5 June 2014 South African downhill mountain bike racing icon and current world champion Greg Minnaar will reach a milestone when he races in his 100th UCI World Cup at Fort William in Scotland this weekend. Minnaar has proved himself to be one of the greats of downhill racing, with an illustrious career laden with outstanding achievements.Titles His accolades from his 14-year career include three World Championship titles, 16 Downhill World Cup victories and 61 Downhill World Cup podiums from 99 starts. He has nine Downhill World Championship medals in total, made up of three gold, three silver and three bronze medals. Fort William has felt like a home away from home for Minnaar through the years. Since he began his professional career in the United Kingdom, it is somewhat fitting that his 100th World Cup event is taking place at the Fort. ‘Excited’ “The only venue that could be more special racing my 100th World Cup would be Pietermaritzburg. So yes, I’m excited for it,” Minnaar, who hails from the KwaZulu- Natal capital, said in a statement. When asked about the most memorable World Cup race of his career, Minnaar answered: “That’s a hard one to answer, but I would have to go with my first World Cup win at home in Pietermaritzburg in 2009. There is no better feeling than winning at home. “ Not only have downhill courses become more technical and creative over the years, but so too has the equipment. “Technology has progressed a lot,” Minnaar said. ‘Pushing the boundaries of technology’ “It’s gotten more professional over the years and we have been pushing the boundaries of technology. “It’s kinda cool to see the directions technology was going, then making a drastic turn, and going a completely different direction.” Cycling South Africa has paid tribute to Minnaar on reaching the 100-World Cup milestone and wished him all the best for his challenge at Fort William, a venue where he has previously recorded victory. SAinfo reporter
The possibility of a major flood has been ruled out in Odisha following average rainfall recorded during the last 24 hours ending on Thursday morning.According to the control room of the Special Relief Commissioner, the average rainfall in the State recorded on Thursday for the last 24 hours was 2.7 mm while 28 districts received sporadic rainfall, the highest being 18.8 mm in Kalahandi district.“There was no rainfall during the past 24 hours in the remaining two districts of Bhadrak and Deogarh,” it said. Thursday also remained largely dry throughout the State.Flood control cell of the State Water Resource department said 6.43 lakh cusecs of water had flown through the Mundali barrage by 6 p.m. and the flow of water would gradually come down. As there was drop in the intensity of rainfall in the upper catchment of the Mahanadi, managers of Hirakud Dam Project at Burla closed five sluice gates. However, 20 gates still remianed opened. Heavy precipitation recorded from Monday to Wednesday had inundated about 30 villages under the Harabhanga block of Boudh. There was report of flooding in low-lying areas of Subarnapur, Angul and Cuttack districts.“We had received information about a road getting cut off in Boudh district. It was immediately restored. We do not expect any major flood in the coastal belt,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Managing Director of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority and Special Relief Commissioner.
