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mantralaya

Are Some Politicians Violating Covid Norms In Maharashtra?

Nitin Raut, Maharashtra’s power minister, had come to invite Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to attend a wedding reception to be held by his family. When the subject of the quick spreading Covid surfaced in the conversation, the minister announced that he was cancelling the reception. Uddhav had cited it as cooperation in fighting the virus and asked the public to fall in line. But it’s a fact that the CM’s warning that only the mask-less public defying Covid protocols would force another lockdown in Maharashtra hasn’t found immediate traction. Other leaders seem to be entirely on another page. Thousands thronged the streets as the convoy of Minister Of State  For Forest Sanjay Rathod reached Pohradevi temple in Washim district on 23rd February. BJP leader, Dhananjay Mahadik’s son’s wedding in Pune on 22nd February not only had 1,000 guests (prescribed limit being 100) but was also graced by two men of eminence in politics — Sharad Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis. To be generous, these two worthies may not have known that the protocols were being ignored. And it was a day prior to Pawar’s tweet that informed that he was cancelling all public events. Reportedly, the Pune city police has booked Mahadik and two others for violation of Covid norms. In a related development, the State’s Food & Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbul who attended wedding of NCP MLA Saron Ahire along with Pawar has tested positive.
JAY BCCI

Sardar Patel Gets A Makeover! Now it is Narendra Modi Stadium

The cricket media was taken around the swanky Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera on Tuesday (Feb 23) with Anil Patel, a former Ranji Trophy player of Gujarat, and currently Jt. Secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association, showing the salient features of the new facility including the media lounge and the Press Box positioned in the line of fine leg or long off to a right hander. A former manager of the Indian team, Patel gave all credit to BCCI Secretary and former GCA Joint Secretary Jay Shah for the development of the new stadium. “He paid attention to the nitty-gritty. He had seen many cricket grounds and its facilities and formed his own idea of the facilities that would come up at the 63 acre area. Even his father and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken a lot of interest. He spent five hours here on Sunday (Feb 21). He voted in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation election’s and came to Motera. Whenever he was in Ahmedabad, he would make it a point to spend time at the stadium and see the progress of its development,” said Patel.  The GCA will soon develop two more grounds at the campus. “We will develop these two so that the BCCI tournaments can be played there. The Gujarat State Tourism is going to make the Sardar Patel Stadium a tourist attraction,” said Patel.
PETROL PUMP

Politics Over Petrol Price Dharmasankat!

Pump price for petrol includes excise duty levied by the Centre – with the States adding VAT to it, which varies from state to state. Higher the VAT, higher the fuel prices in that state. So, why are the Opposition parties throwing a fit on petrol breaching the Rs100-a-litre mark? It may be recalled that after years of deliberations, the current market-led pricing mechanism got stabilized since its implementation in June 2017. Hit hard by Covid-19, neither the Centre nor the States are in a position to reduce levies, which constitute 60% of the retail selling price of petrol, and more than 54% of diesel. Domestic prices should cool down hopefully in line with the projected international trends. If the government is forced to tweak taxes to moderate fuel prices, it will have to dismantle the whole reform process aimed at fixing market-determined prices. The economic reforms implemented after extensive deliberations and consensus over a long period must be kept out of opportunist politics. FM Nirmala Sitharaman is right in calling petrol price increase a ‘Dharmasankat.’ Clearly, both the Centre and the States have to abide by the ‘Raj Dharm’ to find solution to this sankat together.
akshay_big b_mani_sonu

Is Bollywood A Favourite Hunting Ground For Politicians?

When Bollywood stars tweeted against international pop star Rihanna they were targeted by the Maharashtra government. Now Big B and Akshay Kumar are being targeted by the Congress in Maharashtra for not tweeting against rising petrol prices. Guess one meeting or a phone call to Sharad Pawar might just solve Big B’s problem. Recently, Sonu Sood bought peace from Sena after talking to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Earlier Sunil Dutt sought blessings of Balasaheb Thackeray after Sanjay Dutt was arrested in the Mumbai bomb blast case. Also, Manisha Koirala went to complain about Shashilal Nair who had used her body double in a controversial scene without taking her consent. Karan Johar had to frequently meet politicians — once for My Name Is Khan, the second time for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil when the film got into trouble for featuring Fawad Khan, a Pakistani national. Even Dev Anand had to call on Balasaheb Thackeray as he had a Pakistani actor Anita Ayub in his film. Of course, one cannot forget that Mani Ratnam had to screen his film Bombay for Balasaheb Thackeray and Sharad Pawar. Looks like politicians have always been a different kind of censor board for films even after approval from the CBFC.

BJP Adding Heft & Gravitas

Eagles don’t flock you have to find them one at a time, said Ross Perot, the American billionaire who also ran for the Presidency. And BJP, it seems, is following Perot’s strategy to T. From time to time they have been wooing heavyweight politicians, bureaucrats, film stars and sports personalities into the party fold. The latest news from the BJP HQ: Metro Man E-Sreedharan is likely to join the party and contest elections in the poll-bound Kerala. The BJP has often boasted about its pantheon of crowd pullers and super achievers with clean image. In Tamil Nadu, they had almost succeeded with Superstar Rajnikant but at the eleventh hour he backed out on health grounds. In West Bengal, they are trying to woo yesteryear Superstar Mithun Chakraborty who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress ticket in 2014. But, two years later he stepped down. With elections round the corner, the BJP is not only looking for winning candidates to form the government but also a local hero who will take over as the chief minister. That’s the promise Amit Shah has made to the Bengalis. The guessing game is on as to who will wear the crown.
ishant sharma

Will Ishant Sharma Deliver At His 100th Test?

There are people in the cricket fraternity who feel that the strapping 1.93 metre tall fast bowler Ishant Sharma did not keep up his early promise and deliver the goods right through his career that began on May 25, 2007 against Bangladesh in Mirpur. But the talented seamer had really worked hard, upping his game to become a top gun from 2018. One of the eight cricketers with surname Sharma to play Test cricket, he is now looking forward to notch his 100th Test match in Test cricket – a rare feat that only another home grown speedster Kapil Dev Nikhanj has achieved. The third Test against England at Motera from February 24 will be his 100th Test. The 32-year old, Sharma – described uncharitably by Sanjay Manjrekar as support bowler to Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami — missed the tour of Australia due to an abdominal muscle tear he sustained in the early part of the IPL13 in the UAE. He was playing for the Parth Jindal-owned Delhi Capitals. He missed the four-Test series in Australia that India won 2-1. Sharma’s career figures are: 99 Tests, 3,070 overs, 18,420 balls, 9,731 runs conceded, 302 wickets at 32.22 and from calendar year 2018 onwards his figures are: 20 Tests, 539 overs, 1,470 runs conceded, 7,666 wickets at 19.34. Superb!
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Is Congress Going The Sena Way?

