of cost. To that extent, a Facebook live stream of a sport blowout will reach more masses of people and create more engagement than linear TV.

Simple tweaks in Facebook’s mighty algorithm ensure that live streams appear higher up on users’ news feeds.

Going by what we know already, the average viewing duration of live videos on Facebook are three times longer when it’s live.

If some of the people broadcasting live are celebrities with large networks, it’s rich potential for engagement. The star’s live feed will pop up on others’ news feeds, they can interact, post comments, pretty much do everything you do on a Snapchat video and all of which linear television does not offer. Even after the live broadcast is done, the interactions with audience will pop up in the same order they were posted on that video.

In January, Facebook hit 100 million hours of video watched on its site per day. It now says users are 10 times more likely to comment on a live video and share which means advertisers are also more likely to pay up and place ads alongside a video.

From being just a social media platform to major event broadcaster, it’s a short hop for Facebook if it chooses to go that way, now that its audacious live stream is official in over 60 countries

Facebook’s head of global sport sponsorships has gone on record saying “Live offers them (broadcasters) huge engagement with their audiences than a more linear broadcast format like TV does and the more progressive broadcasters are seeing that they can use it to offer content that would be hard to squeeze into a traditional TV broadcast.”

So far, digital social media platforms have not bitten into live sport on television but Facebook has made inroads into sports broadcasting over the years and is now set to hasten that push.

Closer home, What does all this mean for us in India?

What does it mean for broadcast rights of wham bam cricket – a goldmine for all parties involved.

Given what we know from the bid document for the 2015 -2017 season and the possibilities that Facebook Live represents, we raise questions that criss cross technology and present day regulation. If this is your kind of thing, join the conversation and tell us what you think on on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

– Will Facebook live stream be a game changer for cricket broadcast rights?

– Will Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat be allowed to bid for big ticket sport events in India?

– Will “prior” experience in broadcasting remain a hurdle for digital powerhouses who want to bid?

— Will cricket officials suggest that fans don’t stream live from the stadium since TV rights are already sold?

— Many of the clarifications in the IPL bid document itself may be upended by the sheer leap in technology.

— The definition of ‘television sets’ for the purpose of the broadcast rights bid “includes portable/hand held devices such as tablets, smartphones, other devices with screens etc.that may receive content via internet delivery.”

– Given that Facebook is already the world’s largest population of smartphone users, does Facebook qualify to bid basis definition of receiving platform?

— Clause 2.3 of ITT ( intention to tender) says a bidder would be considered an internet operator if it had a number of individual websites which taken together but not individually satisfied the criteria as to average monthly page impressions and net advertising revenues. If monthly page impressions and net advertising are the baseline, does that make Twitter and Facebook fair game?

“We built this big technology platform so we can go and support whatever the most personal and emotional and raw and visceral ways people want to communicate are,” Mark Zuckerberg said on while launching Facebook Live.

He repeated “raw” more than once and for good reason – video editors across the world will agree. Even if you work at top speed, it takes no less than an hour to juice a decent broadcast quality video of 2 minutes from raw footage. That game’s over now, it comes with the official stamp from the ruler of the world’s largest population online.

The story goes that Mark Zuckerberg whipped out Facebook after a girlfriend dumped him. He was 19. His most audacious venture – live streaming — has come after the world’s largest democracy India dumped his offer of free access to a few limited websites.

Zuckerberg has answered with the biggest business bet of the century.

(Follow us on @firstpost and on our Facebook Page. Join us for Facebook live on cricket broadcast rights Sunday night 9pm IST or you can always catch up later same place.
Nikhila Natarajan is Senior Editor, Firstpost and based in New York. Twitter | @byniknat)

Offenders worse than IPL: In times of drought, these other activities also use up water by the gallons

The Bombay High Court has come down heavily on the BCCI for organising the Indian Premier League at a time when Maharashtra is battling the worst drought in decades. Though the court refused to grant a stay on the opening match of the league to be played in Mumbai on Saturday, it came down heavily on organisers for conducting the matches, which would use up to 6 million litres of water for conducting 20 matches at three venues — Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.

However, while cricket and its cash-rich league are admittedly large scale users of precious water, they are hardly the biggest or the first culprits in Maharashtra. Here’s a list of activities that waste as much, if not more, water than a cricket match.

Swimming pools:

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Swimming pools are especially popular in the summer months, as the rising mercury levels coupled with summer vacations in schools and colleges mean several youngsters choose to beat the heat with the cool pool water. However, in doing so, they are using up several gallons of the one precious commodity that is in such shortage this year.

Several municipal corporations in the state have already been asked to stop supplying water to civic-run swimming pools will be shut through the duration of the summer, but the bigger culprits would be the private pools, many of which have mushroomed in large housing societies and clubs. A regulation banning the supply of large amounts of water to all swimming pools in the state until the drought situation improves would be a good way of ensuring we make the most of the limited water available.

Construction sites:

Representational image. Reuters

Maharashtra is among the country’s most urbanised states, with Mumbai and Pune and their respective suburbs witnessing almost non-stop expansion. With more urbanisation comes rampant construction activity as the cities look to expand vertically. And given the large amounts of water which are utilised at construction sites, the state could consider asking for a stay on construction activities until the situation improves. It would also do well to consider the high court only recently imposed a stay on construction activity citing violations of municipal solid waste norms, so it might do so again, this time for a far more serious issue.

