Opening conundrum remains for India as Vihari cements his No. 6 position - The Daily Guardian
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Opening conundrum remains for India as Vihari cements his No. 6 position

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SYDNEY: With Cheteshwar Pujara (No.3), captain Virat Kohli (No. 4) and Ajinkya Rahane (No. 5) being automatic choices, India’s batting line-up had two big questions ahead of the first Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval—who will face the new ball with Mayank Agarwal, and who will man the No. 6 slot.

The latter of those two questions have been answered with Hanuma Vihari making himself almost a certainty for the slot with a century in the day-night warm-up tie against Australia A. In the process, he also ended speculation that India could play two wicketkeepers, Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha, in the lower middle-order.

Vihari exuded confidence after scoring an unbeaten 104 off 194 deliveries on Saturday, the second day of the three-day warm-up tie under lights against Australia A.

“2018 was my second international tour. It was a challenge for me back then although I contributed a little I thought. Now, I feel I am very well-equipped with my game and I am pretty sure with my game-plan as well. So I am looking forward to the series,” Vihari said on Sunday after the match ended in a draw.

Pant impressed with a 73-ball century in the game, sharing an unbeaten 147-run partnership with Vihari, and could take the wicketkeeper’s role ahead of Saha, who made a couple of ducks and a half-century in the two warm-up games. Although Saha remains India’s best wicketkeeper, Pant’s batting skills and his experience of scoring a Test hundred in Australia may give him the No. 7 position in the line-up, assuming India go in with four specialist bowlers.

However, questions remain on who will partner Mayank Agarwal at the top. Agarwal did well as an opener during India’s previous tour of Australia, scoring two half-centuries in both Tests he played and averaged 65. Since that Australia series, Agarwal has played with Rohit Sharma and Prithvi Shaw at the top of the batting order. In the warm-up match against Australia A, the 29-year-old right hander made a patient 61 in the second innings.

Rohit had done well as opener last year with phenomenal scores against South Africa at home but missed the two Tests in New Zealand early this year due to injury, leaving the slot open for Prithvi Shaw. Shaw went on to make just one fifty in four innings during the tour while failing to go past 20 in the other three.

Shaw has also failed to rack up big scores in the two warm-ups, his best being a 29-ball 40 in the first innings of the second warm-up. The 21-year-old right-handed batsman, who scored a century on Test debut in 2018 but has played only four Tests, is also coming off a poor run in the second half of Indian Premier League. IANS

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Breaking barriers through biochemistry

Urvashi Khona

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When most of her contemporaries were settling down to encounter the usual conventions of a domestically-paced life, Anuradha Rajput was passionately pursuing her dreams of becoming a medical professional. Born to a lineage of army-officers that originated from the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir region of present-day Pakistan, the passion to fight for one’s beliefs lay inherently in her blood. So, when Rajput didn’t manage to obtain a medical seat post her 12th grade examinations, she relented even more fiercely in the direction of her professional pursuit by choosing to complete a Bachelor’s degree. Upon her graduation, the matrimonial anticipations held by her parents diverted Rajput from opting for the medical seat that she had finally quenched. However, her never-say-die spirit led her to pursue a postgraduate degree in biochemistry instead, which she successfully completed. I always wanted to become a doctor and serve society. “I wanted to reach out to the underprivileged by providing them with basic medical aid, which many are deprived of,” Rajput says, while recounting her aspirations as a student.

Shortly after, destiny brought forth her life-partner in the form of a valiant army officer, who cherished Rajput’s entrepreneurial passions and instilled her flight with favourable tail winds. With his support and encouragement on the one hand, and years of academic persistence on the other, Rajput made a scintillating flight from the University of Mysore with a PhD in Medical Biochemistry.

Being the first girl in her clan to have become a science graduate and PhD, Rajput’s journey as a young medical professional had only just begun. It was in the diagnostics laboratory of a Bangalore-based hospital that Rajput made her professional debut. Looking back, Rajput elaborates, “although I had a supportive husband who encouraged me to finish my PhD, it was difficult for me to balance a married life and doing a PhD.” I had to work very hard to maintain the balance. After I finished my PhD, I couldn’t work for six years. I had to give time to my family and my daughter. I almost gave up on my professional ventures when my husband encouraged me to pick up a job after my daughter began going to school. “

As luck would have it, the mother of a six-year-old resumed her professional career right at that point of time when clinical research was gaining eminence in India. Rajput was a new recruit at one of Bangalore’s hospital diagnosis laboratories, during which her innate authenticity and hard work enabled a rapid ascent for her, right up to heading Mallya hospital’s Department of Biochemistry.