Once, the Congress was ideologically different from the Shiv Sena. It disapproved of the Sena’s aggressive style of politics — though it couldn’t exactly stop the saffron party. The Congress would often complain about the alleged street violence of the Shiv Sena and the MNS – and their penchant for public warnings. After partnering with the adversary to form the Maharashtra coalition government, the Congress seems to have soaked in Sena’s methods. Its newly appointed chief Nana Patole has announced that if the two actors — the Big B and Akshay Kumar — do not tweet against high petrol price (as both had tweeted against price rise during UPA-2 regime), they would not be “allowed” to shoot the films they act in nor will their films be screened. Exactly the methods of the Sena in the past and a practice which the MNS continues to follow. The Congress, hurting at the status of being a junior partner in Maha Vikas Aghadi where the third party is the assertive NCP, wants to be seen as being muscular and has learnt how to: by being like the Sena. Interestingly, Patole, as Speaker of the Assembly, was in a constitutional position and ensured the Assembly functioned under Democratic rules. What a transformation by Patole overnight!
rana kapoor_001

The Rise & Fall Of Rana Kapoor

The meteoric rise and dramatic fall of Rana Kapoor could make for an interesting TV serial on the OTT platform.  Two books have already been written on the man who co-founded Yes Bank with his co-brother-in-law Ashok Kapur. (Ashok was killed in Mumbai terror attack). Pavan C Lall, has penned Yes Man: The Untold Story Of Rana Kapoor. Tamal Bandyopadhyay in his book Pandemonium: The Great Indian Banking Tragedy, rips the façade off the smartly constructed corporate image of Yes Bank, exposing promoter Kapoor’s questionable deals. The author goes on to say that the RBI saw through the game played by Kapoor. Alarmed at the speed with which the NPAs were getting resolved, the regulator started monitoring Yes Bank closely. Finally, it was an anonymous letter sent to then RBI Governor Urijit Patel in September 2018 about the hanky-panky deals at the bank that got the central bank into action. But soon they discovered that Kapoor had many moles around. Every move contemplated by the RBI was relayed to him in real time. It took a while for the RBI to identify the suspects and isolate them from the investigative process. When Kapoor was told in one of the meetings by the RBI that he had to go, he broke down, calling Yes Bank his son, his only son — beside his three biological daughters. But such histrionics with eyes brimming over with tears didn’t move anybody. Presently, he is cooling his heels at Taloja jail on the outskirts of Mumbai.
koshyari_dhankar

Governors & CMs: In A Ding Dong Battle

A fierce ding dong battle is playing out in West Bengal and Maharashtra. In WB, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have been at loggerheads from Day One. During the Lockdown, the Governor wrote to Didi why she was deliberately breaking all the curfew protocols recommended by the Centre. A few days later she asked the Governor to refrain from summoning senior officials without her knowledge. Recently, when BJP President JP Nadda’s convoy was attacked, the Governor told Mamata “Don’t play with fire.” This verbal duel continues unabated. Hopefully, things should cool down after the state elections in April-May this year. In another battle, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari — who administered the oath of office to the Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar government which lasted for three days — is taking on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar. Pawar took pot-shot at the Governor for having time to meet film star Kangana Ranaut but not the farmers. Also, the recent controversy around the Maharashtra governor being denied permission to use state plane has added to the bitterness. Now an editorial in Sena’s mouthpiece Samna says the Governor is acting like the BJP puppet and should be called back by the President. This tug-of-war battle brings to fore the old debate whether the Governor’s Office should be abolished.
chris morris

Lottery For Chris Morris

Morris said “give me Rs. 75 lakh”, but the Rajasthan Royals replied “we will pay you Rs.16.25 crore”. Out of the 70 matches he has turned out for Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils and Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers, Bangalore in the IPL, South Africa’s Chris Morris has batted only on 44 occasions. He has remained not out 21 times to score 551 runs. He has 80 wickets under his belt, 45 of which has contributed to winning matches.  Most selection committees in cricket  would not consider these numbers a great shake, but the Royals from Jaipur  bought him at the small auction in Chennai for Rs. 16.25 crore (a little over $ 2.24 million). The Royals itself paid a low $ 60 million to win the invitation to tender and own the Jaipur team.  After a moderate performance in the league in which he made his debut in 2013, the Royals targeted Morris who is closer to his 34th birthday. In the UAE leg of the league last year he made just 34 runs in five innings and picked up 11 wickets for the Capitals at 19.09. All things considered Morris himself put his minimum worth at Rs. 75 lakh. But the Rajasthan Royals chose to pay him princely sum! As a wag said Morris may a travelled to the Cape of Good Hope on Thursday.
unfinished_pc

Can Priyanka Chopra’s Memoir Revive #MeToo Movement?

Looks like Priyanka Chopra Jonas has started her own #MeToo movement as a marketing tool for her memoir Unfinished. There has been some leaked content from the book since the day it was published. The content points fingers at Bollywood. The PR strategy seems to be highlighting all the sections which make headlines – basically being spicy. Every section is infused with some spicy scoop. It is more like the film Sanju, where a lot was spoken but nothing really confirmed. Sensationalism sells and Priyanka is doing just that by exposing filmmakers whom she met at the early stage of her career. The actress in her memoir has written that a director-producer made her twirl around and asked her to get a boob job, fix her jaw and cushion her buttocks. Those who have worked with her and the filmmaker know who she is talking about. But she has kept the media and others guessing as she continues to make headlines. There is one review that states that Priyanka has chosen to leave out far more than she chooses to record.  Priyanka is rather honest that she could not give time to her relationships. The actress has dated some of the top actors of Bollywood but she does not name them. However, she doesn’t mind mentioning a boyfriend named Bob who she hid in her closet and was caught by her aunt. Her strategy of not naming names seems to have unnerved a whole lot of people in Bollywood and many are hoping she does not come with a sequel titled Finished.

To The Harvey Weinsteins of India: #MeToo Is Back

A very public outrage against misdemeanours by powerful men has received the much-needed judicial support. #MeToo is not some time-barred phenomenon. “The woman has the right to put her grievances at any platform and even after decades,” said Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Pandey who acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case initiated by the former Union Minister MJ Akbar. The right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of right to dignity, the Delhi court observed. It will be interesting to see if Akbar’s battery of lawyers – led by Sandeep Kapur of Karanjawala & Co – will challenge the order. But the public opinion is hardening. “Akbar must be made to pay for this,” tweeted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan. #MeToo has still miles to go in India. Experts note how the Supreme Court had upheld Delhi High Court’s acquittal of Peepli Live director Mahmood Farooqui of rape charges on the grounds that a ‘feeble no’ from a friend may have been construed as consent (from a Columbia University researcher, who had come to India on a Fulbright exchange fellowship). The trial court had convicted Farooqui but the decision was overturned by the Delhi High Court. Earlier, #MeToo flagbearer Tanushree Dutta’s allegations against actor Nana Patekar collapsed too with the Mumbai police filing closure for want of evidence.
motera_stadium

The Motera Suspense; About The Pitch & Pink-Ball!

