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Congress Divided On The Use Of EVMs

Looks like the Congress has still not come to terms with the results of the Hindi heartland with a section of the party blaming it squarely on the EVMs. In fact the party seemed so split on the issue that former MP Digvijay Singh claimed that “any machine with a chip” could be hacked; he even ignored the fact that the Congress had won Telangana and Karnataka through EVMs. Kamal Nath complained that some candidates did not even get 50 votes in their villages. It is not clear if the Congress leaders actually started believing in the media hype they were winning the four state assembly polls. In contrast, Karti Chidambaram, Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, came out completely endorsing the EVMs. Digvijay Singh admitted that he had been opposing EVMs ever since they were introduced in the 2003 assembly elections under the Supreme Court orders. The EVMs were first used in 2004 Lok Sabha polls which had brought UPA-1 to power. With the BJP winning 163 seats in the 230-member assembly in MP, Singh appealed to SC and EC to save “democracy”. Of course, if he had only seen the kind of work and effort BJP leadership had put in his state — 40 lakh karyakartas working through the year reaching out to   64,000 polling booths to reach 51 % vote share as part of Amit Shah’s strategy.

Modi Warns Against Divisive Agenda, Stalin Gets DMK MP To Apologise For His "Gomutra" Jibe

An unusual tweet from PM Modi’s handle caught everyone’s one eye. It was the use of emojis in the post that had gone viral. Modi took a sharp dig at the “anti-BJP forces” after the Congress’s dismal performance in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in recently held polls. What had redeemed the Congress prestige was its win in Telangana. Endorsing a TV Today anchor’s clip “Melt down e Azam” that chided the Opposition for building a new narrative of North-South divide  to explain why voters in the North and the South voted differently, Modi suggested that “May they be happy with their arrogance, lies, pessimism and ignorance”.  At the same time, the PM warned about their alleged “divisive agenda”, saying “an old habit of 70 years can’t go away so easily.  For some reason DMK MP Senthil Kumar picked up this narrative and mocked BJP victory in the North by saying it can only win in Gomutra states. “They can’t come to South India.” Even as his comments were expunged by the Chair, the MP remained defiant as he went on live on TV channels. It is being said it was a livid Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin who got Dr Senthil Kumar. S to apologise via a tweet as he did not want it to be a mega controversy like his son’s Udhayanidhi’s remarks on sanatan dharma.

Former HDFC Executive To Launch Affordable Housing Finance Company

An interesting, and exciting new initiative is quietly taking shape in the Indian affordable housing finance space. The venture, which is expected to unravel in early 2024, will be distinct from the existing players in the country, both in terms of its scale and breadth of operation. The new company is expected to be a national player, with aspirations of becoming an institution. The new initiative has already evoked positive response from leading large fund houses who are likely to back the entity. The venture has also piqued the interest of several industry seniors. Led by former HDFC executive Satrajit Bhattacharya, a core team drawn from across the industry to lead the new initiative is presently being put together. Satrajit, himself an industry veteran with over three decades experience, was till recently the senior general manager heading investments and M&A for HDFC which has now been merged with HDFC Bank. Bhattacharya is an M&A and transaction specialist, having led multiple M&A and capital raise transactions, with a strong background in investments, deal structuring and transaction negotiations. He also had a long stint with market regulator SEBI. Besides being a hard-nosed investment banker, Bhattacharya who graduated from Delhi University is also a birding enthusiast who spends most of his non-working time, searching and photographing the avian species across the length and breadth of the country.
modi mp

PM Modi Faces State Assemblies With Aplomb, Readies For Lok Sabha Polls Faceoff

PM Narendra Modi’s political gambit to field himself as BJP’s face in just concluded state assemblies in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana was a success except in Telangana. This was deliberately done to the detriment of (Rani) Vasundhara Raje, (Mamaji) Shivraj Singh Chouhan, (Chawalwala Baba) Raman Singh in the first three states, initiated long ago. Post results, benevolent Modi may even prefer Jyotiraditya Scindia. The Congress’ political intransigence to encourage new blood into the party stream cost them growth, national acceptability and now, regional acceptance as national party of choice. Modi became PM of India in April 2014 and immediately elevated veteran party leaders from Maharashtra including Nitin Gadkari, Gopinath Munde as Union Ministers clearing the field for young Turks in BJP to take over. The fresh blood leadership potential being emphasized included Devendra Fadnavis, Ashish Shelar, Vinod Tawde, Sudhir Mungantiwaar in Maharashtra. Fadnavis subsequently made the cut for CM ship after the November 2014 state assemblies. MP CM Mamaji followed Modi to Delhi subsequently. Congress on the other hand, failed to similarly empower Jyotiraditya Scindia (in MP) or Sachin Pilot (in Rajasthan) after capturing power, cowing down to veteran politicians Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot. With Scindia going saffron consequently and Pilot’s failed teacup storm of rebellion curtailed by the Zadugar of Rajasthan, the political future in both states appears bleak for the Congress party. The I.N.D.I.A front led by the only other national political party in Bharat will face an acid test come April 2024.
Ajit pawar_010

Sharad Pawar’s Patronizing Cold Play Matches Ajit Pawar’s Political Ambitions

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar wants four Lok Sabha seats, including Shirur, Satara, Raigad, Baramati won by NCP in 2019 and hopes to get some more. Pawar wants to field son Parth from Shirur, believing he holds sway over his political karmabhoomi of western Maharashtra. Uncle Sharad Pawar issued patronising sound-bites over his nephew’s political plans seeking to undermine him. In 2014 and 2019, the BJP and Shiv Sena fought general elections in alliance but now, will battle each other even as CM Shinde’s Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP seek to adversely impact votes accruing to the (undivided) Shiv Sena and NCP respectively. In 2024, BJP, Shinde led Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP will square up against Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar and Congress (that has held its flock together). BJP suggested Shinde field new candidates, since only two/three of his Sena MPs may get re-elected, citing internal surveys. Shinde emphasized his responsibility to secure the political future of his MPs and may, on the brink of elections, even ask them to contest as BJP candidates to still keep his word. Uddhav Thackeray may re-launch political touring soon. Few political pundits credited him for political acumen, making stark comparisons with Balasaheb Thackeray, though the former chief minister of Maharashtra got 63 Shiv Sena MLAs elected in 2014 after BJP severed political ties. His late father had publicly lamented his party’s inability to cross the 60 MLAs benchmark in Maharashtra.
prabhakaran family

Games Politicians Play: Perpetuating Prabhakaran Myth

Believing in the myth of the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran being alive is a kind of business in Tamil Nadu. Perpetuating the myth of the slain separatist who waged war against the Sri Lankan State on behalf of the Tamils is the MDMK leader Vaiko and a few others who were close to the Tiger chief when he was alive and even took breaks in Tamil Nadu to meet top political leaders, including MGR. As his anniversary comes around, the myth is narrated by Vaiko and even picked up by the media. This year, there was additional grist to this mill with a fake video surfacing purportedly showing Prabhakaran’s daughter Duwraka speaking. Truth is Sri Lanka’s top military brass reported to the political boss Mahinda Rajapaksa that the LTTE chief had been captured on May 17, 2009. The President was said to have then sent the army chief to get rid of the rebel leader and all his family as the State did not want his DNA to survive. This is why Prabhakaran was eliminated, so too his wife Mathivathani Erambu, daughter Duvaraga and son Balachandran. As his clan was seen as enemies who waged war against the State, the murder of his entire family was not seen as a human rights violation. Keeping him alive is the job of semi-retired politicians like Vaiko, who made a big business out of supporting the Eelam cause, Pazha Nedumaran and Kashi Anandan.
Stalin podcast

Following Modi’s Footsteps, Stalin’s Podcast Speaking For India

No one can fault Stalin for not trying to be the inventive anchor and persistent planner for giving voice to the I.N.D.I.A front. So like PM Modi he too started podcasts, Speaking For India every month from September this year. He even mobilised the support of Didi and Kejriwal to appear in cameo roles in podcasts. Suddenly the December edition was postponed, with DMK cadres speculating on why! Pat came the justification. This podcast coincidentally was about the TN Governor and his hostile stance…Stalin cleverly justified that as the SC and CJI had rapped the governor, including the new development would make it more relevant. Those close to him also talk about the visit of Akhilesh Yadav for unveiling of the former Prime Minister VP Singh’s statue — a creative revival of the Mandal Kamandal clarion call. Stalin requested UP’s stormy petrel to make a serious effort to patch up with the Congress. Akhilesh, it is learnt, told Stalin that the Congress has no standing in UP, does not have even suitable candidates, so why should our party kowtow to Congress? To this spurred Stalin baiters asked, “DMK and Congress are in the alliance in TN. Yet you could not ask the Congress to get Kaveri water for TN. What kind of doublespeak is this? Stalin’s aims to make his brand of Mann ki Baat …Sammaan ki Baat.