Water parks:

Representational image. AFP

The IPL utilises several litres of water just to keep the grounds in good shape, but the state currently has several water-based amusement parks which use up much more. At Mumbai’s Water Kingdom or the Adlabs Imagica on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, there are a variety of rides and games people can participate in. The latter, for instance, features 12 water-based attractions. Others have ice skating rinks and adventure rides. And while the organisers would insist the water is recycled, just like the IPL officials insisted their water wasn’t potable, the fact remains that every drop of water saved could be put to better use in the parched districts of Marathwada.

Burst pipelines:

Over 650 million litres of water go waste everyday in Mumbai because of burst pipelines. IBNLive

Until as recently as last month, a burst pipeline in the heart of Mumbai was shooting up precious drinking water, and though litres and litres were going down the drain every second, it took the civic body almost two months to fix it. The real tragedy, however, is that this wasn’t the first such incident to take place in the state nor will it be the last. The civic officials’ apathy towards its leaking pipelines and the tardiness with which they go about remedying this means that over 650 million litres of water are lost every day due to leaking pipes. To put this in perspective, it’s the total daily water usage of Pune that’s just been going down the drain.

It’s obvious where the fault lies. Before going after the IPL, the courts should crack the whip on errant civic officials and make them answerable for what is within their control.

Us:

But most importantly, we ourselves need to change our attitudes towards water wastage. Will we give up the comfort of the shower and use a bucket for our bathing needs? Do we get that leaking tap fixed immediately or do we wait for the weekend? Do we run the washing machine only when we have a full load or do we get use it everyday nevertheless? Do we have any form of rainwater harvesting in our buildings/societies/gardens?

Until we can answer yes for all these questions, we don’t really have the right to point the fingers at others and what steps the government, or municipal officials, or even the IPL needs to take. While nobody among us would be guilty of the kind of large scale water wastage we’ve been talking about, it’s still death by thousand cuts. A steady trickle of water going down the drain would ultimately result in large scale wastage if not checked in time. And that really is the easiest one to remedy.

After a day of dramatic furore, Bombay HC gives go-ahead to IPL 2016 opener at Wankhede

After a day of much furore and uncertainty over the Bombay High Court’s remarks questioning the holding of IPL matches in times of drought, the court has refused to stay the first encounter to be held in Mumbai. The order comes as an anti-climax after a day on which news was dominated by dramatic number-crunching comparing water used during the tournament and the water scarcity in parts of Maharashtra.

A division bench of the High Court has declined to stay the match on the grounds that the respondent has made all arrangements for the clash, CNN-IBN reported. The first march will be held on 9 April at the Wankhede Stadium.

However, the court has asked the government to give a detailed reply on the situation by 12 April. The court also noted that the petition was filed at a late stage.

Cheerleaders at an IPL match. AFPCheerleaders at an IPL match. AFP

Cheerleaders at an IPL match. AFP

On Wednesday, the court had suggested shifting matches outside the state considering the prevailing drought situation.

“Only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand,” the court observed.

In strongly-worded observations, the court had remarked, “How can you (cricket associations and BCCI) waste water like this? Are people not more important than your IPL matches? How can you be so careless? Who wastes water like this? This is criminal wastage. You know what the condition is in Maharashtra?”

The court asked the Mumbai Cricket Association how much water would be used at Wankhede stadium, to which MCA’s advocate said they would be using over 40 lakh litres for the seven IPL matches to be held there. To this, the court said it is a huge number.

The court also told the state that it is ultimately the government’s responsibility and duty to do something about the water wastage and impose some kind of restraint..

“Only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand,” the court had observed. However, with the court declining to stay the match in Mumbai, the BCCI would heave a sigh of relief, at least for now.

Meanwhile, lashing out at the BCCI for converting Indian public to “zombies of cricket” by foisting tournaments like IPL “tamasha”, former Sports Minister MS Gill on Thursday asked the Board to have some sanity in its thinking and shift the matches of the lucrative T20 competition out of drought-hit Maharashtra.

Gill, who served as the Union Sports Minister from April 2008 to May 2009 and currently a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, was reacting after Bombay High Court raised questions on why water should be “wasted” on hosting IPL matches in Maharashtra when the state is facing one of its worst-ever droughts.

“The drought condition in Maharashtra is so severe that in a few days people in areas like Marathawada will not even have a glass of water to drink. As a former Sports Minister and ex-Agriculture Secretary, I know that several parts of Maharashtra are bone dry and I am amazed that in this situation the BCCI wants to hold these IPL matches,” Gill told PTI on Thursday.

Maharashtra’s horrendous drought situation is perhaps the best opportunity for the state’s cricket associations (MHA, VCA & MCA) and the BCCI, which are caught in the eye of the storm, to come up with long term solutions to the crisis.

Like Vedam Jaishankar argues in this piece, BCCI should also learn a few lessons on water management from its affiliated unit, the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) or the few socially conscious golf courses operating in the country. Hopefully, the jolt from the courts will get BCCI and all their affiliated units to seriously look at KSCA’s initiatives and emulate them.

The drough crisis has not overtaken state capital Mumbai yet, but water has become scarce. The way bodies like BCCI look at issues like drought in Maharashtra is an indication of the disregard they have for citizens’ concerns.