Just like intrigue surrounds a toss that sets the tone for a cricket match, the pink-ball day-night Test matches also stirs the imagination of the legion of followers of the game. That’s because the ball is supposed to wobble around the time the sun goes down and the lights are turned on. As a consequence even the most technically equipped batsmen come a cropper! All eyes — after the Indians turned the second Test match on its head in Chennai — are on the third Test at Motera, the rustic looking locality not far from the hustle and bustle of Ahmedabad city. A Test match is going to be played at the venue named after Sardar Patel, after eight years from February 24. Everyone has sung paeans about the modern ground that can seat about 1.10 lakh people and where one of the early VIP visitor was former USA President Donald Trump.  What’s of interest to the cricket aficionado and India and England would be the behaviour of the 22 yard pitch for the Test match, the result of which will pave the way for the second finalist for the ICC World Test Championship to be played in London in June. There is the pitch of red soil and black soil. The popular choice will be red.
ghulam nabi azad_001

Of Ghulam Nabi Azad And Secular Fundamentalists

This one is interesting. Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad retired from Rajya Sabha as the Leader Of Opposition on February 15, 2021. All politicians in the house praised his outstanding contributions. In his farewell speech, Azad shocked and surprised a whole generation when he said he was among the fortunate people who never went to Pakistan. “When I read about the circumstances in Pakistan, I feel proud to be a Hindustani Muslim,” he said. His remarks on visiting Pakistan comes as a sharp contrast to the Secular Fundamentalists like Mani Shankar Aiyar who would have lost count of how many times they visited Pakistan. And Iyer’s interaction with the Pakistani media would often leave many in India stunned and embarrassed, especially when he told Pakistanis: “The first and the foremost thing is to remove Modi (Modi ko hatana hoga). Only then can the talks (between India and Pakistan) move forward.” On the other hand, Azad has always been a picture of grace and dignity, urging all to build compromises and understanding instead of reinforcing antagonism.
adani_001

Why Is Gautam Adani Betting Big On Maharashtra?

It is a well-known fact that most businessmen like Rahul Bajaj, Keshub Mahindra, Ajit Gulabchand have a very good equation with the NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar. So the news that the Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is in the same league comes as no surprise. In fact, in 2013 Pawar had attended Adani’s son’s wedding in Goa. Now, it is reliably learnt that the Maratha strongman with a view to attract investment in Maharashtra from the Adani Group is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Adani’s thermal power project comes up in the coal-rich Vidarbha region without any hitch. Earlier, Pawar guided Adani when he took over the Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Infrastructure, which runs the Mumbai distribution business with 30 lakh customers. Pawar’s strategy of rolling out red carpet seems to be yielding dividends. Now, the Adani Group has lined up a slew of investments in Maharashtra. They have picked up a majority stake in Mumbai International Airport from the GVK Group, securing the contract for the Rs 16,000-cr Navi Mumbai airport. Adani Transmission has bagged the contract to construct 400 kV substation at Vikhroli, for transmission of about 1,000 MW in Mumbai. The company will also construct another line between Aarey Colony and Padgha to evacuate another 1,000 mw. Clearly, Pawar knows which horse to back.
rohit sharma_001

Rohit Sharma Second Only To The Great `Don’!

Rohit Sharma holds a unique record in Test match cricket. He is the nearest to Sir Don Bradman, regarded as the greatest batsman of all time. The Australian run-machine who wielded his bat with gay abandon for two decades from 1928 to 1948 scored 6996 runs in 52 Test matches for a phenomenal average of 99.94. The great `Don’ played 37 Test matches against England, and five each against India, West Indies and South Africa. He played 33 Test matches at home, amassed 4322 runs for an average of 98.23, which is fractionally lower than his career average.  It is here that India’s Rohit Sharma comes second best for those who have played 10 Tests and more. The stylish Mumbai right hander is elegance personified when he gets going; he had an aggregate of 1343 runs at 79 and innings for home Test matches before his sneak attack against the England seamers and spinners alike in the second Test at Chepauk, Chennai. The first Test failure at the same venue hurt him; he hit back with a vengeance in the first innings of the second Test with a splendid 161; he scattered 18 hits to the fence and clobbered two over the line. This stroke filled knock took his home average to over 80. Remarkable indeed!
kapil sibal

What Happened To Akash2 Tablet?

It may be recalled that during the UPA regime the Union Minister for Science & Technology Kapil Sibal had flaunted a $32 tablet which would provide Internet access to the less fortunate students. Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed a large section of students towards online schooling, it’s time to ask Sibal what happened to his pet project? Had it translated to a tablet in each student’s hand, there wouldn’t have been such a digital divide today. Then Sibal had announced the tablet as a cheap, simple computer. First as ‘Shaksat’, then renamed as ‘Akash’, and upgraded to ‘Akash2’.  But despite the abracadabra moment, the project failed to deliver. Today, probably an IIT student could develop easily a low-cost tablet. But at that time, it appeared to be a magical moment: parts to be sourced from China or Taiwan via a Canadian company and then assembled in India. It is surprising the vocal politician hasn’t whispered a word about it. Has the project been given a silent burial? Is this the reason why he is not expressing any views on digital divide as he fears it would bring to public glare the failure of Akash tablet in an era of whataboutery!  
RBI_001

Allow Corporate Houses To Enter Banking

An RBI working group has proposed allowing corporate houses to set up banks in India. Suddenly, former RBI governors and deputy governors want to protect the country from business houses entering the banking arena. Over the last two years, IL&FS, DHFL, Yes Bank and PMC Bank have collapsed due to their weak financial position. The latest to the list of bank failures is Lakshmi Vilas Bank, which was merged with DBS Bank. What we need to do is to have a strong deterrence so that we don’t see a repeat of YES Bank. According to KV Kamath, former MD & CEO of ICICI Bank, in his interview to CNBC TV18, the way forward is heavy investment in technology by the regulator so that on a real-time basis the creditworthiness of individuals or companies is made available. Seems a doable idea.
atul_kulkarni_001

Atul Kulkarni: Jumping The Curve, After Happy Journey

Atul Kulkarni, 56, a top Marathi actor, a national award recipient (Chandani Bar) says one should jump off a curve’s peak to restart life from the beginning of another. That’s why he has quit a Trust engaged in promoting quality education, specifically among tribal children. Announcing this on FB, he said he had headed the NGO, Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST) for 14 years since its inception and it was time to jump off. With its action and research oriented pedagogy and training,  QUEST has reached 2.6 lakh students, 9,000 teachers, 5,600 schools and anganwadis  across Maharashtra. After these long years, the moment coincided with his peak in the Trust. It also coincides with the concept of vanaprasta and semi-retirement which meant ceasing to be in a position of authority, especially in public life but implies he wasn’t abandoning being active in life. He would be its “list of friends”.  No word about his acting career, though.