Ranbir's 'Animal' Shikar Bags The Big Game

Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal has hit the box office like a tsunami with the film crossing the Rs 100-crore mark in Day 2 in India and over Rs 200 crore worldwide. Movie critic Taran Adarsh took to X to say it’s a “box office monster”. And this is Ranbir’s biggest hit at the box office ever since he entered Bollywood in 2007 with Saawariya. This Sandeep Vanga Reddy film did face criticism on the portrayal of women — almost objectification of the heroine and a pronounced male alpha. But that has been the way Vanga Reddy has told his stories. Trade circle say this factor has worked in favour of director Vanga Reddy and actor Ranbir. Forty-one year old Ranbir, who has acted in over 21 films in the last 16 years, has taken pains to pick up scripts which are different for every movie as he did not want to be typecast. His life goal is to be recognised as an actor and is confident with that stardom will follow. Historically, Kapoor’s films have not been very extraordinary at the box office; his last film Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar was a semi hit and the only blockbuster was biopic Sanju. But Animal is leagues ahead. Animal is one film that has broken all the norms of a hero in Hindi cinema

Patnaik’s AMA Bank Logo Irks Opposition Leaders In Odisha

Nobody knows the power of branding more than the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. With elections round the corner Patnaik’s government has launched AMA Bank with an investment of Rs 500 crore to provide banking to the unbanked. To reach out to 4,373 gram panchayats it has entered into collaboration with six public sector banks like SBI, PNB, UBI, UCO Bank, BOI and BOB. So far so good. But, the Opposition leaders in Odisha are not happy. They feel that the nationalised banks have compromised their independent entity. Odisha BJP says the AMA Bank logo looks like Conch shell which resembles the Biju Janata Dal party symbol. It is a clear violation and has complained to the Election Commission of India. BJP leader Aparajita Sarangi said “use of party symbols in government advertisements is highly condemnable”. Jaynarayan Mishra, leader of Opposition fears that 50% of the budget for setting up AMA infrastructure and promotion may be misutilised. Patnaik has justified his stand saying it promoted AMA Bank involving nationalised Banks as about 65% of the total 6,798 gram panchayats in Odisha do not have a brick and mortar bank. Patnaik says, “AMA Bank model is the first-of-its-kind in the country and will be a role model for other states.” Be it Ghare Ghare Sankha meaning every home covered by BJD conch shell or Navin Odisha (new Odisha campaign) and now AMA Bank has a logo that looks like BJD symbol and this is what seems to irk the Opposition leaders.

Jayalalithaa’s Seventh Death Anniversary Churns Up Hostilities Among Splintered AIADMK Factions

The seventh death anniversary of Tamil Nadu’s chief minister J Jayalalithaa may prove to be a daunting task for Chennai police as her acolytes and the splintered party factions are planning to pay tributes at the Marina beach Memorial in a show of strength. Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS), the legitimate AIADMK chief has already sent the fiat to all 15 of his district functionaries….I want a deluge of party workers for the homage. His rival O Panneerselvam (OPS) struggling to get legitimacy for his faction and stay relevant has corralled his ragtag following to come in large numbers. TTV Dinakaran has set a target of 1000 persons to be brought by each party functionary. But wait, the icing on the cake…the dowager Queen Sasikala who still clings on to her title of General Secretary is planning a power packed presence …remember her first performance when she hit JJ’s monument with her fists after being convicted? Each faction has sent letters to the police asking for different time slots for paying “respects” to Amma. The police Intelligence wing is now fearing and processing a possible law and order issue which has its roots in the Thevar Poojai. On October 30, when the Thevar Guru Poojai mammoth gathering was held, EPS attended to convey his loyalty to the Mukkulathur community. But his motorcade was hit by chappals and stones, an incident that left the AIADMK seething. AIADMK blamed the OPS and TTV factions for this. A poignant memorial meet is now giving nightmares to the police.
madhushree dabke

No Need To Wait For The Mango Season Any Longer

In the mood for a mango-based dessert? A husband-and-wife start-up offers the delectable taste of the world-famous Ratnagiri alphonso mangoes in any season. Prakruto Foods, a private limited company set up by Pune-based entrepreneurs Madhushree and Prasad Dabke last year, is all set to launch its mango powder in the Indian and global markets. Having started production of its GTM (go-to-market) dried products at its own automatic plant, sourcing its mangoes from the alphonso-growing Ratnagiri and Devgad areas in Maharashtra, the company has been formally recognised as a ‘startup’ by the Union Commerce & Industry Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Its introduction of such a new product has also been recognised as an “innovative venture with great potential to generate employment and create wealth”. Prakruto Foods has been granted BRCGS certification, too: the first standard to be benchmarked under the Global Food Safety Initiative, recognised by leading buyers around the world as a mark of the highest standards in food safety. This international certification, the Dabkes point out, allows food businesses to access all corners of the global market and the company is now qualified to supply to global B2B and B2C customers. The aim is to give a substantial thrust in exports to developed countries, targeting not only overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin, but the western palate for 100% natural products: pure mango, minus the moisture — which is removed gradually, thoroughly, and at a moderate, low temperature – with no added sugar or chemicals, and a long shelf life. There is also a Purios Alphonso Mango recipe book with directions for use in breakfast cereal, milkshakes, lassi, ice creams, cakes, mousse, and a wide variety of Indian delicacies. Purios also offers dried Alphonso mango slices and chunks as a healthy bite-sized snack, perfect for children and adults alike, granules as a topping for milkshakes, cakes, barfis, Bengali...
ajinkya pujara

Is It Curtains For Pujara And Rahane?

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have not found a place in India’s Test team for the two-Test series in South Africa, the first of the new World Test Championship Cycle to start from Boxing Day (December 26) at the Centurion. Without a doubt, both are past their best and the selection committee with Ajit Agarkar in the chair believe that the time has arrived for Indian cricket to move on with alternative players like Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shreyas Iyer who have proved their mettle. Recalled for the WTC final against Australia that India lost at London’s Oval last June, Rahane made 89 and 46, but only 3 and 8 in two Tests against the West Indies in the West Indies. His Test career appears to have come to a grinding halt at No 85 in which he scored 5077 runs. Pujara, another stalwart of the last 13 years, made 14 and 27 in the WTC final. The steadfast right-hander from Rajkot; Pujara has played 103 Tests and played the four-Test series against Australia at home and the WTC final. He has scored 7195 runs. With KL Rahul and Iyer taking the middle order spots, it appears it is curtains for these two solid batsmen; the five Test home series against England will confirm the inevitable for them. There could be quite a few more like Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz Khan who could be competing for the middle order slots in the future engagements of the WTC cycle.

