Ex-Minister Vikhe-Patil Passes Away
- MUMBAI : Former Union minister and Congress leader Eknathrao alias Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil passed away at his residence in Loni village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on Friday following prolonged illness, his family said. He was 84. The last ri tes of the veteran leader would be conducted with full state honours at Loni. Balasaheb largely kept ay from public life in the away from public life in the last couple of years due to his illness.
- His son Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is a senior Congress leader and currently the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly. Though a Congressman most of his career, Balasaheb was elected to Lok Sabha on Shiv Sena ticket in 1998 and became Minister of State for Finance in the NDA government. He was subsequently elevated as Minister for Heavy Industries. He returned to the Congress fold in 2004.
China Set To Shatter Football Transfer Records
- BEIJING : "Biggest", "hugest", "most ever". Analysts are piling up the superlatives as China prepares to splash out astronomical sums for footballing talent during the winter transfer window in deals that analysts say involve more money than sense. Last year Chinese teams broke the Asian transfer record four times in an acquisition spree that outstripped even the mega-rich English Premier League. And even before this year's starting whistle on Sunday, Chinese sides have already begun offering record-breaking sums to lure top talent onto the pitches of the world's second-largest economy. On Thursday, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua said they had signed Argentine striker Carlos Tevez to a two-year contract, with sources saying he would earn around 38 million euros ($40 million) a season, making him the world's best-salaried footballer.
- The announcement came quick on the heels of Shanghai SIPG's swoop on Chelsea's Oscar for a reported $73 million fee. "Money in every area of the game is going through the roof," said David Hornby, of the Shanghai-based Mailman Group. "Transfer fees, rights fees, China tours and sponsorship are all increasing fast so there's absolutely no reason to think this will slow down this year." Mark Dreyer of China Sports Insider said that last year "the world was taken by surprise", but now "the element of surprise is gone. Everyone is expecting the same thing". While China is bad at soccer it is very good at buying talent. "There is an appetite by the billionaire owners to outdo each other and continue to land more big name players," said Marcus Luer, founder and chief executive of marketing agency Total Sports Asia.
- This week's headline signings typify the trend. Whereas last year Chinese teams were mostly signing "unknown" Brazilians, this year "there've been rumours flying around for pretty much every big name player," Dreyer said. Even world superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's name has been put in the mix, his agent told Sky Italia, saying that the four-time Ballon d'Or winner had been offered 100 million euros a year to hit the Chinese pitch. "But money is not everything," he said. "They can buy a lot of players, but then again, it is impossible to go for Ronaldo."
- The world-beating deals are part of a Chinese rush into football that seems to be driven more by political calculations than fiscal ones. China's national team is ranked a lowly 82nd in the world -- just below the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts and Nevis, population 50,726 -- but Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared his hopes of the country one day hosting and winning a World Cup, prompting a flood of money into its top professional teams. In addition to the mind-boggling sums the country has spent on players, Chinese investors have snapped up foreign sides and broadcast rights. The enormous outlays do not make much economic sense: tickets to watch even the most popular Chinese Super League (CSL) teams play go for next to nothing and broadcasting rights for domestic games are a bargain.
- "You can't make money by spending the kinds of sums that people are spending on top-end players," China Sports Insider's Dreyer said, explaining: "You just aren't going to see the revenues come back through the clubs." Then how do owners justify the outlandish sums? Politics is part of the equation, said Mailman Group's Hornby. "You know there is a far larger national objective than simply boosting the strength of a squad," he told AFP. But while the huge figures make good headlines, Dreyer believes they are terrible for the development of China's domestic soccer talent. "A lot of this money is being spent on salaries for foreign players, when it should be spent on youth academies," he said.
Mumbai Chess Prodigy Kush Creates History In UAE Tourney
- MUMBAI : Creating history, Mumbai prodigy Kush Bhagat has won all three gold medals on offer in the 1st Western Asia Youth Chess Championship that concluded in Al Ain Chess Club, UAE, on Thursday. The second standard student of the NSS Hill Spring International School reigned supreme in all the three categories - rapid, blitz and standard -- and achieved the feat of being the only Indian to bag all the crowns in the competition, said a media release here 31 December 2016.
- He overcame the challenges from 158 participants from 20 countries across the world, the release said. Kush won the rapid format with a fine score of 6.5 points out of a possible 7. In the blitz format, in which he is the world under 7 schools champion, Kush finished with seven out of seven rounds with a clear two-point margin over his closest rival. In the standard format, the trainee of the Mumbai Chess Academy (SMCA) registered seven wins and a couple of draws to assert his position atop the table. Kush had to overcome a few obstacles to remain unbeaten in the championship.
- His game against T D Wickramarathne lasted for more than three hours which he eventually clinched with a queen side attack to show the Sri Lankan champion the exit door. Praising the talented boy's show, his coach Balaji Guttula said, "Kush's main forte is his swift calculations. He thinks lightning fast with deep and accurate calculations of moves. This is what sets him apart from his contemporaries." "Kush has the potential to rewrite history books and this is just a beginning. He will achieve many more in the days to come", the coach added.
NEET Change Left Students In A Mess
- An attempt to improve the quality of doctors and an initiative on defining a road map for school and college education in the country were the major policy decisions in 2016. In both cases, Tamil Nadu expressed strong apprehensions, either completely or partially. The national-eligibility-cum entrance test (NEET) was made mandatory for medical aspirants, but many states, including Tamil Nadu, rose in protest before bowing down. In Tamil Nadu, where, in the last decade, the Class 12 board score was the criteria for entry to higher education, an entrance exam based on CBSE syllabus could have turned a litmus test, both for the administration and students. While students would have had to give up dreams of becoming doctors, critics of the state's rote learning system would have been proved right.
- The state managed to get exemption this year, but NEET will become inevitable in 2017. Medical colleges in TN see this a baby step towards improving standards of medical education. Principal of a private medical college who did not wish to be quoted said, "For a good doctor there are three things that are essential: knowledge of facts, skills to perform certain procedures and the attitude towards treating patients. NEET only attempts at testing the first quality." He further said, "The second quality will, of course, be acquired during the course, but the third quality is human nature. And, there are some medical institutions within and outside India that conduct tests to identify the attitude of a candidate." The principal feels NEET will mature into a comprehensive test in the future.
- "It all depends on the state and central governments," he said. While the state government had obtained exemption in 2016 to protect the interest of the students, officals of coaching centres say MBBS aspirants are gearing up to take up NEET in 2017. Jean Thomas John, assistant director (Chennai and Coimbatore) of Aakash Educational Services, said that until last year, only 5% of students were from the Tamil Nadu state board schools. "This year, each class has at least 20%. And, the good sign is that they are gradually adapting to the system of understanding and applying concepts," he said. Another policy decision of the Union government also spurred protests in Tamil Nadu. The draft new education policy that was reduced to 46 pages from 230 pages did not go down well among the various stakeholders.
- Organisations protested against the idea of segregating children based on their academic performance, the bias towards Sanskrit and the impractical idea of imparting employability skills to a 10-year-old. At the same time, educationists plan to appeal to the centre to formulate a policy that could remove corruption from the education system. "Today , education is governed by approvals and recognitions.There are umpteen regulations that govern school and higher education, and these pave the way for corruption. A time-bound system for procedures that are necessary will remove corruption, thus eradicating capitation," said G Viswanathan, president of Education Promotion Society of India.