Celtic boss Neil Lennon claims his side’s historic 2-1 win at Lazio last night was “almost on a par” with beating Barcelona during his reign. Celtic booked their place in the Europa League last 32 with a dramatic victory at the Olimpico as ex-Genoa man Olivier Ntcham scored deep in stoppage time, in turn all-but-eliminating Lazio from the competition. “I’m so happy and so proud of the team, not just winning the game but the way they played the game and the character and bravery they showed and real quality,” Lennon said after the game. “This team keeps setting new boundaries for itself. It’s a historic night and the scenes at the end is something that will live with me for ever. “To come here and be as good as that and to have qualified after four games is unheard of for Celtic in Europe.” The result also came seven years to the day the Scots beat Barca 2-1 in the Champions League. “It’s an amazing night for the team and the club. To beat Barcelona was a great achievement by that team and a great for the club, but this is almost on a par. It’s just behind it. “The performance pleased me more than anything. If we had drawn, I would have been delighted. But to cap it off with a brilliant goal is just special.” Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/
Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik has left the Poland squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Israel and Slovenia with an abdominal injury. The forward has returned to Naples and will be examined by club doctors in the coming days to assess how long he will be out of action for. It is thought to be a reoccurence of the injury that kept him out of the 0-0 draw with Genoa last weekend. As it stands, Milik is likely to miss Napoli’s next match against Milan on November 23. The 25-year-old has scored five Serie A goals for the Partenopei this season. Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/
A soldier firing an M-4 carbine.Nearly three years ago, Amethi’s young MP Rahul Gandhi unveiled the foundation stone for a Rs 408-crore factory in his constituency. The Gandhi scion commended the jawans of the Indian Army for laying down their lives to defend the country in regions as geographically diverse,A soldier firing an M-4 carbine.Nearly three years ago, Amethi’s young MP Rahul Gandhi unveiled the foundation stone for a Rs 408-crore factory in his constituency. The Gandhi scion commended the jawans of the Indian Army for laying down their lives to defend the country in regions as geographically diverse as the Siachen Glacier and the dunes of Rajasthan. “It is our duty to ensure that top-of-the-line and world-class equipment be made available to them,” he added. There was also a history to his statement. Just two years earlier, the army projected a requirement for over 4 lakh sophisticated 5.56 mm carbines, a compact automatic weapon meant for close quarter combat. Two types of carbines were required-2 lakh close combat carbines to be imported and licence produced and 2 lakh protective carbines would be made by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). These would equip nearly half the 1.1 million-strong army. The deal was worth Rs 6,583 crore, easily the world’s single largest contract for importing small arms. With an assured order for nearly three lakh carbines, including 1.6 lakh imported weapons that would follow from the close quarter battle (CQB) contract, Amethi was set to become India’s hub for sophisticated small arms.Over two-and-a-half years later, Rahul would be embarrassed to be associated with the project. The factory buildings at what will be the OFB’s 41st plant are just a year away from inauguration. It turns out that putting up the buildings was the easy part, for the defence ministry does not have a carbine to build in the Rs 13.6-crore plant. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and OFB designed weapon have failed to pass the army’s tests. Its plans to import carbines continues to be stuck in red tape. “Without a weapon being selected, we cannot order the specialised machinery required to build them,” says an OFB official. The factory is a testimonial to bureaucracy, bungling and delays in the defence public sector and a yawing capability gap staring at foot soldiers fighting Maoists in central India, insurgents in the North-east and in Jammu and Kashmir.advertisementRahul laying the foundation stone of the Rs 408-crore factory at Amethi.The factory project has drawn heavy fire from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) whose report calls it ‘ill-conceived and tardy’ and has asked the government for an urgent review. But the clump of empty factory buildings is only part of the story. It will be at least five years before a jawan in either Siachen or Rajasthan can hold a weapon that rolls out of the plant. With the army unhappy with the indigenous INSAS rifles and using the sturdy but ageing AK-47 for its counter-insurgency operations, the requirement for new assault rifles and carbines remains as important today as it was five years ago: “Right now, the infantry is utterly neglected and is desperate for a modern assault rifle or a carbine,” says a senior infantry official.The need was first felt in October 