Swapna Barman overcomes
poverty, pain and ill-fitting
shoes to win India’s first
heptathlon Asian Games gold
T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
‘BECAUSE OF SALIM
KHAN I BECAME
SHAH RUKH KHAN’
10 & 11
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
PAGES 4 & 5
REPORT ON PAGE 20
Singapore Press Holdings
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V.K. Santosh Kumar
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India set to get world’s tallest
A 182m-high statue, a tribute to indepen-
dence icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
called the Statue of Unity, is being built on
the river Narmada near Vadodara in Gu-
jarat and is set to become the world’s
About 2,500 workers, including sev-
eral hundred Chinese labourers, are work-
ing around the clock to put 5,000 squares
of bronze cladding on the figure, costing
$576 million, so it can be ready for inaugu-
ration on Oct 31 by Prime Minister Naren-
dra Modi. Visitors will be able to access a
viewing gallery 153m up on the standing
Separately, a 212m-high likeness of
17th-century king Chhatrapati Shivaji, re-
splendent on a horse and brandishing a
sword, is also being constructed in Mum-
bai and is expected to be ready in 2021.
Currently, the Spring Temple Buddha
in China is the world’s tallest statue at
128m in height.
Shark fins bound for China seized
from Maharashtra and Gujarat
THE Directorate of Revenue
Intelligence (DRI) has seized over
8,000kg of shark fins from Mumbai and
Veraval in Gujarat worth several crores
While 3,000kg were hauled from a
warehouse in Sewri, central Mumbai,
the remaining 5,000kg were seized
from another warehouse in Veraval, a
fishing town in Gujarat. Four people,
including a mastermind in the illegal
operation, have been arrested by the
DRI. Sources said the seizures formed
part of a smuggling racket and that the
entire consignment was meant for Hong
Kong and China, where shark fins are
considered a rare delicacy.
Gold tiffin box, artefacts stolen
from Nizam’s Museum
A GOLD tiffin box weighing two kg
and a cup, saucer and spoon studded
with rubies, diamonds and emeralds
were stolen from Nizam’s Museum in
Burglars allegedly broke into the
museum located in Purani Haveli in
the old city of Hyderabad on Sunday
night. The museum authorities lodged
a complaint with the Mir Chowk
police station after they found the
valuables missing on Monday.
The burglars are believed to have
gained entry by removing the iron grill
of the ventilator on the first floor. The
items belonged to the Nizams, the
rulers of the erstwhile Hyderabad
state, and were on display along with
several other personal belongings of
the royal family.
Hospital employees take selfie
with Harikrishna’s body
FOUR hospital employees took a
selfie with the body of N. Harikrishna,
the son of renowned actor and former
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T.
Rama Rao, after he succumbed to
injuries suffered in a road accident last
The picture taken at Kamineni
Hospital in Telangana’s Nalgonda
district went viral on social media
evoking negative reactions.
Indo-Asian News Service reported
that the picture was taken minutes
after the efforts of the doctors to
resuscitate Harikrishna failed. The
hospital management said it will take
action against the employees.
Airlines’ loss expected to reach
THE losses totted up by airline opera-
tors – led by carriers such as Air India
and Jet Airways – are expected to touch
US$1.9 billion this financial year. This
is due to increasing costs and low air
fares, according to aviation consulting
firm CAPA India.
The loss forecast for the 12 months
ending March 31 is up from an esti-
mated US$430 million to US$460 mil-
lion. This is largely due to the deprecia-
tion of the rupee and a rise in oil prices,
Ticket prices have not risen to com-
pensate for higher costs, and CAPA said
with the exception of Interglobe Avia-
tion’s IndiGo, none of the airlines has
strong enough balance sheets to com-
fortably withstand higher costs and
Bags found in Kolkata turns out to
be medical waste
THE 14 plastic bags recovered from a va-
cant piece of land in the southern part of
Kolkata contained only medical waste
and not bodies of newborns or foetuses
as stated earlier, the police clarified.
“The plastic bags actually contained
medical waste, it was found later,”
Deputy Commissioner (South-West Di-
vision) Nilanjan Biswas from Behala po-
lice station said. He had earlier said in a
press conference that 14 human foe-
tuses were found in the bags recovered
during the cleaning of a patch of land in
the Haridevpur area.
Ikea apologises for caterpillar in
IKEA has apologised after a diner found
a caterpillar in his vegetable biryani dish
at the Swedish furniture giant’s re-
cently-opened first outlet in Hyder-
abad. It has also stopped selling vegetar-
ian biryani and samosa at its store follow-
ing the incident.
Customer Abeed Mohammad
tweeted a photo of the caterpillar in the
dish that he ordered at the store’s restau-
After collecting samples the next
day, officials sent notices to Ikea and the
firm which allegedly supplied the food.
