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MCI (P) 135/03/2018
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JANUARY 11, 2019
SARA: NO TIME
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Varanasi residents unhappy over
demolition of old neighbourhood
The authorities in Varanasi are demolishing about
300 houses and wiping away its oldest
neighbourhood – a move which has upset the
locals. Their aim is to improve accessibility for
pilgrims by providing a direct pathway from the
Ganges river to the 18th-century shrine of Lord
Shiva – the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
For centuries, Hindus have cremated the dead
at Varanasi but have had to navigate crowded
alleyways to reach the city’s ghats, or riverside
steps, reported AFP.
A local resident Ajay Kapoor hit out at Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected
from Varanasi, saying: “Varanasi is defined by its
galis (narrow lanes), and by creating this corridor,
he is robbing the city of its very identity.”
Residents have been offered compensation
and relocation options but some of them feel it is
not adequate reimbursement for losing homes in
a prime area.
Railways passengers to check in
20 minutes before departure
Soon, Indian Railways passengers will
have to check in at least 20 minutes
before the scheduled departure of
trains. This is in order to complete the
security checks and board their trains
on time, after which the platform will
This is similar to the process of
airports’ security check and boarding
system before departures.
acquires site in Chennai
The Ascendas-Singbridge Group has
acquired a 12.2-acre site in Chennai to
develop a new IT park.
The area is strategically located on
the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam road, an
upcoming IT corridor that is connected
to Old Mahabalipuram Road and
Grand Southern Trunk Road, the two
major IT corridors in Chennai.
The location is well-connected to
Chennai International Airport and is
situated in close proximity to
residential catchments, educational
institutions and hospitals.The land
parcel will be developed into an IT park
with supporting amenities, a trademark
of Ascendas-Singbridge Group’s IT
parks in India.
The first phase will offer
approximately 1.1 million sq ft of
high-quality office space.
India to remain world’s
India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
is expected to grow at 7.3 per cent in
the fiscal year 2018-19 and 7.5 per cent
in the following two years, the World
Bank has predicted, attributing it to an
increase in consumption and
investment. In comparison, China is
expected to register a much lower
growth rate of 6.3 per cent in 2018-19.
The World Bank report Global
Economic Prospects: Darkening Skies
says that most world economies stare at
dark times in this financial year.
However, it has projected a brighter
picture for India and South Asia.
“India’s growth outlook is still
robust. India is still the fastest-growing
major economy,” World Bank
Prospects Group Director Ayhan Kose
told the Press Trust of India.
Lady officer to lead army
contingent for the first time
For the first time in the history of the
Indian Army, a lady officer will lead a
contingent on the annual Army Day
parade on Jan 15.
An all-women marching contingent
was led by a woman officer, Captain
Divya Ajith, during the Republic Day
parade in 2015.
Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi will
lead the Indian Army’s Service Corps
contingent, comprising 144 male
personnel, at the 71st Army Day
She praised and thanked the Indian
Army for this opportunity and said:
“This shows the kind of acceptance, the
change and the evolution which is
happening in the entire organisation.
This shows acceptance for woman
Pandya, Rahul issued show-cause
notices for lewd remarks
Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and
K.L. Rahul were given show-cause
notices by the Board of Control for
Cricket in India for their remarks about
women on the celebrity talk show
Koffee With Karan.
The notice came hours after Hardik
apologised for making comments that
were construed as misogynist and
sexist. He said he got “carried away by
the nature of the show”.
During the show, Hardik boasted
about hooking up with multiple
women. When asked why he does not
ask women for their names in a club, he
responded by saying: “I like to watch
and observe how they (women) move.
I’m a little from the black side so I need
to see how they move.” Rahul has not
responded to the criticism.
Delhi planning to combine
old age home with cow shelter
In a unique initiative, the Delhi
government is planning to merge cow
shelters with old age homes.
Delhi Minister of Animal
Husbandry Gopal Rai said animals and
humans have been interdependent.
“It is common that people keep a
cow only till it gives milk and throws it
out when it is of no use. A similar thing
happens with humans,” he said.
“With age, when humans are not of
any use, they are forced out of their
“We will start a joint venture of cow
shelter and old age home so that old
people can spend time and interact
with animals just like in village culture.”
January 11, 2019
to ride two-
Scooty way to
freedom for women
“Each one of our
trainers and students
has a motivating story
to tell – a story of
their discovery of
– Ms Pawani Khandelwal (left)
On any busy traffic crossing in the his-
toric Mughal city of Agra, one can see a
number of women on two-wheelers.
Not only young girls, but more and more
middle-aged women, including house-
wives, are now enjoying their new-
found freedom of mobility, a stark con-
trast from a few years ago.
One can witness similar scenes some
60km away in Mathura, the city consid-
ered sacred by Hindus for being the
birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Mathura resident Pawani Khandel-
wal, who describes herself as a raging
feminist, truly believes that something
as simple as riding a two-wheeler can
transform the lives of middle-aged
housewives in small towns where even
switching from wearing a sari to a salwar
suit is seen as a revolution.
