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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LeT plan to attack Delhi foiled: Chidambaram

P. Chidambaram
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) sponsored terror module busted in New Delhi on Wednesday had planned to attack a crowded locality with bombs, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.
"There was no VVIP on their target," he told a press conference in New Delhi hours after central agencies and police forces of three states busted a terror module by arresting two suspected LeT militants.
They were planning to detonate a bomb or more than one bomb in a crowded locality, he said adding more details would come after their detailed questioning.
They will be produced before courts in Delhi and other respective states, he said.
The home minister congratulated central agencies and police of three states involved in the successful operation to bust an important LeT sponsored terrorist module.
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Virat Kohli to be vice-captain, Tendulkar in Asia Cup squad

Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli during a practice session in Bangalore. File photo
Senior players Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were on Wednesday ‘rested’ on fitness grounds while Yusuf Pathan and Ashok Dinda were named in India’s 15-member squad for the Asia Cup cricket tournament beginning in Mirpur, Bangladesh, from March 11.
The national selectors, however, refrained from making wholesale changes in the squad that performed miserably in the ongoing triangular series and Test series in Australia by retaining many of the players, like Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, who struggled throughout the tour.
Sachin Tendulkar has also been retained in the squad which will have young Virat Kohli as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s deputy.
29-year-old Baroda all-rounder Yusuf Pathan and Bengal paceman Ashok Dinda, 27, were recalled in the team announced by BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the selection committee.
Pacer Umesh Yadav has also been left out of the team because of injury concerns.
“Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav have been rested on fitness grounds,” Mr. Jagdale said in a release.
Yusuf, who scored a century against Saurashtra with the help of 10 sixes and six fours in a Vizay Hazare match, and Dinda, who had an impressive performance in the domestic circuit, were rewarded with a place in the squad.
However, the selectors opted to retain Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja despite being failures in the tour of Australia.
Apart from India, arch rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh will take part in the Asia Cup to be held in Mirpur from March 11 to 22.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Assam govt prohibit strikes in Assam Gas Company

Guwahati, Feb 25 (PTI) Assam government has prohibited strikes in all services relating to the Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) within the state. An official release issued here today said that the prohibition will come into force with immediate effect for a period of six months. The prohibition is applicable to all sectors related to production, storage, supply or distribution of natural gas within the state, the release added. PTI DG
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Ricky Ponting's greatest ODI moments

