Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Women Power!

by Gulu Ezekiel - Hindustan Times

Make way for the ladies

Saina Nehwal’s rise to the top of the world badminton rankings is yet another landmark in the history of women in Indian sports and comes on the 40th anniversary of their first significant international achievement.
 It was at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok that Kanwaljit Sandhu won the first international gold medal for an Indian sportswoman in the 400 metres. This was followed by the PT Usha era of the 1980s while this decade saw the emergence of Sania Mirza and world amateur boxing champion MC Mary Kom.
It was an uphill struggle for sportswomen from the time of Independence till the 60s, with just a handful of sports like tennis, badminton, table tennis, athletics and hockey open to them.
The tiny Parsi and Anglo-Indian communities led the way in those early years and it was in the matter of clothing that sportswomen in India saw their progress stifled. A girl seen in public in shorts or skirts was considered scandalous and it was a common sight to see them competing in salwar-kameez and even saris.
Among the early stars were Roshan Mistry (a Parsi), 100m silver medalist in the first Asian Games in Delhi in 1951; and Stephie D’Souza, the first woman to receive the Arjuna Award in 1963. D’Souza was part of the relay team that won gold in the 4x100m at the 1954 Asian Games and also represented India in hockey. Geeta Zutshi also struck gold in the 800m  in the 1978 Asian Games. But by now the Kerala era in women’s athletics was beginning to unfold. This was thanks to the sports hostel concept in the state, under which the government funded the education and training of promising young athletes.
When the Asian Games returned to New Delhi in 1982, M.D. Valsamma was one of the stars with her gold in the 400m hurdles. The Indian women’s hockey team also made up for the ignominy suffered by the men who were trounced 7-1 in the final by Pakistan. Angel Mary Joseph, Valsamma, Usha and Shiny Abraham were at the forefront of the Kerala surge while Karnataka produced the first glamour girls of Indian sport in Ashwini Nachappa, Reeth Abraham and Vandana Rao. This trio could not match the medal-winning feats of their Kerala counterparts but captured the media glare with their good looks and daring outfits.
Usha won silver in the 100m and 200m in 1982. For the rest of the decade there was no one to challenge her supremacy in Asia. But Usha’s greatest,   and saddest, moment came at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when she became the first Indian woman to reach an Olympics track and field final in the 400m hurdles, but was edged into fourth place.
Since then only Anju Bobby George has matched Usha’s feat when she reached the final of the women’s long jump in the 2004 Olympics, having won silver in the world championship at Paris the previous year. That remains the lone medal won by an Indian athlete — male or female — at the world event.
By 1986 Usha was unstoppable. The Seoul Asian Games were an all-time low for Indian sport as they brought India just five gold medals. Four were Usha’s, and the fifth was won in kabaddi.
The rapid strides taken by women on the sports field saw them shift their focus, from the 1990s onwards, to the traditionally masculine preserves of weightlifting, boxing and wrestling. Karnam Malleswari and Kunjarani Devi bagged international weightlifting medals galore and when Malleswari won the bronze in the 69kg division at the Sydney Olympics, she set yet another landmark — the first Olympic medal for an Indian woman.
Sania Mirza burst onto the scene spectacularly in 2005 by rising in the world tennis rankings while at the same time turning heads and raising eyebrows. She broke down barriers of gender and religion and had the world media turning its attention to India. Her glam appeal meant that endorsement deals for the Hyderabadi heartthrob were now rivaling those of India’s top cricketers.
But the shift from the sports pages to front page news, and then to the glamour of Page 3 — combined with injuries and various controversies — saw Mirza lose focus, rankings and popularity. Today she has been reduced to an also-ran on the world tennis circuit. Her comet-like career has sent warning signs to Saina who, no doubt, has learnt some important life lessons from her fellow-Hyderabadi’s sudden rise and equally rapid fall.
In sports as varied as archery, shooting, chess — Koneru Humpy is ranked world number two — to boxing, where M.C. Mary Kom is the four-time amateur world champion in the 46 kg category, women have made impressive strides since Kanwaljit Sandhu’s breakthrough feat four decades ago.
Today, thanks to the courageous pioneers who defied the oppressive constraints of a patriarchal society, the sky is the limit for women’s sports in India. The forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and the 2012 Olympics in London should see this movement reach its pinnacle and bring more glory to Indian sports.
(Gulu Ezekiel is a Delhi-based sports writer The views expressed by the author are personal)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