Being able to ride a “scooty” – a
smaller version of a scooter with auto-
transmission – can empower women by
making them self-dependent, she says.
That was why when she decided to
start a scooter driving school for women
she could not think of a better name
than “Aatm Nirbhar” – literally mean-
“Bicycles are now out of fashion.
Most women go for a scooty or an elec-
“After school hours, you will find so
many of them with kids tucked tightly to
their backs hurrying back home,”
commented school teacher Meera
“You can see girls zooming past,
competing with boys as if to de-
clare they are second to none,” she
The 23-year-old Ms Pawani realised
the need for an all-women driving
school when her mother Rekha Khan-
delwal – who had never even ridden a bi-
cycle – wanted to learn riding
“I have been riding a
two-wheeler (currently a
Royal Enfield motorcycle)
myself for over seven years
and therefore I was always under
the impression that it is a basic thing to
know and most people – men or women
– already know how to ride a two-
Ms Pawani told IANS.
But when her mother wanted to
learn riding a scooty, she had a really
tough time finding a woman trainer.
“That made me realise how difficult
it is for women to learn this very basic
skill because men in their families don’t
have the patience to teach them, and
women in small towns aren’t very com-
fortable with male trainers,” she said.
“When we began searching for a
lady trainer for my mum, I realised
that in every household there was at
least one woman who was in dire
need to learn to ride a scooty.
“Moreover, I realised that for
most women, especially house-
wives, riding a scooty isn’t just a
mode of transport, but a feeling of
youth and freedom,” Ms Pawani
Fuelled by this desire to help
her mother and other women,
Ms Pawani set up a purely
women-driven and women-ori-
ented two-wheeler driving
school in November last year in
In just over a year, Aatm Nirbhar
– which started with just a dozen
women – has already expanded to
four more cities – Agra, Bharatpur,
Jaipur and Vrindavan – training over
The initiative has also been recog-
nised by the transport ministry of Uttar
Pradesh and the Central government’s
“Start-Up India” programme.
Ms Pawani says that in a country with
unreliable public transport, most
women – especially in small towns and
cities – have to depend on their hus-
bands, brothers and auto-rickshaws for
one of the most basic human needs – mo-
bility – be it for dropping their children
at school, going shopping or to their tai-
lor, and other basic chores outside their
With most women who sign up with
Aatm Nirbhar not even able to ride a bi-
cycle, their training is conducted over 10
one-hour sessions over 10 days, after
which they can confidently ride the
scooty and are awarded a certificate
Since all its students are
women, the training sessions are sched-
uled keeping in mind their conve-
The women trainers pick
the student from her house
and drop her back after the
session. This has helped the
organisation win the trust of
not only the women learners,
but also their families.
Moreover, with the majority of its
trainers coming from marginalised fami-
lies, it is making more women finan-
cially self-dependent by opening up
new job opportunities for them.
Ms Pawani started by creating
a Facebook page to reach out to
women to tell them about her
Women aged 16 to 60 signed up to
learn how to ride a scooty with most of
them surprisingly being middle-aged
“Each one of our trainers and stu-
dents has a motivating story to tell – a
story of their discovery of freedom,
independence and self-reliance,” said
“In the next two years, we want to ex-
pand to every tier 2 and tier 3 city of In-
dia with the support of self-driven
women,” she added.
On March 8 – which is celebrated
globally as Women’s Day – Aatm
Nirbhar organised an entrepreneur-
ship summit for women which was
attended by more than 150 business-
women and budding female en-
“Aatm Nirbhar is not just a com-
pany, but a thought that has inspired
and continues to inspire thousands
of women to rediscover their lost
sense of independence and self-re-
liance,” Ms Pawani said.
Indo-Asian News Service
Thai defender Chalermpong Kerdkaew (left) trying to stop India striker Sunil Chhetri during their game last Sunday.
Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in
international goals as cricket-mad India
stunned Thailand 4-1 at the Asian Cup
football tournament in the United Arab
Emirates last Sunday.
The 34-year-old striker scored twice
in India’s Group A opener to surpass the
Barcelona and Argentina superstar.
Watched by the 12 Thai schoolboys
rescued from a flooded cave last year af-
ter being trapped for more than two
weeks, Thailand, who are ranked 118 in
the world, had little answer to India’s
brimming energy in Abu Dhabi.
Chhetri moved past Argentinian
Messi’s 65 international goals when he
opened the scoring from the penalty
spot after 27 minutes in a surprise rout.
Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (85)
tops the Indian among active players.
“I’m just happy for the boys – you
could see on the faces how jubilant they
were after the game,” said Chhetri.
“The India fans were amazing, so we
hope we can go on and give them some-
thing more to cheer about.”
India, ranked 97th in the world, were
in front for just seven minutes, before
Thai captain Teerasil Dangda restored
parity by bravely heading home a
Theerathon Bunmathan free kick.
