Showing posts sorted by date for query Manipur. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Manipur. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Indian Squad's Passion, Patriotism, Hope And Desperation In Tokyo Olympics 2021

This is not a dampener. This is a reality check. While passion, patriotism, hope and desperation jostled for space on the Indian air waves one week into the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the air was also hanging heavy with a rather familiar déjà vu feeling about the whole exercise being largely a case of much ado about nothing yet again.

Late on a humid Friday evening at the Olympics, world champion Sifan Hassan, representing the Netherlands, appeared to be out of contention and altogether disinterested as she started and remained at the back of the field for the first half of the 5000m women’s heat in the track and field events. But a very subtle gear shift almost went unnoticed past the 2500m mark as she slowly made her way up midfield before appearing resigned to settle for seventh place until the penultimate lap.

On the seventh and final lap though, while her Kenyan and Ethiopian counterparts held steady ground at the front, Hassan quietly made her pitch for first and the finish line in such sublime fashion that they could only look on shocked, disgusted and most importantly, exhausted, as she gracefully moved past them and then into a league of her own.

Hassan, it turned out, had quietly executed a very stealthy and rather deceptive plan, building steadily and sure footedly, slowly at first and then with consistency, pushing past when it was time. This was only the first heat as she is expected to take part across three events.

As exhilarating as it was to watch, it was not easy to shake off the lingering feeling that India were continuing to miss a beat.

After all, what happened to the P.T. Usha’s of the country? What has happened to the next great hope? Where is the build up, the foundation, the steadiness, the consistency and the core, and the bench strength? The ceiling barriers are yet to be broken, once and for all and comprehensively at that as far as India at the Olympics are concerned.

This is not a dampener. This is a reality check.

When USA lost one of the world’s greatest gymnasts in Simone Biles at the last minute in the all round team gymnastics event, they found a new champion in Suni Lee who claimed gold in the individual event to add to USA’s prowess as the fifth successive champion to take the gold at the Olympics. Great Britain were rewarded for staying with Tom Daley and his ten year Olympics history of medals finally yielding him a gold in the 10m platform men’s synchronized diving. Michael Phelps’s Olympics record is being challenged as is Mark Spritz’, unbelievably so, by Caeleb Dressler in the swimming events.

One could not help but cut back to the picture earlier in the morning as Hassan silently disappeared into the background as did Dutee from Indian minds.

At the fifth heat of the women’s 100m, a relatively diminutive woman lined up at the very end in lane 9. More exalted champions such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took their place in the middle. The commentator on air did not even bother to go to the end of the field to introduce the athletes and Dutee Chand remained largely incognito, finishing a rather lacklustre seventh in an eight women race and much behind her national record time. Finishing 45 out of 54 participants reminded one of the shoddy affair that passed for sports events at many a school.

Still Chand was at the Olympics. Getting here was a Herculean effort and could not draw comparison. But that summed up India’s campaign in a nutshell.

Getting here is everything and then being here is automatically translated to medal hope in the minds of a billion. Never mind the mental challenge of watching athletes around the world show up with a larger support staff and a more rounded practice and facilities behind them. Hurdles are often overlooked in the public eye.

After all, while the likes of Anurag Thakur and Kiran Rijuju can sing laurels of our athletes when they make progress, it could be argued that like India’s lamentably bleak Olympics history, much of India’s untapped sporting talent continues to remain hidden.

It can also explain the almost monotonous voice in which the electronic media were already talking medal even as family members of P.V. Sindhu and Lovlina Borgohain encouraged cautious optimism. “Going for gold” screamed the headlines even though both women were still only into the semi finals in their respective disciplines of boxing and badminton respectively and had to still get past one more opponent to throw the final gauntlet for gold.

Once over the euphoria on a rather quiet, less newsworthy Friday where the farmers protest and the opposition took a backseat, the overwhelming feeling returned once more at the end of another epic day at the Tokyo Olympics that it was better to read the list of who had made the leap ahead rather than read out the long list of Indian athletes who didn’t.

Why are India’s medal hopefuls over hyped before the Olympics and then reduced to less than a handful midway through the two week celebration of sport only for India to be able to count on one hand the number of medals returning home? What is wrong with this picture?

Consider the déjà vu. There lies the answer.

Consider this for comparison.

