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Dipa Karmakar becomes first Indian gymnast to qualify for Olympics

Indian Gymnast, Dipa Karmakar makes history

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Image: firstpost.com

The latest poster girl of Indian sport, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, will be in Delhi next week. There will be another round of interviews and electronic shoots as the young lady is out training for the Rio Olympic Games, barely a hundred days away.

Like quite a few well-known athletes before her, Dipa, too, has attained stardom despite the system, as it is said about some other illustrious sportspersons.

The Tripura girl has worked her way up from the backwaters of Indian sport to create history by qualifying for the Rio Olympics from a discipline which hardly gets much attention, gymnastics.

To be fair, she has received a fair share of support from government as well as non-governmental organisations, inspired by some of the greatest sportspersons the country can be proud of.

When one talks of the system, it is about the working of the national sports federations and associations affiliated to them and their role in helping and promoting deserving girls and boys to pursue their interests.

Dipa is too innocent to think or worry about the shenanigans in the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) which has split down the middle. At 22, she may be aware and bothered about the rival factions fighting to gain control of the federation, but she has kept herself above the petty politics of the officials in pursuit of goal.

She has also not forgotten how she faced humiliation at the national camps, awestruck by the girls coming from affluent families and big cities. She did not allow herself to be rattled by petty considerations, focusing on sport trusting her abilities. All she knew as that she has the talent and the best place for her to showcase it is the gymnastics arena.

Not all Dipas of the world may get exposed to the best training methods or competition internationally, but they are taken care of by sincere, dedicated coaches working within their limitations.

Now she has prepared her lines well to face the media. Now her coach Bisweswar Nandi is also known to the whole gymnastics world and he, too, is not going overboard about her protege. Both think and say that qualifying for the Rio Games is only the beginning. They have plenty of wok to do for her to be at her best.

First thing she said was that she has to improve her landing and also work on a few more things to hold her own at the world’s biggest stage. Her gold at the qualifying event in Rio is remarkable and that will give her confidence to raise the bar.

She may say that she will work hard for a medal at the Games, but in her heart of hearts she knows that putting up her life’s best performance is as good as winning metal of any hue. All of a sudden everyone in authority has realised that she has not much time left and the experts in the field, importantly her own coach, will have to quickly decide whether she should go overseas for one last training stint.

In almost all disciplines, the Olympic qualifiers are out training and competing overseas. The government is willing to provide athletes like Dipa the moon at this juncture. Her father, a weightlifting coach at the Sports Authourity of India (SAI) centre in Agartala, knows what’s good for her and he will give the best advice, too.

The exposure she got at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games made her to aim big and her progress from then on pretty steady. She was thrilled to perform on equipment that she doesn’t get to in India. Soon after the Games, some thoughtful babu in the government shifted the equipment to Agartala for her to make best use of it. There is nothing better than getting to train in familiar environs and in Dipa’s case it has proved to be a big boon.

In the next four years before the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, she had come a long way and became the first Indian woman gymnast to win a medal in the Games history.

It was not her bronze that shook the sporting world, but her performing a Produnova made it sensational. It’s not easy to perform Produnova, named after the exploits of of former European champion Elena Produnova of Russia. Among the current crop of gymnasts only five have shown the capabilities to pull it off and Dipa is the third.

The feat is as dangerous as it is breathtaking and she has recorded an impressive score for her daredevilry. She wants it to be a lot smoother and her coach feels there is still a little scope for improvement.

Improve she will, now that she is motivated to win a medal at Rio after winning the vaults gold at the test event, a day after qualifying for the Games.

After P.T. Usha, M.C. Mary Kom, Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal, now Dipa has made Indian women athletes proud. Here is another role model! (IANS)

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Veerappan: India’s most wanted

Veerappan was hunted by the police for over four decades, making it the longest man-hunt in India

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Veerappan was a smuggler, poacher, murderer and extortionist who was killed in Operation Cocoon
Veerappan in his heyday, He was killed via Operation Cocoon
  • Veerappan was a smuggler of ivory and sandalwood in the southern states of India.
  • He killed government officials and civilians alike when they tried to stop his illegal activities.
  • He died in October 2004 during ‘Operation Cocoon’, which was carried out by a Special Task Force.

