Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ Mario Balotelli is benched against a Fiorentina side who line up with the same XI for the sixth straight game. Balotelli is in Brescia’s matchday squad against Fiorentina, but no chances are taken over his knee after it gave him trouble. Taking his place alongside Alfredo Donnarumma up top is Florian Aye, who has yet to score in six appearances for the new boys. However, Sandro Tonali – on a high from his Italy debut – starts as usual in central midfield, hoping to showcase more of his burgeoning potential. The Rondinelle take on a Fiorentina team looking completely rejuvenated after three straight wins. With that in mind, Vincenzo Montella sees no reason to make changes so Franck Ribery continues alongside Federico Chiesa in attack. Midfield talent Gaetano Castrovilli has also caught the eye in recent weeks and signed a new contract earlier in October. Kick-off has been moved back to 20:00 BST after the Viola’s team bus was held up by traffic. Brescia: Joronen; Sabelli, Cistana, Chancellor, Mateju; Bisoli, Tonali, Dessena; Romulo; Donnarumma, Aye Fiorentina: Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Caceres; Lirola, Pulgar, Badelj, Castrovilli, Dalbert; Chiesa, Ribery Referee: Calvarese
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ Javier Pastore said he would like to finish his career in Argentina, but thanked Roma staff for helping end his injury nightmare. Pastore, 30, has been in Europe for a decade, since leaving Argentine side Huracan for Palermo in 2009. Speaking to Radio Sucesos in Argentina, Pastore conceeded that he would like to return to his homeland and finish his career with Talleres, the club where he started out in 2007. “I want to end my career after having played for Talleres, but obviously there are many factors to evaluate. I don’t want to return to Talleres for what I’ve done in the past, but what I can still do.” Pastore has been beset with injuries throughout his career in Europe, this has reduced him to only making 14 appearances last season. “The last two years have not been good. Thanks to the new staff of trainers and the coach (Paulo Fonseca), who have helped me, I have been able to play two games in three days, after so long. “I still had a contract with Paris Saint-Germain, but I decided to leave because I didn’t have space to play in the team anymore. I didn’t feel important to the club. I wanted to come to Roma to feel like an important player again and compete for every game.” Pastore played for the French giants for seven years, and was the first big purchase of the Qatari-led takeover of the club, when they paid €42m to sign him from Palermo.
The Indian cricket team will not seek a cover for injured pacer Ishant Sharma as he is expected to be fit for the opening Test against Australia next week even though he has been ruled out of a three-day practice match starting in Canberra on Monday.”The doctor has advised him rest till Monday. So we would have a fresh look at him on Tuesday. But the work on him is going on and he’s improving,” stated media manager G S Walia on Sunday morning.Ishant is recovering from injury in his left ankle which forced him to leave the field after bowling only 5.3 overs against Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI here on Thursday.While the team management sounds optimistic on Ishant, it’s certain he wouldn’t be turning out for the three-day game against Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI.The lanky fast bowler did come with the rest of his teammates to Manuka Oval on Sunday morning but spent the entire duration either strolling at the ground or turning his arm over from a stationery position at the nets.While words are on offer to ease the doubts on Ishant Sharma, the sight of Zaheer Khan is certainly uplifting for the Indian team.The left-arm paceman was all too eager to measure and bowl for close to half an hour over two spells during the intense practice session. For a long time, he kept testing the skills of Virender Sehwag.The Delhi dasher, fresh from his record knock in one-day arena, had to summon all his concentration to counter Zaheer and on one occasion even shouted down the noise from a considerable crowd of Indian supporters who had gathered around the nets.advertisementZaheer is fitter and leaner and looking to last through an entire summer of Australia which he has never been able to do over two previous visits.Young Abhimanyu Mithun also appeared eager and enthused and rapped Sehwag a number of times on his pads. He also induced edges which seemed to upset Sehwag.Sachin Tendulkar opted for his preferred method of facing throwdowns but he too seemed upset with the kind of attempt “throwdown specialist” Raghu could manage at him.Tendulkar wanted Raghu to bowl on the off-stump and force him to either drive or leave the ball. As Raghu sent down a mixed bag of variety, Tendulkar abruptly stopped the nets and took him to an artificial turf at the other side of the nets.The trick appeared to work for him as the master batsmen then spent a long time at the nets.India’s fielding drill was intense on Sunday morning with players putting themselves up to some sharp catching and throwing sessions.