Mahesh Vijapurkar of Firstpost has rightly argued in this piece:

“This disconnect between the victims of acute, perhaps even unprecedented, water scarcities across an entire region, and those who have access to water in abundance, is disquieting. The latter category would not understand what it is like to not have water at the turn of a tap. People in Marathwada are actually migrating, hospitals in Latur are not performing surgeries, and even water that comes in through tankers could be of questionable quality.”

In such a scenario, Bombay HC and Supreme Court’s directive come as music to the ears of the drought-stricken villagers. However, they should be aware, being frequent victims of the vagaries of nature, that whatever governments do, relief will not be immediate.

By coming down heavily on BCCI for holding IPL in drought-hit Maharashtra, high court has shown it cares

Entire tankers full of water are currently being pressed into service to ensure cricket grounds in Maharashtra are in a position to host Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. But all the tankers in the state still can’t quench the parched throats of Marathwada.

Groundsmen water the pitch at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. PTI

And though the water, which came from local sources in urban areas, can’t be sent to rural Marathwada, the BCCI could well afford to send several tankers of water to the region’s drought-hit districts.

A cartoon in The Hindu eloquently explains the issue. It shows a family from the rural countryside, perhaps Marathwada, looking out for a tap. Any tap would do, even one with just a trickle of water flowing down. Meanwhile, a pair of suited-up gentlemen collect what appears to be cash flowing out of a tap. The pitch is the IPL, the taps are the stumps. The context is trying to draw a direct link between villagers dying of thirst and simultaneous wastage of water.

By the cricket board’s admission, about 40-60 litres of water would be used up for watering the pitches and the grounds, three of which are in Maharashtra. The Bombay High Court has expressed its displeasure with the BCCI for this wanton wastage of precious water, even though the BCCI contended that the water it uses for watering the grounds aren’t potable or drinking water. This argument is untenable. When drought its you, it means total and absolute unavailability of water, even non-potable water. The non-potable water can also be of great use at drought-affected areas.

The crisis has not overtaken state capital Mumbai yet, but water has become scarce. Neighbouring Thane district has begun feeling the pinch, an understatement considering there are 60-hour spells of continuous water cuts here.

The other argument is that pitches have already been made and only require maintenance, which is also silly, because, despite being aware of the looming crisis, the grass has been laid in the stadium.

The way bodies like BCCI look at issues like drought in Maharashtra is an indication of the disregard they have for citizens’ concerns. It is like refusing your maid a canister of water to take home even as you luxuriate under the shower. During Wednesday’s hearing at the high court, expressions like criminal waste of water were used, and at one point, the bench even suggested shifting matches to venues outside Maharashtra. Where, hopefully, water was available in plenty.

Both IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur indicated that shifting the matches outside the state would not be an easy task. This response indicates that they have no contingency plan in place, which means they had not thought of the water issue at all.

This disconnect between the victims of acute, perhaps even unprecedented, water scarcities across an entire region, and those who have access to water in abundance, is disquieting. The latter category would not understand what it is like to not have water at the turn of a tap. People in Marathwada are actually migrating, hospitals in Latur are not performing surgeries, and even water that comes in through tankers could be of questionable quality.

While the Bombay High Court was asking tough questions, the Supreme Court was hearing petitions on why the Centre didn’t activate the drought manual of its own authorship. These should come as music to the ears of the drought-stricken villagers. However, they should be aware, being frequent victims of the vagaries of nature, that whatever governments do, relief will not be immediate.

The only relief would be when monsoon brings good, timely rains and fills up rivers from bank to bank and each and every reservoir, including the village ponds. They await that, but the questions that the court asked should make them aware that even if not the government, the courts are aware of their plight.

IPL opening ceremony will be Bollywood blowout

Mumbai: The opening ceremony of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 will witness a host of Bollywood and international stars performing, including Ranveer Singh, Jacqueline Fernandes, Katrina Kaif and Yo Yo Honey Singh along with American singer Chris Brown and musical group Major Lazer.

Katrina KaifKatrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif

The opening ceremony will be held at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI), Worli here on April 8 from 7.30 pm onwards.

“We will make the IPL opening ceremony interesting this time. From Indian artists and Bollywood starts like Ranveer Singh, Jacqueline Fernandes, Katrina Kaif and Yo Yo Honey Singh will be performing,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told reporters here on Tuesday.

“In terms of international stars, American singer Chris Brown and musical group Major Lazer. It will be an interesting opening ceremony which will be held on April 8,” Shukla said.

American singer Brown, is best known for his hit tracks ‘Loyal’ and ‘With You’.

“Bajirao Mastani” star Ranveer shared that his act will “honour the spirit of cricket and victory” and he wants “to dedicate the performance to all the cricket fans across the world.”

Sri Lankan beauty Jacqueline said her “act focuses on the intensity and the determination of the players”.

“I am very excited,” she added.

Katrina said that “cricket and Bollywood have always been closely associated, and what better way for me to show my support”.

“Blue eyes” crooner Honey Singh, who was missing from the limelight for 18 months due to his struggle with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, says that with his performance he will showcase to the world how music and sport go hand in hand.

“I’m looking forward to putting together a performance for all my fans. I’ll be performing some of the most iconic Yo Yo Honey Singh songs,” Singh said.

