Ganguly Returns As BCCI Captain

Saurav Ganguly, one of India’s legendary captains heading Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), the world’s richest cricketing body, has raised so much hype and hope that one almost forgets that his tenure will last no more than nine months.

Know a bit about him before coming to what he would have to, or could, do.

Good, elegant left-hand batsman, he earned his place with a century in his maiden test. But his progress in the national eleven was uneven, being dropped more than once, till he steadied himself in 1996. He owed it to Greg Chappell with whom he later fell out.

Handsome, smart and rich, he has clear-cut ideas about cricket and life, says veteran sports writer V. Srivatsa. Ganguly experienced cricket administration as Bengal Cricket Association’s chief for four years. But his new role is national and international. 

Old-timers know him to be a bit lazy who avoided rigorous fitness sessions, including calisthenics. From a well-off family, he would show reluctance to carry water and drinks, an old cricketing tradition and practice, to fellow-players on the field.

Like many other cricket stars with filmy connections, he was reportedly linked to actress Naghma before settling down in life with childhood beau Donna.

An articulate man, he speaks like a cricketer. He has a knack of carrying people with him. Yet, he would have to deal with critics and former colleagues whom he had criticized in the past.

He is ambitious. When elected BCA chief, he had declared that someday, he would head the BCCI.     

Symbolisms about his election include his being the first cricketer at the top of the country’s game 65 years after Maharajah of Vizianagaram aka ‘Vizzie’. He has charisma and clean image.   But that may not suffice when he stares at a tough combination of overwhelming domestic issues and new external challenges.     

“I don’t enjoy the word ‘control’ (in the full form of BCCI). It’s about proper functioning. We have to be in the thick of things because, at the end of the day, the responsibility has been put on us to get things going in the right direction.”

However, there are nagging doubts that it could be business as usual, despite his promise of “a new beginning”, doing things “the way I feel is best for BCCI, with no compromise on credibility and corruption free.”   

Forget the game he played — and he played it well. This is his most challenging hour. He takes over from Committee of Administration (COA). Formed by the Supreme Court, it ran the Board for nearly three years.

The net result of BCCI’s controversial quarantine is that neither the apex court, nor the Committee could eliminate the deeply-entrenched vested interests. This underscores the reality, though not exclusive to India but certainly in excess, that dynasty is the defining principle be it politics, sports, cinema or business and industry.

Ganguly has BCCI’s a new constitution to abide by and a set of fresh office-bearers for a team that is composed largely of proxies of the very people whose actions had invited conflict of interest charges and of direct role in match-fixing, among other offences that had provoked the court to sack a BCCI president and appoint the COA.

Some of these worthies triumphantly entered the BCCI Headquarters minutes after the COA members had left to be photographed with Ganguly.

Feeble hope is being nursed as Ganguly had faced a similarly turbulent situation on the field when he took over the captaincy. Then the game was confronted with match-fixing scandal. But the times are decidedly more complex now.

For one, the political interests were multi-party earlier; today it’s single-party play. Bureaucrats are out, for now, but powerful trade and industry interests remain. Seeking to make it a players’ game is chasing a mirage.

This is because besides immense glamour and power that BCCI and cricket management brings, there is money.  The Board will cross the Rs 13,000 crore-mark when the figures for financial year 2018-19 are out.  

Speaking of money, what India’s Test caps got in the 1950s and 1960s for playing for five gruelling days, drawing many matches, losing some and winning a few, can’t buy even a single meal today. The flavor is single-day T20. The Board earnings are millions of times more, hence the player’s payments are also in eight digits.

There are no princes today, but those who play the game are no less in terms of riches. Endorsements add to their coffers.   The BCCI is a highly corporatized body and the state associations are also rich and thriving. For, India has the players, the infrastructure, large audiences and corporate support through advertising.

Unable to control them though, the governments back up their cricket bodies to the hilt and engage in jostling in boardrooms and tournaments to have their say. The culture is spreading. The gentlemen’s game is no longer gentlemanly.

The lure of the game and the money it brings is spreading globally. Yesterday’s minnows like Bangladesh are significant players. Conflict-ridden Afghanistan has created cricketing oases of entertainment. India is helping the Maldives with a cricket stadium and possibly, a team of its own.

