Aus Open 2017: Federer edges out Nadal, wins 18th Major title; Serena wins 23rd Major and a piece of history

 

This year’s first Grand Slam tennis event – Asia-Pacific Australian Open 2017 – at Melbourne Park got under way with its usual fanfare. The Australian Open team, earlier, relying on ATP players’ data, had worked out the participating players’ seeds and the draw. What perhaps this ‘team’ had not reckoned was the way the top seeds would start tumbling in the early rounds and the events that followed in the very first week and later, left avid followers of the game rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

In men’s singles, Novak Djokovic #2 seed went down unceremoniously in the second round to un-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, a wild- card entrant. By the end of week one, Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber – both seeded #1 in their respective sections – had exited.

Six of the top eight seeds (including Murray and Novak) – Kei Nishikori (#5), Gael Monfils (#6), Maran Cilic (#7) and Dominic Thiem (#8) – all left before final eight stage.

In the midst of such mayhem, carving their own path through the draw, thereby showing sort of thumbs down to their respective seeds, Roger Federer (#17 seed), Rafael Nadal (# 9) and Grigor Dimitrov (#15) forced their way in into the semi finals. It was only Stan Wawrinka (#4 seed), however, in this line-up who otherwise avoided the blushes – for himself and, more importantly, for Aus Open 2017 team.

This was the most open Open ever’, had thus observed a commentator covering Aus Open 2017, a very apt comment indeed!

That said, however, towards the business end of the tournament, men’s two semi finals – SF 1 : Roger Federer (#17) v Stan Wawrinka(#4) and SF 2: Rafael Nadal (#9) v Grigor Dimitrov (#15) – both provided the exciting, skilful and  top quality nail biting finishes;  each lasting the full distance – 5 sets of exhilarating tennis. Spectators present in full house in Rod Laver Arena and millions watching live telecast the world over couldn’t perhaps have asked for more. The stage was set for the dream final: Roger v Rafael.

The final this Sunday between the two great exponents of the baseline power game in modern tennis, started and progressed on a predictably highly competitive note. The first four sets were traded alternately between the two. The fifth and the final set saw long baseline rallies from corner to corner with none apparently willing to yield. It was simply a question of who blinked first. Roger at the end of it managed to edge past Rafael; when serving for championship point at 5-3 in final set , the ball having been declared ‘in’ on a referral, it was Roger’s turn to jump in joy to celebrate his famous win.

Yes, Roger had all the reasons to feel elated for this extraordinary win. It was his 100th match at Australian Open, 5th win at Melbourne Park and 18th Grand Slam title overall. Coming as it did after later part of 2016 had kept him out of action due to injuries, in  Aus Open 2017 aiming to reach up to quarter finals stage ( he had shared this thought in a court side interview by Jim Courier), Roger, at the end of day, had exceeded his own expectations.

In the women’s singles, it was final between the two sisters where younger one, Serena Williams prevailed over Venus. In the process, Serena bagged her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, surpassing Steffi Graf’s record of 22 and thereby rewriting the record book.

Pic courtesy Reuters

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – 28/1/17 Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after winning her Women’s singles final match against Venus Williams of the U.S. .REUTERS/Issei Kato

For their winning efforts at Melbourne Park, Roger Federer and Serena Williams walked away with the top prize of $ 3.7 million each.

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Jharkhand Land Laws Amendment (CNT/SPT) – An exercise in undue haste

Jumping into the fray at this stage on an issue that’s simply refusing to die down or to leave the centre stage as the stakeholders (read: political executives, political class and state’s tribal populace in general) continue to be drawn at loggerheads, is aimed at basically to dissecting it to be able to reveal as to where do the truths realistically lie.

Admittedly, this is not for the first time that the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, 1908 and Santhal Parganas Tenancy (SPT) Act, 1886 read with Santhal Parganas Tenancy (Supplementary Provision) Act, 1949 are being subjected to amendments, and yet why is there so much hue and cry in a manner it’s being witnessed like perhaps never before, is a question that needs to be handled with care and caution.

Lush green paddy field that fills the landscape of Jharkhand

So, let’s get on with the dissection of this issue straightaway.

Both CNT and SPT Acts are now more than 100 years old. From time to time in the past, amendments have been inserted therein to make them relevant and workable but significantly the basic structures of these Acts were left intact and undisturbed. The two Acts were / are otherwise deemed as protective in so far as providing cover and security to interests of tribal tenants as against their alienation from their holdings were / are concerned. Be that as it may, however, the fact remains that large scale displacement of tribal tenants from their land in and around cities like Ranchi and elsewhere have happened over a period of time since India’s Independence; the same has continued somewhat unabated; and, in fact, it has picked up momentum ever since Jharkhand state was carved out of erstwhile Bihar in November, 2000.

The state government right since early this year has indulged in an exercise aimed at pushing through its all important agenda of amendments in the CNT and SPT Acts. In its eagerness to keep this issue on a fast track, it first took recourse to an Ordinance route. When loud voices of protest stalled the enactment thereof, the state government then switched over its stance and tabled the CNT and SPT Amendment Bills, 2016 in the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly.

