Netarhat Vidyalaya gets First Prize on World Environment Day – June 5, 2016

imageIn the run up to this year’s World Environment Day the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) had organised an open competition inviting applications from Industrial units, Educational Institutions, NGOs, Individuals etc to make presentations of their contributions in the arena of environmental awareness, environmental protection, tree plantation, pollution control and energy saving.

Netarhat School family, ably guided and supported by the Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti during the past couple of years, had made determined and sustained efforts while going in for tree plantation in a big way ( read: my blog dated 18 Aug, 2014: : titled:” Green Netarhat: 1000+ New Plants to Adorn School Campus (Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee celeb event ). In the process, 2 plant nurseries on modern lines have now been developed in its campus, thanks largely owing to the financial and technical support extended by Jharkhand State National Horticulture Mission.

Members of the school family – students, teachers and their families, former students and rest of the school staff members – were all involved in these activities as also in taking up the pollution control measures inside its sprawling campus and beyond in neighboring villages.

The whole school campus – blessed with lying in the lap of mother Nature – now wears a truly majestic and enchanting look like never before. Our efforts have been duly recognized and rewarded with JSPCB First Prize this rear. The school family is now much more determined than ever before to keep this momentum going this year and in the years to follow.

The school family is delighted to share this news with one and all, and in particular, with its alumni groups all over the places – in India and abroad.

Hail ! Hail !! Netarhat

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Skill Development: A concept Netarhat School began with; It’s time to revisit it


Netarhat School – a brainchild of Bihar’s first Chief Minister, SK Sinha, Education Minister, Acharya Badri Nath Verma, Chief Secretary, LP Singh, ICS and Education Secretary, JP Mathur – got off to a humble and quiet beginning some 60 years ago on 15th November, 1954. It was, in fact, an experiment that, among other visions and philosophy intertwined in it, had the ‘skill development’ aspect as well deeply ingrained in the concept. In a way, therefore, while paying glowing tributes for this to its founding fathers, it may as well be stated that what India thinks today Bihar envisioned it decades ago.

From the beginning Netarhat School – a senior secondary residential school for boys in a sprawling campus of 150+ acres land on beautiful Netarhat plateau –  boasted of, among other features, facilities like, Woodwork and Metalwork workshops and teaching of vocational subjects – Music, Fine Art and Agriculture. In addition, a number of playgrounds for football, hockey, cricket, basketball, volleyball, lawn tennis; and, not to forget oval ground for track and field events, ensured that boys (10-12 years to 16-18 years) had well laid out facilities and opportunities for early exposure, learning and grooming in these disciplines.


Catch ‘em young, a phrase more often used in terms of developing the children’s talents for further attainments, fitted in then, fits in now, more appropriately for the boys of this school in a kind of environment they were / are placed in rather early on.

It is, however, felt that the main focus of this school remained / remains on the academic excellence in the first place; enabling the boys to learn to appreciate the value of manual labour and the craft too continue to remain on the agenda, on a less significant note though. For this reason, therefore, a number of boys in every batch whether or not excelling to the desired level in academics, otherwise endowed with skill set and natural gift in non-academic pursuits like, Music and Fine Art, various games and sports etc., couldn’t make any headway in the areas they were particularly skillful and comfortable. For want of opportunities for such skillful boys to be rewarded with promising career options those days they often landed up either in careers far removed from their preferred choice or ended up getting hold of the jobs that came their way solely for the sake of sustenance of self and family. Passion and skill sets of these boys, post- Netarhat, have thus far remained largely under wrap and untapped.

All these need to change now. With the 21st century India and the world at large opening up avenues for promotion of excellence in various skill sets and rewarding career options linked therewith, it’s time our mindset is given a shakeup to address this concern in so far as it relates to our alma mater.

Much talked of skill development, a concept Netarhat School is familiar with, now with the passage of time, needs to be revisited to be able to work out the methodology to take it forward. How to get along is an issue that’s been engaging the mind of the school family lately. This issue, therefore, is being thrown open to Hatians in particular and others in general to discuss, debate and firm up suggestions, modality etc. that may further propel this thought process.

Skill India Mission is already on and is likely to pick up momentum in the years to follow. What is being suggested here is to also look a little beyond the scope of this GoI (Govt. of India) initiative in the backdrop of the opportunities in this sphere that Netarhat School presents. Our experience has been that in every batch, now comprising 100 boys, it’s not that everyone, notwithstanding getting selected on merit at school’s entrance test, at the close of education at Netarhat and later in institutions of higher learning, gets into the groove of one’s choice; many falter and struggle and it’s basically for this category of individuals endowed otherwise with skill sets that enlarging the scope for skill development at Netarhat is envisaged.

This topic is proposed to be taken up for discussion in a ‘Workshop’ scheduled for 15th or 16th November, 2015 at school premises coinciding with school’s ‘Foundation Day’ functions.

All are cordially invited to join.

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat……..