2005, when the army cited an ‘urgent operational requirement’ for a new close quarter carbine. This is officialese for a virtual alarm. The army was progressively phasing out the British designed 9 mm 1A1 ‘Sterling’, a weapon with a distinctive banana shaped magazine developed after the Second World War and mass produced by the OFB since the 1960s. The DRDO designed compact INSAS carbine (among a troika including an assault rifle and light machine gun) had been rejected a decade earlier. In April 2006, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) green-lighted the proposal for a new carbine producing factory and a site-selection committee zeroed-in on two sites: the OFB’s Field Gun Factory (FGF) in Kanpur and surplus land at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) plant in Korwa, Amethi.The DRDO’s 5.56 mm MSMC (left) and the OFB’s Amough carbine.It is still unclear why the OFB wanted to set up a new factory when three of their small arms factories at Tiruchirapalli, Kanpur and Ishapore near Kolkata were running at less than half their capacity. Even its busiest Rifle Factory at Ishapore, with a capacity of 80,000 assault rifles had been producing just 50,000 rifles for the past three years. “Producing small arms to expand the facilities at any of these three locations would mean spending just Rs 50 crore,” says an OFB official. It was not the first time that a factory was being set up for political considerations, but the OFB did not even learn from its earlier experience of setting up its 40th factory, the ordnance factory in Nalanda, then defence minister George Fernandes’ gift to his constituency. The project was to be completed in 2005 but despite a spend of over Rs 2,160 crore, it is yet to be commence production.advertisementThe Korwa factory will be completed by 2011 but has no weapons to produce because the army and MoD are yet to finalise a design. The OFB’s Tiruchirapalli small arms plant had 1,300 acres of surplus land that was fenced but it wasn’t even considered. The OFB’s FGF in Kanpur had 200 acres of surplus land. This was not to be. The OFB rolled out a number of excuses why its Kanpur factory could not be used to manufacture the carbine. Why Amethi was chosen is anybody’s guess because the MoD specifically instructed its site selection committee to ‘use only available surplus defence land to avoid problems like land acquisition and rehabilitation and to avoid overall expenditure’.BREECH LOCKThe world’s largest procurement of small arms-over 6 lakh carbines and rifles worth over Rs 11,000 crore-for the army and police forces has been delayed by over five years due to development delays and bureaucratic hurdles in the defence ministryWhat: Close Quarter Battle CarbineHow many: 43,318 to be purchased, 1.6 lakh to be manufacturedHow much: Rs 4,400 croreStatus: Cleared by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in February 2006. RFPs issued twice and cancelled. Army yet to issue fresh RFPs.What: New Generation Protective CarbineHow many: 2,18,320 carbines to be designed and made indigenouslyHow much: Rs 2,183 croreStatus: Cleared by DAC in February 2006. OFB design rejected by army in 2009. DRDO design selected with modifications. Trials slated for early October 2010.What: New Generation Assault RiflesHow many: 2,00,000 weapons to be imported off the shelfHow much: Rs 4,949 croreStatus: Cleared by DAC in November 2009. It was meant to replace the 5.56 mm INSAS rifles in frontline army service. RFPs to be sent out to manufacturers. When HAL offered the OFB 34 acres, it did not take into account the fact that this land was barely sufficient for the factory. The OFB ended up asking the Uttar Pradesh government for more land to build houses for the factory employees, a request that is still pending. Meanwhile, DRDO and OFB efforts to design carbines for the huge army order hit road blocks. The OFB’s ‘Amough’ a 5.56 mm carbine that superficially resembled an AK-47 was rejected outright by the army several times between 2006 and 2009. The DRDO-designed 5.56 mm modern sub machine carbine (MSMC) was also pronounced unfit for induction by the army. The OFB and DRDO were asked to work together on a new design. Last year, the two partners modified the DRDO’s MSMC carbine and now plan to hand it over to the army for trials in early October. DRDO officials say the carbine could be ready for production within a year but only if it passes the army’s stringent trials. If these delays weren’t enough, the carbine deal was nearly scuppered last year by a whiff of corruption when former OFB chairman Sudipta Ghosh was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Ghosh had allegedly received bribes from several vendors including Singapore Technologies, a bidder for the army’s carbine contract as well as a prospective collaborator to build 48,000 weapons in India for the home ministry.The army, meanwhile, is having troubles of its own trying to import a new CQB carbine which it had so desperately wanted five years ago. It sent out a request for proposals (RFPs) to several global small arms manufacturers like Heckler and Koch, Colt and FN Herstal in April 2007 but withdrew it a few months later. A fresh proposal was sent out in