October's host & future sports culture promoters

Hindustan Times - Special Series - Part 2
It's yet to get the finishing touches. But the fa├žade of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, is intimidating. The stadium, when complete, will be one of the best stadiums in the country. Experts say, it will be one of a kind and will symbolise India's power as a rising developing nation. See Graphics
Sports-wise, though, one has to really see how sportspersons will benefit from the Nehru stadium and the other venues that will host the 17 disciplines in the city. "The future generations will reap its benefits," are the oft-spoken words from those associated with holding the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Suresh Kalmadi, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman, thinks the infrastructure will help Olympic sports to grow in the city. "It will help sow the seeds of sporting culture in the city as well as the country," he said. "We will use these world-class facilities to promote sports in the country. It will be for our sportspersons."
Even Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh believes that if properly utilised, the infrastructure will help the next generation. "Training in world-class facilities will help sportspersons. There's a huge difference in training in a tin-roofed boxing hall and in an air-conditioned hall. To improve your game, you have to train in the best places."
To maintain the stadiums after the Games, the government has chalked out a private and public partnership plan. "Maintaining such infrastructure is a problem," said Kalmadi. "Beijing is still to evolve a strategy to utilise its sports infrastructure. We'll have to plan it once the Games are over. Hopefully, we will have a good model."
Though, initially there were trials and tribulations, but, according to Kalmadi, everything is on course. "We will host the best Games ever," he said.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A "village' turns into an international city

by Neelam Pandey - HINDUSTAN TIMES

In the 2,000 years of its existence, Delhi has seen many makeovers. Post-1911, the British laid out New Delhi outside the Mughal Shahjahanabad. With his stately sandstone structures and tree-lined avenues, British architect Edwin Lutyens created the imperial Delhi.
Post-Independence, the 1982 Asian Games brought in a few flyovers and five-star hotels and stadia to the national capital that was often referred to as an "overgrown village".
Now, the Commonwealth Games are giving Delhi another makeover. This time, however, the pitch is different. Sleek signages, public art installations, landscaping, escalators for overhead bridges and subways, information panels and kiosks and giant LED screens to guide people — the authorities have, for once, gone beyond the basics. Delhi is transforming itself from an "overgrown village" to an international city.
"From 1982 to now, there is a change in the imagination of what a good city should be. We are no longer creating things for its use value only. We are seeing to it that it adds to the quality of the city, making it look pleasant, and keeping pace with cities across the globe," said K.T. Ravindran, chairman Delhi Urban Arts Commission.
Emulating the best
The authorities are busy replicating the best civic practices from across the globe. "The idea to install billboards and LED screens comes from Las Vegas. Tehbazari kiosks idea comes from cabin shops in Bangkok's night bazaars; waterless toilets from New York and Washington," said an MCD official.
Urban design
Delhi's makeover is no longer about just urban planning. Urban design is the new mantra. "The aim of the urban design is based on the premise that one will not only see, but feel the surroundings, too," Ravindran said.
"It was decided that the landscaping would have to merge with the surroundings. Also, pedestrians were the deciding factor while reconstructing those stretches," said Anand Tiwari, spokesman NDMC.
"The streetscaping being carried out in the New Delhi area is an example of that. The lion-heads, the colour of the sandstone used for laying walkways, the green buffer zone are reflective of translating the experience of being in that place," said K.T. Ravindran.
Sportsmen to Delhiites
While the Asian Games focussed on facilities for sportspersons, in the Commonwealth Games, people are the focus. "In 1982, Delhi's priority was to create sports facilities, connecting the Games village at Siri Fort to the venues, and facilitating the movement of athletes and officials. There were no foreign consultants involved," said P.R. Mehta, former president of Council of Architecture. "But for the Commonwealth Games, all the sports facilities and the improvement work have the involvement of foreign consultants. Public movement is an important consideration and many facilities, such as renovating the walkways, construction of foot-over bridges and subways, are being provided for this only," he added.
As part of the landscaping, the NDMC kept in mind the pedestrians and is building escalators like these to provide easy access to foot-over bridges as well as subways.
                                                 RAJ K RAJ/HT PHOTOS
Global concerns
To ensure that Delhi doesn't become a concrete jungle, the civic agencies are carrying out extensive greening of their areas. "Environment and heritage conservation are two important factors in all Games-related projects. For instance, streetscaping is linked to the environment. Earlier, no space was left around the base of the tree, but now aesthetically-pleasing tree guards have been designed that help the tree grow. So it serves a dual purpose," said Mehta.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Security at its best in Delhi

