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A Silver Medal – The rising in Hockey

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Hockey Champions Trophy final
Sandeep Dikshit

Sandeep Dikshit (Ex Member of Parliament)

The Indian hockey teams have been struggling over the last forty years, unable to combat the changes in hockey format, and unable to deal with speed, lightning moves, strength, fast passing and athletic body moves to score goals replacing skill, and dribbling as the most powerful needs of a successful team. The western and Australian teams have gone this route very successfully.

This unfortunately also led to a serious decline in hockey viewership, and to sponsorship, advertisements and the general glory and adulation associated with a sport, that spurns an athlete, far more than jobs and secure futures. As we kept slipping from the top, to top five, to not even in the top six, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) became first a fiefdom of dictatorial leaders (starting from the time we won the Kuala Lampur World Cup) and then onto an ineffective, egoistical organisation, and our hockey slipped even further. Run nearly like a proprietorship under retired bureaucrats and policemen, the IHF in many ways became instrumental in the decline of Indian hockey.

The base of good players dropped drastically, tournaments seized, including the National Games, we struggled to put together teams for international tournaments, coaches changed faster than seasons, and player morale kept dropping. It was in these times that the manner of playing hockey was also being transformed by a European hegemony of the FIH (the international Hockey body), which did not see any other way to break the dominance of the wizardry, skill and natural flayer of the Indians and the Pakistanis in hockey. From a game where the hands and the stick played a ball like a poem, where players moved between opponents and on the field like a waltz, the changes were a well thought our strategy working on strengths of the “whites” – speed, strength, fast paced game .

Unfortunately, it took India a very long time to reflect on and absorb these changes. Some of the most skilled Indian players, amongst the best in world, were unable to stop the European and Australian juggernauts. There were dismal tournament performances, and just as spirits sank, so did sponsorships, popularity of the game, number of serious players and Hockey disappeared from the hearts and minds of Indians. Interest would occasionally resurrect prior to the Olympics, or the Asian games or a Pakistan-India encounter, only to disappear again.

But then things started changing. And they started changing from about seven to eight years, co-inciding with a new management and the formation of Hockey India. As a new group of people took over the management of hockey administration, one got a feeling right then, somewhere around the time the New Delhi Hockey World Cup was played, that these hockey managers meant business, and their business was to make India a world power in their national game. Many things got stitched up, and my assessment is purely of an outsider, who tries to still watch every match that India plays. We got a management serious about its goals, which involved professionals, including young managers. We saw coaches being experimented, not just with the National Team but a nation wide coach plan and strategy. There were plans to engage more players through network of tournaments, increase bench strength of state and national teams, bring some publicity to the game through international matches and good sponsorship. After a long time, neither the federation nor the players were lamenting on lack of popular or media or financial support to their game, but started focussing on the game with a longer term vision. My reading is that they focussed on learning and devising a suitable style of hockey that can win matches, constant effort to get over individual and team limitations and then learn to start winning.

We saw the start of a new tournament, the India Hockey League, that gave our players, experience of playing alongside the worlds’ best, with players whose hockey was very different from ours. Indians played alongside the Australian Jamie Dwyer, Mathew Swann, Simon Orchard, Englishman Ashley Jackson, South African Austin Smith, Argentina’s Lucas Rey New Zealand’s Simon Child, Netherland’s Wouter Jolie etc. We also saw many tournaments being organised in India, like the Delhi World Cup, many of the Olympic and World Cup qualifiers, and the Championship Trophy in 2014 in Bhubhaneshwar. These tournaments brought back public interest and signaled both to our players and to the world that India is again a serious hockey nation. Not to be missed in this was the support of Hero, the sponsors of nearly all major hockey championships being held, both in India and abroad.

Of course the impact of these many changes and efforts brought very mixed results initially. In some tournaments we played some wonderful games, but we also saw our dismal last position performance at the London Olympic Games. Then gradually things showed improvement in results.