Budget Text, Pretext, Context And Subtext

The ‘Subtext’ hangs in the air long after former Finance Minister P Chidambaram decoded the Text, Pretext, Context & Subtext of the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget speech 2021-22 at the Rajya Sabha. What’s the text of the speech? He explained: “The text is prosaic, bureaucratic.” What’s the pretext? “The pretext is: we have a pandemic. (Yet) we have supply side measures!” And the context? “The context is a slowing down economy, pushed into a deep recession, minus 10%, thanks to the pandemic — and thanks to incompetent economic management.” He continued: “But, more than the text, more than the pretext, more than the context, what is important is the subtext. The subtext is: this is a Budget prepared for the rich, of the rich and by the rich.” He said the Budget has nothing for: 120 mn people losing jobs; 64 mn dropping out of the labour force, including 22% women; and 35% of MSMEs shut down. Replying to the Budget discussion in Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman put the things in context: “Speaker sir, the former FM is trying to imitate you but he has been a miserable failure in the impact he created unlike you who has created good impact.” Speaker M Venkaiah Naidu is known for his quick one-liners that fill the House Of Elders with laughter.
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Who’s The Woman Behind BR Chopra Banner?

It may sound clichéd but behind every successful man there is a woman. Baldev Raj Chopra after doing MA in Literature from the University of the Punjab, Lahore joined as a journalist with film magazine Cine Herald and eventually acquired it in 1947. With right contacts, he launched a movie the same year in Lahore but the Partition genocide saw him fleeing to India. Eventually, he moved to Mumbai and made a movie Karwat in 1948. It flopped. In 1951, he directed a movie starring Ashok Kumar and it was a hit. More hits followed. Soon he was flooded with offer by producers to direct their films. A well-known producer gave him Rs 5,000 (a big sum those days) to direct his movie. Chopra was elated and happily broke the news to his wife. But his wife’s response surprised him. She told him: “You should not direct for others, you should become your own producer and director.” Heeding his wife’s advice, Chopra returned the money and floated BR Films in 1955. His first movie Ek Hi Raasta was a runaway hit. After that there was no looking behind.
nariman point_001

Pandemic Aftermath: Informal Cartelization Among Trade

Cartelisation among manufacturers is a known fact. OPEC is the biggest global example. Close to home the Competition Commission Of India, which came down heavily on cement companies sometimes back, has now set its sights on the domestic steel companies. It is believed that the steel companies have increased their prices in unison in the last few months. But, recent developments in the distribution trade in Mumbai – liquor and paper – are quite an eye-opener. With businesses shuttered for nearly a year, those running hotels & restaurants, printing presses, and paper distribution have been hit by severe liquidity crunch. Most of them have not been able to pay their vendors, suppliers, or staff. After the Lockdown was lifted, the restaurant owners, printers and media houses placed fresh orders with their respective distributors. But they were told to clear some of the backlog. Irked, some of these businessmen tried tapping new distributors but they were surprised to learn that the liquor and paper trade had a list of outstanding of different businesses or credit information of bad borrowers. The distributors felt if they supply today their fellow traders would lose. So they decided to unite. It is proving to be a win-win for all.
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Joe Root's tryst with GOAT rankings!

England captain Joe Root, tops the GOAT (Greatest player of all time against spin) rankings in the annals of cricket at the Old Blighty. Decorated with the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2020, Root’s scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka at Galle came against the spinners on a dry and breaking pitch. England hopped into Chennai for two Test matches that were supposed to be a  litmus test against the Indian tweakers. As it transpired in the first Test, Root (218 and 40) ruled the roost on a feathered of a pitch on which the home team deployed a seasoned campaigner Ravichandran Ashwin, and two tyros Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar. Demonstrating his consummate skill, powers of concentration and nimble footwork, Root has amassed 784 runs in his last six innings. He has turned out to be the master of all he purveyed, tallying as much as 842 runs in 14 Test innings on Indian soil at a remarkable average of 64.77. In other Asian countries Root has amassed 655 runs in 10 Test innings at 65.50 in Sri Lanka, 287 in five Test innings against Pakistan in the UAE. No wonder then that Root heads the GOAT index in English cricket!
tandav_001

Regulating OTT: Is The Govt Planning A JPC

After the Tandav controversy, the Indian government is seriously looking at tightening the noose around the OTT channels. The plan is to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to bring in a regulation to control the content that is streamed on the OTT channels. Feelers are being sent to various film personalities to become a part of the JPC and create some kind of guidelines based on the lines of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) for feature films. Those close to the film industry have hinted that the Standing Committee on the Information & Technology Ministry are examining the functioning of the CBFC. In order to have a holistic examination of the subject, the committee has decided to seek views of individuals associated with the media and entertainment industry. While their plan is being worked out, the makers of edgy content have begun self-regulation to avoid any kind of issues with the government. Most industry people said there has to be censorship, but there are quite a few who feel that self-regulation is the best option. The government, it seems, is keen to avoid another Tandav kind of situation. So, for now it is wait-and-watch game.

Of Andolan-Jeevi, Par-Jeevi & New Age FDI

Arguably, nobody conjures up national slogans as profoundly – or coins acronyms as tellingly — as PM Narendra Modi. The Government’s pantheon of programmes – from Swachh Bharat to Make in India to Startup India and Stand Up India – all bear the signature of the master wordsmith. Many of the acronyms – from SCAM to JAM he popularised continue to endure. Some acronyms are being masterly resurrected – FDI is now ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology.’ And the patriots must now stay away from this FDI, the PM informed while replying to the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha. In 2015, the FDI meant ‘First Develop India’, a mission to support the Make in India programme. 2021 onwards, this will mean Transnational or foreign ‘tukde-tukde gang’ that promotes Rihanna tweet-busters, Meena Harris ‘book of Intimidation Monsters, or Greta Thunberg’s Tool-Kit for Dummies that transforms tractor rallies into raging rampage. Another breed of creatures that patriots must guard against are: Andolan-Jeevi (one who feasts on protests), who is actually a par-jeevi, (a parasite) for the nation. His creative masterstroke was in full, sublime display at a time the Opposition sensed they had Modi on the mat over the farmers’ agitation.
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Are Biz Tycoons Jumping Covid Vaccine Queues?