Citing acute drought in Maharashtra, BCCI urged to shift IPL matches out of state

Mumbai: BJP secretary Vivekananda Gupta has demanded that Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches scheduled to be played in Maharashtra should be shifted out of the state due to prevailing drought conditions.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Gupta, in a letter addressed to BCCI president Shashank Manohar, said that a standard cricket field requires a minimum of 80,000 to 1,00,000 litres of water per application.

Approximately two to three such applications are required per week, which means 1,60,000 to 3,00,000 litres of water are needed per week to maintain turf growth and repair damaged areas, he was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Saturday.

Nineteen IPL matches are slated to be played at Mumbai, Pune
and Nagpur between 9 April and 29 May. The final match of the
tournament will be held at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on 29 May.

The BJP leader said more water was needed during hot and windy conditions and less during winter. Thus, more than 70 lakh litres of water will be required to maintain the grounds for the 19 matches.

The BJP leader added that the state currently faces one of the worst droughts in the last one century. “Rainfall in the last two years in Marathwada and Vidharbha regions were the lowest. Successive low rainfall has resulted in depleting ground water levels, which has impacted 90 lakh farmers in the state,” he said.

Gupta said the BCCI president cannot turn a blind eye to the grim drought situation in the state and the suffering of the farmers. “When our state is affected by drought, will it be wise to waste 70 lakh litres of water? Even Mumbai faces acute water shortage. This is the time to show sympathy to our ‘annadatta’ (farmer). I hope you will support and sympathise with our farmers and shift the venue of IPL matches to other states,” he said.

World T20 semi-final: Maharashtra chief secy receiving 250 free passes takes centre stage at assembly proceedings

Firstpost’s report on the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) giving away 250 free passes for the ICC T20 World Cup Semi Finals to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya dominated the proceedings at both the state legislative council and assembly on Thursday.

Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt raised the issue in the upper house asking where the free passes are and who its beneficiaries are.

Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya. Youtube

Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya. Youtube

However, Kshatriya denied in the house that his office received 250 free passes for the match. When Firstpost Bureau Chief Sanjay Sawant showed him the copy of the letter, which clearly mentions that 250 free passes of the match were sent to Kshatriya, the chief secretary quickly denied the allegations and said that the letter and the free passes for the match were for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Clearing the air on the issue, Sports Minister Vinod Tawde categorically said that Kshatriya’s department has not received 250 passes rather only 5 passes. Giving a break-up of the passes, Tawde said, “Of the 250 passes, the Chief Minister’s office received 15; Opposition received 8; sports department received 15, all Minister of States received 2 each; other ministers 2 each; all secretaries, including principal sectary 2 each and Chief Secretary’s office received 5 passes.”

In the Maharashtra Assembly, Congress MLA Nitesh Rane too raised the issue. In response, Maharashtra assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade has said that he will investigate into the matter and make a statement in the House.

However, Firstpost has a copy of the letter, which clearly mentions that 250 free passes of the match were sent to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya.

Mumbai Cricket Association: MCA

Reacting to the controversy, MCA vice-president Ashish Shelar said, “There is nothing wrong with what has happened in this case. Pursuant to a contract between the sports department and the MCA, passes are supposed to be sent to the sports department. However, earlier, it used to be sent to the chief secretary’s office. What has happened now is the correct practice.”

Read: World T20 India vs West Indies semi-final: Maharashtra chief secretary gets 250 passes free, leaves only 4,000 for the rest of Mumbai

The demand for tickets is as usual maddening and is expected only to soar higher. As soon as India sealed their spot at the World T20 semi-finals, the MCA office was bombarded with requests for tickets. People are expected to fly into Mumbai for the match from all around the world. While some have managed to bag tickets, others have arrived only with a flicker of hope.

“We are four and we follow the Indian team everywhere,” said a fan at the Wankhede Stadium and added, “But we have only three tickets and we’re looking for one more so that none of us miss the match.”

Khawaja guides Australia to three-wicket win | Reuters

BENGALURU Australia survived another middle-order collapse to beat Bangladesh by three wickets in the World Twenty20 Super 10 on Monday to get their campaign up and running.

Both teams were looking to bounce back from losing their opening Group Two games, Australia skipper Steve Smith winning the toss and choosing to field.

Smith’s men picked up wickets at regular intervals to restrict Bangladesh to a modest 156 for five despite a late flurry by Mahmudullah who hit seven fours in an unbeaten 49.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (3-23) and all-rounder Shane Watson (2-31) were the pick of the bowlers.

Openers Usman Khawaja (58) and Watson (21) then got Australia off to a good start, sharing a stand of 62 in 44 deliveries before the latter was run out.

Khawaja was bowled by Al-Amin Hossain in the 14th over having struck seven fours and a six in a 45-ball knock that gave Australia a solid platform, although they had the same sort of middle-order slump they suffered in the first game against New Zealand.

Smith, out for six against the Kiwis, was bowled by Mustafizur Rahman for 14.

David Warner (17) was next to fall and was soon followed by Mitchell Marsh (six).

Glenn Maxwell then scored a brisk 26 before being stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan.

All-rounder John Hastings, brought in by Australia for left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, was dropped on nought by Hossain and finally went for three when he was caught at mid-wicket by Soumya Sarkar.