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Final call for Diamond Jubilee Celebrations: November 13-15, 2014 at Netarhat


As the earlier deadline of 20th Oct’14 set for receiving responses from Netarhat Old Boys (NOBs) from all over regarding ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for participation in the DJ function was drawing to a close, yet another NVS – Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA coordination meeting was held at Ranchi that afternoon.

After due deliberations, it was decided to have the gist of the main decisions taken, duly communicated fast to all concerned, online. So, here I go.

1.     An earlier deadline for registration and remittance of Delegates’ Fee (Rs. 7500/ per head) in favour of ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ SB a/c No. 11873383941; IFC code – SBIN0002985; SBI, Netarhat branch, is extended till 30 Oct’14. It was felt that going by experiences of the past that more often suggested rather late pouring in of EoI from this group on such occasions, decisions to have it extended for the last time, was unanimous one.

2.     This is to make it abundantly clear that the Delegates, in the backdrop of the arrangements being organised, may, for the sake of convenience, be described to fall in different Groups like:

Group A: the ex-students (NOBs) with EOI and remittance of Rs. 7500/- per head in ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ by 30th Oct’14 deadline. School admin in this regard is now following a system of duly acknowledging each such receipt online and is maintaining a record therefor.

Group B: The ex-Principals, ex-teachers and all retired grade 3 & 4 employees of this school need not follow the Delegates’ registration route meant for ex-students, as noted in just preceding paragraph. In other words, they need not make any payments to participate in the DJ celeb at Netarhat. Shri Raushan Prakash, an ex-student (1982 batch) in his desire to pay gratitude to his alma mater has offered to meet all expenses on travel, transport, stay, meals etc. of all such Delegates falling in this Group and willing to be at Netarhat to join the celeb events. All that, therefore, everyone from this Group is requested to do is to pass on one’s EoI to respective NOBA chapter at the place of one’s permanent residence. For this, however, respective NOBA chapters at Patna, Ranchi, Delhi and other places in India have been earlier requested vide  Principal’s invitation letter of 15 Oct’14, posted online, to extend assistance and helping hand in this regard; the same is reiterated here. The deadline for your EoI to reach Principal Netarhat, as also to Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA, is again 30th Oct’14 to enable them to make all necessary arrangements at their end.

Group C: The ex-students (NOBs) having passed out from this school in 2004 and thereafter and who continue to be studying and / or unemployed may be placed in this Group. For them, it may not be needed to follow the Delegates’ registration route meant for ex-students falling in Group A, as above. Their travel: Ranchi- Netarhat- Ranchi ; stay, meals etc. at Netarhat (12th  Nov’14 afternoon – 16th Nov’14 forenoon) are all getting organised through sponsorship and, therefore, they need not be concerned about payments from their own pockets on this account. All that they need to do is to inform Principal Netarhat ( and Ranchi NOBA (President, Shri Girish Nath Singh: Mob no. 9431104010; Gen Secy, Dr Amar Verma: Mob no. 9835527473) Netarhat NOBA, about their date and time of arrival at Ranchi.


1)    Buses for travel between Ranchi – Netarhat – Ranchi for all Delegates of Group A, B and C (as above) are getting organised and Ranchi NOBA is coordinating this arrangement. Kindly note that in order to be in time for the 3 day events (13-15 Nov’14), the first Bus would leave Ranchi on 12 Nov’14 at 11.00 am; however, for those from outside reaching Ranchi later in the day, the other Bus may leave at 2.00 pm that day. The idea is that all Delegates should reach Netarhat by dinner time that day. The location from where one is required to board the Bus can be ascertained from Ranchi NOBA.

2)    Arrangements for stay, meals etc. while at Netarhat are getting organised in the campus of state police ‘Jungle Warfare Training Centre’, located nearly 2 km from school campus on the north-western side facing the dam site.

3)    Details of 3 day DJ events can be had and noted from Principal Netarhat Invitation letter of 8th /15th Oct’14: Annexure-1 uploaded on school’s / NVS website.

4)    For any other details, clarifications etc. one should feel free to contact representatives of Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA assigned to function as coordinators for DJ celeb.

5)    Also feel free to post any query on this issue on my blog post on:

And before signing off for now, it is reiterated that your alma mater is eagerly awaiting to have you all in its midst on this historic occasion. It’s once in lifetime event for everyone of us and so let’s join our hands to make this occasion a grand success and truly memorable.

‘Vande hey sunder mum sakha Netarhat sada …..’ 

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat.

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Netarhat Vidyalaya in its Diamond Jubilee Year 2014: Current Realities – Review, Update and Adjust: The Way Forward (Part of school’s Diamond Jubilee celeb events 2014)


Greetings to all my friends of Netarhat Old Boys Association (NOBA) all over the globe and members of Netarhat Vidyalaya family – past and present – as also all those who have endorsed and supported ‘the Netarhat Philosophy’ on this historic occasion when this institution is completing 60 years of its glorious run on 15th November, 2014.