The hottest topic being discussed by business tycoons these days is not the Union Budget but the Which, When, Where (and maybe even, if) and How to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Before India rolled out its own versions, some wealthy individuals were rumoured to have rushed overseas (read: Dubai) to get their shot. Now there are whispers about certain famous people making private arrangements to get the vaccine out of turn. Because, as per the Government diktat, in the current phase, the vaccine is being made available only to the frontline healthcare workers. Such clandestine shots may give them immunity but without the all-important vaccine certificate. They are confident, however, of procuring one with some jugaad in due course. One person who won’t have to resort to any such subterfuge is Dr Swati Piramal, vice chairperson, Piramal Enterprises. The wife of billionaire Ajay Piramal, who is a qualified doctor, recently got her Covid-19 shot at the BKC jumbo vaccination center in Mumbai, along with staff of the Gopikrishna Memorial Hospital. Piramal took the Covishield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and promptly posted photos of the said deed on Facebook.
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Narayan Rane Finds A New Mentor In Amit Shah

Everything is fair in love and law — and loyalty is not static but flexible. None other than Narayan Rane epitomizes this saying. Thanks to the blessings of Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray – Rane grew from strength to strength. From a corporator to legislator to Chief Minister, his rise was meteoric. However, Thackeray’s decision to appoint his son Uddhav as Executive President of the Sena changed the equation, forcing Rane to quit the saffron party and join the Congress. Here, he was made a minister – but not the CM as promised. Irked by the deceit and denial, Rane floated his Swabhimani Party. The new party didn’t do too well – and he subsequently joined the BJP that has placed him in the Rajya Sabha. His new mentor is Home Minister Amit Shah, who visited the state to inaugurate the SSPM Medical College at Kudal in Sindhudurg. Shah’s visit has created ripples – with Rane predicting that the Maha Vikas Agadhi government’s days are numbered now. Interesting times for a party, which despite winning 105 seats is sitting in the Opposition bench.
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Why Jadeja Was Missed In The Chennai Test

India is in a plight in the first Test in Chennai owing to the absence of slow left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in its ranks. Jadeja is still recuperating from a dislocated left thumb after he took a nasty blow there in the third Test against Australia in Sydney. Jadeja in combination with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin are the second most successful spin pair for India taking 166 wickets in 73 innings at an average of 24.41. They have taken 28 wickets in four innings at the Chepauk at 25.07.  Further more Jadeja had dismissed England captain Joe Root five times; he had outwitted Root in both innings of the 2016 Chennai Test for 88 and 6. India suffered in Jadeja’s absence and Root exhibited a masterclass innings of 218 before falling to left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.  Ashwin has dismissed Root three times. In all 13 Indian bowlers have dismissed Root, but clearly Jadeja was missed by Ashwin and India. They complement each other so well. In Jadeja’s absence Root had the last laugh taking heavy toll of the Indians. The England captain, playing his 100th Test, is one of the best players of spin in the world today.
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Mazi Mumbai Vs Mumbai Nammde

The timing behind the ongoing war of words between Maharashtra and Karnataka leaders on the long-pending border dispute is politically as significant for the Shiv Sena as it is for its former partner Bharatiya Janata Party in the run up to the 2022 elections for the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — India’s richest civic body. With its renewed demand to incorporate Karnataka’s Marathi-speaking areas into Maharashtra, the Sena has unleashed a frontal assault to retain its supremacy in the BMC, which the party has been ruling for over 28 years. Joining forces with the saffron party are the Congress and the NCP, its partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state. The Sena is hoping to stand tall with its espousal of the Marathi Manoos plank – even as it embraces the ‘Secular’ programmes of its partners, and reaches out to the Gujaratis. This leaves the BJP treading on a tricky tightrope: the BJP-ruled Karnataka’s loud opposition to the demand will only provide political ammunition to the Sena-led alliance. The BJP’s Mission Mumbai 2022, which seeks to end Sena rule and elect its own mayor, must now make sense of the new duel “Mazi Mumbai vs Mumbai Nammde’’.
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PHOTOS: FOTOCORP.COM

Can NCP Wrest Speaker’s Seat In Maharashtra?

Sharad Pawar is a good negotiator. Despite some NCP leaders prematurely seeking that Congress “do something soon” to prevent Sena-BJP resuming charge of the Maharashtra government in 1999, he kept Congress on tenterhooks till it accepted a power-sharing formula. He had told confidants then that had it been left to him from the start, the NCP would have got the CM’s post and the Speaker’s too, leaving some crumbs for the other. It is likely that hard bargaining for the Assembly’s Speaker’s post is in the offing. With Nana Patole quitting speakership on being appointed Maharashtra Congress President, the Speaker’s post has once again become a coveted target for all three parties constituting the government. The Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress are not going to let go of an opportunity to grab it. Would the consummate Pawar, hailed as the architect of the coalition MVA, ensure his party gets the Speakership?  Despite being partners with some give and take between them, except for the Congress making some noises against the Sena, the government has been functioning fairly in the Covid19 environment. Patole’s exit has clearly unsettled the equations. Now the fun begins.
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$2.5 Mn: Why Aren’t We Talking About This, Ms Rihanna

Well, that’s the amount for the Tweet that launched a thousand ships against India. For the Delhi cops, this is all a part of the very original Greta Thunberg ‘Tool-Kit’ that earlier sent thousands of tractors rampaging through the Capital on the Republic Day, delivering India its Capitol Hill moment. According to investigative website The Print, international pop star Rihanna was allegedly paid $2.5 million (Rs 18 crore) by a Canada-based Public Relations firm to tweet in support of farm protest. The PR firm’s Tool-Kit for Dummies (leaked by ‘Child’ Greta by mistake) instructs the protestors on a range of goals: how to Disrupt ‘Yoga and Chai’ image of India; Watch out for Physical Actions during the first-of-its-kind Farmer’s March/Parade into Delhi on Jan 26th; and how to create a Twitter Storm. The PR project clearly has all the hallmarks of a well-funded conspiracy – and it’s designed not to stop at the repeal of farm laws. Now after disclosures on Rihanna, Twitter is afire with guesses on what inspires former porn star Mia Khalifa to support farmers. And we are asking: Why the paid tweet didn’t carry the tag of the sponsored or commissioned content?
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Insider Trading: Beware Of Rules