Diplomacy cannot be far behind. India beware — the hitherto absent China factor has emerged. China organized and hosted triangular matches with Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Dominating the T20 through IPL, India is working to revive the five-day Test cricket that has yielded to the quick single-day matches. To surmount the 13-hour time gap, it is likely to become a day-and-night affair.   

Veteran cricket writer Ayaz Memon notes that while Indian cricket—particularly in the five-day format—is at its zenith, spectator attendance is falling. He wants India to take the lead in making Test “something to be savoured” and made “fantastically worthwhile”. People today have many other entertainment avenues. He supports the “World Test Cricket Championship” that he says India has “ridiculously spurned,” and wants Ganguly to reverse this.

Ganguly’s focus will be domestic cricket. He has acknowledged the overwhelming importance of Virat Kohli, currently having a long victory spell, by declaring that Kohli is the “most important man in Indian cricket.” He has nixed the idea of dual captaincy.  

It is unclear if Ganguly will become BCCI’s representative at the ICC. With Shashank Manohar as the incumbent ICC chairman, egos and ideas could clash. But money makes the mare go. Ganguly wants to ensure that the BCCI gets its monetary due. “India is to get $372 million from the ICC in the five-year cycle,” he says.       

His first task would be to form a Cricket Advisory Committee. But getting credible cricketers has posed a challenge due to the stringent Conflict of Interest rules.

“It (Conflict of Interest) has to change,” Ganguly has said. This has been a major bone of contention for cricketers, both present and former. Ganguly himself fell foul of the norms when he was wearing multiple hats at one time.

Will the rules be tweaked? The writer can be reached at

Union Territory Of J&K Comes Into Form, L-G Sworn In

In a first, the oath-taking ceremony of the Lieutenant Governor was conducted without flag of Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, the oath ceremonies of the Governors and Chief Ministers of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir took place in the presence of flag of Jammu Kashmir.

Girish Chandra Murmu on Thursday took oath as the first Lt. Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The oath was administered by Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Gita Mittal.

During the oath-taking ceremony, the seal on the oath-taking dias of the Murmu as well as on the dias of Justice Gita Mittal bore the emblem of “Ashok stambh”, the national emblem of the Republic of India.

During previous oath-taking ceremonies, one of the dias used to bear the “Ashok Stambh”, while the other had state emblem of Jammu and Kashmir on them.

Earlier today, Radha Krishna Mathur took oath as the first Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh.

Over two months after the Parliament revoked the special status of the then state of Jammu Kashmir, the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh came into existence on Thursday.

Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been divided into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, from the intervening midnight of Wednesday-Thursday.

With this, the total number of states in the country has come down to 28 while the number of Union Territories has gone up to nine.

The President’s Rule that was imposed in the state has been revoked.

Centre had in August announced the decision to abrogate the Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmri and also announced the decision to simultaneously bifurcate the state in two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.


Delhi-NCR Battles For Breath As Air Quality Stays ‘Severe’

The air quality in several parts of the national capital and its adjoining areas remained ‘hazardous’ for the third consecutive day, said the Center-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

The pollution level has spiked in Delhi-NCR due to the increase in the biomass fire incidents, westerly winds flowing in the region and an increase in farm fire smoke from Punjab and Haryana.

At 11:30 in the morning on Thursday, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was docking at 412, which falls in the ‘severe category’.

In Noida, the air quality is worse than Delhi with AQI hovering around 527.

In Ghaziabad also, a blanket of smog engulfed the region leaving residents gasping for breath.

“In Delhi, the pollution level has definitely increased in the past few days. I am not able to do exercise in the morning. I feel suffocated most of the time I am outdoors,” said a local residing in the national capital.

Residents of Ghaziabad also complained of eye irritation and breathlessness in the morning and urged the government to take requisite measures to curb the menace.

“Stringent actions should be taken by the government to combat air pollution. I feel irritation in my eyes during morning walks. According to me, stubble burning in the nearby region is the major cause of pollution the air,” Naveen Rana, Civil defense engineer from Ghaziabad.

Also, according to Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), straw burning has increased this year.