A billion plus strong nation and 128 athletes represent India. Australia boasts a train of over 450 athletes at the Tokyo Olympics and only has a population that is about 25 million. Yet Australia are sitting pretty at no.6 behind the Russian Olympics Committee with nine gold medals to their name against the leader China who have now leaped over Japan with eighteen gold medals. Australia have 22 medals by the end of a hot and muggy night at the Olympics. India, still just the one.

Missing the top spot in the headlines were the archery duo of Deepika Kumari and Atanu Das who were holding their respective ground in the women’s individual archery event and men’s recursive individual archery, heading into the quarterfinals. While their efforts are commendable, they still represent a tiny fraction of India’s athletes who made it to the Olympics which is a great feat in itself but also, an even more miniscule percentage of the population, which is blasphemous to say the least.

Women’s hockey also provided some hope and as rightly pointed out, a semi final place is a great place to be in a ten year development. The emphasis has to be on development.

On a day when the likes of P.V. Sindhu were being hailed, there was an out-of-touch-with-reality moment when actor R. Madhavan posted this reply to a picture of the Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Mirabai Chanu having food on the floor of her humble home back in Manipur:

“Hey this cannot be true. I am at a complete loss of words.”

Why, Madhavan? First of all, it has to be pointed out, there is nothing wrong with having one’s lunch on the floor. To put things in context here though, he should know better the plight of Indian sportspersons given that he has played a coach to one in one of his movies.

It certainly puts playing for honour and pride of the country in perspective. That is a school of thought that has been given much lip service but not much credence in the wake of introduction of a sporting culture such as the Indian Premier League.

But it highlights not just the humble conditions from which these sportspersons come from but also, of the great demands on them, sometimes on their own two legs and on their meagre resources to get as far as they do. Showering laurels when medals are won is easy. In that sense, walking that opening ceremony in Tokyo was already a dream too high but achieved. But what about those who made it on their own merit and great hard work but didn’t get far, like Dutee?

Often this is not a rags-to-riches story for many of these sports persons who achieve elite Olympics medal levels. Promises made to them – not incentives but rewards after they hit the spotlight – are not kept. Homes are denied, jobs going a-begging, their talent, experience and wisdom untapped as the governments fail to use their success as a slipstream to build a steady stream of athletes inspired in the wake of their accomplishments.

Then four years later, it appears the names once again come out of the woodworks, the politicians bring out their patriotic Indian montages and the fans their tricolour and march alongside the sportspersons to unrealistic dreams and expectations.

The dismay is obvious.

The handful of aspiring shooters have had enough turmoil on the results board and back in the dressing room with enough ruffles over rifts between shooters and coaches. Manu Bhaker, who was expected to be the flag bearer in the end leading the medals tally, had a run in with her coach, Jaspal Rana, and thereafter with a rare malfunctioning pistol that hurt her chances in the 10m air pistol qualification event.

As news headlines kept screaming… “so-and-so crashes out,” “so-and-so crashes out”, and “so-and-so crashes out”, once again it highlighted the great disparity of how sports like cricket are given deliberate vantage point and therefore, focus, while it is hard even for seasoned journalists to extrapolate on the goings-on back in Tokyo simply because they have been fed and raised on a consumption of mainly one sport and also, then forced into specialized fields that earn their employers and themselves bread-and-butter. This is simply a fact of life, which some journalists have been candid and also, brave enough to admit openly.

One had to go deeper and read in order to learn why the nineteen year old Bhaker “crashed out” (visuals were not made available at the time). Not mentioned were her still impressive scores while she lost time while her pistol was being repaired as opposed to replaced with a spare because of the time it would take to make adjustments.

While the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) stated that India’s performance at the Tokyo Olympics was “inexplicable” and the sports authority talking about an overhaul, what is not easily forgiven is the repeated manner in which sportspersons find themselves in needless tangles, whether off the field like Mary Kom is in her final Olympics showdown, calling out the IOC over unfair judging, or the “usual suspects” (for want of a better term) of the likes of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza calling foul of the AITA over selection muddles and confusion.

Where is the next generation? And where is the accountability? Where is the quiet pacing from the back of the field to make track steadily and then to take the finish line?

To think India lacks talent is appalling given that despite this sudden euphoria that comes out of the closets every four years – from the government and sports aficionados alike – India, despite its vast wealth, has very little infrastructure to show why there is no great grassroot level at which India’s budding talent is given ground on which to train.

Budget reels every February rarely do the untapped and underprivileged talent in the country little justice, leaving sports on the backburner. Between politics, nepotism and corruption, even existing infrastructure is elusive to these athletes in their four year long training that demands endurance and commitment of an extraordinary nature. The Olympics highlights this fact amply.

