Under 17 WC, India’s chance to skyrocket in the global picture

Alien to the current ears, India had once finished at 4th place in football at the Olympics. It was a time when all team greats like P.K Banerjee and Late Kesto Pal had the capability to tear through any defensive structure of the opposite team. 1956 Melbourne Olympics was a staggering example of what Indian football could have been if pushed into the right direction. Kolkatan’s still reminisces the legends of Late Sailen Manna who could stop incoming forwards with a neat slide tackle barefooted.

In these fond golden memories of Indian football, today India has a miserable FIFA ranking of 137. It is still better than what it was a couple of years back when India slipped down to 170’s due to lack of international exposure.

The fall that led India to this 170th spot in international rankings can be attributed to one historical indecision by the All Indian Football Federation.

In the year 1948, India got a chance to play the World Cup hosted in Brazil, the federation decided not to send the team since in two years Helsinki Olympic was coming up and for the federation the Olympics was bigger than the football World Cup. The word that still goes around the Kolkata street is that they could not participate since they were used to play barefooted and FIFA did not accept that. The legend itself goes onto say that what great capabilities were these footballers gifted of.

Not only did the federation failed to gauge the importance, but it utterly failed to measure the consequences that the team and the country suffered from that horrific decision that still makes India suffer in terms of infrastructure.

70 years ahead into the mortal timeline…that generation has passed. The generation that refused a direct qualification to the world cup; today in 2017 India has received another direct qualification to the under-17 world cup for this time it host to the tournament. For we had learnt the art of throwing the cap from our ancestors this time we made sure that we grab onto this invaluable opportunity. But is India ready?

It’s a no brainer that India is leagues behind in developments related to football against the major playing nations, can this be an opportunity to revamp itself and arrive at the world stage?

Once a continental powerhouse, India with all its glories in the rear view mirror is moving towards an uncertain future. Indian football in the 2000’s and in the early part of this decade didn’t have a proper grass root development structure.

What the federation sew 70 years back is what India is reaping currently. That one decision sent India 100 years behind in football from Europe and rest of the western world.

But then again the Indian spirit has never quite been a quitter. India in the past decade has produced legends like Bhaichung Bhutia, Subrata Pal and Sunil Chhetri. Since the inception of ISL many experts hope that India just might come out of its downward spiral and as we speak it truly is.

The steady flow of funds to the league from major franchises along with television rights has turned quite a few heads in the western world.

Fortune favours the brave; India has been given a chance to host the Under-17 football world cup, the largest football tournament that India will host in its history. This is the best thing that could have happened to India at this time as the sport is gaining popularity in the country and the standards that FIFA sets for its tournament will give India a huge benefit from the infrastructural and exposure point of view. The grounds, the training facilities are being revamped to set European standards and in their last visit the official have returned to the head-quarters without any complaints. AIFF only needs to make sure that they are able to hold onto these standards in the future.

For the under-17 players for India who have received a direct qualification the exposure is certainly going to be a big factor. Playing in such a huge tournament at this age not only builds character but also expands the dimensions of the experience that is required in the future.

This is the first Indian team to play the football world cup and that itself can be daunting; but Eugeneson Lyngdo, India’s mid-field powerhouse is hopeful “At such an early age, they would have already gained such valuable experience. I am sure some of these players can end up playing in Europe someday. And when it happens, playing alongside these players will benefit the senior Indian players and the team.

He is of the view that this tournament will have a ripple effect and the future Indian team would be destined for great things to come. In terms of infrastructure Lyngdo believes “Eventually and hopefully, India will follow all these, so the infrastructure of Indian football will grow,”

This is truly very exciting times for Indian football, with more and more players coming to Asia to play football at their prime, India is also garnering some exposure from the legends and former players. Imaging a Roberto Carlos taking a free kick would have been impossible a decade back but today it is a reality that the ISL has achieved. English Premier League’s one of the topmost clubs, Liverpool has set up its grass root academy with Pune’s DSK Shivajians. It would not be very wrong to predict that India will very soon arrive at the world stage knocking the doors of major competitions.

The ISL is going to be instrumental in this development since it has the money, the ability to get exposure and the big guns of the world and finally the inherent structure in its regulations that brings out talent from the remote parts of the country.

Known as the sleeping giant of Asian football, the under-17 world cup could just be the trigger to wake up, with ISL doing a fantastic job in parts like the North-East where football has been very popular, but lack of funds has always been a huge issue for players to come up. The state of art infrastructure provided by FIFA could just be the perfect complement for the footballing fraternity of the country and could ricochet into the big launch that the country has been waiting for.

In October the Saltlake Stadium awaits.

CBI summons Lalu over Railway hotel scam

Former Railway Minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi on Thursday were summoned by the CBI to appear before questioning in connections to the alleged scam involving IRCTC hotel tenders.