Bawankule’s Prophecy, Silence Of Fadanvis More Eloquent

The fabulous victory in the assembly elections in three northern states has expectedly heightened the confidence of the rank and file of the BJP. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has lobbed the first volley on behalf of such workers with his own prophecy. “Our leader Devendra Fadnavis will be sworn in as our next chief minister in 2024,” the irrepressible Bawankule declared in a party workers’ meet in Bhandara and made all those present to repeat the oath after him. While Fadnavis himself has repeatedly avoided any direct response to such questions from the media, the state party chief has no such compunction. So far, Fadnavis has not reacted to the incident while the opposition has kept mum, perhaps needing time to recover from the electoral drubbing suffered by the I.N.D.I.A front. On his part, Fadnavis has time and again ensured that no conflict is created within the three-party government in the state. Just a couple of days ago, unconfirmed reports became viral that the BJP will contest 26 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Sensing that such baseless talk could generate avoidable tensions, Fadnavis immediately clarified that there was no such decision. This dampened any further speculation. Hence, several party workers feel Bawankule needs to learn the art of politics from Fadnavis and pray that such a day will come soon.
rahul priyanka

Cong Insulates Gandhis From Rout In Hindi Heartland

No sooner did the assembly results indicated that the BJP was winning the three states in the Hindi heartland — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, a Congress spokesperson was alert enough to embark on her next important political task. That of insulating both Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka from any blame of losing these polls. She promptly told a national TV, “Can we blame our CMs and our PCC chiefs who were given full freedom, for failing to deliver the states?” She was referring to the leeway and free hand given to outgoing CMs Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and Kamal Nath as PCC chief in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress high command had not interfered at all in election work in these three states, but Gandhis did offer Karnataka-like guarantees. Yet people seem to have opted for PM Modi’s assurance of delivery on governance. The much awaited reality of Ram Mandir being open to people from January 2024 also seems to have worked on the voters. If anything came as a surprise, Congress sources admitted that it was losing Chhattisgarh from its fold. As Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam tersely put it, the party had been sunk by the curse of “sanatan dharma”. As for winning Telangana, the Congress feels it has only the BJP to thank for. If the BJP had not removed Bandi Sanjay Kumar as state chief “We wouldn’t have been voted in.  Everyone was sick and tired of KCR and his family,” says a Congress leader.
mk udhaya

Udhaya Crowning May Be Just Days Away

The DMK succession plan is gathering pace. The young gun Udhaynidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, will be crowned as the Deputy CM to coincide with the DMK conference to be held on December 17 in Salem. The first family thought it through and with a bit of pressure coming from the home front, Stalin is inclined not to repeat the mistake his father did in not promoting him as the party boss though he was 92 during the 2016 elections. The CM was involved in making his son’s birthday on November 27 a bigger occasion with the Udhayanidhi-inspired cycle rally made part of the party’s poll campaign. The youth heard at the rally that a bigger role in the 2024 poll campaign for their young leader was on the cards after his successful appearances in the 2019 and 2021 polls that made an impact. As the young lion, Udhaya was able to speak up boldly against AIADMK as well as the NDA front the party was a part of. How the party views his promotion as Dy CM may depend on the mood of the elders, but there is none in the party today to question the chief on these matters as it happened in the case of Kalaignar Karunanidhi. And, as one politician ally said it, Udhayanidhi Stalin’s horoscope is a good one.

Power Couple Parulekars Make Waves In The Hospitality Sector

They are new power couples who quit their high profile jobs to start their own venture. Deven Parulekar, former partner at EY and Tejas Parulekar chief manager at ICICI Bank started SaffronStays that offers unique holiday experiences by offering beautiful, private bungalows situated in exotic locations across India. What started by Tejas in 2016 as a one-employee operation of offering aggregator services of homestays has now grown into a 115-employee operator of homestays. Their USP of offering unique holiday experiences has indeed found lots of takers. Recently, SaffronStays won awards from Make My Trip and Times of India for providing a unique homestay experience. Besides, it finds mention in the Luxebook 100, a listing of India’s top 100 brands. SaffronStays has steadily built an attractive repertoire of over 250 rooms in Pan India. Inspired by Ruskin Bond, their asset at Landour, the abode of a former CEO of 7-star property in the hills of Mukteshwar, and a Tony Stark-styled glasshouse are some of their exciting assets. In the last eight years, SaffronStays has carved a niche for itself. With domestic tourism seeing good traction the Parulekars are confident of touching the Rs 100 crore turnover mark. They are planning to list their company and are also not averse to the idea of selling the brand, in future, if needed.
cricket team

India Cricket Brand Set For A Big Splash In South African Summer

With 44 players being picked for the India ‘A’ team and the Senior team’s tour of South Africa, It will be truly an Indian Summer in the Rainbow Nation from December 10. Once South Africa moved away from the apartheid days and returned to the mainstream of international cricket some three decades ago, India has been a popular visiting team there. Dr Ali Bacher, a very influential administrator in the United Cricket South Africa was instrumental in his country’s first tour for an ODI series in the very early 1990s. The sad part after 31 years is that India will play only two Tests as part of the third ICC World Test Championship cycle at the Centurion from December 26 and at the Newlands ground at Cape Town from January 3. The selection committee has chosen 16 players for the Test matches and another 28 for the six white-ball series matches, for two four-day matches featuring the  India ‘A’ team against South African sides and for a three-day intra-squad match between the India players. It will be a terrific exposure for the fringe players of the India ‘A’ team to make the most of the opportunity.  With the Indian team on the cusp of a transitional phase, a bright performance with the bat or ball would indeed open the doors for successful players to be considered for the national team.
revanth reddy

Cong Worries Over Its Rythu Bandhu Politics In Telangana


The Congress in Telangana is hopelessly caught in a cleft stick on the ‘Rythu Bandhu’– a popular scheme of fund transfer to farmers managed by the BRS Government. The party is not sure if it had protested too much and stopped the scheme just ahead of polling on November 30. Would the farmers be angry with the Congress that it had stopped the disbursal of the funds on a silly pretext? After all, the incumbent government BRS government had secured permission from the ECI on November 24 to disburse funds under the scheme. With 10 rounds of ‘Rythu Bandhu’ already disbursed to 73 lakh farmers the current round would have been extended to all, beginning November 28.The ECI, which granted permission earlier rescinded its decision in just 48 hours apparently with a complaint lodged by Telangana PCC chief A Revanth Reddy. Congress sources now feel the basis for Reddy’s complaint to the ECI against stopping Rythu Bandhu was very frivolous. In fact, the Congress has even disputed the veracity of the complaint. “How can the statement of state finance minister T Harish Rao announcing the schedule of the disbursement be the basis of blocking the scheme? We feel the ECI has worked hand in glove with BRS only to give a stick to beat the Congress,” says a party manager. He says the Congress had made only one request to the ECI and that too in October. Which means Revanth Reddy will be the fall guy if he fails to clinch Telangana polls.

Mammootty’s Path Breaking Film Banned In The Middle East

At 72, this Kerala megastar defies all efforts to define his reach and artistic core. Mammootty is in a different range altogether, with no gimmicks, star props and hectic marketing image to sustain his star aura. Mammootty is Mammootty…perhaps a bit bored with the kind of roles that have come his way, he is consistently reinventing himself. So he started Mammootty Film Kampany not to show that he can produce more saleable films but to give himself ample space to experiment with themes and ideas that can impact society. Nanpagal Nerathu Mayakkam and Kannur Squad are from his stable though not commercial successes. His latest film Kaathal: The Core is being acclaimed as a path breaker, a reinvention of his versatility and a film that will be remembered long after you watch the last fade out. Director Jeo Baby, fresh from his success with The Great Indian Kitchen has partnered with Mammootty to deal with a taboo subject not with surgical strike aggression, but the delicate cuts of a trauma surgeon.  But it has been banned in Qatar and GCC countries where an overwhelming Malayali diaspora lap up Mammootty films. Reason Mammootty is a homosexual, leading a complex life of deceit, though happily married to Omana (played brilliantly by Jyotika). These countries have strict censorship for offbeat themes. There are ever so many stigma subjects in society and films like Kaathal: The Core do impact how society can show more tolerance and acceptance.

