Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday after a heart attack, with fans at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Dec 6, 2008.
When Maradona captivated India
REPORT ON PAGE 3
MCI (P) 068/03/2020
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
NOVEMBER 27, 2020
RULE HONG KONG
WINS AWARD FOR
Lakshmi Vilas Bank’s merger with
The Indian government has approved
the merger of crisis-hit Lakshmi Vilas
Bank (LVB) into the Indian unit of
Singapore lender DBS.
LVB was placed under a
moratorium earlier this month after a
serious deterioration in its financial
The moratorium will be lifted from
Nov 27 once the amalgamation comes
into effect after which all LVB
branches will function as part of DBS.
43 more Chinese apps banned
The Indian government banned 43
more Chinese apps on Tuesday
including some from e-commerce giant
Alibaba, saying these threatened the
country’s “sovereignty and integrity”
as tensions remain high between the
nuclear-armed neighbours following a
deadly border clash.
New Delhi previously pulled out 59
Chinese apps – including the wildly
popular video-sharing platform TikTok
– from its huge domestic market. A
further 118 Chinese mobile
applications were banned in
UP enacts law to curb ‘love jihad’
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party
approved a decree in Uttar Pradesh,
India’s most populous state, on
Tuesday laying out prison terms for
anyone compelling others to convert
to their faith or luring them into these
conversions through marriage.
The move follows a campaign by
Hindu groups against some inter-faith
marriages that they describe as “love
jihad” – Muslim men engaging in a
conspiracy to turn Hindu women away
from their religion by seducing them.
Sembcorp wins solar power
The Indian units of Singapore-based
Sembcorp Industries and Saudi
Arabia-based Aljomaih Holding have
won government auctions to sell solar
power for a record low of Rs2 ($0.36)
per kilowatt hour.
Sembcorp’s Indian unit Green Infra
Wind Energy will operate a solar plant
with a capacity of 400 megawatts.
Vistara to start direct flights to US
Vistara, an Indian full-service airline
owned by Tata Group and Singapore
Airlines, is considering starting direct
flights to the United States as the
Covid-19 pandemic increases demand
for non-stop travel.
While the specific time frame and
aircraft requirements are yet to be
finalised, Vistara is studying various
scenarios for direct flights, chief
commercial officer Vinod Kannan said.
A mushroom documentation project in
the forests of India’s north-east has
revealed not only 600 varieties of
fungi, but also led to a new discovery:
A bioluminescent – or light-emitting –
variety of mushroom.
The new species – named
Roridomyces phyllostachydis – was
sighted in August near a stream in
Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East
Khasi Hills district. It is now one of
the 97 known species of
bioluminescent fungi in the world.
One of separated conjoined twins
dies in Odisha
Kalia, one of the separated
conjoined twins from Odisha’s
Kandhamal district, died while
undergoing treatment at the SCB
Medical College and Hospital in
Cuttack on Wednesday.
Jaga and Kalia, who were born
joined at the head in Milipada village,
were separated in October 2017 after
a surgery that took more than 11
hours at the All India Institute of
Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
Hyderabad boy youngest graduate
Fourteen-year-old Agastya Jaiswal
from Hyderabad has become the
youngest university graduate in India.
He completed his BA Mass
Communication and Journalism
Degree from Osmania University
Tycoon Roy asked to pay
India’s market regulator has petitioned
the Supreme Court to direct tycoon
Subrata Roy to immediately pay
Rs626 billion ($11.3 billion) meant for
poor investors or cancel his parole.
The Securities and Exchange Board
of India said the outstanding liability
of the Sahara India Parivar’s two
companies and the conglomerate’s
chief Roy stands at Rs626 billion,
Roy’s liabilities have ballooned
from Rs257 billion, which he was
ordered to pay eight years ago.
Harley owners protest across India
Hundreds of owners of
Harley-Davidsons across India
protested on Sunday against the
United States bike maker’s sudden
decision to pull out from
manufacturing and selling the
two-wheelers in the country.
The Harley Owners Group (HOG)
went on a “Dark Ride” in 13 major
cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and
Crane helps pull out elephant
Forest officials in Tamil Nadu used a
crane to pull out an elephant from a
well on Monday after working 12
hours on the rescue effort.
The elephant, which strayed into a
village bordering a forest in
Dharmapuri district, fell into the well
that was covered with bushes.