60 years for an educational institution is reasonably good enough a period to reflect and make an appraisal of its impact in its entire entirety vis-a-vis the visions its founding fathers had. This precisely explains why I have chosen the title for discussion of the topic the way it is.

The theme proposed to be presented is, however, in a way, a sequel to a presentation of a topic titled: “60 years of Netarhat Vidyalaya” by Shri Vijoy Prakash, IAS, an ex-student in the Delhi NOBA JN Dar Memorial Lecture on 2nd August, 2014 at India International Centre, New Delhi. It is, therefore, proposed to pick up the thread from where Shri Prakash had left. The factor, however, common to earlier presentation and the one here is that both are dedicated to school’s Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Year celebration events.

The latter, however, is proposed to be presented by another ex-student, Shri Narendra Bhagat (that’s me) on 14th November, 2014 at the school premises in the midst of the grand finale of school’s DJ celebrations. 

On that occasion, however, it is proposed to dissect the main issues (say, current state of Infrastructure facilities; Academics and Co-curricular activities; Role of Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti vis-a-vis state HRD department; Social Responsibilities for this school; State Funding and allied issues and the like) to enable sharing of such thoughts, perception and information in a perspective that obtains today. This may perhaps lead us to make Review, then Update and finally Adjust, issue-wise, the ‘Current Realities’ to be able to frame our strategies for the Way Forward. An overall idea is not to leave anything to imagination or speculation while pondering over the main issues and be, instead, realistically focused on target while aiming to frame Resolutions.

In the process, however, I’m unlikely to repeat what all have been elaborately stated and shared earlier by Shri Prakash in Delhi seminar.

However, at this point in time, I simply wish to share with one and all, a ‘Concept Note’- as briefly outlined above - on the topic suggested here. The idea is to throw up the issues that are believed to be constantly engaging the mind, perception and thought process of the NOBs in general. An attempt shall also be made on the said occasion to put them in a perspective that’s rather a dispassionate one.

In the meanwhile, in the period intervening now on till 14th November, 2014, I may suggest and request to all those keen on being very much a part of this event, to please keep their thinking caps on and be active participants on the day when this topic is taken up. A format for it that I’m inclined to suggest is to allow this topic to proceed in a manner that’s generally followed in a ‘Workshop’.

Accordingly, after a brief presentation of the topic the ‘Issues’ that may emerge after general discussion, may get segregated first, then be assigned to different working groups. The ‘Working Groups’ (may be 4 or 5 or more depending on the main issues framed) may comprise of the serving teachers, ex-teachers and NOBs (may also include a few senior students of this school). Each Working Group may be assigned to handle a specific issue among its members, to have threadbare discussion on an issue given to it and then come up with ‘Group’s Recommendations’ as sort of finished products of a workshop for presentation before the full House. Towards the end of the session, such recommendations may get compiled to be finally submitted to Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) for adoption and implementation.

For the said ‘Workshop’ it is proposed to have it at the school campus on 14th November, 20149.00am – 1.30pm. 

The proposed program is as follows:

  • 9.00am to 11.00am. – PP presentation and framing of issues;
  • 11.00am – 11.30am – Tea / Coffee break and forming of ‘Working Groups’;
  • 11.30am – 12.30pm –‘Brain Storming Session’ - Each ‘Working Group’ to handle separately an issue / topic assigned to it and to end up with framing of its ‘Recommendations’ ;
  • 12.30pm – 1.30pm – ‘Presentation of Reports’ - Each Working Group to make presentation of its Report by its team leader before full House and discussion thereon;
  • 1.30pm – ‘Submission of Reports’ - Working Groups’ Recommendations, as adopted by the House, to be submitted to NVS ;
  • 1.40pm - Close of session and Lunch break

Before closing this ‘Concept Note”, however, I would sincerely request for any suggestions, amendments etc. for inclusion thereof to be able to firm up at my end the proposed agenda. That may also help me in giving a final shape to the key points and the background paper that may form part of my presentation on the Annual Day at Netarhat.

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Netarhat Boys’ Paintings Exhibition-cum-Sale at Ranchi: 13-14 Sep, 2014

(Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 Celeb Events)

The need for showcasing the multifaceted talents of Netarhat boys and providing them opportunities for exposure and interactions with the environment and the people outside was always felt. However, such opportunities hitherto were rather limited and were perhaps few and far between. All this is likely to change now.
In our (i.e. NV and NVS) bid to translate such thoughts, a few activities / events of the boys in the months to follow are under wrap that may get unfolded by and by. This, however, is not intended to share at this point in time basically with a view to elicit suggestions / responses etc, if any,  in this regard from the NOBA fraternity in particular.
That said, a first such big event is a proposal to hold an Exhibition-cum-Sale of paintings done by our school boys. During its visits to Netarhat in recent months the NVS team, after having seen and appraised at first hand, the beautiful pieces of art work done by the boys on papers (with water colour, oil paintings and with normal pencils), felt the need for sharing them with the world outside Netarhat.
It’s with this end in view that an Exhibition-cum-sale of such paintings is proposed to be organised at Ranchi on 13-14 September, 2014. The IMA hall near Karam Toli chowk is likely to be the venue for this purpose for which negotiation is underway.
In furtherance of the said event, moreover, we may also like to enlist the services of professional ‘Portrait Sketch’ artists on this venue on those days to lend additional attraction for the visitors to this event. Any volunteers / offers / suggestions in this regard would be most welcome.
And finally, not to forget anyway that it’s part of school’s Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 celebrations events and efforts are on to make it a truly memorable one.
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Green Netarhat: 1000+ new plants to adorn school campus

(Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee 2014 Celeb Event)

It’s a fascinating tale of why and how the Netarhat Vidyalaya family under NVS (Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti) guidance made some determined efforts lately to turn around the corner to make school campus covered with more green all around it like never before.

In mid May this year when NVS Executive Committee team’s visit to Netarhat coincided with that of Minister, HRD, Jharkhand, what surprised us most was the intensity of the summer heat chasing us down right from under open sky to Ashrams(Hostels), main school building and then on to the venue of special Assembly at ‘workshop’ premises. The phenomenon of global warming seemed to have taken into its fold Netarhat plateau too. The days of Netarhat wearing a tag of state’s summer resort seemed nearing an end. A point for worry indeed! It was a kind of development handy enough to agitate the mind and thoughts of NOBs (Netarhat Old Boys) in particular who continue to savour the memories of beautiful summer months in the decades gone by.

Sunrise from Netarhat hills

Sunrise view from Netarhat

Palamau Bungalow

Palamau Bungalow

Jolted by such developments and pitted against the odds of weather change the NVS team then decided to minimise and counter its adverse effects by going in for trees plantation in a big way all over the school campus. Monsoon season 2014 was targeted to make use of for giving shape to our thought. A blueprint was promptly prepared; the State Forest department officials were got in touch with to provide us technical and materials support; Bishunpur based Vikas Bharati, an NGO too was roped in to supplement our efforts.

Forest view

Forest view

With nearly all preparatory activities in place by end of July, we then simply needed to wait for the school to reopen after its monsoon vacation in August second week for we intended to enlist and ensure participation of boys, teachers and all other support staff in this programme. After all, involving the school family at large in this mega event as part of school’s Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 celebrations was the basic idea we had in mind to push through.  Everything went according to our plan in stages, like, digging of 1006 pits all around school campus, providing compost manure to each of them got completed by August beginning; making provision for as many gabions posed a few problems initially that got sorted out subsequently.

Dam site

Dam site

Paddy fields

Paddy fields

Selection of plant species was done carefully before hand – those providing shade, others bearing fruits, still others providing useful timber and not to forget the trees bearing beautiful flowers, were all there in our list to add to a significant change in the landscape once they grow in due course.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

The NVS team (me accompanied by my son, Anurag who had reached specifically for this event from Delhi, Shri Krishna Swaroop Prasad, JB Tubid, Amalendu K Mitra, Prayag Dubey) joined by Ranchi NOBA members – Shri Girish Nath Singh and Dr Kaushal Kishore – reached Netarhat a day earlier on 16th August’14 to oversee the arrangements made and to provide finishing touches for the proposed function.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

School’s Agriculture teacher, Shri Ranjan K Singh had responded very enthusiastically and a couple of weeks ahead he had made all preparatory activities in place to ensure that for this event no loose ends were needed to be tied up for the last minute. The same evening we had a meeting with the Principal and all teachers and while discussing among other issues, participation of the entire school family in the function the next morning was emphasised and insisted upon for it was basically school’s programme where NVS merely had extended a helping hand and had played its role as a sort of catalyst.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

Sunday August 17’14, the day of reckoning for this big event turned out to be huge occasion for the school family. Chief Guest for the occasion, Dr DK Shrivastava, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Jharkhand arrived from Ranchi right on time at 10.30am. He was accompanied by the DFOs and his team of Forest officials. The weather was largely dry with overcast condition that ideally suited us. In the plantation of as many as 100 plants in school campus that day everyone of us – the boys, teachers, Matajis, NVS team members, Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA members and above all, the Forest department officers present – all participated with exuberance. The rest nearly 900 plants would find their assigned pits over the days of the week ending on 23/24 Aug’14 by involving all the boys under the guidance of the Principal and the Agriculture teacher.

Upper Ghagri

Upper Ghagri

Plant species chosen may broadly fall in the categories of those bearing fruits (mangoes, Sapota (Cheeku), lichi, jamun, jackfruit, guava etc); those of economic importance (Sagwan, Chandan, Sisam etc); and those providing shade as also bearing beautiful flowers (gulmohar, kachnar etc). Once they grow in size they would add to a significant change in the landscape.