Ravi Shastri's Thumbs Up To Indian Street Premier League

The street-smart cricketer, as Ravi Shastri put it, finally has received a big boost to showcase his talent in a national-level tennis ball competition. Shastri, a right-hand bat who bowled left-arm spin and a winner of the 1983 Prudential World Cup, was on most occasions stoical and unyielding. He attributed his learnings during his fledgling days of playing tennis ball cricket at Mahim’s Navjivan Society, especially essaying inside-out shots over cover and extra cover (off-side field positions) as one of the reasons for him to tame leg spin wizard Shane Warne in the latter’s debut Test in Sydney in 1992. Shastri made 206. After being in the game for over four decades — as a player, coach and media personality, Shastri believes that a cricketer learns to be street smart in building compounds, leafy streets, and maidans in the Indian subcontinent and also parts of the Middle East. This particular Mumbai and Indian characteristic is the reason for the founding of the Indian Street Premier League (ISPL).  The promoters are Ashish Shelar, a BJP bigwig in Mumbai and Maharashtra and BCCI Treasurer and Amol Kale, president, Mumbai Cricket Association. To start with six teams from Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Srinagar will play 19 matches from March 2 to 9 inside a stadium. A lot many things are not known, though; most importantly the player fee and prize money and plenty more!


A Tale Of Deception For Cong In Rajasthan

Now that the votes have been cast in Rajasthan, Congress election managers are finally letting off their steam against one over-priced star campaigner, Imran Pratapgarhi, who not only called off half a dozen programmes at the last minute but had left the party hugely embarrassed because of his erratic ways. It is being said he played truant in Telangana too. Hugely popular for his shayari, Pratapgarhi has been quite elusive and is known to even charge the party for his efforts. It is precisely for his campaign work that he got elected to Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra in 2022 overlooking local claims, and was appointed to head the Minority Department of the AICC. Party sources said Pratapgarhi was taking everyone for granted because he had patronage of Priyanka Gandhi as he hailed from UP.  Well if the Congress cadres were putting up with the whims of a Pratapgarhi, they discovered getting Sachin Pilot into a campaign mode had become a logistic hazard. It was all because CM Ashok Gehlot decided not to make any arrangements for his rival. It was finally left to the AICC to make a last-minute arrangement for a chopper to ferry Sachin across constituencies. Even this wasn’t done not because Sachin was close to the Gandhis.  It is being said even the Gandhis  felt a bit tricked when they found  there were different names in Sachin’s candidates’ list  that was  given to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for the CEC meeting. Maybe Sachin was trying to get as many names of his candidates cleared.
Durga stalin_002

First Family Of Faith Contradictions Helps Temples In Tamil Nadu

The first family household of Tamil Nadu may be a bundle of contradictions with an atheist head, a super faithful Hindu better half, a son tending to atheism with a wife from another faith and a daughter who is apolitical. It must cope with various demands in an intensely political life under a spotlight, which is why chief minister MK Stalin is going all out to stress that his party DMK, an offshoot of the non-believing Justice Party, is not against Hindus. He took umbrage at the Union Finance Minister’s statement that the government and the party were stealing from temples by usurping their lands. While assigning party loyalists and functionaries as chairpersons to temples that are in great public demand like Tiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, Srirangam and Palani, the government has gone all out to help temples recover lands alienated decades ago. The HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu, who goes on every temple run with the first lady to ensure she is received with honours, put out a statistic saying that so far Stalin’s government had reclaimed lands worth Rs 5,500 crore in two years. The figures are not in dispute, but what is also relevant is Union Minister Murugan’s statement that while TN temple lands were recorded in 1986 to be 5.25 lakh acres, now there are only 4.78 lakh acres in their possession. There may be some way to go in enabling temples to repossess their property, but the Stalin government is at least trying and the faithful must accept things are better now.
Mamata ultimatum

Mamata Sabre-Rattles To Assert Her Position Within TMC

When Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee launched an all-out attack on the BJP this week warning that central agencies would target it after the 2024 general elections, it seemed more a bid to assert herself within the TMC rather than taking an aim at the national party. Yes, her warning that if central agencies arrest four of her party leaders, the West Bengal police would arrest eight state BJP leaders seemed plain bluff and bluster. TMC watchers pointed out that Mamata was compelled to do some sabre-rattling at a party event as she wanted to put her nephew and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in his place. It was on Didi’s orders that Abhishek’s posters had gone missing. It is being said Mamata had taken a tough view on Abhishek only to reassure old-time TMC backers. For some time now Abhishek has been asking Mamata to dump those TMC leaders who have fallen foul of the law. At least five high-profile TMC leaders, including four legislators of whom two were state ministers, are now in judicial custody after they were arrested by the ED and the CBI in multiple corruption cases. The jailed leaders are all die-hard Mamata loyalists. With Abhishek having handpicked all next generation TMC MLAs in 2021 polls, Mamata is feeling increasingly isolated in the party.
Rohit sharma_test


A Handful For White-Ball Captaincy, But Just Rohit Sharma For Test Cricket

For small mercies, there is not even a whispering campaign to sack Rohit Sharma as captain of the Indian team following the men in blue’s disappointing show and defeat to Australia in the World Cup. In fact, the “cricket diwane” have been quite sympathetic towards him because of the blistering and engaging ways of his batting, and leadership right through the quadrennial event campaign. But news in the grapevine is rife about the BCCI looking out for captains for white ball cricket. Still in the rehabilitation process after a left leg impairment that happened in the match against Bangladesh, Hardik Pandya has been replaced by Suryakumar Yadav for the five-match Twenty20 series against Australia. The selectors have also named Shreyas Iyer vice-captain for the last two matches at Raipur and.Bengaluru. It is not known if Pandya would be fit for the white ball (3 T20s and as many ODIs) series in South Africa to be played before Christmas: in his absence will the selection committee split the captaincy and give it to Yadav and KL Rahul? The two-Test series will be played from December 26 at the Centurion and Cape Town from January 3, 2024. And Rohit is certain to lead the team in these two matches. He had missed the previous series in South Africa that India lost 1-2 because of a hamstring niggle. India’s new WTC cycle starts with this two-Test series followed by the five-Test home series against England. India has captaincy options for the white ball format, but just Sharma for the Test rubbers. Powered by: IDFC First Bank

Consumers In Tamil Nadu Up In Arms As Aavin Stops Distribution Of Popular Green Pack Milk

Aavin, the largest dairy cooperative controlled by the Tamil Nadu government has hit headlines. Set up in 1981, this popular brand like Amul in Tamil Nadu has stopped distribution of its popular Green pack milk which enjoys 40% market share. Green pack which contains 4.5% fat content has been replaced by lavender coloured Delite which has 3.5 % fat content. This move has sent consumers and Opposition parties into a tizzy of anger. TN’s former CM Edappadi Palaniswami and AMMK’s supremo TTV Dinakaran condemned the move to sell less fat content Delite at the same price. This move is to popularise private milk brands through the back door says BJP leader K Annamalai. It may be recalled a few months when Amul was making inroads into TN, the DMK government raised hue and cry how local brands are being cannibalized. Neighbouring Karnataka during elections time saw similar protests by politicians saying how local brand Nandini was being killed with the entry of Amul. Interestingly, TN’s minister for milk production, Mano Thangaraj has come up with an ingenious justification, “Look how health conscious people are…they don’t want fat in any form. We have public health as our main concern.” Aavin which processes 30 lakh litres of milk every day ranks eight in consumer packaged goods category of 10 most famous brands. Several private sector players have tried to compete but are unable to sustain Aavin’s reach, price point and popularity.
aparijita sarangi

BJP’s Odisha MP Aparajita Sarangi In Campaign Mode, Puts Poster Seeking One More Chance

Firebrand BJP MP from Odisha Aparajita Sarangi is in the news for two reasons. First, for her effort to protect netizens from loan sharks. Second, even though her party is yet to give her the Lok Sabha ticket officially, she has already swung into campaign mode by putting up posters in her constituency in Bhubaneswar which says “One more chance to Aparajita”. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s party Biju Janata Dal is yet to decide who will fight against Aparajita. Meanwhile, it is learnt that former Mumbai’s top cop Arup Patnaik who lost to Aparajita Sarangi in 2019 by a small margin has decided not to contest citing health issues. Her party sources say Aparajita is focussing on battle of ideas, how issues are interpreted, and how she can control the narrative to swing vote bank politics. For instance, she wrote to chief minister seeking his intervention to bring back peace and normalcy in group clash-hit Padmakesharipur village at Patia, Bhubaneswar and release 150 local residents from jail. Aparajita is also urging government actions against money lenders charging exorbitant 20% interest per month which led to the recent community unrest at Patia.