After her dazzling performance at Mallya Hospital, Rajput proceeded to serve as the director and general manager of a laboratory called Clinigene, where she was responsible for establishing and developing the country’s first laboratory to be accredited by the College of American Pathologists, a gold-standard certification in the field.

Speaking of pathological laboratories, Rajput provides an interesting account of the importance of authentic laboratory diagnosis and the loopholes that haunt it in present-day India: “The quality of (laboratory-diagnosis) reports play a vital role in the treatment of any patient.” The treating physicians are guided by these laboratory reports, and they make treatment decisions based on these reports; and many times, a wrong report can lead to a wrong treatment. In our country, one needs a licence to even open a pharmacy store. But no such licences or permissions are required when it comes to starting a laboratory. Hence, the quality suffers. “

Just when her career began to enter the realms of major success, Rajput suffered a tremendous setback. Her husband, who was commanding a battalion on India’s Line of Control as its Colonel, attained martyrdom in the year of 2002. Being widowed at such a young age had caused her unfathomable and unrecoverable damage. Devastated, Rajput accounts for having dealt with much of her pain and heartache under her professional shield: “My education and work helped me deal with the setback to a great extent.” I learnt how important it was for a girl to be educated and independent. “

Five years hence, Rajput started her own company, namely QED Preclinical Services Pvt Ltd., which is based in Bangalore’s industrial area. This workspace serves Rajput in her day-to-day work but is also a physical manifestation of her long-standing vision, which stands for providing certified clinical research to the local populace and developing new drugs for various ailments, to name but a few.

So far, Rajput’s journey has been one rife with tests and challenges. However, the talented medical professional, visionary, and shero serves as a real-life example of the power that lies in strength, resilience, and focus. To put it most aptly, her concluding lines encapsulate her winning attitude “Every step of a career ladder presents its unique set of challenges, but if you start enjoying the challenges, they no longer remain as such and then you overcome them very easily.” I believe in enjoying what I do. I also try to ensure a positive work environment where people under my leadership are motivated to meet the challenges of our industry. They, in turn, become my strength. Lastly, I believe experience teaches you to remain calm and composed during rough times-as they always pass. We salute her spirit and wish her every success.

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THE UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD OF UNNATURAL ALLIES

Priya Sahgal

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As Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government goes from crisis to ICU mode, there is a larger lesson here on coalition politics. At the very outset, the alliance was termed as an unnatural one that saw ideologically opposite parties like the Congress-NCP join hands with the radical right wing Shiv Sena. For the coalition to tango, one side had to give in and interestingly it was the Sena that took most of the backward steps. It compromised on its hardcore Hindutva ideology, toned down its rhetoric and tried an image makeover under the aegis of Uddhav Thackeray and his heir apparent Aaditya Thackeray. The politics of both Uddhav and Aaditya were progressive, they talked new age concerns like environment and sent the right feelers on governance from the financial capital of the country. The one mistake they made perhaps was not to involve all the stakeholders, it is now clear by Eknath Shinde’s comments that they felt left out of the governance pie and also resented the hold that individuals like Sanjay Raut, Sharad Pawar and even a first time MLA Aaditya himself had over the party. (An interesting factoid is that in 2019 Aditya was the first Thackeray to contest polls and his father the first Thackeray to sit on the CMs chair. Usually Bal Thackeray preferred to appoint a nominee as CM and run the state by remote control from Matoshree.) Whatever the reasons, if the government topples, it would set the Sena back on the path of regressive, chest thumping hardline politics and that would be a tragedy. But that’s another column.

To come back to the topic of unnatural alliances, the first sign of rebellion from Shinde and his men was regarding the MLC elections when they were not happy with the party dictat to support a Congress candidate. The hold of the NCP over governance and powerful ministerial portfolios was another grouse. In the end, it was not so much about ideology about power. But then, that’s how it always is.