Tree Plantation Team

Tree Plantation Team

Tree Plantation Boys Team

Tree Plantation Boys’ Team

Special Assembly, after the trees plantation, was held at the ‘workshop’ premises where the need for protecting our environment and for planting trees every year was duly emphasised and taken as a pledge. Copies of brochures, booklets etc that the Forest official had brought with them were distributed among the boys and all those present; a few CDs on forest life were also played on a big screen for the boys.

School Assembly

School Assembly

The day’s programme concluded with a community lunch – ‘Van Bhoj’ – in school campus where apart from all of us from Ranchi, Shrimanjis, Matajis and support staff of the school joined in. It was truly a memorable day for the school family and all of us.

Having tasted success in an event of this nature we’re now motivated to set our sight at the bigger picture. A beginning for ‘Green Netarhat, Clean Netarhat’ has been made. The momentum thus gained needs to be maintained by sustained efforts and no one does appreciate this better than the school family.

The next phase of this programme, therefore, is to develop a huge plant nursery of our own in the school campus. The idea is, apart from meeting our own need for more plants species henceforth, it should also cater to the needs of the residents, mostly farmers, in nearby villages by providing them good varieties of baby plants of fruit trees and those of economic importance. This is also keeping in line with an earlier decision of NVS for school family to initiate/ expand fulfilling its social responsibilities by forging alliance and bonding with the nearby villages in a manner noted here, among other measures. The land behind ‘Chalet’ measuring nearly 5 acres is now having a blueprint in readiness to develop a plant nursery on modern lines. If, therefore, everything goes well with no major impediment / restraints blocking our way, the school may perhaps boast of a beautiful plant nursery in a sprawling area by, say, next monsoon season.

In our this endeavour we are assigning equal significance to suggestions in this regard already with us by a few NOBs ( Uday, Bajrang, Dharmendra and Sachchida N Bajpai via Facebook ) for developing another ‘Nashpati Bagan’. To this, we propose to add a separate ‘Amrood (Guava) Bagan and a ‘Cheeku Bagan” each, on a land measuring nearly an acre for each. They are proposed to come up during the next monsoon season 2015. However, any other suggestions for more of ‘Green Netarhat, Clean Netarhat’ would also be most welcome.

Before closing this tale, however, on behalf of the school family and NVS I may like to place on record an appeal before the NOBA units all over – in India and abroad – to think in terms of donating generously, in cash or in kind, in favour of ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ to be able to go ahead with the kind of project proposal discussed here, among others, that were earlier shared in our website: Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti. The state funding, I may mention, for such programmes and projects has been few and far between, say, none this year. This time round therefore, the ‘Vikash Kosh’ had to bear the financial burden to the extent required; so before it gets depleted further, the same may need to be replenished. This appeal, in other words, may be construed as ‘our alma mater calling’.

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat. ‘Vande hey sunder mum sakha Netarhat sada……’

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Wimbledon 2014: Djokovic gets back Crown, ATP world # 1

As anticipated, it was a vintage tennis at its best at Wimbledon this Sunday when two traditional rivals – Novak Djokovic (#1 seed) and Roger Federer (# 4 seed) locked horns for the title on the famed centre court.

Roger typically seemed to represent an old era when double handed backhand returns weren’t in vogue, when the likes of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and our very own Ramanathan Krishnan dominated the tennis circuit the world over with the heavier wooden rackets in use. Djokovic, a new generation tennis player with much lighter fiber glass rackets seemed to be born with double-fisted backhand shots like most other young talents on view these days.

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDONAhead of the summit clash both Djokovic (27) and Federer (32), when confronted by newsmen, had asserted that this Wimbledon title meant a lot to them. The former having earlier won it in 2011 was keen to add on to his major titles of 6 in his kitty; while the latter, a veteran, seemed equally hungry to get past his record of 17 Grand Slam titles, and more importantly, past his 7 Wimbledon title – a record that he shares with Pete Sampras.

The two great exponents of the modern tennis moved around the court with athleticism, chasing down every ball and were at equal terms with 2 sets a piece at the end of 3 hours 15 mins. Serving at 5-3 in the 4th set with a championship point coming his way Djokovic, however, couldn’t drive home the advantage, allowed his opponent to claw back to level at 5-5 who finally claimed it at 7-5, and pushed the match into the 5th set.


It’s often said that when a match goes into the 5th set, skill in tennis matters little, what matters more is the mental toughness of the players. However, in this match neither seemed to be short of mental toughness till the end and what actually, therefore, remained to be seen was who blinked first. It was Federer who stumbled at the last hurdle to hand over the glittering crown to his traditional rival.

Djokovic with this win wins back the crown, gets richer by 1.77 million Pound and of course, regains ATP world #1 dethroning Nadal in the process.