What are the grounds for this?The nine-day-long renewed agitation of Gujjars in Rajasthan earlier this month, seeking 5% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, has again shifted focus on the community’s demand which has generated considerable political heat and disrupted public life several times since 2007. As many as 72 Gujjars have so far died in police firing during the quota agitation. Gujjars, who had initially demanded the Scheduled Tribe status in Rajasthan, point out that their main occupation is agriculture and animal husbandry and they have been left behind in educational and economic progress because they did not have the clout enjoyed by other influential communities. The caste structure among Hindus excluded them from the fruits of development, as they lived mostly in the remote areas of eastern Rajasthan districts. Though they were included in the Other Backward Class (OBC) list in 1994, the dominant Jat community has taken away the lion’s share of the quota.What is the status of quotas?At present, Rajasthan gives 21% reservation to OBCs, which covers 90 castes of both Hindu and Muslim communities. The Scheduled Castes get 16% reservation and the Scheduled Tribes 12%. This brings the total reservation to 49%, which is 1% less than the 50% ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney judgment. Gujjars, along with nomadic communities Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya, were given 1% quota in the “most-backward” category, in addition to the OBC benefit, in 2010. The State government has tried thrice in the past to give 5% reservation to Gujjars as a ‘Special Backward Class,’ but the legislation was struck down every time by the Rajasthan High Court, which ruled that the quota had not only exceeded the 50% limit, but was also not supported by quantifiable data.What is the govt. stand?The newly elected Congress government passed a Bill in the Assembly during the Budget session on February 13, giving 5% reservation to Gujjars and four other nomadic communities as an ‘Extremely Backward Class’ and made a “recommendation” to the Centre that the legislation be included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to protect it from being challenged in courts. This has resulted in the quota exceeding the 50% limit. The Bill, which amended an Act of 2017, made a mention of the Constitution Amendment Bill passed by the Union government to extend quota to the poor, which breached the 50% ceiling. The 10% reservation for the poor in the general category introduced by the Centre has also been implemented in Rajasthan, taking the total quota to 64%.Are Gujjars satisfied now? Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharh Samiti convener Kirori Singh Bainsla, who along with his supporters occupied the Delhi-Mumbai rail tracks in Sawai Madhopur district for nine days, lifted the blockade after the government gave a written assurance of legal steps to safeguard the quota. Col. Bainsla (retired) says Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has promised the Gujjars that he will intervene if an issue arises later.What is in store? Though Gujjars have been granted the Extremely Backward Class status for the time being, the community expects the State government to effectively implement the special Deonarain scheme for their welfare, fill backlog of vacancies and consider withdrawal of criminal cases registered during the earlier agitations. The fate of reservation will depend on the courts taking a view on the new statute in the light of interpretation of the ceiling under exceptional circumstances.
A Goa court on Friday granted bail to suspended swimming coach Surajit Ganguly accused of raping a minor girl in September this year.Mr. Ganguly, employed at the time with Goa Swimming Association, was accused of rape by a 15-year-old girl training under him.The girl’s father had filed a case in Rishra police station in Hooghly district of West Bengal, after which the case was transferred to Mapusa in Goa where the complainant said the incident happened.Mr. Ganguly was arrested in New Delhi in September and is at present in judicial custody.While granting him bail, Goa Children’s Court president Vijaya Ambre on Friday directed him to cooperate in the probe.Mapusa police filed a charge sheet in the case earlier this month, after which Mr. Ganguly moved the children’s court for bail last week.He has been accused of rape under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Goa Children’s Act.