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Cyclonic storm batters Tamil Nadu, Andhra
A powerful cyclonic storm hurtled
into India’s south-eastern coast
early on Thursday, uprooting trees
and packing strong winds and
rains as thousands of people took
refuge in shelters.
The centre of Nivar made
landfall at 3.05am local time near
Puducherry with winds of up to
130 kilometres per hour.
Thousands of state and
national emergency personnel
were deployed in Tamil Nadu,
Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry
as authorities suspended power
supply across several cities to
prevent damage to the electricity
One woman in Tamil Nadu
died after a boundary wall
collapsed following heavy rains
Initially classified as a “very
severe cyclonic storm” as it
swirled in the Bay of Bengal,
Nivar weakened after landfall into
a “severe cyclonic storm”, the
Meteorological Department said.
Diego Maradona during a charity event in Kolkata on Dec 11, 2017 and (below) with Indian cricket great Sourav Ganguly at Barasat, West Bengal, on Dec 12, 2017.
Football great Diego Maradona’s death
on Wednesday triggered an outpouring
of emotional tributes in India with the
country’s cricket chief Sourav Ganguly
saying that he has lost his hero.
Maradona, considered the greatest
footballer of all time alongside Brazil’s
Pele, died aged 60 following a cardiac
arrest at his home in Argentina, two
weeks after undergoing a surgery to
remove a blood clot in his brain.
“My hero no more... my mad
genius rest in peace... I watched foot-
ball for you,” tweeted Ganguly, a
former India captain and the president
of the country’s cricket board who has
always called the Argentinian genius
his first sporting hero.
Ganguly played a charity match
with Maradona when the football icon
visited Kolkata in 2017.
All India Football Federation presi-
dent Praful Patel called Maradona an
invaluable gem. “Diego Maradona was
like a magician with the ball at his
feet. Football has lost an invaluable
gem. His glorious legacy will forever
have a place in football history. Rest in
peace,” he tweeted.
India’s men’s football team head
coach Igor Stimac also paid tribute to
Maradona. He posted a photo of
himself facing Maradona while playing
for Croatia. “Rest in peace, my friend.
You are one of the reasons why the
world loves the game we have played.
We’ll miss you... Thank you, Diego,”
India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu tweeted: “RIP
Broken heart #Maradona.”
Indian cricket great Sachin Ten-
dulkar said: “Football and the world of
sports has lost one of its greatest
players. Rest in Peace Diego
Maradona! You shall be missed.”
Maradona visited India three times.
He chose Kolkata for his India
debut. In 2008 he turned up in the
eastern city to inaugurate a private
football academy. But there was frenzy
Thousands flocked to watch him at
the Salt Lake Stadium where he fig-
ured in an exhibition match, reported
Journalist Subhankar Mondal wrote
in Goal.com: “There was emotion
when at the start of the match
Maradona ran onto the pitch and did
his famous juggling. There was emo-
tion when during half-time some ball-
boys rushed to Maradona to touch
“Even the players who were partici-
pating couldn’t resist feeling the emo-
tions and feeling proud at being able
to hug the Great Diego.”
During that trip, Maradona also met
then West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti
Basu, who was a friend of Cuban
leader Fidel Castro. While seeing pic-
tures of the two communists together,
Maradona said: “A friend of Fidel
Castro is a friend of mine, so Jyoti
Basu is my friend too.”
The legend returned to India four
years later, this time landing in an-
other football-crazy state – Kerala.
He actually celebrated his 52nd
birthday in advance there, cutting a
huge cake, dancing, trading headers
with Indian football legend I.M. Vi-
jayan and kicking balls into the huge
crowd from a makeshift stage.
Though the Argentinian had arrived
with a capitalist aim – to open a
jewellery showroom – Kerala’s Marx-
ists queued up in huge numbers to
catch a glimpse of the fellow Che
Guevara fan in their bastion of Kan-
nur. “RIP God of Football,” Vijayan
tweeted on Wednesday.
Jeweller Boby Chemmanur,
Maradona’s host, also got him to wear
a chatta and mundu (traditional half-
sleeved shirt and white dhoti), re-
ported The Indian Express.
“My biggest pain is that I have lost
my dear friend,” Mr Chemmanur told
a TV channel on Wednesday. “He was
not just a footballer, he was the most
honest man I have ever come across.