CNT and SPT Acts were recently subjected to amendments purportedly in order to be able to step up the pace of developmental efforts on the part of the state administration. The state government continues to maintain that regardless of such amendments the rights of the tribal tenants over their land holdings may remain largely unaffected – a claim that’s being fiercely contested and protested by tribal political leaders of opposition parties (including a few political heavyweights from ruling establishment – Arjun Munda from BJP and Sudesh Mahto from AJSU) and with them have joined the larger chunks of tribal population scattered all over the rural areas in particular. This has inevitably led to a spate of ‘bands’ in recent months in Ranchi and elsewhere; the same was also projected as the sole reason for the near total disruption and wash out of the nearly weeklong winter session of the State legislative Assembly in November, 2016 except that the CNT and SPT Amendment Bills, 2016 were managed to be squeezed through by voice vote in the midst of the din and pandemonium that prevailed in the House.

After the passage of the CNT and SPT Amendment Bills, 2016 the agricultural land can be used for non-agricultural purposes. The state government can acquire land for infrastructure, power plants, roads, canals, Panchayat buildings and for other purposes.

Provision for conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes is the main issue that’s being protested vehemently for reasons, like, one, it’s altering the basic structure of the CNT and SPT Acts which is deemed unnecessary; two, it is inconsistent with the provisions of PESA (Panchayat Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; and three, it is fraught with grave danger of tribal tenants getting uprooted from their homes and hearths once it starts getting implemented.

The way state government has gone about it a tearing hurry – first via an Ordinance and later through Amendment Bills – may give one an impression that but for such measures the state administration is finding itself somewhat stuck up in its plans to launch and speed up the various developmental projects that it may be having in mind.

Protests in Khunti

That the state government is persisting with an awfully wrong notion and is pursuing a rather ill conceived idea may perhaps be evident from the following facts and illustrations:

As it is, both at the central and state levels the governments have committed themselves and are planning and targeting in terms of increasing agriculture production to be able to feed millions of its own citizens; thereby, also proposing for more thrust and increase in budgets for agriculture sector; and more importantly, also talking in terms of raising the incomes of the farmers to a level that’s doubled by 2022 from its present level. Given this scenario, rather interestingly, on one hand, venturing to open up a possibility hitherto unavailable in the CNT and SPT Acts for an easy convertibility option of agricultural land, and yet on the other, sort of boasting of bettering the lot of the farm sector, can easily be termed as inherent contradiction on the part of the government establishment. Nothing can be more farcical than this – earmarking of a provision to allow shrinking of the farm land and talking in the same breath, the boosting of the farm produce and helping the farmers in increasing their incomes exponentially. A very unrealistic and an impractical scenario indeed!

Take another view that’s specific to agricultural land in Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand state to be able to have a better appreciation of the issue at hand. The state being largely a plateau, a tableland, the undulated land areas, traditionally, in land record terms, are broadly categorised and described as ‘Tanr’ land (up-land) and ‘Don’ land (low-land) depending on their suitability or otherwise for cultivation of kharif crops under rain-fed conditions. Devoid of irrigation facilities to a very large extent (despite State Water Resources Development Department having pumped in huge sums of money in thousands of crores of Rupees since Jharkhand state came into being) such land mass produces only one major kharif crop (that is, paddy) every year relying solely on monsoon rains. Tanr land is further categorised as Tanr-I, Tanr-II and Tanr-III depending on their ability to support cultivation of crops during the kharif season; Tanr –I being held as better of this lot. Likewise, Don land is categorised as Don-I, Don-II and Don-III depending on their potential to support the cultivation of paddy crop during monsoon – Don-I being held as best of the lot.

The soil profile here, in general, is characterised by its porosity and its low and poor water holding ability that makes the job of the Jharkhand farmers toiling hard and truly struggling while carrying out farm operations on their land.

That being the position, years ago I had attempted to compile a data base of the state’s arable land areas – that of Tanr and Don land separately – during closing years of my active service career in the IAS as Relief Commissioner, Jharkhand in 2002-03. This was primarily aimed at working out a strategy for drought-management and for preparedness for relief-measures should the monsoon rains, largely or partly, fail to adequately support the cultivation of kharif paddy crop in different parts of the state. The Deputy Commissioners of all the districts were requested to extract such data from Land Revenue Anchal (Circle) offices under their jurisdiction. It took nearly a couple of months to get the required data from all the districts. On having a look at that it was interesting to note that nearly 40% of the agricultural land areas of this state fell in the category of Tanr land which meant that this lot of land mass was otherwise unsuitable for kharif paddy cultivation even under rain-fed condition. Given the favourable monsoon rains, however, this land mass could otherwise support cultivation of pulses, millets, maize, oilseeds and coarse variety of paddy.

The reason why I have preferred to lean on description of the diverse nature of the available arable land in the state and the specific character of the soil profile, is merely to draw the attention of the powers that be towards having a rather holistic and flexible approach while intending to acquire the agricultural land for the sake of launching the developmental projects. If at all, therefore, the need of the hour is to go for acquisition of land in the state in a big way, the first charge should be restricted to the Tanr land, leaving aside from acquisition the Don land, to the extent possible. This may, at least, lessen the misery of the land losers while swapping their Tanr land for the attractive compensation money in return, the government has been promising for, lately.