The Men’s Hockey Championship just concluded in London has finally stamped that all that happened over last seven to eight years has been to effect. Over the different matches, one saw the Indian team holding to itself and its strengths. Of course there were the moments when we lost out, loosing matches (as with Belgium), and drawing them (as with Germany). But then there were moments that showed what the Indian Team had become. The match with England, where we were struggling, and then beat England, the last quarter against Australia, where the Aussies did not know for those fifteen minutes what had hit them. Then the Final. Matching upto the undisputed World champions Australia, and perhaps the better in the fine balance in this Final was a signal that the Team has arrived. To hold you’re own, match the Australians in speed, and in counter attacking, tackling and breaking their legendary attack waves with calm and solidness, and that too in a Championship Final! Almost for first time we had rested some of our best players for a tournament, and yet we did so well, showing that we also have solid bench strength.

Its time to feel proud of what our hockey players have done. Its time to thank the Hockey India team, that despite you’re fights in the Courts, a cynical media, absent crowds, and the weight of a dismal near past, you stuck on, believed in the players and have opened a new phase for Indian Hockey. To the Coaches, our thanks. I was most impressed with a line that Coach Roelant Oltmans said on TV. Asked about whether India had fought well in a match, where we were drawing till then, he expressed dissatisfaction. The TV journalist asked why, and he said “We can win every match, if we play, so I am disappointed”. That is the mind of winner.

Lest we forget, a word for those running Hockey India. Sports bodies are always the butt of criticism. Even when Hockey India was designed out of the Indian Hockey Federation, media, promoted by the suckers of the previous regime did their best to malign the new body. Today, looking at what has happened since 2009, it can be said that this body actually promoted a game the way it should be. It has spent time on players, got right people to do the strategic planning and execution, not interfered with selections, brought in many erstwhile players, managed to find money, and kept itself out of the limelight. As we quietly celebrate the silver medal and pump ourselves with a hope of a sustained revival, we must also thank Hockey India.

A coach, a team, our players – they are telling us – that they can win every match. They have shown that they are almost there. It is time for us, for whom these players are playing, to be there when they play, cheer them, applaud them, respect them. They have come a long way, resurrected our national game from the depths to which it had gone. No team can win only on skills, talent, hard-work, strategy and the will to win. They need the roar of their supporters, the chants of their fans, and their own people just being there. There will still be matches we shall loose, times when we will loose our confidence, mess up chances, but if we are there with the Team that plays our colours, and no longer abandon them the way we did for last thirty years, the glory will come back. The glory of the game, and the glory of winning.

 

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National Milk Day: Know history, significance of this day; Interesting facts about milk here

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

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Amul Milk Production

Every year, National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 across India. The largest milk producing country celebrates this day to demonstrate the importance of milk in everyone’s life. It is worth noting that National Milk Day and World Milk Day are two different events, observed on different dates with different significance.

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

Why is National Milk Day Celebrated?

National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 all over India, and it was established by the Food and Agricultural Organisation in 2014.

The day is dedicated to honouring Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered to be the father of India’s White Revolution. November 26 is also his birth anniversary, which is why this day is even more important as it also highlights his contribution to the country’s dairy farming and production.

First National Milk Day:

The Indian Dairy Association (IDA) in 2014, took the initiative to celebrate this day for the first time. The first National Milk Day was marked on November 26, 2014, in which various milk producers from 22 states participated.

Kerala-born, Dr Verghese Kurien is known as the ‘Milkman of India’ and the father of the 1970s White Revolution. He came with the one billion litre idea of turning a milk-guzzling country into world’s top dairy producer.

National Milk Day: Interesting facts about milk here

Milk is one of the best sources of calcium and the only drink in the world that contains such a large amount of natural nutrients.

Dr Verghese worked towards enabling the country to have its own production centres of milk. His support was crucial in making the Amul girl ad campaign-which is one of the longest-running campaigns for decades.

His accolades include Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Wateler Peace Prize.