Ricky Ponting's greatest ODI momentsRicky Ponting emerged victorious on the field on Sunday evening -- perhaps the last time he captained Australia in an international match. But, the 37-year-old batting great could pull stumps on his ODI career after being dumped from the squad for the remainder of the triangular CB Series that includes Sri Lanka and India. Here are the highlights of his glorious one-day career:
 February 1995: 62 vs India at DunedinRicky Ponting's greatest ODI momentsPlaying in only his third ODI, Ponting scored 62 to lead Australia to victory against India in a four-nation tournament that also involved New Zealand and South Africa. He was pushed to No 3 after making his debut at No 6.March 1996 (WC): 102 vs WI at JaipurRicky Ponting's greatest ODI momentsUp against the trio of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop, a 21-year-old Ponting smashed 102 off 112 balls to give Australia a fighting chance during a 1996 World Cup Group A match. He wasn't afraid to play Ambrose off the back foot - showing early signs of a quality player.
 November 1998: 124* vs Pakistan at LahoreRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
November 1998: 124* vs Pakistan at Lahore
In pursuit of 316 against a strong Pakistan attack, Ponting and Adam Gilchrist struck tons to complete a world record run-chase (at the time) at Gaddafi Stadium. Prior to his fifth ton in 59 games, Ponting was shuffled around in the order. However, this knock helped him stamp his authority on the No 3 position. June 1999 (WC): 69 vs SA at HeadingleyRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
June 1999 (WC): 69 vs SA at Headingley
On paper, a knock of 69 runs off 110 balls doesn't spell great news for a team that was chasing 272 against a strong South African attack. But Ponting played according to the situation. Australia had to win the Super Six game to keep their semi-final hopes alive. Ponting's fifty followed by Steve Waugh's hundred helped Australia clinch a thriller.
 March 2003 (WC final): 140* vs IndiaRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
March 2003 (WC final): 140* vs India
Before him, only three men had scored hundreds in a World Cup final. Ponting, also the skipper, blasted 140 runs to bat India out of the contest at glorious Wanderers. Ponting's stunner meant Javagal Srinath conceded 87 runs in his last international match. His timely ton gave Australia at 125-run victory and second consecutive World Cup title.
 November 2003: 108* vs India at BangaloreRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
November 2003: 108* vs India at Bangalore
Less than a year after murdering India in the World Cup final, Ponting produced another gem.It was against the same opponents at Bangalore in the TVS Cup. This time it was Ashish Nehra who bore the brunt. Australia once again posted a mammoth total of 347.Jan 2004: Great catch vs India at MelbourneRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
Jan 2004: Great catch vs India at Melbourne
Chasing a stiff target of 289, India got off to a flying start until Sachin Tendulkar (63) fell to a miscued pull off Andrew Symonds, which Ponting, at short midwicket, hauled down with a perfectly timed leap to bring off a one-handed catch.
 Feb 2006: Another gem vs SL at BrisbaneRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
Feb 2006: Another gem vs SL at Brisbane
In the third and last game of the best-of-three-finals, Sri Lanka looked good to post a total close to 300. Russell Arnold was batting splendidly on 76 when Ponting pulled off a gravity-defying catch. He ran backward, from mid-wicket, stretched outward and made a timely leap to finish off a stunning one-handed catch.
March 2006: 164 vs SA at Johannesburg
March 2006: 164 vs SA at JohannesburgRicky Ponting's greatest ODI momentsExactly three years after his gem in the World Cup final, Ponting resumed his romance with The Bull Ring versus South Africa. He blasted 164 off 105 balls to power Australia to a world-record 434. The hosts miraculously chased it down.

January 2007: Blinder vs England at MCGRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
January 2007: Blinder vs England at MCG
In the first match of the 2006-07 CB Series against England at Melbourne, Ricky Ponting, fielding at backward point, dived to his left to take a splendid catch to dismiss Jon Lewis off Nathan Bracken. England were restricted to 242-8 in their 50 overs. Later, Ponting scored an unbeaten 82 as Australia registered an eight-wicket win.
 March 2011: 104 vs India at AhmedabadRicky Ponting's greatest ODI moments
March 2011: 104 vs India at Ahmedabad
With the axe hanging on his neck, skipper Ponting produced an outstanding ton to push Australia to 260 in last year's World Cup quarterfinal against India. In the previous year, he had averaged 28 from 19 games, with his place in the side was under scrutiny. However, he responded with a knock that effectively prolonged his career.
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'Why do visitors feed animals, litter in zoo?'

Tourism dept, through a team of students, is studying conduct of visitors to better understand issues hampering environment at popular destinations
In-depth analysis: The team of students, hired by MTDC, recently visited Elephanta Caves and found many tourists littering in and across the island. Representation pic
In-depth analysis: The team of students, hired by MTDC, recently visited Elephanta Caves and found many tourists littering in and across the island. Representation pic

Unknowingly, tourists in Maharashtra are currently part of a splayed experiment with potentially far-reaching consequences. No need to be alarmed! In order to save the environment and develop ecotourism, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is now studying behavioural patterns of visitors at the state's various hot spots. In fact, the corporation has hired students of mass communication, to study the conduct of tourists in different conditions. Places such as Elephanta Caves, Matheran, Alibaug etc are part of the survey.

No monkey business
Explaining the reason behind the study, Kishori Gadre, general manager, MTDC, said, "For instance, in places such as zoos or national parks, tourists tend to feed monkeys, and there are times the deportment of the simians changes for the worse. Hence, to curb this, we need to know which tourist spot has what specific issues. Recently, the team of students visited Elephanta Caves and found many tourists littering in and across the island. A similar pattern can be seen in Matheran, which has been declared an eco-sensitive region by Ministry of Environment And Forests (MOEF)." MTDC has now sought funds for making two popular hill stations of Maharashtra -- Matheran and Mahabaleshwar -- zero-garbage destinations.