The way the state administration has, however, approached to handle this issue may seem to be suggestive of the kind of its inherent fear it suffers from that its plans for developing infrastructure, power plants, roads and buildings etc were / are perhaps being thwarted on account of restrictive provisions in the CNT and SPT Acts. Frankly speaking, this line of thinking when viewed in the backdrop of government- run projects is sadly misplaced. Had this been the case, in the post- Independence era in 1950s and in the decades that followed, the engineering giant, Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), a GoI project, wouldn’t have been able to set up its Plants and establishment at Ranchi and also, in the process, getting under its fold thousands of acres of land of tribal tenants, among others. Likewise, the state-run thermal power plants – Bokaro Thermal Power Station (BTPS), Tenughat Thermal Power Station (TTPS) etc – and huge dams like, Maithan, Tilaiya, Patratu, Konar, and Tenughat etc never encountered problems regarding land acquisition despite CNT and SPT Acts very much in place.  Coalfields in Dhanbad, Bokaro, Giridih, Hazaribagh and elsewhere – all requiring huge tract of land inhabited, among others, by tribal tenants never ever posed much problem when it came to commissioning of mining projects in coal bearing areas and in acquisition of land lying in the closer vicinity of such mines. Developing rail network in the state by the Indian Railways never encountered any problem relating to land acquisition that apparently included large tracts of agricultural land, among others. The recent examples being the Railways firming up the rail links between Koderma- Hazaribagh, Barkakana- Hazaribagh and Lohardaga- Tori (Chandwa).

Patratu Dam

All these state- run projects have come up notwithstanding the restrictive provisions of the CNT and SPT Acts.

So, why is the need felt now to go in for altering the basic structure of the two Acts? The only plausible answer to this may seem to be the one where state government proposes to enlarge the existing provision of land acquisition for government-run projects to take into its fold the interests and requirements of the private players as well. This is primarily on account of in its anxiety and strong bid to attract the investors – domestic and foreign – to this state for setting up industries and businesses. If that be so, it’s time the state government should shake off this approach altogether and let the private players handle this issue on their own, the state administration may consider limiting its role as catalytic and facilitator in such instances, if need be.

Yet another significant point to ponder over this issue is: ahead of insertion of amendments in CNT and SPT Acts, in a manner the state government seems to have rather wittingly avoided enlisting the support / consent / willingness of the Panchayats / ‘Gram Sabhas’, may only serve to indicate its arrogance towards and disregard for the stakeholders linked with this matter. On a more serious note, it may be stated that the state government, in fact, seems to have violated the provisions of the PESA (Panchayat Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, currently in operation in this state and in accordance whereof it was / is sort of mandatory for the state administration to seek prior concurrence of the Panchayats / Gram Sabhas on an issue as important as the instant one having direct bearing on the interests of tribal tenants.

Section 4 of the PESA Act, 1996 reads as follows:

“Notwithstanding anything contained under Part IX of the Constitution, the Legislature of a State shall not make any law under that Part which is inconsistent with any of the following features, namely:

(i) The Gram Sabhas or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-settling and rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in Scheduled Areas, the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level.”

Notably, on earlier occasions in the recent past, the state government had taken abundant precaution and had shown keen desire and initiatives in reaching out to the Panchayats / Gram Sabhas while working out and firming up various schemes, projects etc for rural development work in the state. This was, in a way, apart from conforming to the provisions of PESA Act, 1996, was also typical of ‘bottom-up’ approach (contrary to ‘top-down’ approach hitherto followed) adopted ahead of launching of the projects in rural areas. Likewise, the state government is reportedly following a similar approach while undertaking an exercise relating to preparation of State Budget, 2017-18 and for this it is reaching out, to the extent possible, to all the stakeholders both in the urban centres and in far flung villages.

Apparently, therefore, before this issue gets murkier and further complicated, the state administration may be well advised to retrace its steps; to go back to the drawing board; to involve all stakeholders following its own methodology as adopted in the recent past while handling issues of larger public interest; to conform to the provisions of the PESA Act,1996; and, finally, to make some determined efforts to find a win-win situation for both sides.

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Netarhat Vidyalaya gets First Prize on World Environment Day – June 5, 2016

imageIn the run up to this year’s World Environment Day the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) had organised an open competition inviting applications from Industrial units, Educational Institutions, NGOs, Individuals etc to make presentations of their contributions in the arena of environmental awareness, environmental protection, tree plantation, pollution control and energy saving.

Netarhat School family, ably guided and supported by the Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti during the past couple of years, had made determined and sustained efforts while going in for tree plantation in a big way ( read: my blog dated 18 Aug, 2014: www.narendrabhagat.in : titled:” Green Netarhat: 1000+ New Plants to Adorn School Campus (Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee celeb event ). In the process, 2 plant nurseries on modern lines have now been developed in its campus, thanks largely owing to the financial and technical support extended by Jharkhand State National Horticulture Mission.

Members of the school family – students, teachers and their families, former students and rest of the school staff members – were all involved in these activities as also in taking up the pollution control measures inside its sprawling campus and beyond in neighboring villages.

The whole school campus – blessed with lying in the lap of mother Nature – now wears a truly majestic and enchanting look like never before. Our efforts have been duly recognized and rewarded with JSPCB First Prize this rear. The school family is now much more determined than ever before to keep this momentum going this year and in the years to follow.

The school family is delighted to share this news with one and all, and in particular, with its alumni groups all over the places – in India and abroad.

Hail ! Hail !! Netarhat

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Skill Development: A concept Netarhat School began with; It’s time to revisit it

 

Netarhat School – a brainchild of Bihar’s first Chief Minister, SK Sinha, Education Minister, Acharya Badri Nath Verma, Chief Secretary, LP Singh, ICS and Education Secretary, JP Mathur – got off to a humble and quiet beginning some 60 years ago on 15th November, 1954. It was, in fact, an experiment that, among other visions and philosophy intertwined in it, had the ‘skill development’ aspect as well deeply ingrained in the concept. In a way, therefore, while paying glowing tributes for this to its founding fathers, it may as well be stated that what India thinks today Bihar envisioned it decades ago.