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Aus Open 2014: Wawrinka gets a place in the Sun; Li Na’s moments of Crowning Glory

Wow….Wawrinka!!! 3 cheers! Wonderful display of power-packed tennis at Rod Laver arena at Melbourne Park, Australia that swept aside world #1 and # 1 seed here, Rafael Nadal off his feet right in front of legendary Rod Laver, among others. But more about it, a little later; first, a recap of what happened during the fortnight at this tournament.

wawrinka-473x315The first week at Melbourne Park in this year’s opening Asia-Pacific Grand Slam event – 102nd edition – was more in the news for players, ball-boys and spectators- all bearing the brunt of sweltering heat that, at times, hovered around 43 degrees Celsius. Skillful and competitive tennis during this period remained somewhat subdued. This had a direct bearing on the 9 first round retirements – 8 men, 1 woman – that equaled record for most retirements in any grand slam event.

Thankfully, with rains intervening, the tournament into its second week turned out to be a much more weather-friendly and witnessed some of the intensely fought matches. In the stunning upsets, however, Serena Williams (#1 seed), Maria Sharapova(#  4 seed) fell early at pre-quarterfinals owing largely to injuries they were carrying.


Both singles defending champions – Novak Djokovic, three-time winner here in men’s section and Victoria Azharenka, two time winner here in women’s, lost in the quarterfinals and failed to defend their titles this time round.

Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosure and Caroline Vozniaki – all top players and winners of grand slam event in the past in women’s section, were eliminated early by the new crop of emerging players and thus leaving the field open for bright young stars to shine and make their presence felt. It was here when this tournament witnessed the emergence of bright young stars in women’s section in the form of G Muguruza (Spain), Eugenie Bouchard (19 years) (Canada) and Dominika Cibilkova (Slovakia), the latter making it to the finals as well.

In the women’s singles final between Li Na (31 years) (China: # 4 seed) and Cibilkova (24 years) (#20 seed), the match seemed headed for some keen contest when the first set got into the tie breaker where, in the end, the Chinese prevailed. Li Na, there on, drawing on her experiences of couple of appearances in finals here (2009 and 2011), never seemed to put her foot off pedal and won the second and final, and with it the title, with consummate ease at 6-0. It was the first time ever that a Chinese, and an Asian befittingly has won this tournament that’s hailed as Asia-Pacific’s Grand Slam event.

Cibulkova, the losing finalist, contrary to what one is used to witnessing, was seen wearing smile, showing no signs of any negative emotions and regrets and, in fact, in her post-match- presentation- function she went on to say that it was the fantastic two weeks of her life she has had. It was obviously an otherwise a scene, quite different from the one, where the loser, at the end of the finals, is often seen looking for someone to borrow a shoulder to shed a few tears on. After all, in the professional tennis circuit a win or a loss, particularly in finals, makes a hell of difference in terms of prize money and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) rankings.

Quite in contrast to this, a day later, one could easily see the kind of emotional breakdown Nadal was struggling to hold back and was occasionally seen wiping off tears ready to roll down his cheeks during the post match presentation ceremony.

Ahead of summit clash, Stanislas Wawrinka (# 8 seed)  acknowledging  that even while he had never beaten Nadal in their 12 previous encounters, he wasn’t , however, overawed by the occasion and was instead focusing on to put it across the # 1 seed.  The proceedings started in a whirlwind fashion and those who had imagined Nadal taking the initiatives early on, were truly in for huge surprise as Wawrinka took the first two sets: 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal taking the ‘medical time out’ (3 minutes) during 2nd Set meant all was not well with his full physical fitness. Earlier, during quarter finals and semi finals matches against Dimitrov (Bulgaria) and Roger Federer respectively, he,  after getting  treated for a blister in his left playing palm, went on to win. He, however, seemed to be running out of luck in final; a back pain that seemed aggravated, halted his indomitable spirit he is known for, to continue his fight on. Even though he clinched the 3rd Set at 6-3, Wawrinka came back strongly to claim the 4th and with it the championship title.

Beating world # 1 and # 2 in a tournament has brought rich dividend for this Swiss player who has, in the past, always been overshadowed by his more illustrious compatriot Roger Federer. Now at long last he has a place in the sun- his first Grand Slam title.  And when the fresh ATP rankings are out a day later on Monday, he is at # 3, his best ever in his professional career.

At the end of the day, moreover, the winner in men’s and women’s singles are richer by the prize money of 2.65 million US Dollar while the finalists by 1.325 million Dollars.

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Why AAP and Arvind hit the street the way they did?

It was a bizarre turn of events when following Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Delhi Law Minister, Bharati picking on a fight with Delhi Police, the whole lot of other Ministers led by its Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal hit the street to stage ‘dharna’ before the Central Government to press for suspension of the ‘erring’ police personnel. Many eyebrows were raised, many were rubbing their eyes in disbelief and many more were questioning if AAP government was still in its activism mode rather than the governance one. Still others – Congress and BJP in particular – were seen raising the issue of making a mockery of democratic norms the way AAP Chief Minister and his colleagues backed up by their supporters, continued spilling on to an area near Rail Bhawan, not very far from South / North Block from where the Central government rules from.