“When I first met him (in Dubai) I
had never imagined I could make him
the brand ambassador of my jewellery.
But I mustered the courage when I
realised he was a man with a good
heart. I asked him if he would travel to
Kerala. He just said: ‘Why not?’”
Room No. 309 at Blue Nile, the
four-star hotel in Kannur where
Maradona stayed, is now a tourist
The next time India saw Maradona
was in 2017, when he visited Kolkata
again for a charity event. That time the
exhibition match involved Ganguly,
who hails from the city.
Sadly, the ageing Maradona didn’t
last long on the pitch, but fans in West
Bengal saw no belly, no out-of-breath
kicks and no misstep. They were happy
to see their hero in the flesh.
The Argentinian crooned Spanish
songs as he sweated it out with a
bunch of schoolchildren and bid them
adieu with a promise to “bring big-
time football” to India.
“I’m here for football. It is a big
step that we are taking to uplift
football in India,” he said about his
three-day private trip which was co-
sponsored by a local politician, among
The major attraction of Maradona’s
last trip to India was the unveiling of
his 3.6m-tall bronze statue at a charity
event. It depicted a 25-year-old
Maradona, sporting curly locks, and
clutching the World Cup trophy he
captained his country to in 1986.
A smiling Maradona said: “I am not
the god of football but a simple
footballer, I’m happy to be in Kolkata.
It’s amazing to have my statue here.”
Maradona had another connection
with India. In his 2019 documentary,
Indian-origin British filmmaker Asif
Kapadia made Maradona his subject.
Titled Diego Maradona, the
130-minute film was culled and put
together from more than 500 hours of
footage, a lot of which even Maradona
was not privy to.
In a telling moment in the film,
Maradona says: “When you’re on the
field, life goes away, the problems go
away, everything goes away!”
Indo-Asian News Service
“Diego Maradona was
like a magician with
the ball at his feet.
Football has lost an
invaluable gem. His
glorious legacy will
forever have a place
in football history.”
– India’s cricket chief
‘RIP God of Football’
Teen’s solar iron wins climate award
On India’s residential streets, amid the tea vendors
and vegetable sellers, “ironing wallahs” press clothes
each day for millions, smoothing out wrinkles with
iron boxes packed with hot charcoal.
But the country’s 10 million ironing carts and
shops take a hefty toll on the forests. Each uses, on
average, more than 5kg of charcoal each day, the
government’s science and technology department
Now, however, a 14-year-old girl, troubled by the
heaps of used charcoal left by her local ironing
vendor and by his painful wheeze from pollution,
has developed an alternative: An award-winning
“I calculated the enormous quantity of charcoal
being used, the pollution from it that worsens
climate change, damages Mother Earth and human
health. I wanted to create a renewable resource to
replace charcoal,” said Vinisha Umashankar from
her hometown of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.
Last week, her innovation was recognised with
the Children’s Climate Prize for its contributions to
cleaner air. The prize, backed by a Swedish energy
company, includes 100,000 Swedish krona
($15,600) to further develop the project.
It is just one of several national and international
prizes Vinisha has won for her innovation: A
wheeled cart equipped with solar panels and
batteries sufficient to power a steam iron.
Panels on the cart’s roof produce solar power that
can be used immediately as it wends its way
between customers or stored in four batteries.
When fully charged – which takes just under five
hours in bright sunshine – each battery can power
the iron for six hours, providing power on cloudy
days. The cart can also run on grid electricity or a
generator in a pinch. To boost earnings for ironing
vendors, the carts are also equipped with a mobile
phone recharging station and a coin-operated tele-
phone for making calls.
Vinisha hopes the cart – which she developed
over six months – will improve incomes and health
for ironing vendors and offer them “a dignified life”.
It could also be used in other developing countries.
The cart is easy to operate – the system takes 15
minutes to learn – and she plans to produce online
videos to help those who speak other languages
understand how to use it.
“Today, solar energy is inevitable, particularly in
sunny nations such as India, where some parts of the
country get 300 days of sun a year,” she said. The
country receives enough sunshine to produce solar
power equivalent to 3,000 times the country’s
current energy consumption, she added.
While Vinisha developed the detailed design, the
first full-scale working prototype was put together
and tested last December by the National Innova-
tion Foundation, which operates under India’s De-
partment of Science and Technology.