From the beginning Netarhat School – a senior secondary residential school for boys in a sprawling campus of 150+ acres land on beautiful Netarhat plateau –  boasted of, among other features, facilities like, Woodwork and Metalwork workshops and teaching of vocational subjects – Music, Fine Art and Agriculture. In addition, a number of playgrounds for football, hockey, cricket, basketball, volleyball, lawn tennis; and, not to forget oval ground for track and field events, ensured that boys (10-12 years to 16-18 years) had well laid out facilities and opportunities for early exposure, learning and grooming in these disciplines.

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Catch ‘em young, a phrase more often used in terms of developing the children’s talents for further attainments, fitted in then, fits in now, more appropriately for the boys of this school in a kind of environment they were / are placed in rather early on.

It is, however, felt that the main focus of this school remained / remains on the academic excellence in the first place; enabling the boys to learn to appreciate the value of manual labour and the craft too continue to remain on the agenda, on a less significant note though. For this reason, therefore, a number of boys in every batch whether or not excelling to the desired level in academics, otherwise endowed with skill set and natural gift in non-academic pursuits like, Music and Fine Art, various games and sports etc., couldn’t make any headway in the areas they were particularly skillful and comfortable. For want of opportunities for such skillful boys to be rewarded with promising career options those days they often landed up either in careers far removed from their preferred choice or ended up getting hold of the jobs that came their way solely for the sake of sustenance of self and family. Passion and skill sets of these boys, post- Netarhat, have thus far remained largely under wrap and untapped.

All these need to change now. With the 21st century India and the world at large opening up avenues for promotion of excellence in various skill sets and rewarding career options linked therewith, it’s time our mindset is given a shakeup to address this concern in so far as it relates to our alma mater.

Much talked of skill development, a concept Netarhat School is familiar with, now with the passage of time, needs to be revisited to be able to work out the methodology to take it forward. How to get along is an issue that’s been engaging the mind of the school family lately. This issue, therefore, is being thrown open to Hatians in particular and others in general to discuss, debate and firm up suggestions, modality etc. that may further propel this thought process.

Skill India Mission is already on and is likely to pick up momentum in the years to follow. What is being suggested here is to also look a little beyond the scope of this GoI (Govt. of India) initiative in the backdrop of the opportunities in this sphere that Netarhat School presents. Our experience has been that in every batch, now comprising 100 boys, it’s not that everyone, notwithstanding getting selected on merit at school’s entrance test, at the close of education at Netarhat and later in institutions of higher learning, gets into the groove of one’s choice; many falter and struggle and it’s basically for this category of individuals endowed otherwise with skill sets that enlarging the scope for skill development at Netarhat is envisaged.

This topic is proposed to be taken up for discussion in a ‘Workshop’ scheduled for 15th or 16th November, 2015 at school premises coinciding with school’s ‘Foundation Day’ functions.

All are cordially invited to join.

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat……..

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Final call for Diamond Jubilee Celebrations: November 13-15, 2014 at Netarhat

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As the earlier deadline of 20th Oct’14 set for receiving responses from Netarhat Old Boys (NOBs) from all over regarding ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for participation in the DJ function was drawing to a close, yet another NVS – Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA coordination meeting was held at Ranchi that afternoon.

After due deliberations, it was decided to have the gist of the main decisions taken, duly communicated fast to all concerned, online. So, here I go.

1.     An earlier deadline for registration and remittance of Delegates’ Fee (Rs. 7500/ per head) in favour of ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ SB a/c No. 11873383941; IFC code – SBIN0002985; SBI, Netarhat branch, is extended till 30 Oct’14. It was felt that going by experiences of the past that more often suggested rather late pouring in of EoI from this group on such occasions, decisions to have it extended for the last time, was unanimous one.

2.     This is to make it abundantly clear that the Delegates, in the backdrop of the arrangements being organised, may, for the sake of convenience, be described to fall in different Groups like:

Group A: the ex-students (NOBs) with EOI and remittance of Rs. 7500/- per head in ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ by 30th Oct’14 deadline. School admin in this regard is now following a system of duly acknowledging each such receipt online and is maintaining a record therefor.

Group B: The ex-Principals, ex-teachers and all retired grade 3 & 4 employees of this school need not follow the Delegates’ registration route meant for ex-students, as noted in just preceding paragraph. In other words, they need not make any payments to participate in the DJ celeb at Netarhat. Shri Raushan Prakash, an ex-student (1982 batch) in his desire to pay gratitude to his alma mater has offered to meet all expenses on travel, transport, stay, meals etc. of all such Delegates falling in this Group and willing to be at Netarhat to join the celeb events. All that, therefore, everyone from this Group is requested to do is to pass on one’s EoI to respective NOBA chapter at the place of one’s permanent residence. For this, however, respective NOBA chapters at Patna, Ranchi, Delhi and other places in India have been earlier requested vide  Principal’s invitation letter of 15 Oct’14, posted online, to extend assistance and helping hand in this regard; the same is reiterated here. The deadline for your EoI to reach Principal Netarhat, as also to Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA, is again 30th Oct’14 to enable them to make all necessary arrangements at their end.