It is not enough that somehow, Dutee Chand is India’s only athlete in the track and field with hope and even she finishes at the end of the tail. While India’s hopes now rest on Sindhu and Lovlina and on the archers to wipe out the dim spotlight over the coming weekend, something is wrong with this picture and has been for a very long time. #KhabarLive

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Genetic Isolation in Casteist India Could Could Render Some People More Vulnerable to Disease

There is reduced genetic variation among the people of some subpopulations because they have been genetically isolated due to various factors – such as caste.

The occurrence of genetic diseases in certain subpopulations in India and other countries in South Asia is well known. Indian scientists now suspect that this could be due to genetic isolation caused by endogamous marriages over generations.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

No State Is Too Small For The Modi-Shah Grand Plan For The BJP

There's a crucial difference between this BJP and that of yore. A forceful drive to imprint the BJP's presence on unmapped political terrain, displayed by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, was a feature never seen in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani era.

Its absence was not for want of ambition because the BJP's principal strategist of those times, Pramod Mahajan, was as obsessed with displacing the Congress as the principal "national pole" of the big guns of today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Burning Issue: How Exactly Does The Indian Media Define A Terrorist?


The English-language media's use of the term seems to be dictated by muscular nationalism and an anti-Kashmir bias rather than any objective parameters.

On July 10, India woke up to startling pictures of massive crowds at the funeral of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Tral, Kashmir.

Has The NHRC Failed Its Mandate To Protect And Promote Human Rights In India?


The Supreme Court's interim AFSPA judgement suggests that it may examine the role of the 'toothless tiger'.

In an interim judgement on extra-judicial killings of alleged “terrorists, militants or insurgents” by the police and the armed forces in Manipur, the Supreme Court has once again reiterated its commitment to the rule of law and human rights.

The division bench comprising of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, meticulously examined various contentious issues, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA, and upheld citizens’ basic fundamental rights, even in territories experiencing internal disturbances.

While lamenting the existing situation, which has fostered an environment of impunity especially in “disturbed areas” and failed to provide effective remedies for the families of fake encounter victims, the court also placed the spotlight on the National Human Rights Commission’s role as a statutory body mandated to protect and promote human rights in India. Indeed, NHRC as an independent watchdog is envisaged to take appropriate steps in such cases with vigour and enthusiasm. However, the opposite seems to be true.

'Toothless tiger'
The NHRC being a “toothless tiger” was a refrain that echoed throughout the judgment, an expression which the Commission appears to have become accustomed to, and one which has even been accepted by it with the acknowledgement of its present Chairperson.

However, the question persists: Has the NHRC failed to maximise its strengths and come up with novel manners of countering systematic rights violations such as in Manipur?

Further, does the lack of support on the part of governments at the Centre and State level justify the seemingly half-hearted measures on the part of the NHRC?

In the present case, in addition to underscoring its statutory limitations, the NHRC took the stage before the Court to place the blame on the Central and the State Governments who were criticised for not taking it seriously.

The Central government has been ignoring its requests to recruit more staff which is leading to long delays and inability to follow up on steps undertaken, said the NHRC, while also insisting that it has released specific guidelines in 1997 to act as safeguards in instances of deaths due to encounters by the police. These guidelines have since been amended twice owing to experiences of States who were either not following the guidelines in their “true spirit” or dismissing them altogether as being merely recommendatory, leading to a compromised procedural safety net against illegal extra-judicial killings.

Valid criticism
The arguments of the NHRC did not impress the Supreme Court which criticised it mainly on two grounds.

First, the Court pointed to an affidavit filed by the NHRC in relation to the alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur which it described as “extremely vague”. In its affidavit, the NHRC only stated that it had held a 3-days camp in Imphal, Manipur, in October 2013 to “consider pending complaints of extra-judicial killings by the armed forces/police”. It had awarded monetary relief in five cases in this camp, the NHRC said, but the documents presented to the Court only contained proceedings relating to one of those cases, while no information was given on any other matters considered.

Second, on a perusal of the cases closed by the NHRC which were also the subject-matter before the Court, the Court observed that some of these complaints had “been closed without any application of mind and simply because of the conclusion arrived at in the Magisterial Enquiry report, which is really an administrative report”. This exclusive reliance on the magisterial enquiry reports suggested a worrisome aspect, the Court said, as it was also the NHRC own contention that these reports in most cases were of “poor quality” which did not even examine the victims’ families or independent witnesses. Eventually, the Court decided not to consider the Magisterial Enquiry reports altogether, which practically quashed the pet recommendation of the NHRC in its guidelines with respect to such enquiries acting as a critical procedural safeguard in matters of extra-judicial deaths.