It also fined Ikea $222 for using plastic
covers on dishes and for not practising
waste separation, the Press Trust of In-
September 7, 2018
NDIA’S top court scrapped a colo-
nial-era ban on gay sex on Thurs-
day in a landmark judgment that ac-
tivists hope will uphold the right to
Gay sex is considered taboo by many
in socially conservative India, and was
reinstated as a criminal offence in 2013
after four years of decriminalisation.
A five-judge bench in India’s
Supreme Court was unanimous in over-
turning the ban.
“Any consensual sexual relationship
between two consenting adults – homo-
sexuals, heterosexuals or lesbians – can-
not be said to be unconstitutional,” said
the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as
he read out the judgment.
Gay sex had been punishable by up
to 10 years in jail.
The judges in the case had previously
said that gay people in India faced deep-
rooted trauma and live in fear.
A law known as “Section 377” had
prohibited “carnal intercourse against
the order of nature with any man,
woman or animal” – which was widely
interpreted to refer to homosexual sex.
“The law had become a weapon for
harassment for the LGBT community,”
said Chief Justice Misra as he quashed
the cornerstone of Section 377, a law in-
troduced by British rulers in 1861.
“Any discrimination on the basis of
sexuality amounts to a violation of fun-
damental rights,” he added in the ruling,
which added India to a list of more than
120 countries where homosexuality is
India’s conservative government had
opposed ending Section 377 but said
ahead of the hearing that it would leave
the decision to the “wisdom” of the
It warned, however, that judges
should not change other aspects of In-
dian law, such as the right to marriage.
Activists welcomed Thursday’s rul-
ing. “Thanks to all that fought for this,
braving the worst sort of prejudice. This
is a good day for human rights,” Ms
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia direc-
tor for Human Rights Watch said on Twit-
“It is not only about decriminalising
but recognising our fundamental
rights,” Mr Akhilesh Godi, one of the pe-
titioners in the case, told Reuters shortly
before the judgment was announced.
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisex-
ual, transgender/transsexual, intersex
and queer/questioning (LGBTIQ) com-
munity hugged each other and cried out-
side the Supreme Court in New Delhi as
news of the verdict spread.
“I am speechless. It’s taken a long
time to come but finally I can say I am
free and I have equal rights as others,”
said Mr Rama Vij, a college student in
Kolkata who gathered with others watch-
ing on television.
Despite the pressure on the LGBT
community, India has quietly made
some strides in sexual rights in recent
A transgender judge, Joyita Mondal
Mahi, presides over courts in West Ben-
gal, Indian passports now state whether
a holder is “male”, “female” or “other”
and the city of Raigarh, with 139,000
people, has a transgender mayor.
Many say that gay marriage and
equal rights in inheritance and other ar-
eas must be the ultimate prize, but they
acknowledge that change will not be
swift. “This is the first step of the history
of a lot of other countries that first de-
criminalised gay sex, allowed civil
unions and then marriage,” said Mr Ke-
shav Suri, one of the petitioners against
Section 377. “It is a long battle to equal
rights but I am sure we will get there
Landmark ruling on gay sex
Historic verdict.. Members of the LGBTIQ community in Mumbai celebrating the Supreme
Indians lost at SEA
TRIED to order
some food for my-
self last Sunday but
could not find what I was
pie is best cooked on
one’s own and then eaten in solitude as
one reflects on what could have been.
The Indian cricketers will not be rewrit-
ing history. Much like the Titanic, their
hopes now lie at the bottom of the SEA.
SEA is my new acronym for Tests
played by any country in South Africa,
England and Australia. While winning
away from home is a challenge in almost
any country, I rate winning in SEA the
hardest, especially if you are a team
from the subcontinent.
These countries don’t just have chal-
lenging playing conditions, but they
also have high domestic standards,
which makes them really hard to beat in
their own back yard.
Former Australian captain Steve
Waugh called winning a series in India
as his final frontier. Conquering SEA
will be India’s mission for a long time to
come. I just hope it’s not a century.
The apparent reality of Indian cricket
today is that it is slightly, if not highly,
overrated. Commentator Harsha
Bhogle tweeted at the end of the
Southampton Test on Sunday some-
thing to the effect that “maybe India are
not as good as many think they are”.
While India’s lack of spine and ideas
have been painfully disappointing to
watch, England’s ability to fight and the
audacity of their rearguard action have
been a breath of fresh air for all those
who love watching Test cricket.
Riding on the back of performances
from Sam Curran, a 20-year old with
only one Test to his name before this se-
ries, and Moeen Ali, a part-time off-spin-
ner, the side ranked No. 5 have humbled
the leading nation in Test cricket.