Group C: The ex-students (NOBs) having passed out from this school in 2004 and thereafter and who continue to be studying and / or unemployed may be placed in this Group. For them, it may not be needed to follow the Delegates’ registration route meant for ex-students falling in Group A, as above. Their travel: Ranchi- Netarhat- Ranchi ; stay, meals etc. at Netarhat (12th  Nov’14 afternoon – 16th Nov’14 forenoon) are all getting organised through sponsorship and, therefore, they need not be concerned about payments from their own pockets on this account. All that they need to do is to inform Principal Netarhat (principal.netarhat@gmail.com) and Ranchi NOBA (President, Shri Girish Nath Singh: Mob no. 9431104010; Gen Secy, Dr Amar Verma: Mob no. 9835527473) Netarhat NOBA, about their date and time of arrival at Ranchi.

NOTE:

1)    Buses for travel between Ranchi – Netarhat – Ranchi for all Delegates of Group A, B and C (as above) are getting organised and Ranchi NOBA is coordinating this arrangement. Kindly note that in order to be in time for the 3 day events (13-15 Nov’14), the first Bus would leave Ranchi on 12 Nov’14 at 11.00 am; however, for those from outside reaching Ranchi later in the day, the other Bus may leave at 2.00 pm that day. The idea is that all Delegates should reach Netarhat by dinner time that day. The location from where one is required to board the Bus can be ascertained from Ranchi NOBA.

2)    Arrangements for stay, meals etc. while at Netarhat are getting organised in the campus of state police ‘Jungle Warfare Training Centre’, located nearly 2 km from school campus on the north-western side facing the dam site.

3)    Details of 3 day DJ events can be had and noted from Principal Netarhat Invitation letter of 8th /15th Oct’14: Annexure-1 uploaded on school’s / NVS website.

4)    For any other details, clarifications etc. one should feel free to contact representatives of Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA assigned to function as coordinators for DJ celeb.

5)    Also feel free to post any query on this issue on my blog post on: www.narendrabhagat.in

And before signing off for now, it is reiterated that your alma mater is eagerly awaiting to have you all in its midst on this historic occasion. It’s once in lifetime event for everyone of us and so let’s join our hands to make this occasion a grand success and truly memorable.

‘Vande hey sunder mum sakha Netarhat sada …..’ 

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat.

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Netarhat Vidyalaya in its Diamond Jubilee Year 2014: Current Realities – Review, Update and Adjust: The Way Forward (Part of school’s Diamond Jubilee celeb events 2014)

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Greetings to all my friends of Netarhat Old Boys Association (NOBA) all over the globe and members of Netarhat Vidyalaya family – past and present – as also all those who have endorsed and supported ‘the Netarhat Philosophy’ on this historic occasion when this institution is completing 60 years of its glorious run on 15th November, 2014.

60 years for an educational institution is reasonably good enough a period to reflect and make an appraisal of its impact in its entire entirety vis-a-vis the visions its founding fathers had. This precisely explains why I have chosen the title for discussion of the topic the way it is.

The theme proposed to be presented is, however, in a way, a sequel to a presentation of a topic titled: “60 years of Netarhat Vidyalaya” by Shri Vijoy Prakash, IAS, an ex-student in the Delhi NOBA JN Dar Memorial Lecture on 2nd August, 2014 at India International Centre, New Delhi. It is, therefore, proposed to pick up the thread from where Shri Prakash had left. The factor, however, common to earlier presentation and the one here is that both are dedicated to school’s Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Year celebration events.

The latter, however, is proposed to be presented by another ex-student, Shri Narendra Bhagat (that’s me) on 14th November, 2014 at the school premises in the midst of the grand finale of school’s DJ celebrations. 

On that occasion, however, it is proposed to dissect the main issues (say, current state of Infrastructure facilities; Academics and Co-curricular activities; Role of Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti vis-a-vis state HRD department; Social Responsibilities for this school; State Funding and allied issues and the like) to enable sharing of such thoughts, perception and information in a perspective that obtains today. This may perhaps lead us to make Review, then Update and finally Adjust, issue-wise, the ‘Current Realities’ to be able to frame our strategies for the Way Forward. An overall idea is not to leave anything to imagination or speculation while pondering over the main issues and be, instead, realistically focused on target while aiming to frame Resolutions.

In the process, however, I’m unlikely to repeat what all have been elaborately stated and shared earlier by Shri Prakash in Delhi seminar.

However, at this point in time, I simply wish to share with one and all, a ‘Concept Note’- as briefly outlined above – on the topic suggested here. The idea is to throw up the issues that are believed to be constantly engaging the mind, perception and thought process of the NOBs in general. An attempt shall also be made on the said occasion to put them in a perspective that’s rather a dispassionate one.

In the meanwhile, in the period intervening now on till 14th November, 2014, I may suggest and request to all those keen on being very much a part of this event, to please keep their thinking caps on and be active participants on the day when this topic is taken up. A format for it that I’m inclined to suggest is to allow this topic to proceed in a manner that’s generally followed in a ‘Workshop’.

Accordingly, after a brief presentation of the topic the ‘Issues’ that may emerge after general discussion, may get segregated first, then be assigned to different working groups. The ‘Working Groups’ (may be 4 or 5 or more depending on the main issues framed) may comprise of the serving teachers, ex-teachers and NOBs (may also include a few senior students of this school). Each Working Group may be assigned to handle a specific issue among its members, to have threadbare discussion on an issue given to it and then come up with ‘Group’s Recommendations’ as sort of finished products of a workshop for presentation before the full House. Towards the end of the session, such recommendations may get compiled to be finally submitted to Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) for adoption and implementation.