“If we see the records from September 23 to October 21, the fire incidents have increased from last year. So far, 3466 incidents have taken place. Last year, till October 21, it was 2575,” Anil Sood, Head ACM division, PRSC had said while speaking to ANI in Ludhiana.

Tarantara was placed at the top of the list of fire incidents with 736 cases. Amritsar was second in the list with 597 cases followed by Patiala with 439 fire incidents. In Ferozabadpur, around 311 fire incidents were reported while in Gurudaspur around 239 such incidents were recorded.

To curb air pollution, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi has announced the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme from November 4 to 15, 2019. (ANI)

Twitter Announces Ban On Political Advertisements

Twitter has decided to stop all political advertising on its platform globally, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday.

In a series of tweets, Dorsey said the company’s stance has been that the reach of a political message should be earned and not bought.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimised and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money,” he said.

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Dorsey added.

The 42-year-old CEO said that internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse — machine learning-based optimisation of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes, which he noted, was at increasing velocity, sophistication, and an overwhelming scale.

“These challenges will affect all internet communication, not just political ads. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility,” he said.

Dorsey further said, “We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too.”

“We’re well aware that we’re a small part of a much larger political advertising ecosystem. Some might argue our actions today could favour incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach a massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow,” he continued.

Dorsey called on the need to have more a forward-looking regulation on political advertisements and said that internet regulators need to ensure a level playing field.

“In addition, we need more forward-looking political ad regulation (very difficult to do). Ad transparency requirements progress, but not enough. The internet provides entirely new capabilities, and regulators need to think past the present day to ensure a level playing field,” he stressed.

The Twitter CEO said that the social networking firm will share its final policy by November 15 and begin enforcing it on November 22.

“We’ll share the final policy by 11/15, including a few exceptions (ads in support of voter registration will still be allowed, for instance). We’ll start enforcing our new policy on 11/22 to provide current advertisers a notice period before this change goes into effect,” he said.

“A final note. This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address,” Dorsey further said.

The announcement by Twitter comes amid an ongoing controversy over its rival Facebook, which has been accused by top Democrats of profiting by allowing misinformation in political advertising.

Earlier this month, Facebook refused to pull down an advertisement from US President Donald Trump’s campaign criticising his rival and former Vice President Joe Biden, despite dissent from several Democrat lawmakers, The Hill reported.

The social media giant, however, said it will not “fact-check political ads from public officials or candidates”.


ICJ To UN: Pakistan Violated Vienna Norms On Jadhav

Pakistan violated its obligations under the Vienna Convention in the case of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Judge Abduylqawi Yusuf informed the UN General Assembly.

Presenting the annual report of the ICJ during the 74th session of the UNGA, Yusuf on Wednesday informed about the verdict of Jadhav case on July 17. He said the court told Pakistan that it should follow the Vienna Convention to its entirety and should examine “possible prejudice” caused by the violation are fully examined.

“In its Judgment, the court found that Pakistan had violated its obligations under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention and that appropriate remedies were due in this case,” said Yusuf.

“The Court moreover clarified what it considered to be the requirements of effective review and reconsideration. It stressed that Pakistan must ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth in the Vienna Convention and guarantee that the violation and the possible prejudice caused by the violation are fully examined. While the Court left the choice of means to provide effective review and reconsideration toPakistan, it noted that effective review and reconsideration presupposes the existence of aa procedure that is suitable for this purpose and observed that it is normally the judicial process that is suited to this task,” he added.

Jadhav, 49, was purportedly “arrested” from Balochistan by Pakistani security forces on March 3, 2016, after he allegedly entered the country from Iran as claimed by Islamabad. India has rejected Pakistan’s allegations about Jadhav’s involvement in spying and subversive activities and said he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar where he was running a business.

In July, the ICJ by a vote of 15-1 in the Jadhav case upheld India’s claim that Pakistan is in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations on several counts.

It was on March 25, 2016, Twenty two days after the actual arrest, that then Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry had informed the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad of Jadhav’s “arrest.” Since then, Pakistan has not offered any explanation as to why Islamabad took over three weeks to inform the Indian High Commissioner about Jadhav’s arrest.

