REPORT ON PAGES 4 to 7
T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
ROHIT SHARMA TALKS
WITH EYES CLOSED
PAGES 18 & 19
Singapore and other countries kick-start Indian independence
leader’s two-year long 150th birth-anniversary celebrations
A child paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi during an
all-religion prayer meeting in Ahmedabad, India. (Right)
Chinese musicians in Singapore recording a version of the
song Raghupathy Raghava Raja Ram which Gandhi loved.
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Air India cabin crew to lose
allowances, fly domestic if late
AIR India has announced that its cabin
crew will lose their overseas
allowances if they report late for work.
This means they will only be allowed
to fly on domestic routes for a year.
They will also have to bear the
transportation cost for the cab sent to
their homes, which is currently
incurred by the airline. A statement
released by the country’s national
carrier also added that its cabin crew
will now stay in three-star hotels in
India and abroad.
These steps have been taken to cut
cost following the 7.3 per cent hike in
jet fuel prices.
India’s first dolphin research
centre to come up in Patna
THE National Dolphin Research
Centre, India’s and Asia’s first, will
soon be a reality in Patna. It is likely to
be set up next month on the banks of
the Ganga river in the Patna University
It will play an important role in
strengthening conservation efforts and
research to save the endangered
Gangetic river dolphin.
A well-reputed expert on Gangetic
river dolphins, R.K. Sinha, said the
Gangetic river dolphin is India’s
national aquatic animal but frequently
falls prey to poachers and is sometimes
killed after being trapped in plastic
fishing nets and hit by mechanised
He added that the centre will be “a
positive development for
much-needed dolphin research”.
Raje opens much-awaited
Dravyavati river project
RAJASTHAN’S chief minister
Vasundhara Raje inaugurated the
much-awaited Jaipur’s Dravyavati
River Rejuvenation Project on
Tuesday. The area spread over 47.5km
had degenerated with untreated
sewage, but has now been restored as a
perennial river with treated clean
The project aims to reduce
pollution, treat 170 million litres of
sewage a day, create green and social
spaces, build cycle and jogging tracks
along its banks, reduce the threat of
floods, create employment, and
transform Jaipur into a clean city, said
Delhi to tackle pollution levels
with new system
DELHI will get an ‘early warning
pollution system’ that can predict air
quality at least two days in advance.
This will help people be better
equipped to tackle sudden high
pollution levels. The system is
expected to be up by the end of this
It will draw data from 36 pollution
monitoring stations and will factor in
real-time aerosol information from
Nasa satellites, according to a report
by the Hindustan Times.
IAF on relief mission to
THE Indian Air Force (IAF) on
Tuesday embarked on a humanitarian
relief mission to help Indonesia
following an earthquake and tsunami
in which more than 1,200 lives were
An official said that the medical
teams have been instructed to be
self-contained for 10 days. IAF’s
C-130J and C-17 aircraft are carrying
rations, generators, fuel, tentage as
well as light medical equipment
including X-ray machines and
Plastic ban in six Odisha cities
THE Odisha government has enforced
a ban on the use of plastic in six cities
of the state – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack,
Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur and
The ban, however, excludes plastic
for carrying and transporting garbage
and containers such as cups for milk
products, polythene packaging
materials used in plant nurseries,
blood transportation bags, syringes
and medical instruments.
Manufacturers, dealers and major
commercial establishments will face a
minimum punishment of a five-year
jail term and a fine of up to Rs1 lakh
for flouting the rule.
Small traders will be fined between
Rs2,000 and Rs3,000 for violations.
Fire at Calcutta Medical
College, 250 patients
A FIRE broke out at the Calcutta
Medical College and Hospital on
It was brought under control
after five hours as authorities
evacuated about 250 patients.
Some of the critically ill had to be
carried out by hospital staff as
there were not enough stretchers
available. A man claimed that his
father, admitted for treatment of a
respiratory problem, died after
his condition deteriorated after
inhaling smoke, though hospital
authorities said no deaths
occurred due to the blaze.
“Medicine stocks costing Rs5
crores were destroyed,” said a
spokesman for the pharmacy
housed in the damaged building.
October 5, 2018
USSIAN President Vladimir
Putin was expected to arrive in
India yesterday looking to tie
up billions of dollars in arms deals with
Prime Minister Narendra Modi which
will likely irk the United States, China
The Kremlin said before the two-day
visit by Putin and top Russian ministers
that the “key feature” would be the sign-
ing of a US$5-billion deal for the S-400
air defence system, despite the risk of
US sanctions against countries buying
Russian defence kit.