Uddhav Rejigs His Strategy, Keen To Teach Opponents A Lesson

With general elections few months away, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has rejigged his strategy that will see him increasing his public appearances. For now, he has declared that he will be visiting Palghar district outside Mumbai soon, admitting that he had not paid attention to the area which had elected his candidate to the Lok Sabha in 2019. Uddhav has been constantly criticised for not venturing out Matoshree, his family residence located in suburban Bandra. The criticism was sharp when he was the chief minister for over two years. “You have not visited Mantralaya even two and a half times,” his arch detractor Narayan Rane would say over and over again. Besides undertaking a few trips within the state and except for attending a couple of I.N.D.I.A meetings, Uddhav has stayed mostly in Mumbai and in Matoshree in particular. But it seems he will now become more active by appearing in public. Another possible reason for his aggressive posture could be the frequent media interactions his cousin Raj Thackeray has been enjoying, the latest regarding his victory on the issue of displaying Marathi boards in Mumbai by commercial establishments. Uddhav felt particularly aggrieved as some posters describing chief minister Eknath Shinde as “Hindu Hriday Samrat,” came up a couple of days ago. As the title was bestowed upon Balasaheb Thackeray Uddhav said, “The saboteurs will be taught a fitting lesson by the people in the coming election.”

Has Murugappa Group Bought Out Valli Arunachalam's Stake In Ambadi Investments?

TVS and Murugappa are not just iconic names but also venerable brands in the Chennai business world. TVS has seen the four families, part of the group, go their separate ways legally. Each one of the four families in the erstwhile TVS is now chalking out its own independent business strategy. The Murugappa group, too, has many family branches. This one too appears to be letting the individual families pursue their own business interests. Still, the family holding company is intact and appears to bind the Murugappa families together. The open revolt by Valli Arunachalam, the elder daughter of late MV Murugappan, however, put the spotlight on the Murugappa group. Fortunately, both Valli and the Murugappa group have chosen to smoke the peace pipe. Coming as it does against this backdrop, the decision by Ambadi Investments (the holding company of the Murugappa group) to sell its entire 2.27% stake in EID Parry has set tongues wagging. The open market sale has fetched Ambadi Rs 190 crore. Does the stake sale have any connection with the peace pact with Valli? One tends to quickly correlate the two. Has the Murugappa group chosen to let Valli cash out? That option remains the realm of possibility with the stake sale by Ambadi in EID Parry. Powered by: Powered By ICICI Lombard 

Ghanshyam Nabar (L) and Pratap Singh

The Indian Banking Sector In The UK Witnesses Dramatic Changes

The Indian banking circles in the UK are witnessing dramatic changes at the top level. Pratap Singh, the No 2 in ICICI Bank quit the bank after a 15-year stint to join SBI UK as the Head of Retail & Digital Transformation two months ago. Now, the latest news is that Singh has quit SBI UK. Eyebrows are being raised about his sudden departure. Was it the public sector bank’s work culture, (read rules and regulations) that made it tough for the private sector banker? Going back to ICICI Bank is ruled out as Gaurav Arora has replaced him. Meanwhile the management of ICICI Bank has asked Lok Mishra, MD & CEO, to hold the fort as his replacement Raghav Singhal is yet to get the green signal from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This delay has seen ICICI Bank quietly withdrawing Singhal’s application from FCA.  In another development, Ghanshyam Nabar who was working for West Midlands India Partnership has turned an entrepreneur. He has set up UI Connect offering strategic consultancy between India and the UK and Europe. Shehla Hasan has quit Manchester India Partnership to head CII‘s UK and Europe operations as its Executive Director. MIP and WMIP were set up as a strong “living bridge” between the two nations, but its current defunct states are an ironic reflection of the growing India-UK relations and FTA around the corner.

Is It Gita Jayanti Celebration Or BJP’s Lok Sabha Poll Campaign Launch For West Bengal?

BJP is set to prepare a centre stage at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Gita Jayanti Celebration on December 24. It is apparent that the programme is the initiative of various organizations of the Sangh Parivar, yet the official organiser is Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrit Parishad. Several functionaries of the organisation including central committee member of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Swami Nirgunananda Maharaj met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 17, officially inviting him to attend the programme. Over lakhs of monks across several Sanatan Hindu organisations such as Bharat Sevashram Sangha and others will be chanting Gita Sotras to mark the occasion named ‘Laksh Kante Gitapath’ (Gita Chants by Lakh Voices). The organisers along with BJP Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar presented the PM with the official invite on a silver plaque with Devnagari script written in copper. Manas Bhattacharya, member of the organising committee says that the PM has expressed his desire to chant Gita Sotras along with the monks. Even the President Draupadi Murmu has confirmed her presence. Claiming it to be a non-political event, Bhattacharya informed that they will also invite West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the chief guest and other MPs and MLAs of the state across political parties. It may seem a non-political event but BJP will not let lose the opportunity to use the platform to drive home its Hindutva agenda in Bengal ahead of 2024 general elections.
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Do Good Looks Matter In Bollywood?

Historically, audiences went to the theatres to see stars for their looks. Rewind to 60s, 70s, 80s and you will see all Bollywood actors were handsome, good looking, macho. Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna to name a few. In the case of actresses it was their ravishing beauty, the dream girl of every man. Sadhana, Saira Banu, Hema Malini, Rekha, Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia. Chocolate heroes and dream girls were synonymous with Bollywood. It was only in the art cinema that looks were secondary – Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah. The advent of hinterland cinema brought the ordinary looking boy and girl center stage. Says a Bollywood’s senior casting director, “Those days of having a conventionally good looking actor are gone. If you see most of the actors today who are doing well especially on the OTT are far from being that.” Today the audience is more open to looking at realistic characters whom they can connect, relate and identify with. Today being a good actor is far more important than good looks. “Acting and talents are the first two criteria of casting today, if the actor is good looking then it’s an added advantage,” says the casting director. Hrithik Roshan called the Greek God did not mind to wear brown make up for Super 30. If you look at OTT stars — Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jitendra Kumar, Pankaj Mishra –then it is clear today acting matters not looks. Powered by: IDFC First Bank

For A Telangana Win, Cong Pins Hopes On Muslims Like It Did In Karnataka

For the November 30 Telangana assembly elections, the Congress  seems to be focussed on garnering minority votes, virtually hoping it would be a repeat of its Karnataka win. No, it is not just relying on its Minority Declaration that has promised huge allowances of Rs 10,000-12,000 for Imams, Muezzins and Khadims, it is doing much more. Like relying heavily on an aggressive push by Karnataka Minority Affairs Minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan who has been sort of camping and canvassing in the poll-bound state. Following instructions of CM Siddaramaiah a few Karnataka Muslim Congress leaders too have been campaigning in Telangana. It may be recalled that minister Ahmed had stirred controversy by stating how Karnataka’s BJP MLAs were now forced to show respect to a Muslim Speaker UT Khader in the Karnataka Assembly. The Congress feels encouraged to tap Muslim votes as Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM would be contesting only nine seats. The AIMIM was contesting seven seats on which it had sitting MLAs and was fielding two extra seats. The Congress has fielded five Muslim candidates against AIMIM’s eight. Besides Minister Khan who has been working on the ground, nine more Karnataka ministers were deployed on election work. Deputy CM and KPCC chief DK Shivkumar also got 48 other senior leaders — mostly MLAs and MLCs — appointed as AICC cluster in-charges. A party manager conceded that post Diwali there were coordinators deployed across all the 119 constituencies.
thangam thennarasu