MiD DAY had reported on January 31 (State govt wakes up to economics of ecotourism) about a first-of-its-kind initiative in which MTDC and the state forest department have joined hands to try and make Maharashtra an enticing place to visit. Apart from regulating vehicular traffic at tourist spots, including seashore, the corporation has also decided to henceforth construct more green buildings.

"Before we work towards ecotourism, we also need to understand various issues that are hampering the environment. The need of the hour was to infer the behavioural pattern of tourists first. We are seeking expertise from various travel and hospitality institutes. We need to bring about the necessary changes without straining cultural and communal sentiments," Gadre added.

Short work

The corporation is now making short films and ads on the subject, which will soon be screened at theatres and through other social mediums. "A film is ready; the posters are too. Our first initiative will be to educate and promote ecotourism across the state. We will be seeking help from various communities for the development of these tourist spots," said Dilip Shinde, joint managing director, MTDC. However, tourists who are regulars to hill stations in the state feel the government needs to spend more on improving basic amenities rather than studying the behavioural pattern of visitors.

"If facilities such as toilets, waste bins, security guards, life guards etc are in place, no tourist would dream of spoiling the environment. First you need to take care of these aspects rather than just studying the tourists' behavioural pattern," said Ashish Singh, an MBA student from Navi Mumbai. Thane resident Kunal Punjwani feels the funds allocated for tourism are never spent on the development of these places.

"People want to rush off to Goa, even though we have the beautiful Konkan belt here. Unfortunately there is no fun when you visit these areas. All thanks to the tourism department, which just discusses grand plans of water sports etc, but the fact is other states are more capable of wooing tourists though they don't have as many beautiful destinations as Maharashtra," he said.

Did you know?

With 2011-12 being observed as tourism year in the state, grand plans have been made to lure travellers. The corporation has been handed a grant of Rs 40 cr for promoting ecotourism and Rs 265 crore to revamp beaches, caves and forts in the state
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Horses for courses

The Poonawalla Multimillion in its 23rd year this year and to be run on Sunday, traditionally, brought a big glamour quotient to racing. The action at Mahalaxmi on major race days now is a mix of leggy ladies, preening actors, goggle eyed first timers and seasoned punters
Picasso takes the 2011 edition
Picasso takes the 2011 edition

Glamour will keep pace with gallops this Sunday, February 26 at the Mahalaxami racecourse as The Poonawalla Breeders' Multimillion 2012 takes off. Punters have been told to come 'appropriately attired as per dress code to avoid embarrassment' the invitation says. Decoded, that means formals for men and ladies have to be dressed smartly with "hats encouraged."

The hats really, bring out the fact that it was this race, the Million that began stressing on glamour. The Poonawalla race run post the Derby (The Derby takes place on the first Sunday of February) was like a one-day blitz after a sedate five-day Test match. For years, The Derby was for purists, the Wimbledon if you could call it, of horse racing, where the accent would be on contenders. Punters were buried in race books and newspapers of old would give the mandatory headline on that Sunday, 'All roads lead to the Derby.'

Then came the Poonawalla Breeders Multimillion (earlier called the Million), a little glitzy, a little Kerry Packerish, a little candidly if-this-is-what-it-takes-to woo-the-non-regulars-to-the-racecourse-we-will-do-that and suddenly, the blinkers seemed off. The focus shifted from pure racing to a fusion where betting became less intimidating and more accessible. Racing seemed not just for those serious students of the sport who could tell you that this horse, "Is a good bet because he ran the same distance very well in Kolkata."


The concept of 'The Breeders' Million Race' was evolved sometime in the 80s, when members of the National Horse Breeding Society of India came together under the aegis of the Council Members of the National Horse Breeding Society (NHBS). After some deliberation the first sponsored Million race was run on March 11, 1990. The race for three-year-olds is run over a distance of approximately 1400 meters and the winner is considered a leading juvenile in the country.