In this way, the Court may have highlighted the half-hearted efforts of the NHRC both in terms of its actual proceedings as also its guidelines. Also, the Court’s adverse observations may also have endorsed the view of the first Director General (Investigation) of the NHRC who recently said:

“Instead of bemoaning its lack of powers, NHRC has to play a more proactive and transformative role for the advancement of human rights in the country”.

However, that is not to say that the NHRC hasn’t faced its own share of problems and obstacles. In fact, most of its grievances, specifically, pertaining to its infirmity in taking actions against members of the armed forces and the unwillingness of the States to adhere to its non-binding directions, are genuine. Nonetheless, whether it has done enough till now or whether it is prepared to step up once provided with more “teeth to bite” are issues which it must genuinely introspect at the earliest.

Perhaps, the Court’s intention to consider the critical issue of the NHRC being a “toothless tiger” in its final judgment may finally resolve the issue and fast track the Commission’s intended relevant contribution to the fundamental human rights and rule of law in India. Until then, even the Supreme Court couldn’t hide its sarcasm when it said,

“….it is pointed out (perhaps with a tinge of frustration) that the petitioners might not be very wrong in describing the NHRC as a toothless tiger!”.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Kashmir Unrest: Why Are The Crowd Control Failures Of 2010 Being Repeated In 2016?


Despite scores of casualties six years ago, the forces continue to use pellet guns that can blind, maim and kill.

“Despite the curtailment of militant activities in Jammu & Kashmir, the public order dimension in the state has become a cause for serious concern. We need to revisit standard operating procedures and crowd control measures to deal with public agitations with non-lethal, yet effective and more focused measures.”

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Indian Jews: This Little Known Minority Community With A Rich Heritage - 1


(Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series on the Jewish community in India)

Last week the Maharashtra state government bestowed minority status on a minuscule and ancient community - the Indian Jews. This official recognition by Maharashtra, the second state to do so after West Bengal, is imperative to the very survival of its Jewish community. Maharashtra (part of erstwhile Bombay State) has always been home to a majority of Indian Jews, it today has 2466 Jews out of the all-India total of 4,650 Jews.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Draft Wetlands Rules a Aim To Protect India's Wetlands, Is This The Best Way?


The "fishing cat" is a lesser-known, small wild cat. As its name suggests, it feeds on fish - primarily found in water bodies like wetlands, swamps, rivers etc. Already classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the fishing cat - and several other species - could be severely imperiled if the proposed Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, replacing the previous Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, is implemented by the Ministry of Environment , Forests and Climate Change.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frank Opinion: When Did Civil Service Become Synonymous With Self-Service?


In 2008, I was in Chandel district of Manipur on field work. As I went about listening to local people's stories about their lives and aspirations, most of them kept praising this particular woman administrator, an IAS officer. She was from South India, they said, and yet she was able to blend in with local people and was very responsive to their needs. As I walked towards the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO), 

I understood what they meant. It was an office with an open door, and there were no "middle men" to stop people from meeting the officer. The people waiting outside did not have the look of being intimidated by power.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Focus: Why India Should Stop Celebrating Teacher’s Day?


We have all had great teachers who have shaped our lives. Yet, we can’t pretend that India’s education system is not broken. Most of it has to do with teachers. Indian school students famously don’t ask questions in class. If you ask questions, you are a problem child. When there is rote learning to see you through examinations, why do you need to ask questions?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The World's 'Spiciest & Strong Chilli' Grows In India!

By Hemanshu Rai in Imphal
One of the many things that puzzle people about those from the Northeast is their obsession for bhut jalokia. A fiery chilli that makes them teary eyed. It's so hot that some even cry! But these are only tears of joy. To stop the tears, they quickly take a mouthful of raw sugar! All is well again and they continue eating.

A meal in some parts of the region is hardly complete unless it is laced with hot and sizzling bhut jalokia. The scary-sounding name "bhut jalokia" is a vermilion-coloured chilli pepper which is famed as the world's hottest chilli. In 2007, it was certified by the Guinness World Records as the 'hottest chilli pepper in the world'. In fact, in 2010 the Indian military decided to use this chilli in hand grenades for crowd control.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Focus: Crisis For India's Orphans As Adoption Is Being Abandoned By Parents And Neglected By Government

Abandoned by their parents and now neglected by governments — there is no end to the suffering of over 50,000 orphans in India. 