When Power Tripped At Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister’s Event

Tamil Nadu has historically been power deficit…not political power but energy wise. People still talk about a 1997 movie starring Prabhudeva and Kajol, Minsara Kanavu (Electric Dream). Chronic power cuts then made people mock, “For us, minsarame kanavu “electricity is just a dream “. Looks like alternate Dravidian Gaddi occupiers have not found a light at the end of the tunnel over the years. Electricity has consistently been the bug bear of both AIADMK and DMK. But slick talking ministers of the DMK government have a talent for turning adversity into opportunity. Some time back, TN’s Electricity Minister Thangam Thennarasu (stand in for V Senthil Balaji) was addressing a press meet in Tirunelveli when the lights went off and the venue turned dark. Immediately the media persons turned on their cell phone lights and bathed the stage in light. The minister had a unique way of acknowledging the timely light up , “I was wondering about what content I could talk about today. You guys have now found your content. You can headline your feed… Lights off when the electricity minister addresses the media…you have a powerful story “. Trust a politician to turn any crisis into an opportunity.


BJP Feels Social Media Heat, Bawankule At Receiving End

The BJP in Maharashtra is feeling the heat generated by the social media as its president Chandrashekhar Bawankule continues to be lashed by Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut over the former’s family visit to a casino in Macau. Raut on Friday (Nov 24) released a new video clip entitled ‘An Evening in Macau……..’ with a veiled warning that ‘Picture abhi baki hai.’ This is taken as an indication since immediately thereafter, Raut declared that he has 27 photographs and five video clips in this connection. On top of it, Raut taunted the BJP by saying, “If I post this material, the BJP will have to close down its shop. But I will not do it. We are soldiers of Balasaheb Thackeray.” When the first video clip was uploaded by Raut a few days ago, Bawankule had claimed that in Hong Kong – Macau, when you go in any hotel and need to go to another area therein, you have to pass by a casino table.” Bawankule had lamented that he was facing such type of criticism after being in politics for 34 years. He said he had barely visited his home in the last 14 months. Therefore, his daughter and daughter-in-law had secured three days’ time from him for a family outing. As part of this planning, the family was in Macau, he clarified. Raut’s new revelation has rattled the BJP, which is expected to rebound soon.

Bengaluru’s Leading Hospitals Forge Ties with BAPIO Training Academy UK

Two leading Bengaluru-based hospital chains Manipal Hospital and Cloudnine Hospital have signed a MoU with the UK-based BAPIO Training Academy to develop a global training programme for post-MBBS doctors to strengthen training and advance medical education in obstetrics, paediatrics, IVF, gynaecology and foetal medicines. This MoU implemented across 29 hospitals in 12 cities enables doctors for the first time in India to take up the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology exams in India. BAPIO, The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin is a voluntary organisation for doctors of Indian sub-continental origin, established in 1996 and based in the United Kingdom. BAPIO UK team led by Dr Prof Parag Singhal signed the MoU with the heads of Cloudnine Hospitals and Manipal Hospitals — Dr R Kishore Kumar, Dr Sudarshan Ballal — signed the MoU in the presence of the British Deputy High Commissioner Bengaluru and Deputy Trade Commissioner for Investment, South Asia Chandru Iyer. The idea behind imparting training programmes is to empower the next generation of medical professionals and make a lasting impact on the future of healthcare in India.
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ICC Pleased With A Record 1.25 Mn Turnout At The World Cup In India

The numbers are out and the International Cricket Council (ICC) has shouted from the rooftop saying around 1,250,307 spectators kept the turnstiles busy in the course of the 45 round-robin league matches and three knockout matches (2 semifinals and a final).  The numbers have proved that there are takers for the ICC’s signature events, most notably the men’s 50-over format World Cup. The number would be many times more if one took into account the tickets given to stakeholders other than the faithful. The ICC was lucky that the BCCI and thereby India, which was the only host, had the ready numbers willing to scrape the bottom of their pocket to get hold of the tickets made available online. One would be still disappointed by the turnout for the India-Australia final at the 132000 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium. The ICC said that 92000 plus turned up, less than the number announced for the India-Pakistan Twenty20 World Cup match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in October 2022. According to the ICC, 1,016,420 spectators passed through the turnstiles at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and 752,000 at the 2019 event in England and Wales.  A delighted ICC said: “We would like to thank all the fans who contributed to making the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 such a resounding success, and look forward to sharing more thrilling experiences for everyone in future ICC events.” Truly India has kept the ICC event and the format alive and kicking! Powered by: IDFC First Bank
zakir alpesh

Music Maestros Zakir, Niladri, Chaurasia's To Play Together In The UK

Just before this year ends, three music maestros from India, Zakir Hussain (tabla), Niladri Kumar (sitar) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute) will be in the UK to enthral their fans. The trio, who from time to time collaborate with The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) which is India’s first and only professional orchestra promoted by the NCPA has regaled audiences the world over. The trio will perform at Cadogan Hall (London), Symphony Hall (Birmingham), Usher Hall (Edinburgh) between November 30 and December 3. The 2023 UK tour has been meticulously curated and planned by the NCPA chairman KN Suntook. SOI is designed to showcase the best of the music world from India for the UK audience. Zakir Hussain, the master of fusion craft, Niladri Kumar with his powerful strumming on the sitar and Rakesh Chaurasia with his soft soothing phrases on the bansuri will undoubtedly give the audience a rich musical experience.  The NCPA had commissioned Zakir Hussain to compose a Triple Concerto for tabla, sitar, bansuri and the symphony was  premiered at the September 2023 Season of the SOI in Mumbai to an applauding audience. The three concerts, part of an 8-concert tour of  the UK, will be the global premiere of the Triple Concerto. To top it all, these three concerts will be conducted by the Indian-born award winning British conductor, Alpesh Chauhan OBE. Alpesh is currently Principal Guest Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.   Powered by: IDFC First Bank

Didi Claims Party Members Not-Guilty And Vows Revenge Against BJP

In several months after some of her prominent party leaders were arrested for their alleged involvement in scams, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee in her first public endorsement not only stood by them but made it categorical that she will also apply the same tactics of arrests against BJP leaders. Reinstating her faith in party’s Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra in the eye of the storm in the “cash-for-query” case, Didi stated that it is the ploy of BJP to “oust Mahua ” from the Parliament. According to her, this would end up boosting the popularity and electoral prospects of the TMC MP, one of the Adani group’s fiercest critics. Interestingly, Didi named four arrested TMC leaders — Partha Chatterjee, Manik Bhattacharya, Anubrata Mondal and Jyotipriyo Mallick – and said they were not-guilty of money laundering in teacher’s recruitment scam, cattle smuggling scam and ration distribution scam. Sending a warning to BJP, Didi vowed to make it a revenge game by arresting eight BJP leaders with cases of criminal offenses. As a much needed step amid increasing allegations of scam against party leaders, TMC’s meeting at Netaji Indoor Stadium was to boost the morale of party members. BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari threatened to lodge an FIR against the chief minister for her comments to arrest “eight BJP leaders” in an act of “tit-for-tat”.
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Sonia Rushed To Jaipur To Pep Up Gehlot, After A Rub In With Rahul

When Congress leader Sonia Gandhi shifted to Jaipur as Delhi’s air pollution level spiked last week post Diwali there were a lot of concerns about her health. More than that, many in the party wondered about the real purpose of her visit. Did she really choose Jaipur to recover from horrible Delhi weather or there is more than that meets the eye? Sonia was apparently there to iron out differences between CM Ashok Gehlot and son Rahul. Party sources said it seemed only logical. That’s because whenever she is advised by her doctors to shift to a place where the air is not so polluted as in Delhi, she usually visits Goa; .Jaipur can’t be considered a health resort. Sonia rushed to Jaipur after Rahul had a head-on clash with CM Gehlot over ticket distribution. Party sources said Gehlot was heard asserting how he has been a two-term CM and has the experience to pick and endorse candidates on his list. Sonia decided to have a pep talk with Gehlot and make it easy for Rahul. Clearly, the CM was visibly upset with the way Congress leadership denied tickets to his close aide Mahesh Joshi from his Hawa Mahal constituency in Jaipur.  Last year, Joshi along with three other ministers — Shanti Dhariwal, Pratap Khachariyawas and Dharmendra Rathore were served show-cause notices for going against the party whip in 2022. While the high command decided to spare Dhariwal and Khachariyawas, axe fell on Joshi and Rathore.