For the said ‘Workshop’ it is proposed to have it at the school campus on 14th November, 20149.00am – 1.30pm. 

The proposed program is as follows:

  • 9.00am to 11.00am. – PP presentation and framing of issues;
  • 11.00am – 11.30am – Tea / Coffee break and forming of ‘Working Groups’;
  • 11.30am – 12.30pm –‘Brain Storming Session’ – Each ‘Working Group’ to handle separately an issue / topic assigned to it and to end up with framing of its ‘Recommendations’ ;
  • 12.30pm – 1.30pm – ‘Presentation of Reports’ – Each Working Group to make presentation of its Report by its team leader before full House and discussion thereon;
  • 1.30pm – ‘Submission of Reports’ – Working Groups’ Recommendations, as adopted by the House, to be submitted to NVS ;
  • 1.40pm – Close of session and Lunch break

Before closing this ‘Concept Note”, however, I would sincerely request for any suggestions, amendments etc. for inclusion thereof to be able to firm up at my end the proposed agenda. That may also help me in giving a final shape to the key points and the background paper that may form part of my presentation on the Annual Day at Netarhat.

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Netarhat Boys’ Paintings Exhibition-cum-Sale at Ranchi: 13-14 Sep, 2014

(Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 Celeb Events)

The need for showcasing the multifaceted talents of Netarhat boys and providing them opportunities for exposure and interactions with the environment and the people outside was always felt. However, such opportunities hitherto were rather limited and were perhaps few and far between. All this is likely to change now.
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In our (i.e. NV and NVS) bid to translate such thoughts, a few activities / events of the boys in the months to follow are under wrap that may get unfolded by and by. This, however, is not intended to share at this point in time basically with a view to elicit suggestions / responses etc, if any,  in this regard from the NOBA fraternity in particular.
That said, a first such big event is a proposal to hold an Exhibition-cum-Sale of paintings done by our school boys. During its visits to Netarhat in recent months the NVS team, after having seen and appraised at first hand, the beautiful pieces of art work done by the boys on papers (with water colour, oil paintings and with normal pencils), felt the need for sharing them with the world outside Netarhat.
It’s with this end in view that an Exhibition-cum-sale of such paintings is proposed to be organised at Ranchi on 13-14 September, 2014. The IMA hall near Karam Toli chowk is likely to be the venue for this purpose for which negotiation is underway.
In furtherance of the said event, moreover, we may also like to enlist the services of professional ‘Portrait Sketch’ artists on this venue on those days to lend additional attraction for the visitors to this event. Any volunteers / offers / suggestions in this regard would be most welcome.
And finally, not to forget anyway that it’s part of school’s Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 celebrations events and efforts are on to make it a truly memorable one.
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Green Netarhat: 1000+ new plants to adorn school campus

(Part of Netarhat Vidyalaya Diamond Jubilee 2014 Celeb Event)

It’s a fascinating tale of why and how the Netarhat Vidyalaya family under NVS (Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti) guidance made some determined efforts lately to turn around the corner to make school campus covered with more green all around it like never before.

In mid May this year when NVS Executive Committee team’s visit to Netarhat coincided with that of Minister, HRD, Jharkhand, what surprised us most was the intensity of the summer heat chasing us down right from under open sky to Ashrams(Hostels), main school building and then on to the venue of special Assembly at ‘workshop’ premises. The phenomenon of global warming seemed to have taken into its fold Netarhat plateau too. The days of Netarhat wearing a tag of state’s summer resort seemed nearing an end. A point for worry indeed! It was a kind of development handy enough to agitate the mind and thoughts of NOBs (Netarhat Old Boys) in particular who continue to savour the memories of beautiful summer months in the decades gone by.

Sunrise from Netarhat hills

Sunrise view from Netarhat

Palamau Bungalow

Palamau Bungalow

Jolted by such developments and pitted against the odds of weather change the NVS team then decided to minimise and counter its adverse effects by going in for trees plantation in a big way all over the school campus. Monsoon season 2014 was targeted to make use of for giving shape to our thought. A blueprint was promptly prepared; the State Forest department officials were got in touch with to provide us technical and materials support; Bishunpur based Vikas Bharati, an NGO too was roped in to supplement our efforts.

Forest view

Forest view

With nearly all preparatory activities in place by end of July, we then simply needed to wait for the school to reopen after its monsoon vacation in August second week for we intended to enlist and ensure participation of boys, teachers and all other support staff in this programme. After all, involving the school family at large in this mega event as part of school’s Diamond Jubilee Year 2014 celebrations was the basic idea we had in mind to push through.  Everything went according to our plan in stages, like, digging of 1006 pits all around school campus, providing compost manure to each of them got completed by August beginning; making provision for as many gabions posed a few problems initially that got sorted out subsequently.

Dam site

Dam site

Paddy fields

Paddy fields

Selection of plant species was done carefully before hand – those providing shade, others bearing fruits, still others providing useful timber and not to forget the trees bearing beautiful flowers, were all there in our list to add to a significant change in the landscape once they grow in due course.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

The NVS team (me accompanied by my son, Anurag who had reached specifically for this event from Delhi, Shri Krishna Swaroop Prasad, JB Tubid, Amalendu K Mitra, Prayag Dubey) joined by Ranchi NOBA members – Shri Girish Nath Singh and Dr Kaushal Kishore – reached Netarhat a day earlier on 16th August’14 to oversee the arrangements made and to provide finishing touches for the proposed function.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

School’s Agriculture teacher, Shri Ranjan K Singh had responded very enthusiastically and a couple of weeks ahead he had made all preparatory activities in place to ensure that for this event no loose ends were needed to be tied up for the last minute. The same evening we had a meeting with the Principal and all teachers and while discussing among other issues, participation of the entire school family in the function the next morning was emphasised and insisted upon for it was basically school’s programme where NVS merely had extended a helping hand and had played its role as a sort of catalyst.