Take a look at the Mahagathbandan in Bihar, where again, two political foes—Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U)—came together on one platform. That did not last long with Nitish soon finding his way back to the BJP. Or even the not so unnatual alliance between two UP Ke Ladke that had Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi contesting from the same platform in the 2017 state assembly polls. When one side did not pull its weight in the ballot boxes that alliance broke with the two taking pot shots at each other. Ditto for the alliance between the SP and Mayawati’s BSP in the 2019 Lok Sabha where the cadres on ground found it difficult to canvass for a party they had spent a lifetime taking pot shots at.

This brings us to the larger issue at play—while on paper, it is all very well for strategists like Prashant Kishor to talk about bringing the entire opposition on one platform to take on the BJP in the Lok Sahba polls, the reality on ground is very different where the Congress and various regional parties are fighting each other at the state level. Bringing diverse parties and egos on one platform post polls is also not easy as Dr Manmohan Singh found out when he tried to run a coalition with both Mamata and the CPM. Which brings another twist in the BJP vs The Rest version of the Game of Thrones, and again, as with most political turns these days, it’s one that works in Modi’s favour.

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FATF SHOULDN’T BRING PAK OUT OF GREY LIST

Joyeeta Basu

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Pakistan is all set to come out of the FATF grey list, according to a report in The Sunday Guardian, the sister newspaper of The Daily Guardian Review. The report suggests that China has been quietly lobbying Pakistan’s case with the Financial Action Task Force, which has put India’s western neighbour on the grey list of countries that require monitoring for money laundering and terror financing. Apparently, the ongoing FATF plenary in Berlin will take a call on Pakistan’s continuation on the list and there is a high probability that Islamabad will be seen to have fulfilled the 27th of the 27 conditions put on it. The last condition is of prosecution of senior leaders, and the 33-year-long term jail term handed to terrorist mastermind Hafiz Saeed will be seen as positive action. It is a different matter that Hafiz Saeed will serve several of these sentences simultaneously and may not be in jail even for five years and if pardoned in certain cases, maybe even less. Even otherwise, we have seen what a farce Pakistani action against its pet terrorists can be. Take the case of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack case. He had untrammelled access to television, mobile phones, internet and several visitors. He was allowed conjugal visits and fathered a child when “in jail”. In fact Hafiz Saeed’s stay at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail last year was a farce because he was found to be at home when a car bomb exploded in front of his house in June 2021. There have been reports about Daniel Pearl’s killer, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, being given home-like facilities at Hyderabad Central Jail, courtesy his closeness to one of then Prime Minister Imran Khan’s men.

Also, given terrorism is state policy for Pakistan, it will be too much to expect it to turn off the tap of terror—which it uses against India and other countries at will—when the international community seems more than eager to believe its case.

As for China, it has a long track record of using non state actors against its adversaries, sometimes through its proxies. More often than not, Pakistan acts as China’s proxy to keep India’s western borders restive. Pakistan and North Korea are anyway the two proxies that China has to keep India and Japan, respectively, on the “nuclear edge”.

Apart from this, supporting terrorism is part of China’s “political” warfare against India. There have been credible reports of Chinese generals establishing contacts with terrorist groups that Pakistan uses against India, including attempting to revive an India-specific group known as Al Badr, which had gone defunct. It was because of China that it took 10 years—from 2009 to 2019—for India to get the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee, and this in spite of India having the support of the other members of the UNSC. China is believed to have paid—or is paying—protection money to terror groups functioning in the Af-Pak area to secure its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as these groups have stepped up attacks against Chinese interests. If we look at India’s Northeast, China has been funding insurgencies there. Reports are that this has happened in Myanmar and Thailand as well.

China and Pakistan apparently are “iron brothers”, and the deeper a bankrupt Pakistan slips into China’s trap and becomes its client state, it is but natural that to stabilise the situation and complete the Chinese projects, China would want Pakistan out of the FATF grey list. China has sunk billions of dollars in CPEC and that money is stuck, with CPEC not going anywhere at present. So it is in Beijing’s interest that Pakistan comes out of the FATF grey list.