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on April 11, 2017.Following this, India on May 8, 2017, approached the ICJ against Pakistan “for egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963” in the matter.India alleged that Pakistan is in breach of Article 36(1) (b) of the Vienna Convention, which obliged Pakistan to inform India of the arrest of Jadhav “without delay”.

CPI Leader Gurudas Dasgupta Passes Away At 83

Former Lok Sabha MP and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta on Thursday passed away in Kolkata. He was 83.

He was suffering from heart and kidney-related ailments.

Dasgupta was the CPI’s former deputy general secretary and a well-known trade unionist. He was elected as general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress in 2001 and also became the elected member of the National Secretariat, Communist Party of India, in 2004.

Dasgupta was also detained under the Defence of India Rules in 1965 and went underground on a number of occasions during Congress rule in West Bengal. (ANI)

Terrorists Kill 5 Migrant Labourers In Kashmir

Unidentified terrorists shot dead five labourers and left one wounded in Kulgam area in Kashmir on Tuesday, police said.

“Unknown terrorists shot dead 5 labourers and injured 1. The injured was evacuated to district hospital in Anantnag. All the laborers were reportedly from Murshidabad, West Bengal,” the CRPF said.

“Troops of 18 Battalion Army and JKP reached the spot and cordoned off the area and a search operation has started,” the CRPF said.

Earlier in the day, in yet another terror incident, armed terrorists fired at a school building in Pulwama.

At around 3:15 pm, unknown terrorists fired 6-7 rounds on CRPF deployment at a school which was an examination centre in Pulwama’s Drabgam.

“Attack was promptly retaliated by the troops. Additional deployment reached,” the CRPF said.

Initial information suggests there were no casualties or injuries. The area has been cordoned off and a search operation is underway.


BJP MP Claims 45 Sena MLAs Want To Join Fadnavis Govt

BJP MP Sanjay Kakade on Tuesday said that the 45 newly-elected MLAs in Shiv Sena are in touch with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and they want an alliance government to be formed.

“I think few of these 45 MLAs will convince Uddhav Thackeray and form the government with Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister. I don’t think there is any other option,” said Kakade while speaking to ANI.

“Congress president Sonia Gandhi has stated that the people of Maharashtra have called her party to be in the opposition.

She said that she will sit in the opposition even NCP chief Sharaf Pawar has said that he will sit in the opposition. He won’t ever go with Shiv Sena,” he added.

Kakade further stated that under such circumstances no party will go with Shiv Sena, hence, it won’t go as an opposition party so, the party will come in alliance with BJP only.

“I believe that Fadnavis should become the Chief Minister as he has worked so hard,” said Kakade.

Kakade’s statement comes amid the ongoing tussle between over government formation in the state, between Shiv Sena and BJP.

The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won an absolute majority in the Maharashtra Assembly polls with the former emerging as the single largest party in the state with 105 seats. Shiv Sena bagged 56 seats in the elections. (ANI)

EU Parliamentarians Can Visit J&K, Not Indian: Cong

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday slammed the BJP-led central government for allowing European Union (EU) parliamentarians to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but not the country’s opposition leaders.

“I don’t have an objection to the European Union Parliament delegation visiting Jammu and Kashmir. What I object to is that the MPs of our own country are not being allowed to visit the place. I myself tried to visit Srinagar several times but I was sent back,” Azad said addressing a public gathering here.

He said that he was finally allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir after the Supreme Court’s permission.

“Despite SC order, I was only allowed to visit selected places. Even at these places, police were sending 90 per cent of the people back to their houses. There were cameras everywhere and people were being asked their addresses. People were threatened to not speak against the government,” Azad said.

The Congress leader termed the EU parliamentarians’ visit to Jammu and Kashmir as a “conducted tour”.

Later, addressing the media, Azad said: “Why are EU leaders being allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir when even the opposition leaders are not being allowed to go there? This is an insult to the Parliament of India.”

“Only some phones are working in the region while there is no internet connection. How are students suppose to study and businesses supposed to run?” he added.

Azad said that he thinks the region has suffered a loss of around Rs 50-60 thousand crores since the abrogation of Article 370.