The duo, according to reports were involved in a scam related to awarding hotel tenders in 2006, when Lalu was the minister. The agency has asked Lalu to appear before them on September 11 and his son on the day after.

The CBI has alleged in its FIR that the then Railway Minister had “rigged and manipulated the tender process” while leasing out two railway run hotels, BNR Puri and BNR Ranchi, to a private firm Sujata Hotels. It is speculated by the agency that Sujata Hotels in return transferred three acres of prime land in Patna to a suspected shell company, Delight Marketing Company Private Limited, that has links to Lalu’s family.

Lalu Yadav, however has maintained his position that whatever property his family owns, has always been in the public domain. The RJD Chief has described this as being a result of political vendetta played by the BJP.

Sources: NDTV, TOI

Predictable script and massive build-up, GOT keeps it safe

Warning: Possible spoilers ahead


The most telling moments in the Game of Thrones are not the ones with the battles or the grand dragons but the ones with the little yet significant stories of seemingly insignificant people who manage to shake the viewer in such ways that their memories become ours.

Introduced in as far back as season one, the story of Hodor is a masterpiece by the scriptwriting duo of the show David Benioff and DB Weiss. In a world of cruelty and chaos, where fan favorites and men of weight get killed almost on a daily basis, Hodor managed to survive for six seasons only for the fans to know that he knew his end all along and yet protected Bran for all of that was to come.

Season 7 in Game of Thrones can be called below par considering the standards it has lived up to all these years. Weiss and Benioff have managed to provide some stellar situations that were out of the box. Robb Stark’s death and Jamie Lannister’s loss of hand were things that crowd waited holding their breath and yet could never see it coming.

As the show progressed through the years, the show matured, it brought in magic, dragons and people who are undead, but somewhere along those lines the humanity was lost. The course of actions and their repercussions by the human kind somewhere died and the producers drove the show with the power of the dragons.

But mind you, nowhere do I mean that this was a bad season in general. Visually, this was the most spectacular season ever produced. The dragons became bigger, we got to know the widely speculated parentage of Jon, and the ‘Wall’ fell.  But this entire season of Game of Thrones became very predictable. Fans got exactly what they wanted, beginning from the reunion of the Starks to Targaryens finding a soft spot for each other. Game of Thrones played it safe. One simply cannot skip the fact that going beyond the wall to capture a white walker, although exciting was downright hilarious.

Having said that, to be fair to the series, there is very little that they could have done. George RR Martin himself admitted in an interview last year that the fans the storylines correctly. With humongous amount of speculation and theorizing of major plot lines, there was very little to this season that was left for imagination.

The shortest season with the longest running episodes in the history of the TV show, last eight weeks was a massive amount of build-up. The producers yet again left the viewers hanging in their own classic style, as the white walkers broke through the wall and entered the lands of the ‘Southerners’ . the season gave hints to multiple conflict points for the future with officially declaring Jon as the legitimate heir to the throne.

Having suffered through multiple leaks through the running this year, the series still managed to break the record of most views with 16.5 million people watching worldwide for the season finally.

Will there be a confrontation between the ‘Mountain’ and the ‘Hound’? What will Danny do once she knows that Jon has the claim to the throne and she is her aunt? How will the battle be once the dragons see eye to eye? There are simply too many things to wait for the final season.

With a long countdown of two years and a promise of feature length episode the series has pulled it off; one last time. With George RR Martin promising a bitter sweet finale, will Game of Thrones go back to its raw form? It’s going to be a real long wait for the long night to come.

Mughal history is irrelevant, Maharashtra dumps it from syllabus

In a decision taken on the first week of August this month, the BJP led Maharashtra government decided to revise the history syllabus of the state board to make it more Martha centric. While the move was appreciated for Maratha Empire is not given a significant amount of exposure in history even though they were politically the strongest empire in the 1760’s; a section of the educated society raised its eyebrows for the parts that were left out.

While a chunk of history including the rise of Islam and French movement was excluded an entire chapter on Mughal history was also cut out. While the official line of the ministry is to make students aware about their native history the backdrop of this entire practice reveals something entirely different.

To put things into perspective, there were three syllabus changes in the last two years that made a little amount of buzz in the national media. While Maharashtra State Education Board has deemed the history of Mughals and western countries ‘irrelevant’ for Class VII and IX students, Rajasthan Board last year, excluded the former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru from its history books and quoted Savarkar as the greatest hero of the Indian freedom movement who tried to stop partition till the very last moment, “only brave revolutionary to be sentenced not just to one but to two terms of life imprisonment … and he made tremendous efforts to stop the Partition.” It doesn’t even bother about the fact that Savarkar had begged for forgiveness from the British authorities when he was imprisoned in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands. In a mercy petition to the British, “The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government?”

A disappointed Ram Swaroop, political science teacher of a Rajasthan Board school doesn’t look forward to teaching his class anymore “I’m sad about it. Even if political parties make changes, there has to be some balance, some logic. How can you compare Savarkar’s contributions to that of Gandhi’s or Nehru’s?”