Bhujbal Abandoned By Congress Leader On Maratha Reservation Issue

Firebrand OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal seems isolated over the Maratha reservation issue in Maharashtra, once again highlighting the fact that politicians can change their stand at the drop of a hat, without batting an eyelid. Bhujbal was supported by Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar over the OBCs’ determination that no curtailment would be permitted in their reservation quota to accommodate the Maratha reservation demand. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Wadettiwar attended the first OBC rally, which was organised to express unity among various OBC beneficiaries of reservations. Wadettiwar was present although the Congress party has not taken any stand over the sensitive issue. He has been under attack from within the Congress for his various statements and also for supporting Bhujbal, fearing a backlash from the Maratha caste in the coming elections. Sensing the threat to his own position, Wadettiwar has now declared that he will never share a dais with Bhujbal. Maintaining that those in power are expected to resolve problems of the populace, Wadettiwar said it is patently wrong to poison the relationship between two sections of society in this battle for reservations. “Who will be responsible if lives are lost?” he thundered. Expectedly, his new stand has been welcomed by Maratha leader Manoj Jarange Patil, who is proceeding towards Mumbai to precipitate the matter by exerting pressure on the rulers.
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Power Play And Beyond Should Have Been Rohit Sharma's Mantra

Should not have Rohit Sharma looked at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final as a completely different ball game! Applauded for his brutal hitting to maximise the potential to gather runs in the first 10 over power play up to the semi-finals, Sharma had an opportunity to rise to the occasion and show a ruthless approach that would have taken Australia and its captain Pat Cummins by surprise.  Having been invited to bat, Sharma, according to the discerning, should have accepted the challenge by choosing defence as an option to blend it with his aggression and bat deep.  Probably close to 40 overs. “Australia and Cummins should have seen his face for many, many overs. This unyielding attitude and approach would have taken his game tactically to the next level,” felt a handful of former first-class cricketers. Sharma’s leather hunting methods brought him 597 runs off 474 balls, but the blind shot he attempted of the off-spinner Glenn Maxwell resulted only in a slice and once the ball was skied, Travis Head pounced on it to give the marching orders to Sharma. A chance to become a World Cup legend was lost:  1575 runs in three World Cups would not make him one. His 47 off 31 and 44 minutes was good,  but not as good as Marnus Labuchagne’s 58 not out off 110 balls and 133 minutes which has to be seen as the greatest support cast role played to the grand knock of an unbeaten 137 off 120 balls and in 166 minutes by Head.
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Kapil Dev’s Explosive Comment Of 1983 Retold 40 Years On

What did Kapil Dev say to two journalists soon after India had won the World Cup in 1983? In his earthy style, the winning captain told two journalists at Lord’s in London – “Ghoron ka aur Kaliyon ka, dhononka !@#4 paad diya”, translating to – “The whites and the blacks, we screwed them both”. This well-kept secret was revealed by one of the two journalists with whom Kapil Dev interacted after the final in the sponsor Prudential Insurance Company’s hospitality tent. He told me that 40 years on there was no harm in revealing what was an emotion that the captain felt in his heart after having achieved what was the greatest triumph of the underdog in the world of sport in one of its biggest stages, which was the ODI World Cup. Had these words been spoken in this ‘woke’ era it might have stirred up a real storm and Kapil Dev pilloried as a racist. But in those times, four decades ago, celebrities spoke what they felt, at least in asides to scribes in the confidence that it would not be blown out of proportion. There was no social media either in those times to exaggerate each word and troll the speaker in myriad posts.

Did Kharge Target Shashi Tharoor For Contesting CWC Election Against Him?

Exactly three months after inducting him into the CWC, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge targeted Shashi Tharoor by removing him from the All India Professional Congress (AIPC) — an organisation that Tharoor had founded six years ago to draw professionals to the Grand Old Party. For some reason, Kharge thought it fit to replace Tharoor with Praveen Chakravarty, a former venture capitalist and investment banker, who had worked with the UPA programme on financial inclusion of the unbanked poor. Praveen is credited with designing NYAY or minimum income programme for 2019 polls. Nonetheless, party circles were surprised that Kharge should go in for the replacement in the midst of assembly elections. Tharoor was listed as a key campaigner in poll-bound Telangana. After the reshuffle, Tharoor opted out of the campaign. This brings up an interesting question. At a time, when Kharge has not been able to put in place his own AICC team, why was he singling out Tharoor? It was felt Tharoor was eased out of AIPC because he had dared to contest against Kharge for the post of Congress President. At the same time, it is being said Kharge is not being given a free hand to reshuffle AICC because of tussle between Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka over appointments. Significantly, Tharoor had exit thank you only for Rahul Gandhi.

IBC Has Made It Difficult For Corporate India To Keep Barbarians At The Gate

White Knights, co-option, corporate alliances and the like were quite in vogue in former times. They played handy roles in helping companies – especially of the owner-driven ones – to ward off take-over threats. Examples are dime a dozen in the corporate world of Tamil Nadu where they threw ring-fences around vulnerable outfits to check-mate raids by unwanted or undesirable entities. This had indeed helped many stressed outfits from falling into the BIFR fold, thanks to those friends in need who played Good Samaritans. The promoters of Bank of Madura (since merged with the ICICI) sought the help of Kotak Mahindra to ward off takeover threat from AC Muthiah of SPIC fame. Likewise, Pradip Kothari reached out to MV Arunachalam of the Murugappa group to stop the threat of Reliance satellite outfits from taking over of KICL (Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd). Under new management, KICIL has now sold its fertiliser factory in Chennai to Coromandel Fertilizers of the Murugappa group! Son-in-law of late Raju, promoter of Raasi Cement, looked up to N. Srinivasan of The India Cements to stop raiders on track. Autolec, too, went to Sundaram Fasteners to ward off takeover attempts by multinational firms. In the evolving regulatory environment and following the arrival of IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code), things have gotten tougher for struggling owners to retain the ventures they have founded. The Good Samaritans of former times are either not there or wary of playing the rescue role in the changed context. Surely, that is hurting some original entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu. Powered by: Powered By ICICI Lombard 
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FM Nirmala Bails Out Tamil Nadu Fishermen From Lankan Navy Dragnet

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who was visiting Rameswaram over the weekend, had a surprise heartwarming interaction with local fishermen. Always open and accessible, a group of local fishermen frantically came over to meet her late evening to inform her about how a few fishermen had been arrested by the Lankan Navy just then. Keen to find an immediate solution, the Minister immediately called up the Indian Embassy in Colombo; after all she had only recently visited Sri Lanka. The phone call worked. In a matter of minutes, the Indian fishermen were let off at mid-sea itself. In the morning, as Sitharaman was on the way to a government programme, the fishermen came over to thank her for the prompt action. On her part, she merely told them how the Modi Government’s policies in the last 10 years have “secured the lives of fisherfolks in this region”.
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How Dev Anand's 'Guide' Almost Didn’t Get Made