Delhi Police chief Y.S. Dadwal reviewed the security arrangements at two Commonwealth Games stadia on Saturday.
With 99 days to go for the Games, the police chief inspected arrangements at Major Dhyanchand National Stadium and Talkatora Stadium on Saturday.
He said they would “lock-in” all the stadiums one month before the Games.
“We will take over all the venues a month before the Games. We are working in close co-ordination with the paramilitary forces. The venues will have air surveillance and we are also in touch with the concerned agencies for the same,” he said.
More than 80,000 strong police force including 860 commandos have been deployed at the venues. Apart from this, members of the National Disaster Response Force will be on guard to prevent any kind of “biological and radiological contingencies.”
The entrance at the National Stadium that will host the hockey events has been equipped with road jammers, tyre busters and roadblocks. Plainclothes policemen as well as men in uniform will be on guard at all the security gates. “Only people with requisite gate passes will be allowed entry. There is a separate security plan for all the venues,” said the officer.
He added that the preparations for the security arrangements were begun in July last year and there would be a “venue commander” of the rank of additional commissioner of police at the 12 venues.
“We have developed a matrix and it is unique for every venue. Every movement in the venue will be according to that,” he said. On being asked if the police was planning a separate helpline for tourists and delegates during the Games, Dadwal said, “We already have a number of helplines and before the Games we would go for their extensive publicity.”- Hindustan Times

Traffic jams expected during Games

Get ready to face massive traffic jams during the 12 days Delhi will host the Commonwealth Games in October this year.
The city police chief on Saturday said traffic jams seemed to be “unavoidable” during the Games as a section of some of the arterial roads would be closed for the movement of vehicles carrying players and delegates.
“There will be jams during the Games and Delhiites should prepare for them. They can either change their plans or avoid travelling on those routes to spare themselves the inconvenience. Or, better they can stay at home,” said Y.S. Dadwal, commissioner of police.
With 99 days to go for the Games, Dadwal reviewed the security arrangements at Dhyanchand National Stadium and Talkatora Stadium.
For the Games, a section on all the routes leading to the Games village, stadia and hotels will be closed. Some of the roads that will be affected are Sardar Patel Marg, the India Gate roundabout, Mother Teresa Crescent and Panchsheel Marg. - Hindustan Times

Bring your masks to Delhi!

Hindustan Times Exclusive
The air in your city may appear clean but its smallest and least visible pollutant is its deadliest.
A new study revealed a pollutant, called particulate matter (PM) 2.5, can cause lung cancer and cardiac ailments and can stay buried inside the body for years.
In an air appropriation source study in six cities including Delhi and Mumbai, India’s pollution watchdog Central Pollution Control Board found PM 2.5, 20- 40 times smaller in size than human hair, has the highest carbon content.
The study also reveals the concentration of PM 2.5 is 300 per cent higher than the national average in Delhi and 50 per cent higher in Mumbai.
“PM 2.5 is very harmful as particles penetrate deep inside and can break the lung’s functioning systems,” said D.V.K. Vijayan of Delhi’s Patel Chest Institute, which is now conducting studies to find the exact impact of nano tubes on one’s body. “International research has shown these carbon particles can trigger respiratory ailments such as chronic asthma and its long exposure can cause lung cancer.”
Even though internationally PM 2.5 is considered a cause of major health problems, in India the research is poor in the absence of adequate monitoring of PM 2.5 levels.
“It (PM 2.5) has been rising rapidly in the last few years because of increase in vehicular emissions,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment.
The CPCB study based on analysis of pollutants found that higher the vehicular emission in a particular area, the more toxic PM 2.5 was.
A first of its kind, the study has been carried out to find the causes of air pollution and will be released next month.

Told as it is!

 NSTP's Group Editor, Zainul Arifin pens his thoughts on the sports betting issue in Malaysia in the Sunday Times today, and he could not have said better. Read his thoughts below, to have a better understanding of the issue.