UB City, the glittering new landmark in BangaloreGurgling stream, scenic waterfall, thick coffee plantations, winding road: as the words and phrases do a slow ticker parade in the head, you can’t help feeling it all sounds like something out of a cheesy brochure. But the idyllic Falling Waters coffee estate that we’re talking about, deep in Coorg district, does seem to wear the words and phrases as if it rightfully belongs there. Yet, behind them, it also has that smug smirk, the one that says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”And just what that is unfolds quite dramatically: up a steep curving path flanked by tall trees, liberally littered with smooth, round pebbles, the 4WD makes a groaning climb and stops in the midst of what can only be called Tarzan’s training ground, enigmatically called Now or Never Land. For the sake of convenience, it’s called a jungle gym, but what it actually is, is a series of ropes and ropeways comprising bridges, walkways, planked tunnels, cables, ropes, planks and bamboo strips suspended across trees many, many feet above the ground and providing that instant kick to the gut to get the adrenaline flowing in super-quick speed. A bit like an improvised army obstacle course. The latest addition to the sudden spurt in activity-based tourism that is sweeping across the State.Kenneth, who’s set up the place along with his wife Sanjana on their 75-acre estate, declares in his deep British accent: “You can do the ordinary course in about two-three hours, and you’ll enjoy it.” Oh and by the way, just so Rambo fans won’t be disappointed, there’s quadbiking, paint ball and rifle shooting. So if you are not into adventure activity, but, on the other hand, have a particularly pesky boss, this is a good place to vent all the frustrations! And then perhaps put your feet up at the Green Hills Estate, a beautiful 19th-century bungalow which sits amidst acres of coffee plantations and is run by the Neemrana group as a ‘non-hotel’ hotel just outside Virajpet in Coorg.Adrenaline surgeWhite water rafting on KabiniAt the other end of the State, what’s been making waves, literally, is the enormous interest in white water rafting on the River Kali near Dandeli. It is certainly the focus of the more serious enthusiasts as river rafting is possible for almost nine months of the year, and also because higher grades (read more dangerous and treacherous) of river rafting are possible here. On the other hand, both Cauvery (in Bheemeshwari and in Coorg) and Sita offer lower grades (including for beginners).Kenko, the fish spaIn recent years though, water-sport junkies have kicked up the adrenaline-pumping factor some more with an activity they call canyoning. If the Nevada desert comes to mind, then you could be very near the mark, but what is absolutely essential is the presence of a waterfall, just to make things that much more interesting. Canyoning involves trekking up to the point where a waterfall jumps off and then rappelling or abseiling down the face of fall. Watching this can give you panic attacks, but hardcore sports enthusiasts insist it is just adding a bit of drama to ordinary rappelling.Body blissAt the Serai Spa in ChikmagalurBut there’s only so much activity that one can take, before wanting to calm the mind and body. And what better place to do it than at a spa. Over the last couple of years, a number of spas have opened not just in Bangalore but across the state. The Serai Spa in Chikmagalur is one of those places where the visitor arrives and then hands herself over to the tranquillity of the place. Set amidst rolling coffee plantations, the spa is so ideally located that it does sound like a figment of somebody’s fertile imagination until one actually sees it. But if Chikmagalur seems far away, then a couple of interesting spa options in Bangalore should do the trick. Kenko is for the adventurous, as its fish spa takes a bit of getting used to. On the other hand, the reflexology sessions along side are both relaxing and invigorating. But if you are in the mood for something regular yet different, try refreshing Hawaiian massages at White Mantra or indulge in chocolate massages offered by Pittstop Salon and Spa.Capital drawsNext time you are in Bangalore, sample molecular gastronomyHaving soothed into calmness, it is time to get back to the bright lights of Bangalore, to satiate the gourmet in oneself. Last year alone, Bangalore saw a spurt of fine-dining restaurants. And leading the pack is Caperberry, which specialises in European, especially Spanish cuisine, but more importantly, has familiarised Indians with the concept of molecular gastronomy. Here, scary words like degustation and deconstruction are bandied about frequently, but there’s nothing to fear, and the last vestiges of any trepidation will be banished by the food that Chef Abhijit Saha dishes out. If it is something closer to home that you are looking for, then try Kebabs and Kurries at ITC’s latest addition to the city, the Royal Gardenia, where the menu comprises the best dishes from ITC’s signature brands such as Peshawari and Dum Pukht. Or if it is just a spot of relaxation, then head for a coffee at the Cubbon Pavilion. Set amidst lush greenery, a breezy ambience, hanging gardens