Very tough questions indeed for the AAP and Arvind to answer for it was the first ever occasion when a Chief Minister and his Ministers on a certain issue, had chosen to press the Union Government for an action in a manner it was being witnessed. It was termed as a pressure tactic not really conforming to any democratic norms and the way it placed everything else in Delhi on hold for nearly 32 hours beginning this Monday, many may now continue to wonder if it absolutely was the last option. Or, more appropriately, an option well within the democratic and Constitutional norms – that can at all be held justifiable anyway and that whether it can ever be endorsed.


Now that the crisis is over, temporarily though perhaps, entire issue and approach adopted for addressing the same can now be dissected and analysed. This is with a view to find whether the established Indian democratic norms have been mocked and maligned or else the same has otherwise opened up a new window to ponder and think about the course-correction on issues posing hurdles in effective governance and administration.

The basic issue that ignited the fire was, AAP Law Minister, last week on a late night vigil, seemingly dictating the Delhi Police, right on the site of the alleged criminal activities going on, to act against the wrong- doings some overseas nationals were reportedly found indulging in and the police refusing to act. Police refused to take Minister’s command purportedly without any preliminary inquiry of its own and Minister insisting on action right there and then, turned out to be the flash point for the events that followed.

However, in order to get a hang of the underlying basic issue and its appraisal, it needs to be stated right away that police administration in Delhi is not under the Delhi state government. It’s under the Union Home Ministry instead. And from such an arrangement stems the problem for Delhi government in addressing the issues concerning crime-control and law and order within its own jurisdiction.

Both Congress and BJP, among others, are very well aware of this administrative arrangement, and in the past more than once they have pleaded for a change. Both had the agenda seeking full statehood for Delhi in their manifestos in the last Assembly elections signifying thereby they wanted that police should come under state government. Congress that’s been in power at the Centre for 10 years (2004-2014) and was in power in Delhi for 15 years (1998-2013), one may recall, Sheila Dixit occasionally voicing, in vein though, the issue of Delhi Police being placed at the disposal of the state government.


AAP too in its manifesto (clause 12) has noted that it will strive to bring Delhi Police under the control of Delhi government. Kejriwal says, he is the elected representative, so state police should report to him and not to the Centre; citizens with law and order grievances come to him and not to Union Home Minister or Lt. Governor of Delhi. He further seeks to clarify, in its wake, that the Centre can retain control over NDMC and Delhi Cantonment areas and put the rest of the national capital areas under state government. Notably, Sheila Dixit too had proposed the same while as Chief Minister, Delhi.

Let’s now have a look at how the centre views this issue. There are vital security issues involved in national capital so Delhi Police cannot be placed under Delhi government, that’s how it is sought to be presented. It’s further argued that putting it under Delhi government could mean unnecessary interference in its functioning by the MLAs. It goes on to further say that dividing Delhi Police’s senior functionaries in two parts – NDMC and Delhi Cantonment being one, rest of Delhi, other – could lead to complete chaos on the law and order and crime-control fronts.

As it is, Delhi Police under Central Government gets a huge budget and significant autonomy. All this is likely to get diluted the day it’s asked to change its political masters. That’s how the scenario and status of Delhi Police stand as of now. One may need to appreciate this.

In a situation as the one noted here, the status of Delhi Police may seem unlikely to undergo any significant changes in the near future. This may mean dilemma for Arvind Kejriwal – or for that matter any other Delhi Chief Minister – may persist in so far as handling of issues of law and order and crime-control within one’s own jurisdiction is concerned. This is, however, absolutely an anomalous situation where political executives not having any direct authority on certain issues and yet are often held accountable and responsible – at least in the eyes of the people – for any lapses therein. This, one can imagine, is crux of the problem Arvind has attempted to place it in the public domain in his own inimitable way the other day.

AAP and Arvind cannot, however, be forgiven for the kind of commotion and inconveniences Delhiites were subjected to early this week. But the way they were cornered into swinging into action, the course they chose to follow may not, in the least, seem undemocratic and unconstitutional even though it was totally unconventional. But then, who says Arvind is a traditionalist; he is, right from the day he transformed himself from one as activist to a politician, has declared himself as change agent. To this, now, after his recent Delhi ‘dharna’ gets added a label of ‘anarchist’ – a label not fastened on to him by his rivals but by him only. Can anyone beat it?

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… And now AAP getting into groove for national role irks rivals

Riding on the wave of an unexpected spectacular electoral success in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) now seems set for changing gear as also its course and is all set to run on the national highways. It was barely 10 days ago when AAP despite falling well short of majority found itself catapulted into the seat of power in Delhi that left all those in the rival political parties seen rubbing their eyes in utter disbelief. And the one that extended ‘unconditional’ support to it from outside, now finds itself precariously placed to continue doing so in order to protect its own political interests basically.

Politics, it is said, at times, finds strange- bed- fellows and the Delhi experiment only further serves to substantiate this point.