Last year all the Kendriya Vidyalayas were forced to write all the official letters in Hindi, while the government hide their face behind promoting the native language, there is no escaping the fact that there is an aggressive manipulation of the history to create books the instil a sense of nationalism in the students.

Most of the schools under the state boards are for students that are not from a very affluent class of the society; their parents are not highly educated and send their children for a formal education with the hopes that they achieve success in life.

Last time when the BJP government tried to change syllabus under Atal Bihari Vajpaye, they did not have the numbers in the states, but now omitting the fact that India lost the war to China in 1962 has become easier.

But what happens when these children are exposed to false narratives? Some fear that the party is turning an entire generation into foot soldiers of Hindu nationalism to fight its battles in future elections. With an entire generation growing up with nationalistic ideology where no one knows who Nathuram Godse was and what he did, there will be no one to oppose a totalitarian regime.

Strike when the iron is hot, BJP’s targeting of young minds that needs shaping is probably the best and the worst exercise of propaganda the country has seen in current times. In these turbulent hours of the Indian democracy an old Chinese proverb comes to mind.

May we live in interesting times.


Sources: FirstPost, Indian Express

Allow cops to raid homes if citizens possess beef: Maharashtra to SC

In another bizzare move that could spark yet another controversy, the Maharashtra government has appealed to the Supreme Court for the revival of a provision that makes possession of beef (cow, bullocks and buffalo) at home from outside the state illegal.

A law, Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was struck down by the Bombay High Court that allowed any police officer to stop and search any person suspected of possessing beef slaughtered outside Maharashtra. It also empowered the police to carry raids in the suspect’s houses.

The keyword being suspect, it would be important to note that this move from the state government comes right when the Supreme Court concluded that right to privacy is not a fundamental right but a part of right to personal liberty.

Joachim Colaco, trustee of the United Christian Community Centre told the Hindustan Times that they would certainly go by the rules, but this was certainly not the right way.

Last year the Bombay High Court struck down the law in a strongly worded 245 page judgement, the court believed that the law was an intrusion into a citizen’s home and preventing from possessing and eating the food of his choice.

News Source: Hindustan Times, Huffington Post

Image Source: Reuters

Dunkirk: Nolan strikes again

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance

Director: Christopher Nolan

‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’, ‘Interstellar’, ‘Inception’…it is absolutely a treat that Christopher Nolan manages to give it to its audience in terms of entertainment blended in quality. And as one watches, one wonders till what point of time this man can keep producing such movies.

But as a Nolan fan and a movie enthusiast in general, his work is not only about the creativity in terms of ideas he brings or the camera work or the direction itself. It is about the narrative he binds it in; and ‘Dunkirk’ is a sublime example of the same.

‘Dunkirk’ is an interwoven tale of three stories running parallel at the same time frame in France where 400,000 soldiers wait to be rescued in one of the biggest retreats in World War II. The story divided in three parts ‘The Mole’, ‘The Sea’ and ‘The Sky’ is told through some amazing amount of camera work and some heavy music by maestro Hans Zimmer.

The music itself is devastatingly stunning; filled with regret, tension, expectation and hope complemented with Nolan’s narrative creates magic in the screens.

One can criticize the lack of major characters, but war doesn’t have heroes, it has men who desperately try to survive each moment of the day.

The roles played by Tom Hardy, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh are small but are very aptly put.

Dunkirk is Nolan’s shortest movie in terms of length and for some the story may seem a bit incomplete, but for those who dig history and Nolan, ‘Dunkirk’ is a show of an amazing production team who have strived to get every detail right and have excelled in it.

Railway food not fit for human consumption: CAG

An annual audit report compiled by the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG) has declared the food served in the railways and stations across India as “unsuitable for human consumption”.

After numerous complaints from passengers over the years, it is finally official that there are serious hygiene issues in regards to contaminated food, unauthorised brands of water bottles and packaged food items that are way beyond shelf life.

The audit has put the entire blame on the Railway Ministry for its frequent and unnecessary change in policies that has created a state of uncertainty in the management of catering services, reports TOI.

Screen grab of complaints.
Screen grab of complaints.

The team inspected 74 stations and 80 trains and concluded that the standards of cleanliness and hygiene were way below par at all catering units; the inspection reveals that unfiltered tap water was used to prepare beverages, waste bins were not covered and cleaned and food was being kept in places infested with cockroaches and flies.

The CAG also cracked down on the scam of overcharging passengers for food and beverages. It observed that the caterers did not provide menu cards and food was also served below prescribed quantity.

The report also thrashed the Integral Coach Factory located in Perumbar stating that the policy of progressive switch over from gas burners to electric power equipment in pantry cars to avoid the occurrence of fire accidents in trains was not followed while manufacturing the pantry cars.

News Source: TOI, News18

Image source: Indian Railways