Legendary investor Warren Buffett said: “Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.” The stock market is not for the weak-hearted – nor for Inside Trading. An NSDL campaign is creating awareness among the retail investors not to fall prey to the Insider Trading. If you are an equity investor, chances are that at some point in time you would have been offered an ‘insider tip’ to conduct a trade in a particular stock to make quick money. If the tip turns out to be false, you could end up losing money. If the Tip turns out to be true, although you might make quick money, it could land you in legal trouble. Insider trading is a punishable offence, as per the SEBI. The BSE, the NSE, and the SEBI keep routinely tom-tomming about such instructions – and yet the greedy investors keep falling prey to such Tip messages.  Looks like investors seem to blindly follow the investment philosophy of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, “Greed, for lack of a better word is good.” And we know where insider trading and greed got Gekko and his ilk.
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Kartik Aaryan: The Next-Gen Bankable Star

With four films in his kitty, Kartik Aaryan is one of the busiest stars from the younger generation of Bollywood actors. The actor has finished shooting for Ronnie Screwala’s film in record time and, believe it or not, has received a fee of about Rs 20 crore. The film was first slated to have a theatrical release, but the makers decided to go for a digital release with the actor being paid a premium price for it. Kartik is one of the most sought-after stars and those in the film trade feel that the actor is justified in being paid that amount. They believe that he is going the Akshay Kumar way by slowly becoming the Gen-Next bankable star.  He is also following Akshay Kumar’s footsteps and becoming a socially responsible star. The actor’s monologue ‘Corona Stop Karo Naa’ became a huge hit. He is also one of the few to donate about Rs 1 crore for the welfare of Covid Warriors followed by an awareness chat show on Covid-19 titled ‘Kookie Poochega’.  Kartik who started his journey in Bollywood with multi-starrers is now shouldering a film as a solo hero. It is his track record with Lukka Chhupi and Pati Patni Aur Woh that probably got producer Karan Johar to sign him for Dostana sequel. Kartik’s other films in the pipeline are Anees Bazmee’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Rohit Dhawan’s next film, which is a remake of a South film.
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Dr Swamy’s Legal Juggernaut Rolls On

BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy holds many incredible records. One important one: he has not lost a single defamation case. So much so that even international bodies like the United Nations are wary of taking him on. In fact, the services of Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng were terminated for misattributing quotes to Dr Swamy. An elated Dr Swamy tweeted: “UN Under-Secretary General Mr Adaams Dieng, who defamed me in a media release by recycling my cut and spliced statement on CAA put out by Pakistani owned TV stn VICE, was terminated from UN post by “Good bye Sweetheart” letter from UNSG. I thank FS Shringla and UN Rep Trimurti.” Now, he has sent a defamation notice to Indian Express newspaper for publishing a column by Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed. Dr Swamy said that the Pakistani journalist wrote a lie that he said that Muslims are not equal citizens of India. This fake news was first published in a Canadian based TV known as Vice News owned by a Pakistani –  and the United Nation’s Dieng issued a Press Release based on this fake news. Incidentally, even BBC carried the same news and reportedly a legal notice has been sent to them too.
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Govinda On The Comeback Trail

There is one thing that the remake of Coolie No 1 managed to achieve in December 2020 – it made the film industry miss the original bearer of that title, Govinda. Film buffs felt that Govinda’s Coolie No 1 was like Mughal-e-Azam in front of the new-age version starring Varun Dhawan. The senior actor, however, does not have anything to say on the remake as he is getting ready to make his debut on the OTT platform. He wants to explore the medium as he has been getting offers for it. He feels that  the pandemic has exposed people to the world of cinema and content that has universal appeal. The actor, who has often mentioned a conspiracy against him and his films, feels that the OTT is a boon for somebody like him who has been struggling to find a platform. Much before Govinda became largely synonymous with breezy entertainers and musicals, he had showcased his versatility in intense films like Hatya, Swarg, Awaargi and Marte Dum Tak among other films. The actor is now hoping to make 2021 his year and is seriously working towards making a comeback in a big way. The actor has been listening to scripts and will soon be making an announcement. He also has plans to give opportunities to those looking for a break in the film industry.
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Done Over 40 PCR Covid-19 Tests: Agarkar

It’s been one hell of a run of routine COVID 19 tests international cricket teams have had to take and enter bio-secure bubble life in order to play a Test, ODI or Twenty20 match. All this began from the England-West Indies series in the 2020 English summer. Not only the players, but people involved in the conduct of an international match, or even for that matter the IPL in UAE and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 held by the BCCI recently, have had to go through this short procedure called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.  Ajit Agarkar, the former India seamer, revealed that he has gone through close to 40 PCR tests starting from the pre-boarding flight to Abu Dhabi for the 13th IPL in the United Arab Emirates last year. Agarkar was part of the Star TV Network commentary team in the Emirates.  Agarkar, like all others who were part of the IPL, took regular PCR tests in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, was also part of the Sony Pictures Network for the India- Australia series.  And now he is holed up in his hotel room in Chennai for five days, all part of the bio secure bubble requirement, before the start of the first Test against England set to start on Friday, February 5. “I can leave my room only on Friday,” he said.

Big Tech & The Globalization of Protest

“I’m just a phone call away,” said PM Narendra Modi to the agitating farmers, while expressing pain over the vandalisation of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the U.S.; and assuring the law will take its own course in the Republic Day Tractor Rally violence that injured about 400 cops in New Delhi. What the government received was a Tweet from Hollywood pop star Rihanna on #farmerprotest: “Why aren’t we talking about this?” Soon, this became a synchronised tweet assault from other international influencers – with Indian celebrities and politicians joining in, taking their own ideological positions. Shouldn’t the government dismiss this tweet-burst as an innocuous thing? They didn’t. Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s office issued a statement: “Temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.” Let’s accept that the Globalization of Protest is on the ascendency – while the other real trade Globalization is weakening. With the Big Tech providing megaphones to new Transnational entities and Influencers, the George Floyd protest riots in the U.S. became a massive global BLM campaign. And Turkey President RT Erdogan’s call for a boycott of French goods triggered massive anti-French rallies.
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LIC: The Much Awaited IPO

With the stock market booming and indices touching lifetime highs, the investor’s appetite seem to be growing even bigger. Many are keenly awaiting the IPO of the state-run Life Insurance Corporation Of India. Set up in 1956, the LIC is the jewel in the government’s crown. The state insurer has smartly competed with 23-odd private sector players to command a market share of 70.21%.  With assets over Rs 31.96 lakh crore, the LIC manages 28.92 million customers through a network of 12,08,826 agents and 144,498 employees. Such impressive numbers have made the government plan a mega IPO in 2021. The government hopes to raise around Rs 70,000-100,000 crore by diluting a 10% stake. Based on this figure, the valuation of the LIC works out to around Rs 13-15 lakh crore. Experts say that the IPO could attract a large number of retail and institutional investors. The IPO dates are not finalized neither has the Red Herring prospectus been filed with the SEBI. Reportedly, Edelweiss Financial Services and Deloitte have been appointed as pre-IPO advisors. Now, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget Speech has indicated that LIC IPO could hit the market in FY21-22. The good news for LIC policyholders is that up to 10 per cent of IPO may be offered to them.
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BCCI To Rake Rs 900 Cr From Ind-Eng Series