But that will be a major mistake, and no amount of economic difficulties faced by Pakistan justifies taking it out of the grey list. It is hoped that whatever be the pressure from, or lobbying by PRC, the FATF will not forget that Pakistan will never mend its way. It is a terror state and will continue to be a terror state.

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Decoding gender-neutral clothing

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In simple terms, Gender-Neutral clothing or androgynous clothing can be classified as unisex clothing. However, it is much more political than that. To know this, we must understand the difference between gender and sex. Sex is something which is biological and assigned to us by birth, gender however is a social construct. Gender roles are defined and shaped by society, history and social conditioning of the time. Gender Neutrality thus breaks away from this conditioned notion of gender and acquires a more free and inclusive space. Gender Neutrality is a move towards a world that doesn’t distinguish between genders through societal forms like language, colours or even clothing.

NEED OF THE HOUR

Not only gender-neutral clothing is “trendy”, but it is also the need of the hour. Individuals need to feel more free, comfortable, and occupy a safe space without the fear of being judged for any choice that they make. The clothes under gender-neutral clothing don’t come with the label “for men” or “for women”. It is also a move towards the larger ideology that fashion is genderless; it is neither masculine nor feminine. It is for everyone, for every fit, size or body type.

INCLUSIVE FASHION IS ON THE RISE

Fashion has always evolved with people and also can significantly influence them. With the world becoming bold, free, safe and inclusive, it is fair that fashion had to comply. To suit the needs of individuals to be accepted as they are and make choices that are gender fluid, there have to be options available. There are several collections and lines by leading brands which are a move toward a genderless world. The value of self-worth is over everything. Equl store is one of a kind and India’s first complete gender-neutral clothing brand. From sizing to design, everything is very thoughtfully crafted. Their sizes are kept bigger than the usual standard size to promote physical and psychological ease. Their “Feel Good Collection” is crafted to make you feel good, of your choices and also to highlight the fact that they use sustainable fabric.

GENDER-NEUTRAL FASHION IS MORE SUSTAINABLE

Gender Neutrality is not just a fashion trend; rather it’s a fashion revolution for which the world was waiting for. It makes a positive political and sustainable statement. With the same number of options available, there is no need to rebrand the market or fit them separately thereby reducing the burden on the planet.

PROMOTES A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE

Gender-Neutral fashion also promotes a healthy body image. It breaks away from the notion of what is “desirable” and normalises both petite and plus sizes. Each style is available in all sizes promoting that there is no one normal or accepted body size. Fashion and style exist for everyone and there is no play of size in the same. There are brands that are trying to break this notion by basing their entire market positioning on neutral and sustainable clothing.

HELPS YOU OWN YOUR CHOICES

Since gender-neutral clothing doesn’t conform to one gender or one size, it enables an individual to be unapologetically themselves and own their choices. It is a move away from what society or generational conditioning has taught us to be like: Skinny girls should wear fitted clothes, boys shouldn’t wear pink, and people who weigh more should wear loosely fitted clothes. Gender-neutral clothing promotes being unabashedly you. To reinforce this idea, Equl store’s collection name is ‘The Feel Good Collection’ which as its name suggests is made to help you feel good about yourself and also the planet since they use sustainable hemp and cotton fabric. “It also promotes you to be effortlessly bold and expressive. They have curated a contemporary range of clothing that features fits, sizes, and colours that are completely gender-neutral and break away from the conditioning of “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys”. The tagline for the Feel Good collection is ‘Your Voice Can Change The World’ inspired by the famous quote “Be the change you want to see”.

The writer is Managing Partner, EQUL Store.

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NO CUSTODIAL CRIME TO HAPPEN IN TAMIL NADU ANYMORE, SAYS STALIN

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In the wake of the custodial death of Vignesh, who mysteriously died on April 19, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said, “accused in police custody should not be tortured physically or mentally”.

He assured that there will be no lock up crimes in Tamil Nadu any more. Stalin further said that the government had not hid anything. “We have given required instructions to prevent custodial deaths in future”, the CM said.

Stalin added that those who were arrested should be presented in front of the magistrate following due procedures.