On the eve of Mr Putin’s arrival, the
US poured cold water on India’s efforts
to obtain a waiver to avoid sanctions un-
der legislation called Countering Amer-
ica’s Adversaries Through Sanctions
Upgrades in arms systems “includ-
ing the S-400 air and missile defence sys-
tem” would be a particular focus for
Caatsa, a US State Department
spokesman was quoted as saying by In-
dia’s PTI news agency.
Last month, Washington slapped fi-
nancial sanctions on the Chinese mili-
tary for buying Russian Sukhoi Su-35
fighter jets – and the S-400. However,
the US is in a difficult position when it
comes to India.
It wants to bolster ties with New
Delhi to counter China’s growing as-
sertiveness, something that has also rat-
Washington and New Delhi an-
nounced plans last month for joint mili-
tary drills in 2019 and agreed on the ex-
change of sensitive military informa-
The US is now India’s second biggest
arms supplier. But Russia remains No. 1,
and a string of new deals with the Asian
giant would be a major win for Moscow
– and a big snub to the US.
Mr Putin and Mr Modi, who appear
to enjoy a personal rapport, are also
likely to discuss a deal for four Krivak-
class frigates worth US$2 billion and
200 light utility Ka-226 helicopters
pegged at US$1 billion.
“It’s about time we showed that we
are not going to be pushed around by
Washington,” said Mr R.R. Subrama-
nian, a Delhi-based strategic affairs ana-
Experts say India needs the sophisti-
cated S-400 to fill critical gaps in its de-
fence capabilities in view of China’s rise
and perceived threats from Pakistan,
against whom India has fought three
Indian Air Force Chief Birender
Singh Dhanoa said on Wednesday that
the S-400 and the 36 Rafale fighter jets
purchased from France – a 2016 deal
mired in political controversy – repre-
sent a “booster dose” for the country.
Last year, India and China had a mili-
tary standoff over a Himalayan plateau
claimed by Beijing and Bhutan, a close
ally of India. China has also perturbed
India by loaning vast amounts of money
to countries such as Sri Lanka where it
has long held sway.
Mr Putin, 65, and Mr Modi, 68, are
also set to discuss a possible second Rus-
sian-built nuclear power plant. Moscow
is currently expanding India’s biggest nu-
clear power plant in Kudankulam.
Also on the agenda is Russian train-
ing for Indian astronauts as New Delhi
aims to launch its first crewed space mis-
sion in 2022.
On the strategic front, Moscow is
pushing for India’s entry into the Nu-
clear Suppliers Group of countries con-
trolling access to nuclear technology.
Afghanistan, though, has been a
sticking point. Moscow wants to engage
the Taliban in the peace process – a
prospect unacceptable to India.
US, China unease as Putin visits India
ROHIT Sharma is candid enough to admit that he does not
come from a privileged background.
His father, Gurunath Sharma, worked as a caretaker in a
transport company’s storehouse and did not have sufficient
means to bring him up along with younger brother Vishal.
So, Sharma was raised by his grandparents and would
visit his parents only during weekends.
“Those were challenging times,” said Sharma. “I wanted
to play cricket but found it so difficult.”
In 1999, he joined a cricket camp with his uncle’s money.
Later, he got a scholarship to study in a reputed school in
Mumbai which had good cricket facilities.
He did well in cricket and gradually made it to the India
Under-19 side, the A team and then became a full interna-
“After I made some money from the sport, I bought a
small flat and asked my parents to stay with me,” he said.
“I don’t want to forget my roots. My parents have taught
me to be humble and work towards my goals. I have learnt to
keep moving by being focused in life.
“Coaches have helped me to reach where I am. But the
support of my family and my wife has been enormous. With-
out them it would not have been possible for me to play a
high level of the game.”
He said that his father was very happy that he led India to
victory in the Asia Cup.
“Dad sent me a congratulatory message,” said Sharma.
“He had wanted me to captain India one day. He told me that
he was very proud. Often, before games, he sends me ‘do
During his free time, especially when he is not playing
Test cricket, Sharma analyses his game. But he prefers to
spend more time with his family.
“I like to find out what my parents are doing and what
they want,” he said.
“I also like to catch up with my younger brother. I am not
much into social media. I feel it should be used the right way
to make the world a better place.”
He said his wife cares about animal welfare and that is
something he would like to do rather than posting selfies.
“On my 31st birthday in April, some fans planted 31 trees
in my name. That made me so happy,” he said. “I hope peo-
ple would do such meaningful things rather than spend time
on social media.”
He knows that a cricketer’s life at the top can be short.
“One unfortunate incident or injury can throw you out,” he
said. So, he drives himself to train and excel all the time.
“Knowing that I am representing 1.3 billion people is the
biggest motivator,” he said.
“I have worked hard to reach where I am. I hope to con-
tinue to be part of the Indian team.”