The full tour of England — starting with the first Test at the Chepauk in Chennai on February 5 — is expected to augment the BCCI’s revenue for 2020-21 fiscal by around Rs. 900 crore. The BCCI’s broadcaster, Star TV Network would pay around Rs. 60 crore for each of the 12 matches (Four Test matches, five Twenty20 matches and three ODIs). That’s a whopping Rs. 720 crore.  The BCCI will also receive money for the title and team sponsorship from Paytm and BYJU’s and also from others sponsors like Dream11, Ambuja Cement and Hyundai. The BCCI thus will a make neat package around Rs. 900 crore. The first two Tests will be played in Chennai, and the next two in Ahmedabad which will also play host to five Twenty20 matches. From Ahmedabad, the teams will travel to Pune for three one-day internationals.  Though the COVID 19 pandemic forced the BCCI to relocate the 13th IPL to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it earned over Rs 4000 crore, a big part of it coming from Star TV network.  The happiest in the BCCI are its members who are likely to get a big share of the revenue generated in 2020-21.
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Anderson & Broad: Cricket’s Greatest Hunters With The New Ball

The fast bowlers hunt in pairs. And nobody does it better than the English new ball pair – James Anderson and Stuart Broad – who have taken 746 wickets in 96 Tests. Though they made their England debut at different times, it was against India at the Mohali (Punjab) Test of December 2008 that they became the new ball pair for the first time under Captain Kevin Pietersen. Individually, Anderson has taken 600 wickets and Broad 517. Anderson and Broad have not been successful on the benign Indian pitches. Anderson has toured India for four Test series since 2005-06 and has taken 26 wickets at 33.46 in 10 Tests while Broad, who has toured India from the 2008-09 series, has a paltry collection of 10 wickets from six Tests at an expensive 53.90. England which will play 17 Tests in 2021 has decided to rotate its players in order to preserve them. Anderson did not play the first Test of the recent series against Sri Lanka at Galle and Broad did not play the second Test at Galle. Will the Joe Root led team play this super pair in the first Test at Chepauk, Chennai from February 5?
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Yediyuruppa: Is The TINA Factor Fading?

Buzz in the Karnataka BJP is that search is on to find a successor to replace the current Chief Minister BS Yediyuruppa who despite crossing the 75-years-age cut-off limit has continued to hold the CM’s post. The party insiders claim he has lost the TINA (There Is No Alternative) Factor as discontent brews among the ministers, the party men, and the RSS parivar. The rift between Yediyuruppa and BL Santhosh, BJP national general secretary (organisation) has been widening. After the recent cabinet reshuffle, Yediyuruppa was forced to change the portfolios in Day Two as Santosh raised hue and cry over portfolio distribution. Even though the Karnataka assembly elections are still two and half years away, a section of party has put up a strong argument for a new face to be the leader. Yediyuruppa’s clout, according to the insiders, is eroding and the leadership is not ready to sacrifice the BJP government because of him.

COVID-19: What About The South African Variant?

It’s been a year since the coronavirus touched India. It is now rapidly declining, seemingly escaping a second wave unlike the developed world where vaccine rollout has been botched and the healthcare system overwhelmed. India in comparison has done much better for reasons we don’t know. We may even be into herd immunity. There are conjectures but no peer-reviewed scientific papers have emerged yet.  That said, the Indian public does not have the full picture about the status of the UK variant of the virus. By mid-January, 150 persons tested positive for the new strain of the virus that the UK prime minister Boris Johnson had described as “more lethal”. Nor do we know much about the South African virus – an altogether different mutant said to be less amenable to the new vaccines developed so far. Have they too stealthily entered India?  After the initial announcement of the UK variant spotted in travellers from the UK, nothing is known about the SA variant. All this is discomfiting after the struggle with Covid19 since March last year. — Mahesh Vijapurkar  
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Halwa Rituals For The Paperless Budget

The sweet scent of the ‘halwa ceremony’ at the Finance Ministry still lingers. N Sitaraman, the Finance Minister, ladled out the halwa to the face-masked officials and employees involved in the Budget preparation. This ritual marks the moment when the documents are green-flagged for printing. The final and irrevocable “go”. Not a line is added, not a line can be removed thereafter. Employees – each one involved, lock themselves in after the halwa is served till the printing is completed and sealed bundles are sent off to the Parliament House to avoid any leak of the Budget details till it’s read out in the Parliament. This time it could be “printed” in the pdf format. Yet, the media wouldn’t let go of its tradition of speculating on what the Budget may contain even after this. And lobbies often talk to the media to hopefully steer policies. The FinMin, however, has abandoned the practice of printing it on paper as in the past. The Budget, as the media have reported, has opted for a paperless Budget. But the futile speculation in the media continues. After all, who knows, at least one stone may hit the mango to boast about later!
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Max To Vi: Names Changes For The Sixth Time

The country’s telecom sector has gone through cataclysmic change. From about two dozen players, it is now reduced to three telecom service providers. Falling average revenues per user or ARPUs — and now the payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to the government — has broken the back of the debt-laden service providers. Vodaphone, which is facing a bigger impact, has been looking for strategic alliance and name of Verizon International has cropped up. Meanwhile,  Vodaphone-Idea has gone for another name change — sixth time in the last 25 years, in line with change in ownership pattern. It started with Max (promoted by Analjit Singh) then became Orange, and then followed by Hutch, Vodaphone and finally, after merger with Idea –Vodaphone-Idea. Now, this consolidated name has a new, abbreviated identity – Vi.  People are reading between the lines about the new abbreviated name. Watch this space for more development.
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For The Faithful The Brisbane Tied Test Is Still The Best

When one reminisces about Test matches played at the ‘Gabba’ in Brisbane, the good old faithful always picks the first ever Tied Test between the redoubtable Australians led by the brilliant Richie Benaud and the great super star of the yesteryear in Frank Worrell in the 1960-61 series. The followers of the noble game still remember the smart seventh ball run out fashioned by square leg fielder Joe Solomon of Ian Meckiff that gave a remarkable finish to the thrilling match and a spectacular start to the five-Test rubber. Australia won the series 2-1, but Worrell’s team won the hearts of the Australian fans who gave them a ticker tape send off. That was sixty years ago. In all, 63 Test matches have been played at the Gabba; Australia has won 40, lost 9, drawn 13 and Tied one. The home team had won 24 in a row and drew seven from December 1989, having lost to the West Indies in November 1988. India dented Australia’s unconquered, 32-year record at the Gabba and much of the credit goes to the young guns of the Indian cricket very well marshalled by the calm and unruffled Ajinkya Rahane. But for those Australians who loved watching cricket, the 1960 Tied Test remains a memorable one. Interestingly, Bobby Simpson featured in the 1960 Test as a player and in the 1986 Tied Test against India in Chennai as a coach.
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Jai Bangla, Jai Maharashtra