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Global availability of Covid vaccine for public only by mid-2021: Moody’s

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: While recent news about the high effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines is a promising sign in the effort to combat the pandemic, a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be widely distributed before mid-2021, Moodys Investors Service said on Tuesday.

“However, these developments do not change the assumption underpinning our economic forecasts that widespread, global availability of the vaccine to the general public is only likely by around mid-2021,” Moody’s said in a report.

It added that the recent positive news about the effectiveness of vaccines under development will do little to ease the immediate concern that the current rise in coronavirus cases across the US and Europe will dampen sentiments and economic momentum in these regions this quarter and the next.

“Our baseline economic forecasts balance the downside risks of increasing infections and new lockdowns in the next two months, against the potential for widespread vaccinations over the next 12 months. If lockdowns are more severe than we expect, the negative effect on GDP could be offset if a coronavirus vaccine is available quicker and uptake is wider than we had expected,” it added.

Although successful Phase 3 trials of vaccines are a big step, there are numerous hurdles ahead, including satisfying approval requirements by regulators in individual countries, production of the billions of doses required for mass vaccination, ensuring proper storage and building distribution networks.

Distribution will likely occur in phases once regulators approve a vaccine, with health officials prioritizing access for healthcare workers and those in other high-risk professions, as well as for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as older people and individuals in care homes.

Moody’s said two important variables in overall success of vaccines in curbing the pandemic will be the public’s willingness to get vaccinated and what percentage of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for the spread of the virus to be brought under control. Vaccine availability likely will vary across countries, with cost and access major hurdles in particular for less-developed economies.

Many advanced and a handful of middle-income emerging market countries have already secured contracts for hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines. Residents of these countries will be among the first to get the vaccinations, with their economies benefiting from the associated easing of the public health crisis. The earlier the health crisis in a country subsides, the stronger the country’s economic recovery will be, it added.

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

As long as the coronavirus remains a health risk, social distancing restrictions and the reluctance of consumers to engage in high contact social and economic activity will mar the recovery of services sectors. As vaccines become broadly available, health fears and concerns about an uncertain economic and financial outlook should recede, allowing for a quicker resumption of activity in high contact sectors such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, mass transit, airlines and travel and tourism.

Moody’s said the pandemic has already inflicted enormous damage on the hardest-hit sectors and will continue to undermine their financial condition and prospects, with repeated virus outbreaks and lockdown measures suppressing demand. The risk of business failure increases exponentially the longer the pandemic prevents a return to some semblance of normal activity.

A vaccine will help accelerate the recovery. But for many of these businesses, survival will remain challenging until the virus is no longer viewed as a significant public health threat. It is difficult to know how many businesses will survive several more months of below-normal revenue, it added.

Small and midsized businesses across advanced and emerging market countries are at risk and more of them will undoubtedly close on account of the prolonged cash flow shock. And those that do survive will have the long and arduous task of rebuilding their balance sheets while also, in many cases, facing significant changes in consumer behavior and demand patterns. “Therefore, even if economic activity returns to healthy levels once a vaccine is widely available, the detrimental economic impact and transformed operating environment will be felt for years to come”, Moody’s said.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day: J-K Lt Governor Pays Tribute To Sikh Guru

Manoj Sinha noted that the pious day is a reminder to respect and uphold the ‘faith, belief and rights of people’.

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Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid rich tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, on his martyrdom day on Tuesday.

“The teachings and martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur underline one of the most fundamental principles of human existence, which is ensuring the right of everyone to breathe free and live unshackled,” Sinha said.

Guru Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is an important reminder for the future generations to be committed towards upholding the faith, belief and rights of people, he added.

On this pious day, everyone must resolve to dedicate themselves to selfless service of others, the LG said.

“Peaceful co-existence, mutual respect for each other’s religious beliefs go a long way in uplifting individual lives and achieving harmony and compassion in the society,” he added.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621. He resisted forced conversions of Hindus, Sikhs, Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam and was killed on this day in 1675 on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

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