The death of Vignesh who used to offer horse rides as livelihood in Marina beach in Chennai, became a subject of political slugfest between the ruling party and opposition in Tamil Nadu. The 25-year-old suffered multiple injuries and fractures on his body, indicating custodial death due to torture.

The post-mortem report too indicated a foul play. However, the state police claimed that the death was natural.

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Milan awaits its visitors after the pandemic

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Milan is an important centre whose main activities are industry, trade and finance. It covers a total area of 182 square kilometers and has an establish- ished population of over one million nine hundred thousand. The earliest history of Milan dates back to 400 B.C. with the settling of Gallic tribes in the heart of the Po Valley. These tribes mixed with the already existing Insubres, and the Etruscans, whose splendid historical era was about to close. Both the age of foundation and the origin of its name are derived from tradition. Historians base their theories on archeological findings which have been dug up from Milan’s sub-soil. 

The ancient name ” Mediolanium ” might have its origin in the settling of Belloveso and his tribes in the centre of the Plain of Lombardy, that is in the centre of the triangle between the rivers Po, Ticino and Adda. Legend has it that the name is derived from the “ scrofa semi lanuta “, that is half-woollen sow, (from the Latin: medio = semi and lanum=wool), but this seems improbable although the sow may have been used in the coat of-arms. In 222 B.C. the Romans invaded Milan and development has been going on ever since. The once small village grew larger and greater, and out of the original few acres of the early ” Castrum ” it reached the peak of its splendor in the third and fourth centuries. 

The poet Ausonio called it “Roma secunda ” (the second Rome). Massimiano, who shared the empire with Diocleziano, established his residence here, and undertook to embellish it with great new buildings and wider walls. In 313 Constantine proclaimed his famous edict of free worship, here in Milan. In this period the paleochristian basilicas were built. In 374 St. Ambrose was appointed bishop of the diocese, and on his death, in 397, the Milanese Church took up the Ambrosian Rite which is still used today.

The most admired and remarkable remains of the Roman ” Mediolanum ” are the sixteen columns of St. Lorenzo in Corso Ticinese, while the Massimiano walls are partly incorporated could be begun. The castle was victim of more great damage during the bombing of 1943, but alter the war more reconstruction work was clone cn the buildings, the Ancient Arts Museum and the halls of the forts. The front of the castle with its round towers on each side, laces the city, in the centre of the front we can see the Tower of Filarete, rebuilt in 1900 with Beltrami’s refacing.  The interior is divided into the great courtyard or military square, and, looking towards the park, the fort on the left, and the ducal courtyard on the right. Between these two, rises the tower added by Bona of Savoy in 1477. The two massive towers on the park-side corners give it the appearance of a fortress. The north tower houses the Hall of Assi (boards), while the other, called the Castellano Tower or Treasure Hall, contains the remains of Bramante’s fresco painting of Argus.

The Ancient Arts Museum contains varied artistic material, and is interesting to visitors also for its Renaissance period halls. It is world famous for its works by Leonardo and Michelangelo, the greatest artists Italy ever produced. The museum winds through the halls on the ground and first floors of the ducal courtyard, from the Chancellery Hall one can walk along the battlements, through the tower of Bona of Savoy to the fortress hall which houses a collection of ceramics and musical instruments. In the hall once called the Scarlioni Hall because of its decorations, we find the ” Pieta Rondanini ”, Michelangelo’s last — unfinished — work. Among the other sculptures can be seen the lving statue of Gastone of Foix bv Bambaia. In the Hall of Assi, so called because of the panelling which covers the walls, Leonardo created the most prodigious decorations which transform the vault of the ceiling into a dome of extraordinarily beautiful green leaves. One of the halls is dedicated to ancient armourv and houses armoury, halberds, shields, spears, spiked clubs and helmets, most of which were produced bv Milanese armourers. Other rooms are the homes of antique furniture, and the picture gallery is rich in the works of Lombardic painters.  The fourteenth century frescoes in the room which is a reconstruction of a room once lound in the Roccabianca Castle near Parma, are also interesting as they represent the ” Story of Gualtieri and Griselda ”.

Finally, a must-see in Milan is the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, where Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper of Jesus is located. You can see this work in the refectory section of the church with a guide by booking a last supper tour.

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