SPORTS betting became a non-starter when it was made a political football. The writing was on the wall when it was politicised.
When it was announced that the government was considering re-issuing a sports betting licence, several states announced that it would not be allowed in their territories.
One could almost groan in cynicism, as most of them already have gaming outlets offering a number of gambling products and the states are benefiting from them, for example in local taxes paid.
Then, there are the tobacco and liquor businesses that are equally damaging in their own ways, but we choose to live with them.
Incidentally, two of the states proposing a ban on sports betting allow horse-racing and betting, and benefit from the spin-offs, too. I know some people suggest that horse-racing is a sport, but I am not sure how many of those who go to the racing track can say so with a straight face.
Perhaps Penang and Selangor can blame legacy issues, but if gambling offends them so much, there should be no qualms about them. In gaming, as in anything, I suppose all of us can be selectively hypocritical.
 Yet, seemingly, I sense, the perils or the sin of gaming played second fiddle to the political mileage one could get when it was announced that the government was considering re-issuing the licence to Ascot Sports.
Gotcha! It was an issue made for politics and it is a fairly safe bet that all the righteous among us would not look into promoting something that many religions abhor.
The opposition to sports betting for some was not just because it was morally reprehensible, socially destructive or religiously blasphemous. But opposing it brings one some political points, too.
Being the smart people they are, they know that in the bright light of analysis licensed gaming has its pluses as well. But politically, there is more to be gained, or less to be lost, by going against it.
It is politically convenient to take a stand that requires not much effort -- gambling is not good, so do not support it. Or in this case gambling is not good, so do not support any new initiative
One need not break into a sweat trying to explain or defend something as ambiguous as, for instance, the benefits of gaming.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with trying to get the upper political hand on issues, and sports betting is perhaps an issue better than most to chew on.
Can we assume that the political implications of the issue also weighed heavily on the government when it decided not to re-issue the licence to Ascot, as was the case in the initial opposition to sports betting?
I believe the gaming issue operates in several realms, including political, socio-religious as well as economic.
The issue of a sports betting licence is yet another grist for the political mill, offering us another issue to pit one against the other. It is now almost a given that be it the gaming issue, or 10th Malaysia Plan, or the annual budget legislation, civil service, the police force, Year Six examinations or the MRT, the nation would invariably adopt two major political postures.
This is also even when we agree on the same thing. For example, it is obvious now that those opposing sports betting and the government are on the same side. Yet let us not be surprised if we can find new ways of creating issues out of something many of us agree on, and now moot to boot.
In this day and age, it seems issues, in this case, sports betting, are only incidental to the greater cause of the nation's favourite pastime, which is politicking.
As a result, the politicisation, if there is such a word, of society is now almost complete. We are now able to create a political divide even if one party were to say that water is good for the body. Of course I exaggerate, but that is a story for another day.
The government's decision not to re-issue the licence is also understandable as most religions prohibit or discourage gambling. This is a core fundamental issue, and it is difficult to go around it.
The key support for the government these days, for example, are the Malay-Muslims, who while accommodative to the current gaming outlets and casino, are unlikely to look kindly on more gaming activities in the country.
Whether they gamble or not, or that the gaming outlets prohibit their participation, many Muslims are still uncomfortable with ventures that would compromise their faith.
Many cannot afford to be pragmatic on the issue of religion, no matter how much we slice and dice the gaming issue.
For example, it was estimated that billions of ringgit were lost due to illegal gambling operations, and billions more siphoned abroad due to Internet gaming. The licence was supposed to address the issue.
It makes perfect sense of course until many of us are required to define our pragmatism within our religious context, no matter what religion we profess.
Then the economic argument would be less attractive. Furthermore, the billions we were supposed to benefit from were never there in the first place and the government was better off not having a controversial source of revenue that could haunt it politically.
Similarly the argument that a licensed operation would help reduce underworld activities would also not sell well since the number of people patronising such services is small compared with the bigger populations that know nothing of such. Hence the general population is not aware of the underworld activities or the dangers that they could bring. What we need, say many, is for police enforcement to be increased, and the bookies to get out of our faces.
Because of so many things working against the argument, it was unlikely that the idea would sell politically. Thus Friday's announcement was to be expected with politics weighing heavily on the decision-making.
Governing requires a cold hard look at facts. The proposal to renew the sports betting licence or reduce subsidy or the goods and services tax are examples where pragmatism and political realities have to be taken into consideration, since governing also requires the support of the people.
Thus, what is good for the country, may not necessarily be good for politics. By the same token what is good for politics, and that includes excessive politicking, may not necessarily be good for the country.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Amritsar, June 25
The 100-day countdown for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games began yesterday when the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) arrived in India from Pakistan through the historic Wagah-Attari border amid much fanfare here.