In Punjab’s Rs 500 crore a year human-trafficking industry a new kind of sport has come to light. It is called kabootarbaazi-helping people land overseas on a genuine visa, but one secured by having the aspirant adopt any one of these common fraudulent guises: sportsperson, artist, preacher or a minister’s,In Punjab’s Rs 500 crore a year human-trafficking industry a new kind of sport has come to light. It is called kabootarbaazi-helping people land overseas on a genuine visa, but one secured by having the aspirant adopt any one of these common fraudulent guises: sportsperson, artist, preacher or a minister’s personal staff. So when five women players of a dubious cricket team from Jalandhar went missing in London, the only surprise in Punjab was the gender of these “kabootars”. Two of the five girls returned but this case is just the tip of the iceberg. Though there are no authentic figures, every year around 500 youths from Punjab are estimated to reach foreign shores through this “sporting” route. Let alone fake sportspersons, even the tales of promising players-some of whom were India’s medal winners in global competitions – doing the disappearing act abroad are legion. In the recent past, two Punjab boxers – Lakha Singh and Gurcharan Singh who had won medals in the Asian Games and represented India in the Olympics-jumped ship. They disappeared while on an official sporting tour in the US. The well-oiled migration mafia is now an open secret in Punjab. But the lesser-known dimension is the involvement and patronage of the state police officials, sports authorities and some politicians in the multi-layered racket that has a deep nexus with shady travel agents and some NRIs who form crucial conduits. A Punjabi diaspora in Britain and north American countries helps the runaway sportsmen from the state melt away into their communities with ease. The entire trade has been a big moneyspinner for several police officials who are plugged as office bearers in most of the official sports bodies and private sports organisations. A section of top brass of the Punjab Police has been under the cloud for facilitating human smuggling through the “sporting” route by sending teams to foreign countries. The Punjab Armed Police (PAP) – employer of a large number of sportspersons-has almost become the hub of this nefarious activity. The modus operandi is simple: the kabootars are included in the official teams going abroad, where they simply disappear. Alternatively, the PAP players are inducted into a club for the purpose of strengthening the case for visa for the entire team which has “fake” players. In the recent past, kabaddi, wrestling, basketball and hockey have been the common sports used for off-loading kabootars in foreign lands. A top sports official in Punjab has been reportedly identified as the kingpin of the operations to drop fake wrestlers abroad as part of an officially sponsored team. A former kabaddi player-turned-police official is known to have raked in lakhs of rupees by exporting foreignseekers in the garb of players. “It is a more-you-dig-the-more-youfind type of racket in Punjab,” says a senior state sports official. But given the fact that a powerful lobby of police and sports officials has a major stake in the racket, it continues to be under wraps. Sports has become the best way to beat the system now in place. “The sporting route is an expensive deal but ensures safe landing,” says Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Jalandhar range) Dinkar Gupta. The reasons why sports has emerged as the most common factor in this business is because post-September 11, immigration rules have been tightened by western governments. Heightened rules of surveillance have choked the favoured immigration routes used for the smuggling in human cargo. It is not surprising, therefore, that Punjab has seen a mushrooming of sports clubs and “international” tournaments. Much of this sporting surge is not to produce champions but to groom players and prepare the documentation to seek foreign visas under the garb of sports tournaments abroad. In Phagwara, for instance, an akhara recruits and trains the aspirants as wrestlers. The most sought-after countries are the US, the UK and Canada. The price tag for migration through this scam is between Rs 7 lakh and 12 lakh. Some survive, some don’t. In Jalandhar, the capital of the smuggling racket, the nexus between sports organisers, police officials and travel agents runs deep. When the travel agents hook the foreign aspirants and strike the deal, the police and sports authorities facilitate their trips abroad. “It is a no-risk-high-profit business,” says a senior police official. A leading travel agent has been allegedly running a human smuggling racket in connivance with a former top official of the Punjab police who had been a sports administrator at the PAP. A karate coach in Jalandhar has been known to belt out “black belts” to foreign-crazy youths at a huge price only to buttress their visa applications for overseas tours. Many a ruse is employed with alleged government help to establish the credentials of a club before applying for visa to the US, Canada or European countries. For example, Ravi Sharma, the owner of the dubious Lynex Club of India, which sponsored the controversial women’s cricket team to England, had taken the same team to Sri Lanka four months ago with ease. The trick worked in his case as the British High Commission granted a three-week visa to his 13-member team. The girls had paid Sharma Rs 2 lakh each for facilitating their entry into Britain. Of the missing five-Mandeep Virk, 19, Rajwant Kaur, 24, Baljeet Kour, 22, Parvesh Rani, 25, and Ekta Andotra, 21-Rajwant and Parvesh returned under pressure from relatives. “Their disappearance was preplanned,” says Sharma, while denying having struck a “money-for-migration” deal. The girls’ parents, far from being anxious about their daughters melting away in London, insist that Sharma had assured them a six-month visa but produced only a three-week one. A sports-goods dealer until a few years ago, Sharma allegedly became one of the numerous fly-by-night sports promoters who make fast bucks through human smuggling in the garb of conducting teams abroad. Last year, the Kapurthala Police booked Sunny Gill and Loveleen, son-in-law and daughter of wrestler-turned-film star Dara Singh for allegedly duping 78 youths of Rs 3 crore that they had collected from them promising a passage to Canada as members of a wrestling team. But Canada-resident Gill never provided them visas. The desperation to reach greener pastures often touches bizarre levels. When the British High Commission held a cricket quiz before the cricket World Cup in South Africa in March, a youth from Faridabad won the contest and was granted a gratis visa along with one for a companion for a free trip to Britain. He chose to take a friend along instead of his newly wed wife. They too wanted to try their luck abroad. The two never returned-a fact that came to light only when the winner’s wife made queries about her missing husband. Clearly, not all aspirants of luxury in the West are equal in their luck.advertisementadvertisement