April the next year but withdrawn in June 2009. Army officials say a series of factors repeatedly scuppered the contract: insisting on weapon sights (not made by small arms firms), disagreements with other partners like the OFB, and offset clauses mandated for purchases over Rs 300 crore. If fresh RFPs are issued today and all goes well, army officials estimate at least two more years just to acquire new carbines.advertisement”The problem is a cumbersome acquisition procedure involving the army, the ministry, defence production ministry and defence acquisition council, each with their own bureaucracies,” says defence analyst Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle (retired). OFB officials say part of the problem has to do with the army’s vacillation. “The army is not clear on what it wants. Their last carbine RFP did not even specify the calibre of the weapon,” says B.S. Bhatia, former member of the OFB. With the carbine import-and-build proposal now buried under a pile of pending requests for infantry modernisation bulletproof jackets, helmets and night sights-the army plans to float yet another RFP for two lakh assault rifles worth nearly Rs 5,000 crore. One more proposal to add its already bloated pending wishlist.With no weapon in sight to make at a plant which is fast nearing completion, the OFB made a last ditch attempt to make it relevant. Last year, they suggested that the plant be used to manufacture sporting rifles, another fact heavily criticised by the CAG. In the current stalemate the CAG has questioned the necessity for continuing with the Korwa project and asks for a cost-benefit analysis of setting up a new factory, now just an academic argument. The world’s largest small arms buy is already a big embarrassment for the MoD.
India’s tour of England was such an extended nightmare, the shrieks of it are still audible as the two teams face off in the first of the five-match one day series, beginning here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday.The sheer magnitude of the defeats, in the four Tests and ODI series, has left a mark on the psyche of players and fans and it doesn’t seem likely that even a nearperfect performance by the hosts would make amends for it.The first match of a series is always important. But it must be very difficult for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to not construe this as just a continuation of the England tour, with a few days off in between. What will be in his and his team’s favour is that the cold and unforgiving weather has made way to bright sunshine, with the promise on batting tracks, some assistance to the spinners and all the crowd support one can hope for.With conditions in England and India as varied as chalk and cheese, logic would suggest each team is the clear favourite in its home conditions. However, what became a worrying trend, especially in the final one- dayers in England, was that even if India managed to put up huge totals, their bowlers failed to make a match out of it.Team India, as has been the case after the World Cup win, will be without their galaxy of stars as the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh are unavailable due to injuries.advertisementIn all, seven first choice players will not be available for selection and this makes Dhoni’s job peculiar. The Indian players have been injured for so long that the point has come for the team to make do with whatever it has.Gautam GambhirBlooding in youngsters is the only way and this might mean more defeats than wins. But if there ever was a time to test the talent of the likes of Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Rahul Sharma, it is now. The bowling is wafer thin with even the back-up pacers Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma injured. Off- spinner Harbhajan Singh has been dropped for poor form and this means the most experienced bowler in the Indian attack would medium-pacer Praveen Kumar, who himself might be cannon fodder on Indian tracks.The Indian batting should take care of itself with Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel enjoying success opening the innings in England although India lost 0- 3.The Englishmen must be confident of taking the series down to the wire, and maybe winning it.They now have the entire package solid top-order (Alastair Cook, Craig Kieswetter, Jonathan Trott) attacking lower-order (Ravi Bopara, Jonny Bairstow), fiery pacers (Tim Bresnan, Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach) and attacking spinners (Graeme Swann and Samit Patel).This series will be the first for both teams under the new ICC playing regulations. From now, two new balls will be used at both ends and the last two set of powerplays must be used between overs 16-40.On top of it, the track at Uppal is relaid one and Dhoni isn’t sure how it will behave. He did concede that it might not be like the ones which Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh scored scintillating hundreds against Australia.India have lost all the three matches at the venue and even in the IPL, Deccan Chargers went winless at home for more than 10 matches. Dhoni said that a change dressing rooms might do the trick. If only it were that simple.