The adoption rate within the country as well as those by foreign nationals in India has gone down by nearly 50 per cent in the last five years. 

What adds to the grim situation is the disparity between South Indian states and the rest of the country in terms of adoption of children. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Exclusive: Bizarre UPA-Era Figures Revealed 70% Of Delhi Used For Organic Farming In 2012 And Records Can't Explain Where 100 Crore Subsidies Gone?

Believe it or not, almost 70 per cent of the national Capital was used for organic farming in 2011-2012, according to National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture. 

While the total geographical area of Delhi is 1.48 lakh hectares, NPOF data shows 100238.74 hectares (almost twice the size of Mumbai) was used for organic farming during that period. 

What smacks of data fudging and a gigantic scam took place between 2009 and 2012 when the Sheila Dikshit government was in power in Delhi and the Congress-led UPA ruled at the Centre.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Private Enterprise Is Changing Non-Cricket Sports?

India Inc has entered the country's sporting arena, and is changing the way the nation plays.

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was taken for granted that an aspiring sportsperson in India would have to do any or all of the following: 
  • Secure a job in a public sector company, or a large private sector one, for a regular income.
  • Scramble for corporate sponsorship to be able to compete at international or even national tournaments.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Why Nagaland Lynching Was Not Just Outrage Over Rape?

A sensational incident shook the Indian culture and forseen the change in agitation. On 5 March, the country was jolted by a horrific incident that questioned the security of India's jails. Thousands of people stormed a jail in Dimapur, Nagaland, dragged a man accused of rape out on the streets, stripped him and then lynched him. 

The man had allegedly raped a 20-year-old Naga college student several times on 23 and 24 February. Infuriated by the news, residents of Dimapur decided to turn vigilantes and murder the man in full public view.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Anna Hazare's Confused 'Gandhism' On 'Land Ordinance'

The Land Acquisition Ordinance has been a subject of much debate. There are differences between the government and the opposition over the finer nuances of the bill. 

However, instead of a reasoned debate and discussion which can result in a compromise, the opposition is piggybacking on the agitation started by Anna Hazare. This is wrong and dangerous. 

A natural question that arises is: why is Anna wrong now and why wasn’t he wrong when he started his agitation for the Jan Lokpal Bill? The answer is simple. Corruption is a plague that no one in their right minds would support.

Monday, January 26, 2015

To My Patriotic Brethren – Is This What A Republic Means?

To my patriotic brethren: Two decades ago, Republic Day seemed like such a strange and distant holiday for me in terms of its meaning and significance. Yes, I remember spending the morning in front of a television at my aunt’s, watching phallic objects that could explode being paraded around and followed by swathes of coordinated dancers in over-starched uniforms who only knew one robotic move. I also recall threats against public celebration from local Nationalists who despised such display but dreamed of a chance to exhibit their own phallic objects.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hyderabad Exhibition Blues: A Mishmash Called 'Numaish'

What Sunburn is to Goa, Numaish is to Hyderabad. Numaish, or the All India Industrial Exhibition, is an event to be reckoned with. This annual exhibition that started in 1938 has touched the life of every Hyderabadi and has formed a bond which is, it can only be said, everlasting.

Hyderabad, which is all about Nizam and Numaish, wears a festive look during this season. The calendars for January and February are booked and plans are made, budgets are saved, leaves are spared to visit the All India Industrial Exhibition.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Manipur 'Migrants' Are Soft Targets Of Terror Groups

Manipur has been a state plagued by insurgency for decades. People here still live on razor's edge, sandwiched between the insurgent and the security forces and often become prey of violence and get hit in cross fire in counter insurgency operation.

Manipur’s capital Imphal is once again in news for violence. In the latest violence, three daily-wage labourers were killed, while four others were injured seriously when a very powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off in  a bus stand in the heart of Imphal city.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why Kerala Is like Kuwait & Madhya Pradesh Is Like Haiti?

For its level of income, India, as well as many of its states, could do a much better job in taking care of their most vulnerable people.

American poet Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”—“Do I contradict myself/ Very well then I contradict myself/I am large, I contain multitudes”—seems tailor-made for India. Which country can India be compared to, in economic terms? Is India’s level of economic development more or less like Vietnam’s, because their per capita incomes, in international dollars and in purchasing power parity terms, are almost the same?