The foundation has also applied for a patent on
Vinisha’s behalf. The girl, who sees radioactivity
scientist Marie Curie as a role model, said the cart
could save “countless number of trees”.
She had read that a large tree can produce
enough oxygen for five people in a day – and
mature trees are most likely to be logged as they
produce the best charcoal.
“What’s the point of planting trees if we can’t
stop cutting trees for making unsustainable char-
coal?” she asked.
Vinisha believes ironing vendors will make the
switch to her device if it is cost-effective.
Charcoal for two days of ironing costs about
Rs1,000 ($18), she said. The cart, by comparison,
costs Rs40,000 ($725). Its solar panels and batteries
are built to last at least eight years.
She hopes to use her prize money to develop a
new prototype that will reduce costs and boost
efficiency. “In the long run my innovation will not
only work out cheaper for vendors but help the
environment too,” she said.
The UN Environment Programme’s Sam Barratt,
one of the members of the jury for the Children’s
Climate Prize, said Vinisha and other young innova-
tors were “coming at the challenge with all the
smarts, passion and energy that is needed to change
the future to the one we all need”.
Vinisha said her parents and grandparents often
talked about how it was cooler and seasons were
more predictable when they were younger, while she
and others have noticed increasing heat and pollu-
“This generation wants normal weather, which
also will reduce droughts and floods. That is one
reason why we take so much interest in climate
change,” she said.
Thomson Reuters Foundation
A Suitable Boy kiss deemed unsuitable
Vinisha Umashankar with the solar iron she developed.
Police in Madhya Pradesh have filed a case against
two Netflix officials for allegedly hurting religious
sentiments, after a member of India’s ruling party
objected to scenes in the web series A Suitable Boy,
in which a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy against
the backdrop of a Hindu temple.
The series is based on an English novel by one of
India’s leading writers Vikram Seth and follows a
young girl’s quest for a husband.
It is directed by celebrated Indian filmmaker Mira
“It has extremely objectionable scenes that have
hurt the feelings of a particular religion,” said
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra.
“On the basis of a complaint by (the national
secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha)
Gaurav Tiwari, an FIR has been registered under
section 295 (A) (malicious acts intended to outrage
religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in
Rewa (district) against Netflix officials Monika
Shergill and Ambika Khurana.”
Ms Shergill is the vice-president of Netflix India
while Ms Khurana is the director of public policy at
the streaming platform.
“I’ve directed police officers to get this controver-
sial content tested to determine what legal action
can be taken against the producer-director of the
film for hurting religious sentiments,” added
Mr Tiwari, a leader of the youth wing of India’s
ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also
governs Madhya Pradesh, has filed a separate
complaint against Netflix and warned of street
protests by Hindus if the series is not taken off the
“Kissing scenes (filmed) inside a temple of Lord
Maheshwar (at a historic town located on the banks
of Narmada) have hurt sentiments of Hindus. This is
also encouraging ‘love jihad’,” he said.
“Love jihad” is a term used by Hindu nationalists
who accuse Muslims of luring Hindu women to
marry them and forcing them to convert to Islam to
change India’s demographic balance.
A Netflix India spokesman declined comment on
the police complaint. The series’ writer and crew
have not reacted. Director Nair told NDTV earlier
that she is used to trolling.
Social media commentators say the scope for
creative freedom is narrowing in India, especially
when it involves any depiction of Hindu-Muslim
Many Indians took to Twitter demanding a
boycott of Netflix, which sees India as one of its
most promising growth markets but where its shows
have faced legal challenges.
Last month, a unit of India’s Tata conglomerate
withdrew a jewellery advertisement featuring a
Hindu-Muslim family celebrating a baby shower,
following threats to one of its stores and wide
criticism on social media.
Netflix is not likely to face serious legal trouble,
experts said. But the campaign puts pressure on the
streaming service at a time when the government is
increasing censorship of what Indians watch online.
Earlier this month, the Indian government an-
nounced rules to regulate content on video stream-
ing platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime
Video and Walt Disney’s Hotstar.
Reuters, Indo-Asian News Service
“I calculated the enormous
quantity of charcoal being used,
the pollution from it that worsens
climate change, damages Mother
Earth and human health. I
wanted to create a renewable
resource to replace charcoal.”
– Vinisha Umashankar
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