Poaching, smuggling, extortion, smuggling, brigandry, murder — these are some of the few charges against Koose Munisamy Veerappan Gounder, popularly known as Veerappan, for whom was constituted India’s largest manhunt, on which the government spent around 1.5 million Rupees. From his childhood, narratives about the elusive dacoit were laced with fiction, as he became an object of myth when he was only ten years old, and had infamously shot his first tusker elephant for ivory. His notoriety became a national concern when the government banned ivory trade in India, and he began felling trees for precious sandalwood, thus beginning a period marred by Veerappan killing government officials and locals alike when they became an obstacle.

Veerappan unleashed a reign of terror on the southern states of India from the early 1980s till his death in 2004; during which Veerappan killing police officers and civilians alike caused a nationwide uproar. In 1990, the notorious smuggler had beheaded a forest officer K. Srinivas, which wasn’t recovered until three years later. In 2000, he had kidnapped the Kannada actor K. Rajkumar, whose release was negotiated through Nakkeeran editor Gopal, to whom the infamous poacher admitted to murdering as many as 120 people. Matters came to a head when   abducted the former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa in 2002, and killed him when his demands were not met.

Operation Cocoon:

Veerappan leading his gang in moily forest,
Veerappan leading his gang in Moily forest. Wikimedia

A Special Task Force or STF was constituted for the capture of Veerappan in 1991, which, headed by K. Vijay Kumar, launched Operation Cocoon in 2004, which finally resulted in Veerappan’s death. Kumar, aided by his previous experience with Veerappan, based Operation Cocoon on human intelligence and interaction, during which multiple STF personnel blended in with the locals in areas frequented by Veerappan. The initial stages of Operation Cocoon consisted of gaining the trust of Veerappan’s associates, till they started divulging details about his failing health. In the years before his death, the elusive outlaw seemed to have lost much of his vigour and vitality, as he suffered from diabetes, and a cataract had almost blinded him in one eye.
On 18th October, 2004, the police lured Veerappan out of familiar terrains in an ambulance, and apprehended him at a roadblock, where he was killed in the crossfire between his team and the STF, via three bullets. The photographs after Veerappan’s demise show him in a pathetic light, bereft of his signature handlebar moustache, and the agility which had facilitated his escape for over four decades.

There have been a lot of controversies regarding his death, as many media houses and activists have claimed that Operation Cocoon has derived Veerappan of a fair trial by law. Some have even claimed that he was tortured to death in police custody. The facts regarding the elusive sandalwood smuggler remain inconclusive even after a decade of his death, due to the lack of concrete evidence.

 

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Mary Kom aims to win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics

Mary Kom stated that she is aiming to win a god medal in the 2020 Olympics.

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Mary Kom's goal to win the gold medal in the 2020 Olympics
Mary Kom's goal to win the gold medal in the 2020 Olympics. IANS

She has achieved almost everything that women’s boxing can offer, but five-time World Champion M.C. Mary Kom is still yearning for the greatest accolade in the world of sports — winning gold at the Olympics.

Mary’s only appearance at the Olympics came at the London Games in 2012 when women’s boxing was introduced for the first time at the quadrennial sports spectacle. Having moved up to the 51 kg category, she had ended up with a bronze medal.

She had admitted later that it was difficult to move out of her favourite 48 kg category — in which she had won her five world titles — but the change had to be made as it was not included at the Olympics or the Asian Games.

However, with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) debating over the prospect of including the 48 kilogram division at next year’s Asian Games and probably the 2020 Olympics, Mary is filled with renewed hope.

“I still have not won an Olympic gold. That is my ultimate target. I am working very hard with the 2020 Olympics in mind. I am trying my best. The rest is up to God,” the Manipur icon told IANS.

“As long as I am alive, winning gold at the Olympics will always be my greatest dream. That will remain a target till the end of my career,” she added.

Mary added another title to her already overflowing trophy cabinet recently by winning gold at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship — her fifth title at the continental level — and has now set her sights on defending her Asian Games title next year.