and water bodies, either the meal or the coffee is just an excuse to be there.If the urge to splurge overtakes, the place to head to is Vittal Mallya Road. Overenthusiastic shoppers have christened it Bangalore’s Rodeo Drive, since every major Indian designer has presence here. The Collective is a good place for men’s clothing and accessories, and stocks many international brands.For women, Fuel on Cunningham Road is a good option. Down the road, UB City is all about glamour and flamboyance with outlets by high-end global brands such as Cavalli, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, TAG, Tod’s and Estee Lauder to name a few. This is also the place for some great Northwest frontier food at Khansama or Italian at Toscano. And if all the shopping wears you out, you can indulge in another relaxing session at Angsana Spa located in Oakwood Premier, the line of luxury serviced apartments inside UB City.Hard Rock Cafe in BangaloreAfter an afternoon of shopping and spa, if you are perhaps in the mood for some intellectual activity, then the National Gallery of Modern Art, opened recently, is a good place to imbibe some arty thoughts. Bangalore got its own branch recently, and is housed in the beautiful Manikyavelu Mansion amidst lush greenery. While the permanent collection comprises works by the masters, frequently changing exhibitions showcase an eclectic range–from photographs of Satyajit Ray to avant-garde works by young artists.Bar codeLiquid, the lounge bar at Ista BangaloreFor those who prefer a much more aggressive start to their evening (read, serious partying) a host of options come to mind. There’s never an evening when the Hard Rock Cafe is not rocking. The ancient stone building lends a fabulous backdrop to the legendary rock memorabilia and thumping music. Equally stunning in ambience is Shiro’s in UB City with its towering Buddha statue, bas-relief carvings, sculpture, the sprawling terrace, foot-tapping music and the smacking pan-Asian cuisine. But both Hard Rock Cafe and Shiro’s can get crowded, even on weekdays, and if you are kind who likes to chill out, then Liquid is the place. It is a restful lounge bar on a terrace inside Ista, and speaks of space, luxury and fun, all in the same breath. Across town, at the Zuri Whitefield’s lounge bar Bling, the decor could have easily lapsed into kitsch but has been done so cleverly as to merit the tag of sophisticated chic, and goes down well with the cocktails and the energetic sound factor. Next door is Latitude, a more functional option, though done in lovely colours and water bodies and is located inside the lobby of Vivanta by Taj at Bangalore’s International Technology Park. And then there’s Blue Bar in Taj West End, which has suddenly reinvented itself and become such a crowd puller that it is a struggle just to get in.Heritage on trackA novel way of completing the tourist circuit in Karnataka is a ride on the Golden Chariot, the State’s first luxury tourist train. It starts in Bangalore and makes its way to Goa with stops at Mysore, Hampi, Pattadakal, Badami, Shravanabelagola and Aihole. With interiors inspired by the State’s rich architectural heritage–the bar, for instance, is modelled on the Mysore Palace–this is nothing short of a deluxe hotel on wheels.Whether it is one or even all of your senses that’s crying for attention, there’s something here. We might be biased, but even the most jaded traveller will perk up with what Karnataka has come up.advertisementadvertisementadvertisement Fact fileFalling Water Estate/Now or Never Land Chelavara Falls, Cheyandane PO South Coorg; tel: (08274) 323 023/(080) 3201 8857; www.noworneverland.comGreen Hills Estate, Virajpet, South Coorg; tel: (08274) 254 790; www.neemranahotels.comKali Adventure Camp Dandeli; Old Magazine House Forest Camp, Ganeshgudi; tel: (080) 2559 7021/4/5; www.junglelodges.comSitanadi Nisarga Dhama (Sita River Nature Camp) Hebri, Agumbe; bookings through Adreno, (080) 2314 3388, www.adreno.orgNature Admire, (0)96116 47900, www.natureadmire.comJungle Lodges and Resorts Bheemeshwari and Galibore, near Mutatti village; tel: (080) 2559 7021/4/5; www.junglelodges.comThe Serai Spa Mugthihalli Post 577 133, K M Road, Chikmagalur; tel: (08262) 224 903-14; www.theserai.inKenko Reflexology and Fish Spa 36, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 4211 0304; www.kenko.sgPittstop Salon and Day Spa 16, Jaladarshini Layout, near MS Ramaiah Hospital, New BEL Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 4210 7601/02/04Caperberry in BangaloreCaperberrry 121, Dickenson Road, 48/1, Ground Floor, The Estate, Bangalore; tel: (080) 2559 4567; www.caperberry.inITC Royal Gardenia 1, Residency Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 2211 9898; www.itcwelcomgroup.inThe Collective, Vittal Mallya Road, tel: (080) 6767 8888; www.thecollective.inIn UB City (Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore) Khansama Tel: 4111 4499 Toscano Tel: 4173 8800; www.toscano.co.in Shiro’s Tel: 4173 8864Oakwood Premier Tel: 2234 8888Fuel, The Fashion Store 32, The Hatworks Boulevard, Cunningham Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 4097 7171; www.fuelthestore.comNational Gallery of Modern Art Manikyavelu Mansion, Palace Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 2220 1027; www.ngmaindia.gov.in/Hard Rock Cafe St Mark’s Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 4124 2222; www.hardrock.comLiquid Ista Hotel, Ulsoor, Bangalore; tel: (080) 2555 8888; www.istahotels.comBling, the lounge bar at Zuri WhitefieldBling Zuri Whitefield, Bangalore; tel: (080) 6665 7272; www.thezurihotels.comLatitude Vivanta by Taj, ITPB, Whitefield Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 6693 3333; www.tajhotels.comThe Blue Bar at Taj West End has reinvented itselfBlue Bar Taj West End, Race Course Road, Bangalore; tel: (080) 6660 5660Green Hills Estate, the new Neemrana hotel in CoorgGolden Chariot Contact The Luxury Trains, Connaught Circus, New Delhi; tel: (011) 4286 6600; www.goldenchariot.co.in
Each city has a central artery, where the pulse of all activity can be seen and felt. If you have not been to Soho, Leicester Square and Piccadilly, then you haven’t seen London.For most people who have come to the city for the Olympics, the bulk of the action is in East London.However, for old times’ sake, I decided to sample what the heart of the city feels like during this exciting fortnight where almost everything comes to a standstill.After massive renovation on the pavements in and around Leicester Square, the roads look new. As sunset here is late in the summer, I decided to soak in the atmosphere.To be sure, the basic fabric of life in this part of the city remains the same. There is romance in the air as this is July and people dress comfortably, minus the woollens.From the time you walk out of the old Tube station and hit the streets, nothing has changed. A sad-looking man playing a wailing number on his guitar will keep his guitar case open for you to throw some change.Closer to the park in the middle square, there are more wannabe music artists belting out rock numbers with the help of a small amplifier.They don’t beg for money per se, but there is a way to offer coins again here. And if you are in a more benevolent mood, you can even buy their own CD music for as much as five pounds!advertisementIt’s a different matter that Tower Records, a landmark in central London is not too far away from here, where you get the best music on planet.The eateries and pubs are doing big business as usual but the crowds are mostly tourist types.The London Olympics logo is not too prominent and this is the typical July atmosphere when people from neighbouring parts of Europe come for a holiday.Some tourists I spoke to said even cheap dump hotels were sold out almost a year ago and even travel lodges were making a killing.Pubs are making huge money as well and it’s strange how despite a low alcohol content, people still get drunk here on beer. The choice is plenty and same goes for the food.Those who can’t afford an expensive Indian restaurant or Italian fine-dining have to settle for the cheap slice of pizza.Believe me, it’s value for money as for 1.5 pounds the slice of pizza fills you to the throat. But don’t ask me how healthy it is.I did check the menu card at some restaurants and it is clear rates have been hiked considerably. And if you add VAT to it, a classy dinner costs as much as 40 pounds for a meal, if you happen to ask for mineral water with it.Right now, London is in party mode and despite the traffic snarls and so on, everybody is soaking in the atmosphere.– When I was packing, I decided to toss in a tube of the good old mosquito repellent. In my previous visits to London, I had never seen mosquitoes. But this time around, believe it or not, I do see them. Unlike Delhi mosquitoes, they are smaller. However, after a hard day’s work and competing against a four-anda-half hours time difference, the ointment comes in very handy. Before the mosquitoes decide to taste my blood, I use my Indian way to keep them away. So the next time the Brits say anything bad about India, I’ll just show them a photo of an English mosquito.– Each host city has its share of problems during a major sporting event. There are as many as 40 groups staging protests during the Olympics. Despite being dubbed the ‘Green Games,’ protests have still popped up over various issues.The worst-hit ends up being the UK taxpayer, who is going to face the brunt in the financial capital of the world. Official estimates say that between 11 million to 24 million pounds will be taken from the taxpayers’ pockets.However, all the protests in London will be silent and not like Anna Hazare and company disrupting New Delhi.