By then Australia needed five runs off the last two overs and James Faulkner and Peter Nevill saw them through to a far-from-convincing win that lifted them to third in the group behind New Zealand and Pakistan but ahead of India.

Bangladesh, who are bottom, have a mountain to climb to reach the semi-finals.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Windies restrict Sri Lanka to 122-9 in World T20 | Reuters

West Indies restricted Sri Lanka to 122-9 in their World Twenty20 Super 10 match on Sunday, with spinner Samuel Badree the pick of the bowlers with three wickets.

Fresh from their impressive six-wicket win over England on Wednesday, Windies skipper Darren Sammy won the toss at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and put Sri Lanka in, trusting his batsmen, led by the devastating Chris Gayle, to chase down any total.

Sri Lanka never got out of the blocks, with pace bowler Carlos Brathwaite drawing first blood by getting the in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan out lbw with his first ball of the match in the third over.

Dilshan, who scored 83 against Afghanistan on Thursday, had tried to set the tone, hitting his first ball for six and following that up with a boundary, but was out for 12.

Badree took 3-12 in his four overs to wreak havoc with Sri Lanka’s top order and his first victim, Lahiru Thirimanne, was caught by Andre Fletcher on five in the sixth over.

The spinner struck twice more in the eighth over as Chamara Kapugedera was stumped for six and Milinda Siriwardana fell for a duck after edging to Gayle at slip.

Captain Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera had a mountain to climb to put a competitive total on the board, and managed 44 runs in 46 balls for the sixth wicket until Mathews was caught by wicket keeper Denesh Ramdin off a Dwyane Bravo delivery in the 16th over.

Perera did his best to keep things going, hitting five fours and a six en route to 40, but was caught in the last over again off Bravo, as Sri Lanka slumped to a disappointing total.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Windies beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in World T20 | Reuters

BENGALURU West Indies brushed aside Sri Lanka by seven wickets in their World Twenty20 Super 10 match on Sunday, with opener Andre Fletcher smashing an unbeaten 84.

Fresh from the impressive six-wicket win over England on Wednesday, Windies skipper Darren Sammy won the toss at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and put Sri Lanka in, trusting his batsmen to chase down any total.

Defending champions Sri Lanka slumped to a disappointing 122-9 and then had no answer to Fletcher, who opened alongside Johnson Charles as Chris Gayle, scorer of an unbeaten century against England, dropped down the order.

Gayle never made it to the crease but his services were scarcely missed as Fletcher smashed five sixes and six boundaries to seal a routine second Group One victory for his team.

The win was set up by a strong bowling performance by the Windies, with pace bowler Carlos Brathwaite drawing first blood by getting the in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan out lbw with his first ball of the match in the third over.

Dilshan, who scored 83 against Afghanistan on Thursday, had tried to set the tone, hitting his first ball for six and following that up with a boundary, but he was out for 12.

His strike partner Dinesh Chandimal also suffered a soft dismissal, when he was run out on 16 in the fifth over.

Spinner Samuel Badree took 3-12 in his four overs to wreak havoc with Sri Lanka’s top order with Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera and Milinda Siriwardana all falling cheaply.

Captain Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera had a mountain to climb to put a competitive total on the board and managed 44 runs in 46 balls for the sixth wicket but both were caught off deliveries by Dwayne Bravo to give Sri Lanka no chance.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

‘Yoga is for old people’: The Great Khali begs to differ on yoga’s health benefits

Till now we have heard that yoga is beneficial; it is good for both physical and mental health and is the ideal exercise for people of all demographics.

In fact, after India’s appeal, the United Nations even declared an International Day for Yoga, the first of which was celebrated with much fervour all over the world and India back in June. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead the celebrations from the front, literally. Remember this?

Image Credit: PTIImage Credit: PTI

Image Credit: PTI

But the Great Khali, Former WWE star and India’s best known wrestler, begs to differ.

In an interview with Aaj Tak, Khali was quoted as saying that yoga is for old people.

In the video uploaded, he is heard saying, “Jo yoga hain, woh hain old bande ka kaam hain.” (Yoga is meant for old people.)

The wrestler also added that yoga does not win you Olympic medals or make great wrestlers. “Kapalbhati karke Olympiad mein gold aate, Great khali bane jaate, phir toh logon ne yehi karna tha, bed pe baith kar.” (If practicing yoga won you gold medals and made you The Great Khali, then everyone would just sit on a bed and do that.)

But at the same time, he he was quick to clarify that yoga was not a complete waste of time. ‘Main yeh nahin keh raha ki yoga bekar hai.’ (I am not saying that yoga is useless)

Here’s the full clip:

As expected, Twitter had much to say about Khali’s declaration.

Incidentally,there is video evidence of Khali, who is clearly not old and doesn’t appear to be lazy, practising yoga (more specifically, Pranayama) and even guiding his fellow housemates when he was part of the Bigg Boss House. What do you have to say about that, Great Khali?

Messi and Neymar help Barca to 12th straight La Liga win | Reuters

BARCELONA Barcelona equalled a club record of 12 consecutive league wins as Neymar and Lionel Messi were among the scorers in a 6-0 thrashing of struggling Getafe 6-0 at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

The win takes Barca 11 points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, although Diego Simeone’s side face Deportivo La Coruna later on Saturday.