Bonhomie between Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banejree and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray was on full display at the recent meeting of opposition chief ministers when Mamta praised Uddhav for doing a great job despite the BJP’s repeated predictions that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will not last. Mamata also responded to Uddhav’s call for whether Humein darna hai ya ladna hai?” (Do we have to fear or fight)? She thundered: “Ladna hai (we must fight). Shiv Sena’s announcement to contest West Bengal assembly elections also comes with a tacit understanding. Sena proposes to contest polls on the Hindutva plank, working as the Team B of Mamata just as Asaduddin Owaisi’s All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen alleged to be the BJP’s Team B. Sena is insignificant in West Bengal but the Trinamool Congress insiders and the Shiv Sena think tank believe that it may split the BJP votes and thereby help Mamata in a small way. Although there will not be any formal alliance but voters may shout Jai Maharashtra and Jai Bangla together for the first time.
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Arun Shourie: Preparing For Death

His family has been a great votary for euthanasia and both his parents walked the talk. So it is hardly surprising to see the 79-year old Arun Shourie writing his 20th book aptly titled “Preparing For Death”. For many the title of the book may seem morbid and negative. Not so for Arun Shourie who is known to take the bull by the horns. Shourie has shifted his base from the power centre of Delhi to the quiet, idyllic Lavasa near Pune. He has played an interesting innings, donning the hat of the economist, journalist, author and politician. But, over the last three-four years, this Ramon Magsaysay Award winner has become bitter with NDA’s dispensation. He is particularly peeved with the Prime Minister Modi for not giving him a cabinet berth. Post-NDA’s first win in 2014, there were strong rumours that Shourie would become the Finance Minister but that did not happen. Disappointed, he along with other disgruntled party colleagues like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrugan Sinha, went all out against Modi during 2019 elections. But of no avail. The man who once praised Modi sky high reportedly told his media friends that his eternal regret in life is that he supported Modi.
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Bouncers Bowled At BCCI’s Jay Shah

The news that BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, is likely to become India’s representative on the ICC Board was met with lots of cynicism. The Modi-Amit hate brigade trolled on social media. Author and columnist Saba Naqvi tweeted: “His qualification is that he’s a terrific cricketer known for papa smashing ball into boundary.” Print & Broadcast journalist Swati Chaturvedi’s tweet was even more charitable: “So deserving. So proud of Jay Shah & such an honour that he will represent India at the ICC Board. No dynasty exists in BJP at all.” These tongue-in-cheek tweets met with almost proportionate reactions. Said one Twitterati: “How about Sharad Pawar, Jagmohan Dalmia, N Srinivasan etc and worst of all Mr Manohar (Shashank)? Never saw her question when Kalmadi (Suresh) was of head of the IOC for time unlimited.” There is never a dull moment on social media.
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Seema Pahwa Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai

Seema Pahwa of the Humlog fame is breathing fire at Bollywood’s trade magazines which dubbed her maiden directorial venture Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi as a commercial disaster. Digital entertainment portal Koimoi.com said: “Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi was an ensemble affair that hit the screens on 1st January and the numbers are practically nothing to talk about. The collections were never meant to be encouraging and this is what actually transpired too with just about 20 lakhs coming in.” According to Seema Pahwa’s interview in Mid-Day: “For a film to release in current times and survive is challenge in itself. How can box-office be the yardstick of a film’s success when the theatres are functioning at half the capacity?” Many are questioning the current yardstick of measuring the success or failure of a movie based on footfalls during Covid times. Interestingly, the Twitteratis were all praise for the director and producer. But, it is about time trade magazines revisited their traditional approach – and usual parameters — to gauge the popularity of a movie.
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BJP Trying To Break The Two-Party Hold In TN

Since 2014 the BJP has been trying very hard to make inroads into Tamil Nadu but found no takers – perhaps because its rivals have so far been successful at associating it with the Hindi chauvinism. This state, which rotates power between two parties AIADMK and DMK, has had three legendary leaders – M Karunanidhi, MGR and J Jayalalitha – running the State for almost 50 years. Now with no charismatic Dravidian leaders to turn to, the field seems to be open to a leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is widely accepted in TN owing to his credentials as a crusader against corruption. Some impact is also being created by the ever-resourceful RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, who is helping the BJP press the right button in TN. His research came in handy when the Modi government went in for demonetisation. Guru managed to convince the legendary star Rajnikant to enter politics. Thailava as he is popularly known said yes – and was all set to kick off his spiritual-political odyssey but for an unfortunate hospitalization and a health condition that stopped him in his tracks. Thailava has decided not to launch his own party or contest 2021 elections. In a new development, with Sasikala Natrajan, (confidante of the late J Jayalalithaa former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) completing her jail term, the state’s political landscape once again changes.
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Bollywood Biggies Invest Big In Real Estate

From pauper to prince everybody was badly impacted by the Lockdown. But, not a section of Bollywood; they were flush with funds and therefore they lost no opportunity to invest in real estate as prices were attractive. Nine top Bollywood producers, directors and actors forked out around Rs 400 cr to buy luxurious apartments, penthouses in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Goa in 2020. Of this, nearly Rs 387 cr was spent on buying apartments between Bandra and Juhu by paying anywhere between Rs 50,000  and 150,000 per sq ft.  Leading the pack was Bhushan Kumar of T Series fame. He paid a whopping Rs 167.5 cr for 6,700 sq ft villa in Vasanta Theosophical CHS in Juhu. Following him was Hrithik Roshan. He bought three floors —14th, 15th & 16th — admeasuring 38,000 sq ft for Rs 97.50 cr on Juhu-Versova link road. New comer Janhvi Kapoor paid Rs 39 cr for a flat in Juhu, Alia Bhatt Rs 32 cr for a flat in Bandra’s Pali Hill while R Balki, bought two flats worth Rs 24 cr in Bandra. Of course, some made killing too. Parineeti Chopra sold her two flats in Quantum Building in Bandra reportedly for Rs 13.50 cr. So did Karisma Kapoor by selling her Khar flat for Rs 10.11 cr. While Ranbir Kapoor rented his 6th floor flat in Bandra apartment for Rs 7.94 lakh per month.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.