England lead the series 3-1 with the fi-
nal Test to start at The Oval in London to-
I have read more post-mortem re-
ports on this series in the three days
since the end of the fourth Test than I
have read in my entire lifetime. I love
data, but so much analysis leads to noth-
ing but more paralysis.
I will concede that a 3-1 result in four
Tests is a bit mind-boggling, and I say so
for two reasons.
First, England dropped a lot more
catches than the Indians. Almost 30 per
cent more, with none other than India’s
prolific Virat Kohli being dropped at
least four times. His luck was going to
run out eventually and with it India’s
Second is the fact that, contrary to
popular belief, the Indian top-order bats-
men actually played better than their
Indian openers aggregated 280 runs
in eight innings averaging 35 for the first
wicket, while England’s scored only 239
in seven innings, averaging 34 for the
India’s No. 3 , 4, 5 and 6 aggregated
1,091 runs in eight innings averaging
136 per innings collectively. Their Eng-
lish counterparts could muster only 800
runs in seven innings averaging 114 to-
tally per innings.
The difference between the two sides
finally came down to the contributions
of batsmen who played at Nos. 7, 8 and
9. It was here that the men batting for
England piled up 633 runs in seven in-
nings at a very respectable 90 runs per in-
nings, while those batting for India
could add only 291 runs in eight innings,
resulting in a mere 36 runs per innings.
Regardless of which side you sup-
port, it would not be out of place to say
that the series was won by the team
whose bowlers batted better.
As an Indian fan you are then left
wondering whether it is the lack of In-
dia’s ability to finish off the opposition’s
tail or the inability of their own to offer
stiff resistance when the chips are down
that was the crucial factor.
In both cases I think it is the lack of a
real killer instinct, a mental toughness
that impacts your performance in both
scenarios, something India have been
lacking for too long.
For all the big talk, there is very little
in the gut.
Wellington 1998, Harare 2001, Mel-
bourne 2003, Cape Town 2007, Notting-
ham 2011, Melbourne 2011, Durban
2013, Wellington 2014, Centurion
2018 and Birmingham 2018… and
there are many more where those came
These are matches where India were
in winning positions but could not finish
them and deliver that killer punch.
These are matches where they had a bat-
ting slump or allowed the last five oppos-
ing batsmen to put on big runs.
In all cases, the result was an Indian
defeat or a series-denying draw.
In an interview in June 2003, sports
psychologist Sandy Gordon, who
worked with the Australian World Cup-
winning team of 1999 and the Indian
team that reached the final of the 2003
edition, attributes success to mainly two
things – preparation and mental tough-
ness. Preparation because it is what is in
a player’s control – and though it may
not always end in a perfect performance
a player can always be perfect in prepara-
I am not even going to dwell on In-
dia’s preparation for overseas tours.
Enough and more has been said about
the lack of it. To prepare well is what
truly great teams do, consistently.
In the same interview he also recalls
the greats of the Indian team being open
and honest in admitting that they were
not perceived to be mentally tough by
Mental toughness is not achieved
overnight but is the outcome of a domes-
tic cricket system that is highly competi-
tive and incredibly demanding.
Fifteen years later that lack of mental
toughness still seems to be the case with
the Indians. Gordon, in his interview,
had called India a “team of champi-
ons”, and that is very different from be-
ing called a champion team.
India can probably lay claim to hav-
ing champion batsmen or bowlers. Un-
fortunately, that is where all compar-
isons with greatness will end, then and
Michel de Montaigne, one of the
most significant philosophers of the
French Renaissance, once said: “I do not
care so much what I am to others as I
care what I am to myself.”
The last Test at The Oval is not about
pride alone. It is about proving that In-
dia can win and win well, knowing they
have the ability and the mental fortitude
to do so. One hopes they blood a couple
What is the worst that could happen?
It is the least the Indians could learn
from their opponents.
This also happens to be the last Test
match for one of the legends of the
game. England could not have given a
better gift than a series win to one of the
nicest guys that ever played for them.
Alastair Cook will bid his interna-
tional career farewell at The Oval. Chef,
as he is known to his mates, was as tough
as they come. Can the Indians be
tougher in denying him a final hurrah?
Mental toughness is not about
screaming or swearing at your oppo-
nents, something that seems to be cus-
tomary with the Indian team nowadays.
Mental toughness is the ability to do
what needs to be done in a situation, in
spite of it. It’s about letting the bat or the
ball do all the talking without uttering
as much as a word.
If anyone is still unclear about what
mentally tough looks like, then they are
welcome to make their way down to
The Oval this weekend. If we are lucky,
Chef may just oblige us and sign off with
Zubin Shroff, a former national
captain, is the chairman of selectors of
the Singapore men’s teams.
Tough cookie... England batsman Alastair
Cook will bid farewell to his international
career at The Oval Test, starting today.
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