Liverpool loanee Wilson settling in well at Bournemouthby Ansser Sadiq22 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool loanee Harry Wilson has no problems settling into life at Bournemouth on loan.The talented winger has been an impressive edition to Eddie Howe’s squad, adding three Premier League goals to his name in six appearances this season.He believes everyone at the club has helped to make him feel welcome, which has aided his acclimatisation.”I feel I have settled in well. The club have been great with that,” he told reporters.”The coaching staff and the players have really helped.”When I first moved here, I was in the hotel and that was near the beach, so I had a good few walks down there which was good.”I’ve got to know the area, so I am enjoying it.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s Green party is pledging to help ease the debts of university and college students if the Greens form government.Leader David Coon says New Brunswick graduates carry student debts that are 50 per cent higher than the national average.He says that debt load is preventing graduates from accessing capital to buy homes, start businesses.Coon says his party commits to the long-term goal of universal, free tuition in the province’s post-secondary institutions.He says they would also eliminate interest on provincial student loans, as has been done in neighbouring Nova Scotia.Coon says a Green government would also reinstate the tuition rebate program for recent graduates.
Chennai: The AIADMK in Tamil Nadu Monday kick-started its candidate selection process for the April 18 Lok Sabha elections in the state, with the interview of ticket aspirants of ten constituencies. The ruling party also invited applications from aspiring candidates for the by-polls to 18 Assembly segments, which will be held along with the parliamentary polls. Elections to 39 Lok Sabha seats in TN and the lone Puducherry segment will be held on April 18, the second of the seven phases of polling across the country for a total of 543 seats. On Monday, the AIADMK Parliamentary Board, whose members include party Coordinator and state Deputy CM O Panneerselvam and Joint Coordinator and Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami, interviewed the aspiring candidates for 10 constituencies including Salem, Nilgiris and Coimbatore, a party release said. The AIADMK is heading the NDA in TN, whose constituents are the BJP, PMK, DMDK, Puthiya Tamizhagam and PNK.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission to re-examine its earlier order and take an informed decision on banning pan-India release of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi after watching the full movie.The top court directed the poll panel to take a decision by April 19 and submit its report in a sealed cover to the court. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said that it will consider the EC report and hear the matter on April 22. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for film producers who have challenged the EC’s ban on the biopic’s release till the current general elections are over, said the poll panel has taken the decision based just on watching the promo, not the entire movie. He suggested that the producers are willing to hold a special screening for the poll panel or its committee on Tuesday or Wednesday, so that they can take an informed decision by Friday. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KTo this, the bench asked EC’s counsel Amit Sharma, whether the poll panel has watched the movie or not. He said the entire movie was not available and a decision to ban the release was taken after watching the trailer. The bench then asked the poll panel to watch the full movie and then take an informed decision on whether its release should be banned or not. At the outset, Rohatgi submitted that the EC had taken a call to ban the movie by watching a 2-minute promo. He said when the apex court had referred the matter to the poll panel, it had said that it cannot decide to ban the biopic on the basis of the trailer. The EC had on April 10 stalled the release of the film until the polls end, asserting that any biopic material with the potential to disturb the level-playing field during elections should not be displayed. The Commission, in a separate order, also directed the producers “not to exhibit the film titled ‘PM Narendra Modi’ till further orders. The film was earlier set to release on April 11. Acting on the complaints of political parties, including the Congress, the poll panel also said that any poster or publicity material concerning any such certified content, which either depicts a candidate (including prospective) for the furtherance (or purported to further) of electoral prospects, directly or indirectly, shall not be put on display in electronic media in the area where MCC is in force. The Left had also opposed the release of the film saying it would disturb the level-playing field for other parties in the election and was in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The Modi biopic, starring Vivek Oberoi has been the most-talked about movie in this election season. Directed by Omung Kumar, it tells the story of Modi’s rise to power from his humble beginnings. The apex court had on April 9, dismissed a petition filed by a Congress leader Aman Panwar seeking stay on the release of the biopic saying the Election Commission would be an “appropriate” place to seek the redressal. The apex court had said it was not entertaining the petition for the stay on the release of the film which would be “premature” in view of the fact that the movie is yet to be certified by the Censor Board. It said even if the film is released on April 11, as claimed by the Congress leader, it will be appropriate for him to seek a redressal from the Election Commission.