M.S. DhoniCaptain CluelessDid Indian captain M.S. Dhoni, 30, get himself banned for the fourth Test to start at Adelaide? During the third Test at Perth, umpire Aleem Dar kept reminding Dhoni that India were two overs behind schedule. To no avail. Contrast this with Australian captain Michael Clarke, 30, who,M.S. DhoniCaptain CluelessDid Indian captain M.S. Dhoni, 30, get himself banned for the fourth Test to start at Adelaide? During the third Test at Perth, umpire Aleem Dar kept reminding Dhoni that India were two overs behind schedule. To no avail. Contrast this with Australian captain Michael Clarke, 30, who may be on a winning streak, but is not done yet. He wants a 4-0 whitewash and is paying individual attention to every player’s needs. Dhoni rarely communicates with his teammates and spends most of his time in the hotel room with wife Sakshi. At the nets, he is often seen doing what he loves most: smiling and bowling. He is happiest when flanked by best friends Suresh Raina and Praveen Kumar. Unfortunately, neither is part of the Test team. Dhoni wants to retire from Test matches in 2013, citing fatigue. Well, that’s how the Indian cricket fan feels too.Healing TouchLachy Patterson, the Australian cricket team’s missing media manager, is back in action. Patterson and his wife Louise lost their twin girls before the Boxing Day Test in Mel-bourne. During the match, the Australian team members wore black armbands. The 32-year-old, who was hired by Cricket Australia five years ago, took charge before the third Test in Perth. Journalists from India and Australia offered their condolences.Quotes of the Week”You die, you die. You don’t see which is the better way to die.” M.S. Dhoni, on whether a whitewash in Australia will hurt more than the one in England.advertisement”Practise.” Rahul Dravid, on being asked how he planned to celebrate his 39th birthday.”I am going to tell Sachin to try some other sport if he loves defending.” Sourav Ganguly’s advice to Sachin.Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid practise at the nets.Finally, Some PracticeOn January 17, for the first time during the tour, the entire Indian team was seen at net practice at the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) ground in Perth, even though it was optional. The lethargic body language was gone. No one was resting in the shade. The pacers were taking the requisite 15-20 strides before bowling at the nets and the batsmen were padded up, unlike in the past. One thing was unchanged though. Coach Duncan Fletcher did not speak much, merely observing the players from a quiet corner.HIT WICKETViewers in Western Australia, who switched on their TV sets to watch the Aussies romp to an easy win at the waca on Day 3 of the third Test, were in for a shock. Channel 9, the official broadcaster of the match, decided to air a special surfing event instead of the match because they wanted a crowd at the stadium.Find of the SeriesAfter the first Test in Melbourne, Umesh Yadav, the 24-year-old coal miner’s son from Nagpur, said: “Australia ko khol ke rakh dunga (we will tear the Australians apart).” He kept his word. In the last three Tests, he has scalped 13 wickets, including a five-wicket haul in Perth. He is spending a lot of time with his mentor and former Indian pace bowler Subroto Banerjee, who is in Australia now. If only he had some support from the famed Indian batting line-up.Sakshi sports a Mahi tattoo on her neck.Love BiteM.S. Dhoni’s wife Sakshi, 23, not only got a “Mahi” tattoo on her neck, she also posted pictures on her Facebook profile. Indian cricket’s first lady has been travelling with Dhoni since the beginning of the tour Down Under and the couple is inseparable off the field.Virender SehwagNo nets for NawabRahul Dravid says there is no rift between M.S. Dhoni and his deputy Virender Sehwag. But the two are barely talking to each other, on and off the field. A day before the third Test in Perth, Sehwag faced only six balls in the nets before calling it a day. India lost the Perth Test by an innings and 37 runs and Sehwag scored a duck in the first innings and 10 in the second. That did not stop him from taking wife Aarti and four-year-old son Aryavir out shopping the very next day. He better be careful of excess baggage, especially with the family help booked into a separate room at the hotel.Zaheer KhanFamily FirstZaheer Khan is waiting for the Australian tour to end, but for a different reason. Khan and his on-off girlfriend, dancer-actor Isha Sharvani, 27, have decided to tie the knot by end-March.Isha SharvaniDaughter of Australian composer Devissaro and Indian dancer Daksha Seth, Sharvani’s family is currently based in Thiruvananthapuram. Both families recently met and finalised wedding plans.advertisement