But Chhetri came to the rescue by
drilling home his second goal of the
game moments into the second half fol-
lowing a lung-bursting run down the
right from Udanta Singh.
Things got worse for Thailand when
Anirudh Thapa chipped in a third goal in
the 68th minute, before substitute
Lalpekhlua Jeje completed the rout to
leave India as unlikely group leaders.
“Did I expect to win 4-1? No, but
we’re not getting carried away,” insisted
India’s coach Stephen Constantine. “It’s
just another game. There will be no issue
with keeping the boys’ feet on the
ground, don’t worry about that.”
The Englishman, formerly in charge
of Malawi, Sudan and Rwanda, has
clashed with senior players and sparked
dismay in India by stripping Chhetri of
the captaincy and handing it to goal-
keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
“There’s no controversy about rotat-
ing captains,” he snapped when quizzed
by Indian media. “I’ve done it for four
years. Chhetri gives everything every
game whether he’s captain or not.”
India finished runners-up on their
Asian Cup debut in 1964 when it was a
four-team competition won by Israel.
But they have lost six of their last seven
games at the regional tournament, con-
ceding 20 goals, before qualifying for
the fourth time and first since 2011.
“If I say it’s just another result would
that be a cliche?” said Constantine after
India registered a first victory at the tour-
nament in 55 years. “We’ve won one
game, got three points. We have two
more games, that’s it.”
India sit top of Group A, which also
contains Bahrain and hosts UAE. The
UAE and Bahrain played out a 1-1 draw
in the tournament’s opening clash.
India have taken a significant step to-
wards the knockout stage, but will need
another point, if not a win, to guarantee
them a place in the last 16. They were
scheduled to play UAE last night and
Bahrain on Monday.
Former India captain Bhaichung
Bhutia feels Chhetri and Sandhu will
have to play leading roles on and off the
pitch if India are to progress.
India have in their ranks a lot of
youngsters, complemented by the expe-
rience of Sandhu and Chhetri, both of
whom featured in the Doha Asian Cup
in 2011. India lost all their matches back
then and bowed out at the group stage.
“Both have the experience of playing
in the Asian Cup. India have a young
team and their guidance will be the key
on and off the field,” said Bhutia.
The 42-year old Sikkimese icon, who
captained the 2011 side and is Chhetri’s
hero, added: “Especially for Sunil, it’s
not about his own game but also guiding
the players, keeping their focus off the
ground and giving them confidence. He
has to be the leader off the ground and
see that they don’t get carried away.”
Chhetri’s status in Indian football
comes from impressive numbers – 67
goals from 105 international appear-
ances, 120 from 247 club appearances,
including 48 in 105 appearances over
five seasons for Bengaluru FC.
Among non-cricketer male athletes,
Chhetri’s Twitter following (1.53 mil-
lion) in India is third after boxer Vijen-
der Singh (3.76 million) and wrestler Yo-
geshwar Dutt (3.56 million).
His heartfelt Twitter video in June
last year asking fans to come to watch
the team play in the Intercontinental
Cup in the 7,000-seater Mumbai Foot-
ball Arena not only filled it but also be-
came India’s most retweeted tweet
(about 60,000 times) in 2018.
There is little room for any compari-
son between him and Messi. But the gulf
between the two doesn’t by any means
belittle the Indian’s feat. Chhetri has al-
ways played with fairly average team-
mates and against teams at a higher level
than India. But he has scored at the inter-
national level consistently for 15 years.
The Argentinian, in comparison, falls
a bit short. Like Chhetri, Messi has car-
ried the weight of expectations of his na-
tion for the past few years, but, unlike
Chhetri, he has been bogged down by it.
Messi is as prolific as Chhetri in Ar-
gentina colours, but his performances in
competitive games is not as good com-
pared to friendlies.
He averages 0.41 goals per game in
competitive matches which shoots up to
0.7 in friendlies – an indication that he
fails for Argentina in the bigger games.
Chhetri is more consistent – he aver-
ages 0.71 goals per game in competitive
fixtures and 0.68 goals in friendlies.
“I love to play for my country and I
try my best to score for my country. I
don’t take comparisons seriously,”
Chhetri said after the win over Thai-
land. “There’s no comparison, whatso-
ever, between me and Lionel Messi. I’m
just happy and honoured to play and
score for my country.”
He hopes that India can at least make
it into the round of 16 by building on the
4-1 victory over Thailand.
“It (last-16 qualification) is difficult
as all the three teams are really good.
You saw how UAE and Bahrain played.
Bahrain was so good, UAE are the home
side and they are technically good. For
us, every game is a fight. We might not
be the most technical team in the tourna-
ment but we will go there and fight till
the end,” said Chhetri.
AFP, Indo-Asian News Service
Thailand rout shows
India’s rise and Chhetri’s class
“I don’t take comparisons seriously. There’s no
comparison, whatsoever, between me and Lionel Messi.
I’m just happy and honoured to play and score for
my country. ”
– India forward Sunil Chhetri, who has more international goals than the Argentinian star
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