Pakistan Olympic Association president Lt Gen Syed Arif Hassan handed over the baton to the CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi in no-man’s land in the presence of Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell.
 IOA president Suresh Kalmadi carries the Queen’s baton for the Commonwealth Games 2010 at Wagah on Friday. Pakistani Punjab Governor Salman Taseer (left) and Shera, official mascot of the Games, flank him. — PTI

The Queen’s Baton Relay was launched by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace in London on October 29 last year in the presence of Indian President Pratibha Patil.
It will now pass through all the states and union territories before reaching its final destination, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — venue for the opening ceremony, on October 3.
Shera, the official mascot of the Commonwealth Games, entertained spectators, who also enjoyed performances by late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Wadali brothers. Folk dances, however, lacked the usual life and spirit even as the organisers tried their best to showcase Punjabi, Kashmiri, Himachali and Haryanvi cultures by coming out with dance performances.
Pakistani onlookers showed an equally warm response to the baton on the other side at Wagah where they were seen waving their hands to express their enthusiasm.
Kalmadi, flanked by Shera, received the baton amid loud cheers from the spectators of both the countries and passed it on to Fennell, who arrived here specially to attend the function.
 Suresh Kalmadi, centre, chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee takes the Queen's baton after it arrived in India from Pakistan at the checkpoint at Attari, about 30 km from the northern city of Amritsar. Raminder Pal Singh / EPA

Fennell handed it over to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and then the baton, which is nearing the end of its 190,000-km journey covering 71 nations and territories across the world, passed over to 21 dignitaries, including Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
 Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil hands over the Queen’s baton for Commonwealth Games to CM Parkash Singh Badal at the Wagah border on Friday. — PTI

Badal virtually stole the show by saying that all they needed now was to request the Governments of India and Pakistan to open these gates. “We (India and Pakistan) are like brothers and for how long can two brothers keep their door shut to each other?” Recalling his graduation days in Lahore, Badal told the Punjab (Pakistan) Governor Suleman Taseer as to how passionately he still remembered drinking lassi at the Lahore Anarkali Bazar.
Taseer, too, echoed similar sentiments. He said it was an opportune moment to hand over the baton to India at a time when the Foreign Secretaries of both countries were holding parleys in Islamabad for the improvement of bilateral ties. “I am happy to see the people of both countries responding to the baton relay with the same degree of enthusiasm,” he said.
Later, MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mayor Shwait Malik received the baton at the Gen Sham Singh Attariwala memorial gate. Four-times world boxing champion Mary Kom and Olympic bronze medallist pugilist Vijender Singh jointly started the run with the baton from the international border to the city of Golden Temple.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Communication and IT Gurdas Kamat released a commemorative postage stamp on Commonwealth Games and handed it over to Kalmadi amidst slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” and “India Zindabad”. - Tribune News Service

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No boundaries in sports!

Attari, Amritsar:  India is all set to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay for the 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi that will enter Punjab from Pakistan on Friday morning.
After crossing the Attari border, some 30 km from the Sikh holy city Amritsar, Pakistan Olympics Association president Syed Arif Hassan will hand over the baton to his Indian counterpart Suresh Kalmadi, who also heads the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games, at 9.25 a.m. Indian and Pakistani artistes will perform at an hour-long function at the border, Raja Sidhu, a key organiser, told IANS.
Mike Fennell, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, will be the chief guest. The Commonwealth Games begin in the Indian capital Oct 3. It will be the country's biggest sports extravaganza after the 1982 Asian Games.
On hand to welcome the baton will be Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.
A commemorative postage stamp related to the relay will be released on the occasion.
The baton, with a message from the Queen inscribed on it, will be handed over to Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh and women world boxing champion Mary Kom to start the Indian leg of the relay, Sidhu said.
Thereafter, the Punjab leg would commence when Badal hands over the baton to prominent sportspersons of the state.
Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and the mayor of Amritsar will receive the baton on the outskirts of the city. The baton will be placed for public display at the Company Bagh.
Navjot Sidhu told IANS: "This is a very important event for Amritsar. I urge the residents to come out in large numbers to extend a warm welcome to the baton."
The relay will proceed at 8 a.m Saturday to Jalandhar, Phillaur and then Ludhiana in Punjab. It will again go on public display at Patiala.
On Sunday, the relay will move to Hoshiarpur and Pathankot.
It will be handed over Monday to the state and Olympics authorities of Jammu and Kashmir.
In India, the baton will cover most states and union territories, travelling a distance of over 20,000 km, before finally reaching New Delhi Sep 30.
The baton for the Delhi Commonwealth Games was launched by Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace in London Oct 29 in the presence of Indian president Pratibha Patil.
India's only individual gold medal winner in the Olympics, shooter Abhinav Bindra, was the first baton-bearer of the longest baton relay for any Commonwealth Games. - INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE -

Sport surpasses all barriers

KARACHI – Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi was frank in admitting that India clinched the honour of hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games through Pakistan’s support and appreciated the role of its neighbour. Suresh Kalmadi was reported in a section of Indian media recently as saying that Pakistan supported India to get the Commonwealth Games which India cannot forget. When India and Canada were locked in a two-way battle for getting the hosting rights and Pakistan supported India in its bid, said Kalmadi.
In the meantime, Queens baton relay will arrive in India from Pakistan through Wagah Border on June 25 after finishing its Pakistan leg.
“The baton will arrive in India on June 25 and proceed to Amritsar via road on the same day in the evening. During its 100-day-long programme, the baton will pass through all the states and union territories before finally arriving in Delhi on September 30, three days prior to the start of the Games.
“The Baton will traverse through 400 cities and villages during its India tour and we have selected 5,000 baton bearers. A number of international athletes would be present to receive the Baton when it reaches their respective states,” Kalmadi said.
The national leg of around 20,000 kms in India will be twice the distance which was covered in the 2002 and 2006 Games in Manchester and Melbourne respectively.
Kalmadi said that purpose of the relay is to get the people involved and chance would be given to the masses to carry the baton when it reaches their respective state.
President India Ms Pratibha Patil had received the baton from Queen Elizabeth II in London on October 29 last year before it began its journey to New Delhi, traveling through 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, Indian media reported. - THE NATION

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rickshaw Jazz-up plans underway for Delhi CG

NEW DELHI: The humble cycle rickshaw could jazz up for the Commonwealth Games, complete with a driver-cum-tourist guide, newspapers and fruit juices. Around 1,000 battery-operated rickshaws will be on call during the event if a proposal with the Delhi government comes through.
"The proposal is that 1,000 battery- operated rickshaws should be run in the Commonwealth Games village and the rest of the capital during the Games," said Irfan Alam of the Bihar-based NGO Sammaan Foundation, which works for the uplift of rickshaw pullers and has mooted the idea.

"We are in talks with the Delhi government and other agencies about this project and hopefully things should come through in the next three months," Alam told IANS.
"Not only will these be eco-friendly modes of transport but also convenient, inexpensive and attractive thanks to the value additions that we have incorporated in the model."
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Alam started his NGO three years ago and designed a rickshaw model that was lighter in weight, had more leg and luggage space and also offered value- added services like newspapers, fruit juices and bottled water while on the move.
Since the Commonwealth Games are just four months away — Oct 3-14 — Alam said he has suggested that a modified model of these rickshaws be made operational during that period.
"The battery-operated rickshaws will offer the on-call service. There will be a customer care number where you can call to book a rickshaw. There will be a fare chart, so you will know exactly how much you have to pay for a particular distance. The fares will be nominal," Alam said.
"The rickshaws will also offer value-added services like free newspapers and you can even buy bottled water or juices while travelling. The rickshaw pullers will be trained to double up as tourist guides so that visitors can travel and learn more about the capital while on the move," he added.
"The Delhi government has been quite supportive and I am quite positive that this project will come through successfully. Maybe if things go well, these rickshaws can stay on even after the Games are over," Alam said.
Not just that. Alam — with help from some soap brands like Lifebuoy — also developed a sustainable business model by which rickshaw pullers, instead of taking their vehicles on rent, can take a loan from a bank and own a rickshaw over a period of time.
From just 300 rickshaws, the NGO today has 500,000 cycle rickshaws registered with it across the country — each with a number plate and the driver with an identity card. What's more, these offer passengers an accident insurance of up to Rs.1 lakh.
There are around 10 million cycle rickshaws operating in the country, but most of them don't have licences.
Alam was one of the 79 from across the globe who was invited by US President Barack Obama to present his business model at the two-day presidential summit on entrepreneurship in Washington in April.
Even as his model has intrigued audiences in universities abroad like Harvard and Stanford and found takers back home like the Madhya Pradesh government, Alam said the Delhi government too approached him for a "fitter connectivity" in the national capital.
"We are working with the Delhi government to introduce these eco-friendly, fitter modes of transport in the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, to begin with, in the next few weeks. The idea is to then introduce these models across Delhi," Alam told IANS.
A similar plan is being drawn up by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI). According to its proposal submitted to the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games, 50 designer cycle rickshaws — with antique gramaphones and Bollywood themes — may ply in the 63.5 hectare Games village during the mega event.
This proposal too is under consideration.- THE ECONOMIC TIMES