Sri Lanka will on Thursday realise how tough it is in a short tournament like the ongoing Asia Cup to stage a comeback if a team slips early on. But captain Mahela Jayawardene put up a brave face ahead of the crucial game against Pakistan, against whom a defeat could mean curtains for his team.”We are quite used to that [situation]. We had quite a few of those situations during the recent Commonwealth Bank Series] in Australia. I think it’s good to have in our control where we don’t have to depend on somebody else,” he told reporters at a practice session. “We know how important the match is going to be tomorrow, so looking forward to that.”Jayawardene said that he would not like to commit the mistakes that his team made against India.”The amount of cricket we’ve played, we have trained ourselves to switch from one tournament to the other pretty quickly. We know how important the Asia Cup is and you can’t make mistakes.Going into the game tomorrow, we need to control those mistakes. We want to make sure we are alive in this tournament,” he said.The Sri Lanka captain is aware that he would not have the services of all-rounder Angelo Mathews, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury. He’s going to fly back home,” he said. “He will try to get ready for the Test matches against England that start in about 10 days’ time.”Mathews had missed the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia this month due to the same injury.advertisementHowever, fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who wasn’t played in the game against India on Tuesday, bowled at the nets on Wednesday and Jayawardene said that a decision on him would be taken before the day-night encounter.New Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore pointed out that if his team wins it would effectively enter the final.”We need to win and we are more or less through [to the finals]. The preparations have been okay. We got an opportunity to look at the opposition [Sri Lanka] yesterday. We would try and put our best foot forward,” he told reporters.On his own association with the players, he said: “The interaction has been great. The boys have been wonderful and have responded very well.”
In our nanosecond world, reading tea leaves is risky-this year’s predictions could be next year’s stupidities. But here’s a tongue-in-cheek look at 2005.A.B. VajpayeeNovel Change of Course Much as he didn’t want to, brahmachari A.B. Vajpayee finds himself succumbing to women. Between Sonia Gandhi and Wangari Maathai, and Uma Bharati,In our nanosecond world, reading tea leaves is risky-this year’spredictions could be next year’s stupidities. But here’s atongue-in-cheek look at 2005.A.B. VajpayeeNovel Change of CourseMuch as he didn’t want to, brahmachari A.B. Vajpayee finds himself succumbing to women. Between Sonia Gandhi and Wangari Maathai, and Uma Bharati and Smriti Irani, it would have to be a toss to pick the one who made him cringe more. If one wrested the might of power from under his seat, er, feet, the other snatched the Nobel Peace Prize from right under his nose. But though the horizon might not exactly be shining for the vikas purush, he is not quite the one to quit. Instead, the grand old man of Indian politics will resolve for a bigger role and employ his preternatural talent to aim for a new Nobel-this one for literature. The autobiography, liberally interspersed with profound poetry, will be called Kya Khoya Kya Paya. If that were a question, we would provide the answer.Zaheera SheikhBattle of the MindLet’s see now: Zaheera Sheikh first turned hostile in court. Then she took her first U-turn and fast became the darling of the human-rights lobby. Barely eight months later, she again reversed her stand, shouting herself hoarse about a certain messiah turned-malicious bully.Whew! Almost makes one wish away the right to free speech. Since she has mastered the art of volte-face, we won’t dare presume which way she will swing next. But may we propose a new award for her-one for successfully drawing out her 15 seconds of fame to a 20-month-long saga.Uma BharatiDivided We FallWhile the ideal bahu leaves no stone unturned to embarrass the family, Uma Bharati, the original beti, threw one