Upper Ghaghri

Upper Ghaghri

Sunday August 17’14, the day of reckoning for this big event turned out to be huge occasion for the school family. Chief Guest for the occasion, Dr DK Shrivastava, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Jharkhand arrived from Ranchi right on time at 10.30am. He was accompanied by the DFOs and his team of Forest officials. The weather was largely dry with overcast condition that ideally suited us. In the plantation of as many as 100 plants in school campus that day everyone of us – the boys, teachers, Matajis, NVS team members, Ranchi and Netarhat NOBA members and above all, the Forest department officers present – all participated with exuberance. The rest nearly 900 plants would find their assigned pits over the days of the week ending on 23/24 Aug’14 by involving all the boys under the guidance of the Principal and the Agriculture teacher.

Upper Ghagri

Upper Ghagri

Plant species chosen may broadly fall in the categories of those bearing fruits (mangoes, Sapota (Cheeku), lichi, jamun, jackfruit, guava etc); those of economic importance (Sagwan, Chandan, Sisam etc); and those providing shade as also bearing beautiful flowers (gulmohar, kachnar etc). Once they grow in size they would add to a significant change in the landscape.

Tree Plantation Team

Tree Plantation Team

Tree Plantation Boys Team

Tree Plantation Boys’ Team

Special Assembly, after the trees plantation, was held at the ‘workshop’ premises where the need for protecting our environment and for planting trees every year was duly emphasised and taken as a pledge. Copies of brochures, booklets etc that the Forest official had brought with them were distributed among the boys and all those present; a few CDs on forest life were also played on a big screen for the boys.

School Assembly

School Assembly

The day’s programme concluded with a community lunch – ‘Van Bhoj’ – in school campus where apart from all of us from Ranchi, Shrimanjis, Matajis and support staff of the school joined in. It was truly a memorable day for the school family and all of us.

Having tasted success in an event of this nature we’re now motivated to set our sight at the bigger picture. A beginning for ‘Green Netarhat, Clean Netarhat’ has been made. The momentum thus gained needs to be maintained by sustained efforts and no one does appreciate this better than the school family.

The next phase of this programme, therefore, is to develop a huge plant nursery of our own in the school campus. The idea is, apart from meeting our own need for more plants species henceforth, it should also cater to the needs of the residents, mostly farmers, in nearby villages by providing them good varieties of baby plants of fruit trees and those of economic importance. This is also keeping in line with an earlier decision of NVS for school family to initiate/ expand fulfilling its social responsibilities by forging alliance and bonding with the nearby villages in a manner noted here, among other measures. The land behind ‘Chalet’ measuring nearly 5 acres is now having a blueprint in readiness to develop a plant nursery on modern lines. If, therefore, everything goes well with no major impediment / restraints blocking our way, the school may perhaps boast of a beautiful plant nursery in a sprawling area by, say, next monsoon season.

In our this endeavour we are assigning equal significance to suggestions in this regard already with us by a few NOBs ( Uday, Bajrang, Dharmendra and Sachchida N Bajpai via Facebook ) for developing another ‘Nashpati Bagan’. To this, we propose to add a separate ‘Amrood (Guava) Bagan and a ‘Cheeku Bagan” each, on a land measuring nearly an acre for each. They are proposed to come up during the next monsoon season 2015. However, any other suggestions for more of ‘Green Netarhat, Clean Netarhat’ would also be most welcome.

Before closing this tale, however, on behalf of the school family and NVS I may like to place on record an appeal before the NOBA units all over – in India and abroad – to think in terms of donating generously, in cash or in kind, in favour of ‘Netarhat Vidyalaya Vikas Kosh’ to be able to go ahead with the kind of project proposal discussed here, among others, that were earlier shared in our website: www.netarhatvidyalaya.in/ Netarhat Vidyalaya Samiti. The state funding, I may mention, for such programmes and projects has been few and far between, say, none this year. This time round therefore, the ‘Vikash Kosh’ had to bear the financial burden to the extent required; so before it gets depleted further, the same may need to be replenished. This appeal, in other words, may be construed as ‘our alma mater calling’.

Hail! Hail!! Netarhat. ‘Vande hey sunder mum sakha Netarhat sada……’

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Wimbledon 2014: Djokovic gets back Crown, ATP world # 1

As anticipated, it was a vintage tennis at its best at Wimbledon this Sunday when two traditional rivals – Novak Djokovic (#1 seed) and Roger Federer (# 4 seed) locked horns for the title on the famed centre court.

Roger typically seemed to represent an old era when double handed backhand returns weren’t in vogue, when the likes of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and our very own Ramanathan Krishnan dominated the tennis circuit the world over with the heavier wooden rackets in use. Djokovic, a new generation tennis player with much lighter fiber glass rackets seemed to be born with double-fisted backhand shots like most other young talents on view these days.

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDONAhead of the summit clash both Djokovic (27) and Federer (32), when confronted by newsmen, had asserted that this Wimbledon title meant a lot to them. The former having earlier won it in 2011 was keen to add on to his major titles of 6 in his kitty; while the latter, a veteran, seemed equally hungry to get past his record of 17 Grand Slam titles, and more importantly, past his 7 Wimbledon title – a record that he shares with Pete Sampras.