Staying true to his roots
Backed by his family... Rohit Sharma with his wife Ritika Sajdeh
during his trip to Singapore.
V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
OHIT Sharma is considered
a cool cricketer, who can
handle pressure with ease
on the field.
But India’s Asia Cup captain
closed his eyes during the tense last
two overs in the final against
Bangladesh in Dubai last Friday.
“I was sleeping in the dressing
room,” he said during a visit to Singa-
pore two days later.
“I could not watch the final dra-
India retained their title by beat-
ing Bangladesh in a last-ball thriller.
A limping Kedar Jadhav – with the
scores level – tried to flick the ball
and managed to get a leg bye.
“In situations like that, anything
can happen,” said Sharma, who was
unveiled as Singapore-based sports
management and events company
SportsKingdom’s brand ambas-
sador at a function at Le Meridien
Sentosa last Sunday.
“I get nervous, that’s me.”
The 31-year-old also revealed
that he – also the captain then – pre-
ferred to close his eyes when Dinesh
Karthik hit a last-ball six to help In-
dia defeat Bangladesh and clinch the
Nidahas Trophy tri-series in
Colombo on March 18.
Sharma was happy that India
won the Asia Cup under his leader-
He also felt “quite sweet” that his
side beat arch-rivals Pakistan twice
during the tournament. But he
pointed out that there was no extra
pressure on him to deliver the wins
“People in both countries of
course get excited about this en-
counter. But for me it is just another
match, like any I would play against
Australia or England,” he said.
“The dynamics of every oppo-
nent is different. I focus on how I
have to perform against each team.
There will be pressure no matter
which team you play against.”
Apart from the pressure,
Sharma felt that India, who were
playing in the Asia Cup soon after a
Test-series defeat in England, han-
dled the sweltering conditions in
Dubai very well.
“It was extremely hot, with the
temperature on match days going
above 40 deg C,” he said.
“But we ignored that and stuck
to the job we had to do. In the end,
we got the results we wanted. If ev-
eryone focuses in the right direc-
tion, you will get rewarded.”
Unlike India’s regular captain Vi-
rat Kohli, who is animated and
loudly expressive on the field,
Sharma was calmness personified
during the Asia Cup.
To many fans, his demeanour re-
sembled that of former India cap-
tain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is
renowned for never losing his cool.
“MS gave youngsters the freedom
to perform,” said Sharma.
“He gave us the assurance that he
will back us no matter what hap-
pens. He told us not to bother about
pressure and ‘be you’.
“I have put myself in his shoes. I
know that youngsters need freedom
and tell them not to worry about fail-
ure. I tell them to focus on the
process and enjoy the game. Every-
thing else will follow.
“All of them have worked hard to
reach the top. They need the support
to do well. So, it is important to be
calm. A player will give his all if he
knows the captain and the team is
Sharma believes that India’s one-
day squad is almost set and, with
probably two more players to be in-
cluded, should be ready for next
year’s World Cup in England.
“We have another 18 or so one-
dayers to play before the World Cup,
so that will give the fringe players
the opportunities to prove them-
selves,” he said.
“Changing and chopping will not
help the guy or the team. Every
player needs time to prove himself.”
Sharma has been prolific in the
one-dayers where he has an average
of 46.16 runs after 187 matches.
The opener from Mumbai has a
decent average of 39.97 in 25 Tests
too. But he has found it difficult to ce-
ment a place in India’s Test side.
The experienced player was
dropped for the recently-concluded
Test series in England, was not con-
sidered as a replacement even when
the regular openers flopped and has
not been picked for the series
against the West Indies which
started at Rajkot in India yesterday.
“Given the opportunity, I would
like to open in Tests too,” he said.
“It is up to the selectors to make
the call. It’s not easy for them, as
they will be blamed if something
“They always do things in the
best interests of the team.
“But Test cricket is a different
ball game. You have to plan to play
that well in advance.”
Sharma grew up playing on ce-
ment pitches, so he is good at play-
ing fast bowling, even on bouncy
wickets. “Shot selections and tech-
nique are also important,” he said.
“With time, you also become
mentally aware of how to play a
In recent years, instant cricket –
such as one-day and Twenty 20 –
have become more popular com-
pared to the five-day Test variety.
But Sharma believes that there is
still a bright future for Test cricket.
“You need green pitches on the
first two days which will later assist
spin,” he said. “Flat pitches will not
produce results and will bore the
fans. All Test matches should be
played on lively pitches to make the
games more interesting.”
Making a mark... Rohit Sharma meeting
fans at a function at Le Meridien Sentosa;
(left) rejoicing with team-mates after India
won the Asia Cup.
Winning with eyes closed
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