Evergreen hero Dev Anand had planned two versions of Guide (1965) — English for international audiences and Hindi for India. The English version was written by Pearl S Buck and directed and produced by Tad Danielewski. Dev wanted his elder brother Chetan Anand to direct the Hindi version. Unfortunately, he was busy with his own movie Haqeeqat. So Dev’s next choice was his close friend — the celebrated director Raj Khosla. But the heroine Waheeda Rehman categorically told Dev that she will not work with Khosla. Reportedly, Khosla while making Solva Saal (1957) with Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman insisted Waheeda wear a particular dress which she refused. Post that movie Waheeda vowed never to work with Khosla ever again. As a result, the choice fell on his younger brother Goldie-Vijay Anand. Vijay Anand totally discarded the idea of making a film on RK Narayan’s novel. He said this is ‘no good’ for a film. Dev had to cajole Goldie. Finally, he agreed on the condition that he will write the screenplay. Dev gladly agreed. Goldie went to Khandala, locked himself up for 20 days and wrote the script. The rest is history. Incidentally, the Hindi version was a runaway hit and later achieved a cult following; it has since been deemed one of the best Bollywood films produced of all time. The English version flopped. This version was then screened again at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, 42 years after its release. Powered by: IDFC First Bank
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Dr Swamy To Thanthi TV: Have Not Visited Ayodhya After Winning The Case

Once upon a time he was a great friend of Narendra Modi and rooted for him becoming a PM. But, now in the last seven years he is not in talking terms with PM Modi and has become a Modi-baiter. Dr Subramanian Swamy, the political enfant terrible, uses every fora to attack PM Modi and Amit Shah on China border issue, economy et al. So it was not surprising he vented his spleen when Thanthi TV’s popular anchor Ashokavarshini interviewed him. The 84-year old Dr Swamy, who enjoys Z Security cover, spoke in Tamil minced no words while attacking Modi. In the 38-minute free-wheeling interview Dr Swamy made quite a few revelations. He told the anchor “I want BJP to win the 2024 elections but without Modi.” When she asked “Is he angry because he was not made the finance minister”? His reply was “Good, I did not become a FM as I would have not listened to him. He does not understand economics.” From pooh-poohing IMF to driving home the point that mentored PV Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh, Dr Swamy says he has not visited Ayodhya after winning the case. He says that PM Modi asked him to take over as the chief of the New Development Bank of BRICS countries but he flatly declined. This perhaps could be one of the triggers for their relationship turning sour. Ultimately, the bank’s post, eyed by many including Yashwant Sinha, was taken over by KV Kamath.
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Former London-Based Banker Launches ‘Super App’ To Help Indian Diaspora

For somebody who was heading the Retail, SME & Private Banking divisions for the UK and Europe of ICICI Bank to call it quits at the peak of his career and start his own venture requires both conviction and guts. Ashesh Jani seems to have both. In 2021, 50-year old Ashesh co-founded Ribbon PLC, a digital financial services ‘super-app’, intended to offer hyper-personalized multi-currency wallets to NRIs as well as residents of India. Further, the super app also aims to assist Indians who are keen to invest in the global markets. The target clearly is the Indian diaspora. With that in mind, Jani and company have bagged the official sponsor rights for the Gibraltar Cricket team that will play matches in the European League. In his over two decades’ stint overseas that includes both Canada and the UK, he was exposed to all the challenges of financial markets and that’s what made him launch Ribbon. His notable achievements during his time at ICICI UK Plc was becoming a certified staff for the FCA Register. Ashesh’s expertise lies in the multiple top management roles he played in different countries. While in India he worked briefly with Vodafone and Tata Internet Services helping them build their sales and distribution channels. Beyond his professional pursuit, Ashesh is an advocate for sustainability and a promoter of financial literacy among the youth. Powered by: IDFC First Bank

Family Members Of Bangladesh Poet Seek Didi’s Intervention In AR Rahman’s ‘Pippa’ Song Controversy

Family members of Bangladesh revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam living in India and Bangladesh came together in Kolkata to condemn the “distorted” AR Rahman rendition of Nazrul’s patriotic song Karar Oi Louho Kopat in the war biopic Pippa. The song was written by Islam in 1922 as a rousing nationalist anthem against the British Raj. It is learnt, a section of the family including Kazi Arindam, the poet’s younger grandson, and Khilkhil Kazi, Nazrul’s Dhaka-based granddaughter are likely to move the court against another family member — poet’s eldest grandson Anirban Kazi. Both claimed that Anirban signed as a witness to the “supposed contract” for the song’s adaptation and recreation license forged between Kalyani Kazi, Nazrul’s daughter-in-law, and the producers of the film in September 2021 in exchange for Rs 2 lakhs. Incidentally, Kalyani passed away in May 2023. Moreover, the copyrights of Nazrul’s works, currently held by the poet’s legal heirs, would expire in 2036. Khilkhil Kazi, who flew from Dhaka is one of the trustees of Nazrul Board of Bangladesh which permits artists to use Nazrul Giti in productions. The protesting family members have demanded immediate removal of the song from the movie and all digital platforms. To avoid such recurrence, both Arindam and Khilkhil Kazi have sought intervention from the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. They have requested Didi to set up a Nazrul Board of West Bengal, which will be represented by Arindam Kazi on behalf of the poet’s family to look into these copyright matters.
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Pan Spitting Fine And Dress Code At Lord Jagannath Temple

Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) is making news. SJTA will open the Rs 943 crore Shreemandira Parikrama heritage corridor around Shree Jagannatha Temple at Puri to the public on January 17 2024. The 75-meter corridor will provide expansive, unobstructed corridors around the Meghanada Pacheri giving an opportunity to devotees and pilgrims to have visual connect with the Temple, Neelchakra and Meghanada Pacheri. It is Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s dream project and his promise to the people of Odisha. Surely, it will stand his party BJD in good stead in the 2024 Lok Sabha poll. For SJTA this project is both a challenge and opportunity. While it will attract tourists from around the world and contribute to the state GDP, it also means softer hygiene issues are taken care of on a war footing. It is a common sight to see most walls splattered with pan stains. And people using banned plastic bags. For starters SJTA will do the clean-up of temple walls and surrounding areas before the D Day. Besides, it has decided to impose a Rs 1,000 fine on visitors if they are caught chewing paan, gutka or using plastic bags within the precincts of the Jagannath temple. It has already embarked on an educational campaign to sensitise visitors. According to SJTA administrator Ranjan Kumar Das, IAS, we are strengthening camera surveillance and also discouraging people coming in shorts, transparent dresses, torn jeans and other inappropriate costumes from January 1, 2024.

Tamil Nadu Governor Put In His Place?

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has been put in place. It took strictures from the Supreme Court to bring this staunch authoritarian around. Governors in independent India were never meant to ‘govern’ but this person proved to be the most confrontational of them all, putting the likes of Channa Reddy in the shade when it came to operating from the Raj Bhavan in Chennai. “He acted more like an opposition member”, was one of the milder charges made by the DMK supremo and CM Stalin against him. In putting on the shelf close to two dozen Bills, the Governor was acting way beyond his powers and, only after top court frowned upon the tactics of Governors in non-BJP states, did he wake up to reality, lest he be quartered and hung by a top court angered at the sight of Governors destroying the interpretations to the Constitution by floating the theory that, once a Governor withheld consent to a Bill, the legislation was dead. Besides his regular job at needling the government of the day, the Governor also fancies himself as an interpreter of the Constitution. Now that 10 of the Bills he refused to give assent to have been sent back to him on the same day they were reenacted in a special Assembly session he is duty-bound to sign them into law. Of course, he might view the constitutional provision on this differently. So combative is this Governor!


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.