tantrum too many and was immediately banished. Among those left are L.K. Advani and a handful of one-time mascots like Narendra Modi. Not only is the BJP fast tarnishing its Hindu Undivided Family image, it is confused to boot-especially on the issue of ideology. If it continues like this the party will be on the road to perdition.More the MerrierNever mind jokes like “the captain wants each passenger to chip in for fuel”, the war of the sky foretells an influx of no-frills airlines like Air Deccan in the near future -at least 10 more if the industry buzz is to be believed. What we have now is bare-bones service, garish design, unappetising food which we have to pay for, and on-board entertainment that consists only of fellow passengers making impolite noises. The new year may even see the onset of no-frills chic where the low-cost revolution meets the boutique trend-think roomy, all-leather seats, free live satellite TV, et al. Sure will make planned spontaneity a lot more appealing.Taj Mahal not on the list of Seven WondersBack to the FutureIt must have come as a shock to quite a few people that the Taj Mahal was not really included in the original list of the Seven Wonders-after all, tourist brochures, websites and travellers’ tales loudly proclaim it as such. And there lies proof that the world’s most beautiful ode to love does not really need the ongoing publicity blitzkrieg- including a visit by India’s much touted “crossover” star-to ensure its place in the new list of wonders. The mausoleum in Agra will continue to be India’s USP, discoloured marble and tilting minarets notwithstanding.advertisementIndian hockey team on a makeoverField of VisionShaking off the bad press, Indian hockey is all set for a makeover with the Premier Hockey League. The good news is that it will present itself as the first sporting platform where Pakistani and Indian players will play in the same team.The glitch lies in the fact that it’s a one-month, one-venue deal so it can be reduced to what critics call a “media-created, media-sustained blip in the sporting season”. Will it end up as the Psuedo Hockey League?Bihar cannot be imagine without Lalu Prasad YadavUtopian Fantasy”Jab tak samose mein aaloo rahega, tab tak Bihar mein Laloo rahega.”Yes, that is the irrepressible RJD frontman at his grandiloquent best. Who but him would have the gall (and shall we say panache) to make such a statement? And be bang on target, where others would have been laughed out of the country. Indeed, to imagine Bihar polity without Laloo Prasad Yadav, his wife, his brother-in-law, his daughter, his uncle, his son, his son in-law or his niece is near impossible. Critics cry that the “buffoon” will remain till illiteracy exists in Bihar. Others explain that the man is a sure win on the plank of social justice-in many ways, a more crucial issue than development in the state. That itself should reassure those in the samosa business-no need to discover a new filling yet.A Lot of BullDalal Street is going giddy. Stocks are on a roll and the indices hit new highs with every passing day. Being one of Asia’s fastest growing economy, foreign capital is gushing in. The year 2004 ended with a bang. And 2005 promises to be even better. The Sensex may not have touched 7000 but we are getting there. So just invest and let the money do the talking.A Matter of Shock and Aw!When the going gets tough, the rough get cowing, inner voices, inner feelings and all. A certain epitome of bahu resolved that if a foreigner became prime minister, she would give up all the comforts of life. And just when Narendrabhai was beginning to find himself safely ensconced, along came a horrifying cameo from sometimes-bahu, saas-forever Smriti Z. Irani. She threatened a fast-unto-death but retracted sooner than the nation could gasp Hey Ram. With eccentricities looking to be on a geometrical progression, the most bizarre drohungen will cease to shock. A caveat: just don’t believe Ms Irani will ever get her way by threatening to quit saas-bahu serials. Kyunki … yeh ho nahin sakta.Rahul GandhiThe Wonder YearsWill Rahul Gandhi hold a party position in the coming year? Pondering over this one is actually quite pointless. Fact is that he is the de facto No. 2 in the Congress-just go and ask any party worker if you don’t believe us. Since coming to power, the heir apparent has been groomed in earnest but given his mother’s policy to keep the young ‘uns away from big jobs-perhaps to ensure that power does not go to their heads-it