An own goal by Getafe defender Juan Dominguez put Barca on their way to victory after eight minutes but then Messi missed a fourth penalty of the season, before lay`ing on passes for Munir El Haddadi and Neymar to stretch Barca’s lead.

The Argentine added a fourth before the break with a curlingstrike from the edge of the area.

Neymar then struck a 21st goal of the season in all competitions, again assisted by Messi, while Arda Turan completed the thrashing with an overhead volley.

Luis Enrique’s side are in the midst of a record of 37 matches without defeat in all competitions and the victory over Getafe matched the 12 straight league wins they achieved in 2012-13 under coach Tito Vilanova.

Before the match Barca enjoyed their first week without a match in 2016, and Luis Enrique made five changes from the team that won 4-0 at Eibar last Sunday, resting Luis Suarez, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic before their Champions League round of 16 second leg match with PremierLeague side Arsenal on Wednesday.

Getafe sit one point above the relegation zone in 16th place and the trouncing they received at the Nou Camp was their eighth defeat in nine league matches.

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

ICC WT20 2016: Mamata Banerjee assures Sourav Ganguly of full security for India-Pakistan clash

Kolkata West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday assured Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly that the state government would take necessary security measures for the India-Pakistan World T20 match on 19 March.

Sourav Ganguly. AFPSourav Ganguly. AFP

Sourav Ganguly. AFP

In a letter, Banerjee assured about providing security for the tie and asked Ganguly to convey her message to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“After the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh wrote a letter to union Home Minister Rajnath Singh against hosting the match in Dharamsala, there were two venues which were being actively looked at as alternatives – Cuttack and Kolkata,” officials said on Thursday.

“A senior minister closely associated with cricket passed on this message to the state government and the Bengal chief minister was quick to respond.”

Earlier on Wednesday, when the high-voltage clash was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata citing security concerns, Banerjee had tweeted,”We are very very happy to host India-Pakistan match in Kolkata. All are always welcome to our beautiful city.”

IANS

ICC WT20 2016: Mamata Banerjee assures Sourav Ganguly on security prep for Eden Gardens clash

Kolkata West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday assured Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly that the state government would take necessary security measures for the India-Pakistan World T20 match on March 19.

Sourav Ganguly. AFPSourav Ganguly. AFP

Sourav Ganguly. AFP

In a letter, Banerjee assured about providing security for the tie and asked Ganguly to convey her message to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“After the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh wrote a letter to union Home Minister Rajnath Singh against hosting the match in Dharamsala, there were two venues which were being actively looked at as alternatives – Cuttack and Kolkata,” officials said on Thursday.

“A senior minister closely associated with cricket passed on this message to the state government and the Bengal chief minister was quick to respond.”

Earlier on Wednesday, when the high-voltage clash was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata citing security concerns, Banerjee had tweeted,”We are very very happy to host India-Pakistan match in Kolkata. All are always welcome to our beautiful city.”

IANS

ICC WT20 2016: Last minute change in Indo-Pak match venue may give fans tough run for visas

New Delhi: The last-minute shifting of the India-Pakistan World T20 match to Kolkata may result in Pakistani fans having a tough time in procuring visa for the March 19 encounter.

ICC World T20 logo. AFPICC World T20 logo. AFP

ICC World T20 logo. AFP

There were reports that around 200 Pakistani fans were expected to arrive at original venue, Dharamsala but as it may turn out that the 67,000-seater Eden Gardens may end up having hardly 20 or less fans from the neighbouring country.

Meanwhile there will be 30,000 tickets will be up for sale for general public at the biggest stadium in the country.

“It is not very easy for a Pakistani passport holder to get an Indian visa. The clearances take a lot of time and now with only eight days left, it is really difficult to procure the visa. In order to apply for visa, you need to give a photocopy of your ticket,” Tournament Director MV Sridhar told reporters.

Sridhar said that the Pakistan players had got their visas in Bangladesh during the Asia Cup.

“It is a three-tier process for Pakistan team to get the Indian visa. First clearance from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), then Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) followed by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).”

Sridhar informed that they have got full assurance from the West Bengal government administration about foolproof security arrangements.

“I have had discussions with Chief Secretary (Basudeb Banerjee). I have also had discussions with CAB president Sourav Ganguly.”

The reason behind choosing Eden Gardens was also because in case (theoretically) 25,000 people who were supposed to watch Dharamsala game land up in Kolkata, they can all be accommodated, which will not be the case in any other stadium.

“We had to keep in mind that there should be provision for the 25,000 people, who had bought tickets for the Dharamsala game. Also we can assure that there will be 30,000 tickets up for sale for that match,” Sridhar said.

PTI

‘Fifth Beatle’ George Martin dies aged 90 | Reuters

LOS ANGELES/LONDON George Martin, known as “the fifth Beatle” for his work in shaping the band that became one of the world’s most influential music forces, has died at the age of 90.

He was considered the most successful music producer ever, cited in the Guinness Book of Records for having more than 50 No. 1 hit records over five decades in the United States and Britain alone.

He helped score, arrange, and produce many of the band’s biggest hits, including “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “A Day in the Life”, “Yesterday”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Love Me Do”.

“I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin,” Beatle Paul McCartney said in a statement on Wednesday.

“If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.”

A statement from Martin’s family confirmed he had died peacefully at his home on Tuesday evening.

Earlier, Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer, had announced his death on Twitter: “God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family… George will be missed.”