March was an interesting time to hold this race. It was a time when most of the major races had been done and dusted with, the Mumbai racing season was in wind down mode and the heat searing the lawns, made attendance fall.

This race, put a wag into the tail end of a season. The first ever Million had 19 runners facing the starter and a horse called Le Gris Cheval owned by one Mr Stock, trained by Ivor Fernandes and ridden by Bajrang Singh made it past the post. The lawns were dotted with people who might fumble when asked if they wanted to bet a treble or a tanala at the betting widows, but it set the wheels into motion for a cocktail of fashion and furlongs (a term for distance covered in racing).

Talking about wheels, the race also introduced something called a Contest of Skill, now a regular in other major races too. The Contest of Skill means that entrants to the racecourse can fill up a form, nominating winners in the correct order. The punter who nominates correctly is the winner.

Today, winners, many of them first-timers giving credence to something called Beginner's Luck, drive away in swish Mercedes cars as at the Derby this year that offered a Merc to the winner. In the first Poonawalla race, though, the winner did not drive, he flew.

The Contest of Skill winner got two air tickets to Bombay-London-Bombay. Some years ago, a race day had even offered a boat to a Contest of Skill winner! From planes, cars, and even a boat. What next? A train? Knowing the Royal Western India Turf Club's (RWITC) penchant for introducing something new, don't be surprised if a winner chugs away in a steam engine one of these days! Would you bet your last rupee on that?

While the men togged out in their Armanis and Oakleys for the race, the women perched hats on coiffured heads as Poonawalla started bringing a topi-cal twist to racing. The Ascot anyone? Come to aamchi Mumbai. Some years ago, there was even a Best Hat contest on at this race, with several ladies painstakingly perching on the bold, to the beautiful and bizarre to win that one.

More than two decades have passed since that first race. The venue is now a place where in other races too, equines share space with leggy models, page 3 regulars, page 3 wannabes, actors, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), singers, dancers, assorted entertainers, artists and other culture vultures. Die-hards are often heard muttering about all the "nonsense" going on in the paddock every now and then, (by which they mean some song 'n' dance and hoopla on the stage) but their dark rambles are usually drowned out by the hi-octane action off track. Now, it is Poonawalla time again with the Contest of Skill winner all set to net a Volkswagen Polo this time and a total stakes of Rs 10 million.

This edition should see a carry forward Second Jackpot of Rs 10 lakh, a Super Jackpot of Rs 5 lakh, one Tanala of Rs One lakh, one Treble of Rs One lakh and a Forecast Pool of Rs 50,000. There will be free entry for the first 5,000 entrants in the first enclosure Some of this year's likely contenders are expected to be Hachiko from M K Jadhav's yard, Shivalik (M Narredu), Sharaarat (Dallas Todywalla), Southern Opinion (S Ganapathy), Days Best (C D Katrak), Silver Birch (Pesi Shroff), Borak (M Narredu), Amazing Desire (S K Sunderjee) and others.

Even as this writer was mulling how to end this piece, came a letter from the Poonawallas informing one that in addition to all this, there will be Lisa Hayden (model and actress) seen on that day as an invitee. Simran Kaur Mundi (Miss India Universe 2009) and a Ms Yanita (second name unknown) who is described as a young model will be part of the curvy quotient on Sunday. Sigh. Now you know why horses wear blinkers.

Race winners
Names of the horses who have won this race since its inception
1990: Le Gris Cheval
1991: Ponta Delegado
1992: Flying Brave
1993: Red Buttons
1994: Brave Hunter
1995: Winning Pretty
1996: Lei
1997: Forest Fantasy
1998: Indiscretion
1999: Her Excellency
2000: Six Speed
2001: Noble Opinion
2002: Priceless
2003: Secret Romeo
2004: Blurr
2005: Fedora
2006: Haunting Memories
2007: Bourbon King
2008: Autonomy
2009: Versaki
2010: Beautiful Stranger
2011: Picasso
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Saranya Spicy Photos

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