is most unlikely that Rahul will climb up the party hierarchy just yet. Most likely, he will continue to “learn the ropes”. He’d better do so diligently, considering that he might be at the helm in the near future-numerologists claim that he will be elected prime minister in 2008.Pecks, Lies & a VideotapeIf love knows no boundaries- man-made or laryngo-neither does voyeurism. Or so proved a recent tongue-twisted movie clip allegedly of actors Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor, clicked on a Peeping Tom’s mobile. Though vehemently denied by the couple, the jury is still out on what constitutes public and private spaces, the case rests: anyone with a camera phone is a possible transgressor of privacy.Witness the rise and rise of Citizen Paparazzi. We could have many more Deep Throats in the coming year.Nuptials Sans a MatchWith his 30 million indulgence for his daughter’s nuptials, Lakshmi Mittal took the great Indian wedding jamboree to a new high. Will 2005 see some NRI set a new record? Sorry, but no. At No. 2 on the desi Richi Rich club is Azim H. Premji and opulent display is simply not his style.Most of the others with that kind of moolah won’t because their children are too young. So unless Mittal tries to outdo himself- round two for either of his children-this mother of all weddings is not likely to have a progeny.Pamella BordesRead Between the LinesIf booby-trapped diva Pamela Anderson could make Star, her autobiographical novel, a star seller with the introductory words, “When A-list meets D-cup…”, why can’t our own gutsy-busty Pamela-as in Bordes/ Singh-take a leaf out of it? The beauteous photographer, who rocked Britain’s Parliament with her sexcapades in the 1980s, is back in the see-me circuit. Imagine the images of the past she will manage to recreate and revive. She could put her writing skills, imbibed from Andrew Neil of course, to royal(ty) use, get the tag of “history sheeter” and call the tome Tar. Psst, it will also be itemised as the meeting of A-list with D-cup.Matter of TimeWho would have imagined that faith, instead of moving mountains, could propel a community towards fossilisation? But that’s the Parsi community’s predicament. They must either quit frowning upon interracial marriages-but harliners refuse to budge on it-or change India’s “hum do, hamare do” mantra to “hum do, hamare half-dozen”. The not-so distant future will pose one of the following scenarios: The Towers of Silence will see neither vultures nor Parsis (and we are taking bets on which one disappears first) or India will overtake China as the most populous country a lot sooner than the predicted 2050. Quite like the devil and the deep blue sea, isn’t it?Deja View on ShowYana Gupta can gyrate-oh! and how-but so can veteran Moushumi Chatterjee, even sans what she calls “buttocks” (botox for most). In fact, all the pretty, age-no-bar types soon might, thanks to one channel that zooms in on the chutzpah and oomph of all those in hibernation. In fact, all out-of-work stars already have the platform ready. Film nada? Join the channel, host a show. No KKK serials? Become an anchor. Invites dried up? Pilot a chat show. If lucky, the show could cross the 13-week mark. If very blessed, who knows, the channel might just surviveManmohan SinghTriumph and TrialDifficult, assertive, unruly- just some of the adjectives we can use to describe the coalition parties in power. The man at the helm-we said man, not woman-may have displayed unexpected steel in controlling allies bound together by little more than a strong dislike for the BJP, but how long can he hold fort?advertisementadvertisement The growing list of unreasonable demands from the allies, a persistent lack of cooperation from those who lost out on the top job, and a frustrated Opposition constantly snapping at his heels-can we blame Manmohan Singh if he throws in the towel for the sake of his own sanity? In fact, if rumours are to be believed, he has already threatened to do so-four times. Yeah, we never could master the art of holding on to a good thingBling It OnGiven that India is generally slow on the uptake, one particular global craze is only starting to take root at home-the growing demand for “life capturing” and storing devices.We are talking everything from memory sticks to cool camera phones.We’re talking Nokia, Samsung, Apple i-Pods and more. “Show your world” is the new mantra for Generation Digital and the new year will take it higher. How far? Just stretch your imagination.Aishwarya