Having tasted the blood, AAP’s appetite now seems unsatiated. A couple of days ago when it unfolded plans to expand its wings – a little too early in the day, however – the alarm bells have, nonetheless, started sounding noisily all over. Those in rival camps find themselves none too comfortable and are seen raising issues and questioning AAP’s credentials for its purported national role.


The other day (6-7 Jan’14), listening to panelists representing stakeholders (read political parties), among others, on various TV news channels and to those anchoring debates on AAP throwing its hat in the ring for upcoming 2014 General Elections, seemed, in essence, a sort of a brain storming session to find answers to the ills India is currently confronted with – nationally and internationally. In effect, however, it wasn’t close to anywhere near it; it seemed, instead, an attempt to browbeat the new kid on the block.

A visible sign of discomfort and uncertainties seemed to be gripping the rival veteran political parties for the way they reacted, responded and posed questions, like:

  • Where does AAP stand on national issues?
  • AAP’s referendum policy – how far can it go?
  • What’s AAP’s national vision?
  • Now that AAP is going national, can it remain with a single issue –that’s corruption-free India alone?
  • AAP shouldn’t get carried away by media-driven euphoria; Delhi is not India

Apparently, sudden bombardment of a volley of questions kept posing problems aplenty to those assigned to field them on AAP’s behalf on the panel. The fact, moreover, also remains that many other similar questions are being hurled outside the confines of the TV studios as well, day in and day out, ever since its foray on the national stage were spelled out. The political newbie may not find it easy anyway to get around and try answering them convincingly. AAP’s national ambitions, many say, is a decision taken in a little too haste.

However, viewed in the backdrop of AAP’s pre-written script, its move to give it a shot at the national level, now that the one at Delhi has paid it some rich dividend, may simply seem a natural corollary. Right since its inception a little more than a year ago, it’s been advocating for a corruption-free India and the context of getting involved in Delhi elections was a baby step. Delhiites (nearly 30% of them)  coming out to hold baby’s hand to help it assist in standing up and walking along a path, has boosted the morale and resolve of this new kid.

AAP’s progress so far, however, needs to be appraised from a different perspective as well. Viewed closely, it may appear it’s much more beyond what AAP and Arvind Kejriwal are perceived to have achieved that’s visible to all. It’s actually the triumph of a political philosophy, political mannerism and above all, a political thought (‘Vichardhara’) that have captured the imaginations of all and sundries – post-Delhi elections. AAP has redefined the political scenario, altered the political discourse – all seemingly pointing to the way forward for healthier, inclusive, participatory and vibrant Indian democracy.

Shunning VIP culture, promoting transparency in electoral politics and processes, embracing anti-graft attitude and approach – all are the new found (or re-discovered) phenomena that should have otherwise been well accepted earlier and firmly ingrained in India’s democratic polity by now.

AAP’s mannerism has already started showing signs of getting emulated by other established political parties and personalities. BJP’s Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia preferring to do away with bunglow and related paraphernalia; Congress ruled Haryana and Maharashtra going ahead with proposals for reducing electricity tariff; and UP’s Akhilesh Yadav ordering for scaling down his security cordon – all seem to be the steps that were perhaps unimaginable till a month ago. Only the other day, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, while addressing a public meeting ‘proudly’ claiming that once his mother used to wash dishes in the neighborhood, may apparently be seen as an attempt- or perhaps a ploy – to get connected with the Aam Aadmi.

AAP’s ambition and aspirations for carving out its role at the national stage, coming as they do close on the wheels of the Delhi saga, may have irked its rivals for reasons more than one. But the fact remains that it was destined to follow this path given the way it got the shot in the arm so early in the day. And for the simple reason that the General Elections 2014 to follow soon, it would have been unwise to wait till the next one in 2019. AAP’s agenda of corruption-free India, ‘Inclusive’ and ‘Participatory’ democracy and efficient and effective governance, administration and delivery system – all are targeted to be established in the Indian political system. And this explains why AAP is raring to go national the way it is.

Before leaving this page, however, a word or two about the AAP government in Delhi. The way people’s imaginations have been stirred- up, hopes and aspirations of millions all over have been aroused, expectations of sort of quick-fix solutions and faster deliverance have now become the clamour with each passing day, the task at hand is apparently cut out for the new government. In the process, however, one often tends to forget or ignore that all these first timers- like any other first timers in other arenas – need to go through a period of learning curve before start performing and delivering. AAP team is no exception. One, nevertheless, only hopes that this learning curve is the shortest one possible; also, no serious slippages or faltering – willingly or otherwise – block or thwart its bid for cleansing the malaise and aberrations the Indian political system has come to be inflicted with lately. Give AAP a chance for a reasonable period, say, a few months, before knives are out against it actually.

No matter AAP succeeds or stumbles in its efforts, one only wishes and prays that Indian democracy gets on to the path and ways that may pave way for Indians to hold their heads high  in the midst of the world community.

Jai Hind!!

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