Starr followed the message by posting a black and white photo of the Fab Four with Martin, saying “Thank you for all your love and kindness George.”

Martin served as producer, collaborator and mentor to Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison, McCartney and Starr.

Lennon was shot dead in New York in 1980. Harrison died of cancer in 2001.

Tributes from the music world poured in on Twitter. “RIP to my musical brother George Martin. We were friends since 1964, & I am so thankful 4 that gift,” said American music producer Quincy Jones.

Lenny Kravitz said: “The legends are really going home!” Boy George said: “George Martin. Gentleman and legend”, while Mark Ronson said Martin was “the greatest British record producer of all time.”

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: “George Martin was a giant of music – working with the Fab Four to create the world’s most enduring pop music.”

“YESTERDAY”

During his seven-decade career in the music industry, Martin produced almost all of the Beatles’ recordings and also worked with Gerry & the Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, Jeff Beck, America, Cheap Trick and other acts.

Martin started work at Abbey Road Studios in 1950 producing records for EMI’s Parlophone label. 

He was noted for his comedy recordings with the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Beyond the Fringe and got his first Number 1 with The Temperance Seven in 1961. He signed The Beatles in 1962

The young band members were rough around the edges, but Martin saw their commercial promise and with them helped revolutionise the art of popular music recording.

His 1979 autobiography, “All You Need Is Ears”, chronicles his discovery of the Beatles and their creative process.

Martin was knighted in 1996. In 2006, working with his son, Giles Martin, he helped develop the Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show “Love” in Las Vegas, which went on to reap his two most recent Grammys.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles and James Davey in London, Editing by Ralph Boulton)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Will dig up Eden pitch: Anti-Terrorist Front of India

Kolkata: Anti-Terrorist Front of India (ATFI) , which has been stridently opposing the Pakistan cricket team playing in India, on Wednesday threatened to dig up the pitch at Eden Gardens here that is hosting the high voltage India-Pakistan tie in the World Twenty20.

File photo of Eden Gardens. GettyFile photo of Eden Gardens. Getty

File photo of Eden Gardens. Getty

The ATFI has been opposing hosting of the Pakistan team until the terror masterminds behind the Mumbai, Pathankot and the recent Pampore attacks are handed to India by Pakistan.

“Hosting of Pakistan in India is a grave insult to all our brave soldiers who were martyred in these attacks. We will not allow the match at any cost, we will dig up the Eden pitch, there will be massive protests,” said ATFI national president Viresh Shandilya.

“The ATFI now is holding a meet to decide our course of action. How can the Indian cricket board be insensitive to undermine the tears of widows of our martyrs? We will hold protests across Kolkata including the airport,” he added.

The organisation had also threatened to dig up the pitch at the HPCA stadium in Dharamshala which was scheduled to host the March 19 India-Pakistan match.

Citing security reasons, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday relocated the India vs Pakistan group stage match to Kolkata.

IANS

Hosting Pakistan in India an insult to soldiers, will dig up Eden Gardens pitch: Anti-Terrorist Front of India

Kolkata: Anti-Terrorist Front of India (ATFI), which has been stridently opposing the Pakistan cricket team playing in India, on Wednesday threatened to dig up the pitch at Eden Gardens that is hosting the high voltage India-Pakistan tie in the World Twenty20.

The ATFI has been opposing hosting of the Pakistan team until the terror masterminds behind the Mumbai, Pathankot and the recent Pampore attacks are handed to India by Pakistan.

Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata. AFPEden Gardens stadium in Kolkata. AFP

Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata. AFP

“Hosting of Pakistan in India is a grave insult to all our brave soldiers who were martyred in these attacks. We will not allow the match at any cost, we will dig up the Eden pitch, there will be massive protests,” said ATFI national president Viresh Shandilya.

“The ATFI now is holding a meet to decide our course of action. How can the Indian cricket board be insensitive to undermine the tears of widows of our martyrs? We will hold protests across Kolkata including the airport,” he added.

The organisation had also threatened to dig up the pitch at the HPCA stadium in Dharamshala which was scheduled to host the March 19 India-Pakistan match.

Citing security reasons, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday relocated the India vs Pakistan group stage match to Kolkata.

IANS

Why spend Rs 250 on your food? TN sports minister shames female athlete for not winning medals

Courting controversy, Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Dr Sundararaj was seen humiliating young female hockey players, asking them that why he should feed them if they were not able to win any medals and questioning their physical appearance. Dr Sundararaj, who was inspecting and interacting with the young players during an inspection at a school in Pudhukottai, in the video which has gone viral was seen reminding the girls about the scholarship money that has been granted to the college.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asia Cup 2016 Live: India vs Bangladesh, Final T20 Live Cricket Scorecard & Ball by Ball CommentaryAt one point he is seen gesturing to a player and asking her, ‘have you gained weight’ Does your mother know about it’ Will you go back home if the food is not provided here’ A lot is being spent on you here.’ As he continues inspecting the players asking them questions constantly, he is seen exclaiming in exasperation over the amount being spent on shoes and apparel for the athletes.‘We give you dresses, shoes and spend Rs 250 for your food and even after that if you don’t win a medal, what is the use of it’ You must win. We make arrangements for your stay in hostel, give you food and clothing and you don’t win medals,’ Dr. Sundararaj asks one of the players.He is also seen asking the players to focus on sports and studies as their parents were struggling to make ends meet and pay for their education. Youth Welfare and Sports Minister S Sundararaj is facing flak for visiting the hostel in the night for inspection and asking various “insulting” questions to the girl hockey players. The incident has come to light after the video footage of the inspection on last Thursday went viral on the social media.The Minister in the clip is purportedly seen “insulting” the girls verbally and also tugging jersey of one of them. PMK leader S Ramadoss criticised the Minister for taking up the visit and for “insulting” the students. Normally an inspection by a Minister in a girls hostels takes place during the day and also in the presence of Women Hostel Warden, but the Minister violated all such rules, he alleged.