The two great exponents of the modern tennis moved around the court with athleticism, chasing down every ball and were at equal terms with 2 sets a piece at the end of 3 hours 15 mins. Serving at 5-3 in the 4th set with a championship point coming his way Djokovic, however, couldn’t drive home the advantage, allowed his opponent to claw back to level at 5-5 who finally claimed it at 7-5, and pushed the match into the 5th set.

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It’s often said that when a match goes into the 5th set, skill in tennis matters little, what matters more is the mental toughness of the players. However, in this match neither seemed to be short of mental toughness till the end and what actually, therefore, remained to be seen was who blinked first. It was Federer who stumbled at the last hurdle to hand over the glittering crown to his traditional rival.

Djokovic with this win wins back the crown, gets richer by 1.77 million Pound and of course, regains ATP world #1 dethroning Nadal in the process.

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Aus Open 2014: Wawrinka gets a place in the Sun; Li Na’s moments of Crowning Glory

Wow….Wawrinka!!! 3 cheers! Wonderful display of power-packed tennis at Rod Laver arena at Melbourne Park, Australia that swept aside world #1 and # 1 seed here, Rafael Nadal off his feet right in front of legendary Rod Laver, among others. But more about it, a little later; first, a recap of what happened during the fortnight at this tournament.

wawrinka-473x315The first week at Melbourne Park in this year’s opening Asia-Pacific Grand Slam event – 102nd edition – was more in the news for players, ball-boys and spectators- all bearing the brunt of sweltering heat that, at times, hovered around 43 degrees Celsius. Skillful and competitive tennis during this period remained somewhat subdued. This had a direct bearing on the 9 first round retirements – 8 men, 1 woman – that equaled record for most retirements in any grand slam event.

Thankfully, with rains intervening, the tournament into its second week turned out to be a much more weather-friendly and witnessed some of the intensely fought matches. In the stunning upsets, however, Serena Williams (#1 seed), Maria Sharapova(#  4 seed) fell early at pre-quarterfinals owing largely to injuries they were carrying.

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Both singles defending champions – Novak Djokovic, three-time winner here in men’s section and Victoria Azharenka, two time winner here in women’s, lost in the quarterfinals and failed to defend their titles this time round.

Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosure and Caroline Vozniaki – all top players and winners of grand slam event in the past in women’s section, were eliminated early by the new crop of emerging players and thus leaving the field open for bright young stars to shine and make their presence felt. It was here when this tournament witnessed the emergence of bright young stars in women’s section in the form of G Muguruza (Spain), Eugenie Bouchard (19 years) (Canada) and Dominika Cibilkova (Slovakia), the latter making it to the finals as well.

In the women’s singles final between Li Na (31 years) (China: # 4 seed) and Cibilkova (24 years) (#20 seed), the match seemed headed for some keen contest when the first set got into the tie breaker where, in the end, the Chinese prevailed. Li Na, there on, drawing on her experiences of couple of appearances in finals here (2009 and 2011), never seemed to put her foot off pedal and won the second and final, and with it the title, with consummate ease at 6-0. It was the first time ever that a Chinese, and an Asian befittingly has won this tournament that’s hailed as Asia-Pacific’s Grand Slam event.

Cibulkova, the losing finalist, contrary to what one is used to witnessing, was seen wearing smile, showing no signs of any negative emotions and regrets and, in fact, in her post-match- presentation- function she went on to say that it was the fantastic two weeks of her life she has had. It was obviously an otherwise a scene, quite different from the one, where the loser, at the end of the finals, is often seen looking for someone to borrow a shoulder to shed a few tears on. After all, in the professional tennis circuit a win or a loss, particularly in finals, makes a hell of difference in terms of prize money and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) rankings.

Quite in contrast to this, a day later, one could easily see the kind of emotional breakdown Nadal was struggling to hold back and was occasionally seen wiping off tears ready to roll down his cheeks during the post match presentation ceremony.

Ahead of summit clash, Stanislas Wawrinka (# 8 seed)  acknowledging  that even while he had never beaten Nadal in their 12 previous encounters, he wasn’t , however, overawed by the occasion and was instead focusing on to put it across the # 1 seed.  The proceedings started in a whirlwind fashion and those who had imagined Nadal taking the initiatives early on, were truly in for huge surprise as Wawrinka took the first two sets: 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal taking the ‘medical time out’ (3 minutes) during 2nd Set meant all was not well with his full physical fitness. Earlier, during quarter finals and semi finals matches against Dimitrov (Bulgaria) and Roger Federer respectively, he,  after getting  treated for a blister in his left playing palm, went on to win. He, however, seemed to be running out of luck in final; a back pain that seemed aggravated, halted his indomitable spirit he is known for, to continue his fight on. Even though he clinched the 3rd Set at 6-3, Wawrinka came back strongly to claim the 4th and with it the championship title.

Beating world # 1 and # 2 in a tournament has brought rich dividend for this Swiss player who has, in the past, always been overshadowed by his more illustrious compatriot Roger Federer. Now at long last he has a place in the sun- his first Grand Slam title.  And when the fresh ATP rankings are out a day later on Monday, he is at # 3, his best ever in his professional career.

At the end of the day, moreover, the winner in men’s and women’s singles are richer by the prize money of 2.65 million US Dollar while the finalists by 1.325 million Dollars.

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