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Loyola FC from Manila, Champion!

This has been long overdue, but here it is.
Loyola FC from Manila emerged as the champions of the 2nd  Philippines-Malaysia Veterans 9s Soccer Championship held at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, Philipines on May 29 and 30.
They defeated defending champion and host, Bacolod United FC, 2-1 in the final.

X-Mail Veterans FC last year's runners, failed to make the semifinals from Group A, where both the finalist emerged from. The other teams in Group A were Talisay Minuluan FC and Erco-Cebu FC.

In Group B were CMOFA, Real Negrese FC, Iloilo FC  and Blue Guards FC, Manila.
A total of nine teams competed as compared to in the inaugural year, when only four teams participated.
The competition was much competitive and many ex-national Philippines players played. Champion Loyola FC had five ex-Philippines national players in their team.
X-Mail, were handicapped from the start as injuries and several players pulling out of the trip, forced the team to recruit players from Philippines to make the team. Two key players who were injured but made the trip and were reduced to supporters were team captain Hasnul Ramlan Khairuddin and V. Kalimutu. The absence of these two key players were drastically felt by the team.
Five players from Philippines joined the X-Mail team goalkeeper Robert Choa, defender Alberto Salvacion, midfielder Eduardo Perez and Antonio Belmonte Bayona and striker Jesse Risalie S, Ricabo.
In the Group matches, X-Mail won one, lost two and one game had to be called off at halftime due to injuries to X-Mail players and could not raise the minimum seven players to restart the second-half.
X-Mail donated the challenge trophy and the replica trophy for the champion, courtesy of Datuk Seri Abdullah Hishan.
The 3rd Philippines-Malaysia Veteran Soccer tournament will be hosted by X-Mail next year in Kuala Lumpur in May.

 The X-Mail team with soccer players and teachers from Handumanan Elementary School after the presentation of Milo drinks and T-Shirts, Bata shoes, jerseys, balls and bags at the school hall.

X-Mail VFC also played a friendly match in Manila on June 1 at the Clark Base against the Clark International FC where it played to a 2-2 draw.
X-Mail VFC would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and supporters, Nestle Malaysia, Bata Malaysia, Best Western Premier Sewri Pacific Hotel, Olympic Sports Hotel, Malaysian Nanban, Edures Resources, UKRC, National Sports Institute, WRL Advertising, Tourism Malaysia and all who had assisted us in one way or other, in making our trip possible.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Excellent World Cup Guide!

This is an brilliant 2010 World Cup guide to the daily fixtures!
It was discovered by my colleague, Priyanka Kaushik, at Press Operations of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
Follow the World Cup, your favourite team and have a ball!
This is the link:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


No, I have not gone missing in action!
I had a ten-days break from my job in New Delhi with the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee to return home and also take the X-Mail Veteran team to the 2nd Philippines-Malaysia Veteran Soccer Festival (May 29 and 30th) and a friendly match at Clark base on June 1.
It turned out to be a hectic return that I hardly had time to update the blog.
Before I knew, I was back in New Delhi on Sunday night and back to work.
I will post on the update on the tournament in Bacolod City with pictures by tomorrow.
Keep a date!