DiCaprio is Oscar shoo-in, but host Chris Rock may shock | Reuters

LOS ANGELES Suspense and surprises mark the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday after a rollercoaster awards season dominated by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and no clear front-runner for the top honor of best picture.

It’s the movie industry’s biggest celebration, but all eyes this year will be on Oscars host Chris Rock, the outspoken black comedian who is expected to take aim at a Hollywood diversity crisis that produced an all-white acting nominee line-up for the second year running.

“I think Chris Rock will address it head on, which is exactly what the show and the Academy needs,” said Variety awards editor Tim Gray.

Director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith have shunned the Academy Award ceremony, although a wider Oscar boycott largely failed to gather steam with Hollywood A-listers.

Nevertheless, the under-representation of people of color in the film and TV industry has muted the congratulatory tone of awards season and prompted pledges to bring more women and minorities into the industry and the Academy.

In a break with tradition, Rock has given no interviews or hints of what he plans to say on Sunday’s show, but in a cryptic tweet on Friday he wrote “see you Sunday…#blackout #Oscars”.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton has called for protests near Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, the Oscars venue, and for Americans to “tune-out” the live telecast, the most watched non-sports TV event of the year.

Going into Sunday’s ceremony, there was no consensus on which of the eight best picture nominees will take home the top prize.

“All the tea leaves are pointing in a different direction. It could be ‘The Revenant’, ‘Spotlight,’ ‘The Big Short’ or even ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website Goldderby.com.

With a leading 12 nominations, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, 20th Century Fox’s “The Revenant” and its ambitious tale shot in sub-zero temperatures has the epic qualities that traditionally appeal to the 6,200 voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

If “The Revenant,” directed by Mexican Alejandro Inarritu, wins best picture, it would mark the first time in Academy Awards history that a filmmaker directed two best picture winners in a row. Inarritu’s “Birdman” won the 2015 best picture Oscar.

Open Road Films’ “Spotlight”, which traces the journalism probe of sex abuse in the Boston Catholic Church, is also in the mix, along with Paramount’s Wall Street misdeeds comedy “The Big Short,” pundits say.

Warner Bros well-reviewed “Mad Max: Fury Road” has 10 nominations and could turn out to be a rare action-adventure best picture winner.

SCROLLING ‘THANK YOUS’

Among the sure bets, popular Leonardo DiCaprio is seen as certain to win his first ever Oscar for his role as an 1820s fur trapper bent on revenge in “The Revenant.”

“I would be really stunned if he doesn’t win,” said Gray.

Rising star Brie Larson, 26, is the heavy favorite to take home the best actress Oscar for her compelling depiction of an abducted young woman in indie movie “Room.”

And 40 years after the first “Rocky” movie, Sylvester Stallone, 69, appears to have the sentimental edge over “Bridge of Spies” actor Mark Rylance in the supporting actor race thanks to Stallone’s role as a boxing trainer in “Creed.”

Oscar producers are hoping for a few less “thank yous” from the winners this year. In a bid to speed up the 3 and 1/2 hour ceremony and encourage more interesting acceptance speeches, a scrolling list will run on screens of the agents, managers, director and friends that each winner wishes to acknowledge.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Mary Milliken)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Chris Gayle gifts autographed bat to Amitabh Bachchan, says I’m in awe of your movies

Mumbai: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan was stumped when he was presented an autographed bat by cricketer Chris Gayle. He says he is in awe of the reach of Indian cinema and that finding a fan in the West Indian cricket star came as a “revelation” to him.

The 73-year-old took to various social media platforms to express his happiness over getting the token of love from the international batting sensation.

Amitabh Bachchan and Chris GayleAmitabh Bachchan and Chris Gayle

Amitabh Bachchan and Chris Gayle

He tweeted: “Mr. Chris Gayle… What an honour… I never knew you would know me… So humbled. We are all great fans of yours! I mean Chris Gayle, a fan of Hindi movies and presents me a golden bat autographed? I mean this is revelation”.

Gayle, who plays in the Indian Premier League as well, proclaimed himself to be a big fan of the Bollywood ‘Shahenshah’, who has regaled film buffs for over four decades.

“Proud to gift my Spartan bat to a legend @srbachchan, love his movies and his style, legend. Thanks @spartancricket,” Gayle tweeted.

After Big B thanked him, Gayle posted: “See you soon in India.”

The “Paa” star also used Facebook to express his happiness. He posted: “Chris Gayle! The phenomenal cricketer from WI sent me a bat autographed… Amazing… I never knew he was such a fan of our films… humbled and so overwhelmed.”

Meanwhile, Amitabh is recovering from a mild ailment which laid him low. IANS

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