That may prove to be a tall task for the average athlete, specially at 35, an age widely considered old and over the hill for a physically demanding sport like boxing.

Mary, however, does not let such mundane details distract her from her goal. She is determined to overcome the problem of advancing age just as she has defeated every other obstacle that has come her way since childhood.

“My real strength is my will power. An athlete needs to be mentally strong. This is more so in my case as I have had to prove myself to people right from the beginning.

“I have had to face a lot of obstacles. First of all I am a girl, and as a result I had to fight initial disaproval from my family and society in general when I took up boxing. Then I got married which meant I had to adjust my schedule and lifestyle. Then I became a mother which meant more adjustment,” Mary said.

“Now I am fighting against age. At my age, it is a challenge to maintain fitness and compete against younger opponents. Now I have grown old for this sport. I have achieved a lot in my career. I have nothing left to prove. But I will keep on competing as long as my passion is alive. I want to wear the India jersey and contribute towards my country. I want to win medals for the country,” she added.

With India winning five gold and two bronze medals at the AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships last month, Mary is confident that changing social attitudes will see the country achieving even more glory in women’s boxing in future.

“Social attitudes towards female participation in sports is changing slowly. Earlier girls from the north, specially Haryana and even those from the south, used to face a lot problems from their families while taking up boxing. This is true even now to some extent. But attitudes have changed,” she asserted.

“People should let their daughters play sports. Only then we will win medals at the Olympics.” (IANS)

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Bhai Boolchand-the Indian who launched trade with Ghana

The first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast (Ghana's colonial name) in 1890 , Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana

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Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana.
Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana. pixelbay
  • Bhai Boolchand, the anonymous Indian, is credited with starting trade between Ghana and India
  • The year was 1890.

Not much is known about him, but it has now emerged that trade relations between Ghana and Indiawere started by Bhai Boolchand, the first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast — Ghana’s colonial name — in 1890. That’s some 67 years before the British colonial government granted the country independence, research by the Indian Association of Ghana has found.

“As far as our records show, Bhai Boolchand (of the Bhaiband Sindhworki trading community), landed on the shores of the Gold Coast in western Africa in 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers — Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani,” the Indian Association said.

The duo opened a store — Metharam Jassomal Brothers — in the then capital city of Cape Coast in 1919.

“Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. A few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued the business as Metharam Brothers, Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business as Bombay Bazaar. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in the Gold Coast,” the Association said.

Boolchand’s arrival, therefore, pre-dates the historical links between the two countries that were always thought to have started between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkruman, and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Boolchand can thus be described as the one who paved the way for the arrival of other members of the Sindhi community, initially as traders and shopkeepers.

The Indian Association said more of this group arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few venturing into manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals and optical goods.

The Association said two more Indian firms were established under the names of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers in the 1920s. This trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the creation of several more Indian companies like T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D.P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, and Glamour Stores.

Glamour Stores, which was stared by Ramchand Khubchandani who arrived in Ghana in 1929, has grown — after changing its name to Melcom Group — to become the largest retailing business in the country. The Melcom Group, headed by Ramchand’s son Bhagwan Khubchandani, is now in its 60th year and about 40 stores all over the country.

Ramchand and his brother later went into garment manufacturing in 1955 and once employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. They later opened the first Indian restaurant, Maharaja, in Ghana. Bhagwan followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1989 established the Melcom Group with his sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani.

Another Indian-owned company that has survived through the years is the Mohanani Group, which is currently in its 51st year. At the first-ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, the Ministry of Trade and Industries recognised the work of one of the thriving Indian-owned B5 Plus Steel Company and awarded it the Best Expatriate Company in the metal and steel category.

As these companies brought in new expatriate staff, some left their employers to venture out on their own — resulting in more companies opening up.

“After 1947, the Gold Coast attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K.A.J. Chotirmal, Dalamals and A.D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana,” the Association said.

“The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana,” it said.

Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country; they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of India’s biggest and most reputable banks, recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon. (IANS)