RaiRai of HopeAnew year belonging to the frosty beauty-her wax replica has more warmth-is a portent heard ad nauseam, but one whose time has come. Aishwarya Rai, despite the thanda response to her films of late, might just make it to Hollywood this year, armed with Roger Ebert’s praise, and Chaos, Jeannie andWindfall. Let the carpers snigger, if the dream credits start rolling, Rai will be giggling all the way to the banque in LA. Trust it won’t be a fame lasting 60 Minutes.RaghavSound of MusicAnother strain of Kabhi aar, kabhi paar and the entire paraphernalia-remixed beats, songs, albums and the accompanying skin fest-deserves to be blacklisted. In a dismal year capped by Disco 82, the stars that shone through were from the tribe that was given up for no good, the NRI bachcha brigade of Jay Sean and Raghav. Expect more of the same in the days to come.Now for a Big OneBy now we are used to two things: dreaming about a desi film winning an Oscar, and getting stiffed. But the new year could spring a surprise or two, thanks to the Marathi Shwaas. There is an equally strong cheering squad for Jamal, the Little Terrorist, in the short film category. Hark, Mother India, here it comes.
Polls for two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand, countermanded because of charges of horse-trading and use of money power, will be held on May 3.The Election Commission (EC), which held a meeting of the full three-member panel on Tuesday, announced the fresh dates and the process will restart with the issue of notification on April 16.The seats had fallen vacant due to the retirement of BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia and Mabel Rebello of the Congress. There were five candidates in the fray when the biennial polls were held on March 30. Following allegations of horse-trading and use of money power, the process was rescinded by President Pratibha Patil on the EC’s recommendation.
Fortune’s face, Box Office queen and Bollywood’s leading lady on falling in love with Spain’s zest for life, watching a live soccer match in Manchester, and more…1. Favourite cityI took a holiday to Marbella, Spain, and I simply fell in love with it. It is a magical place. My second time there was during the shooting of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. I have visited and experienced some of the most beautiful places on earth in Spain. The architecture one gets to see in almost every city, especially Valencia, is amazing. And I love the Spanish people-their energy and vibe is unmatched. It’s not one of those countries where you feel people are walking down the streets, minding their own business. There is a certain kind of unity and I find that very similar to India.2. A memorable sporting event I first visited Manchester as the brand ambassador of Etihad Airways. Manchester is a great city and what they’ve done with the Etihad Stadium is spectacular. I am told it is the fifth-largest stadium in the Premier League and the twelfth largest in the UK. Before my visit to Manchester in 2010, I hadn’t ever seen the game live in a stadium and it was a really exciting experience! 3. A South East Asia experience I had heard a lot about the night safari in Singapore, and that’s one of the things I wanted to do. I was told the safari involved walking a trail in pitch darkness. I took out time from my schedule to do this. From coming face to face with the one-horned rhinoceros to hyenas, the Singapore Night Safari isn’t for the faint hearted.4. Shopping cityI love Dubai. I have been visiting Dubai for the last six years and a lot of my films have been shot there. I like the Mall of the Emirates. I am not a very big shopper but I really like the experience of walking around a mall, stopping by at the coffee shops. I am not a very brand or label conscious shopper. If I had to pick brands-I like a lot of dresses by Dolce & Gabbana among western designers. My other favourite is Roberto Cavalli. 5. On LondonI am very close to my family and London being my hometown will always harbour a special place in my heart. Namastey London was a turning point in my career and I’ve very fond memories of shooting the film. My sisters and I would paint the town red post pack-up as we dined at the amazing restaurants, cafes and have a blast together. 6. Favourite foodJapanese cuisine is my all time favourite. I can live on sushi. Wasabi By Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Palace would be my pick for the best sushi in Mumbai.advertisement