It is difficult to write on a subject that prohibits being written about. The public individual in question is Rahul Gandhi whose most publicised characteristic, besides his family name of course, is his zealously guarded privacy.Does the air of mystique so assiduously cultivated reflect a profoundness of thought, or is it a cover for vacuousness? Jatin Gandhi and Veenu Sandhu answer the question, but only just.One knows now, courtesy of the efforts of these two fellow hacks, of Rahul’s attempts to restructure the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI). Of how genial a fellow he really is – fetching a glass of water from the kitchen for his boxing coach as opposed to summoning the domestic help, escorting visitors to the gate, handing over plates and washing up after he has eaten in outdoor camps.The goings-on in 12 Tughlaq Lane, Rahul’s official residence, are described as minutely as anyone without easy or no access can.Rahul by Jatin Gandhi and Veenu Sandhu; Penguin/ Viking; Rs 499.It is here that the Congress scion’s plans are executed with the help of a few hand-picked individuals. The preference for foreign-educated professionals is clear in the selection of “Team RG” that comprises Kanishka Singh, a Wharton MBA and former investment banker with Lazard Freres and Co in New York; Sachin Rao, MBA from Michigan Business School (specialisations: corporate strategy and international business); AICC secretary Jitendra Singh, a princeling from Alwar who studied engineering in Germany.But the home-grown intellectuals, preferably from JNU, too, find space in what is considered the highest table in the Congress. There is Meenakshi Natarajan with a penchant for travelling in autorickshaws and dressing down. And Ashok Tanwar, a most unlikely product of JNU, where debate and argument is part of campus culture.advertisementTanwar had not participated in any debate in the Lok Sabha till the end of 2010, nor had he bothered to ask a single question.The book offers personal sidelights to spice up the narrative. Rahul’s educational background, the degree from Trinity College, his obsession with physical fitness and adventure sports – paragliding, boxing et al – are documented presumably to give a glimpse into the life of the most keenly watched politician in India.It is an admirable effort, given the element of obsessive privacy surrounding everything that Rahul is engaged in.But while descriptions of what is irritatingly referred to as “Team RG” are all very well, the book that claims to be “the first authoritative biography” of the crown prince unfortunately has few insights to offer about Rahul Gandhi the politician, his ideas and his politics.Why is it, for instance, that the journalist- author who was told to “cover Rahul Gandhi as a beat” did not try harder to talk to his subject? Agreed, interviewing Rahul Gandhi is clearly not the easiest feat to achieve. But whatever happened to tracking a story as a “bloodhound would track a bone”, in the words of an esteemed editor.Why did he give up so easily?So, one ends up learning a lot about what is already known – the Nehru-Gandhi tryst with politics, violence and death. The much- reported engagements Rahul has had with land struggles in Bhatta- Parsaul and his support to the Dongria Kondh tribals against Vedanta are reported again. So are the exhaustive campaigns he did to clinch an astounding number of 21 seats for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in the 2009 general elections.But does the help he extended to Dongria Kondhs in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa signify a larger politics? Was the Vedanta episode reflective of his environmental concerns or is Rahul going to be engaged in various land struggles against big mining corporations and multinational giants? That being the case, why has he said nothing on the arrest and long incarceration of Abhay Sahoo, leader of the anti- POSCO protestors in Dhinkia? What about protestors at the nuclear power plant in Jaitapur? The Congress general secretary rose in support of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Indo- US civilian nuclear deal that sealed the fate of the Congress-Left alliance.Would that mean he is opposed to the land struggle in Jaitapur? And what about his commitment to secularism? Is he comfortable with the duplicity exhibited by the Congress in the Batla House encounter and in dangling the reservation carrot before the Muslims on the eve of the UP elections? Is the Congress in Gujarat a truly secular unit or simply the B-Team of Narendra Modi? The book tells us nothing about Rahul’s position on any of these questions, key to understanding the politician and his politics.advertisementThe upside, at the same time, is that the authors have done well to avoid a hagiography and simply report on their subject. One only wishes they had tried a bit harder. Remember the dog with a bone?
Two days after Sahara India pulled out as sponsor of the national team and threatened to withdraw its Pune Warriors team form the IPL, neither the business conglomerate nor the Indian cricket board seemed in a hurry to resolve the crisis.Crucially, there have been no across-the-table talks so far between the top brasses of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Sahara, except the odd phone conversation and e- mails exchanged between them. IPL governing council chairman Rajeev Shukla said the BCCI doesn’t want to decide in “haste”. Sources close to BCCI president N Srinivasan said the IPL management has sent a message to Sahara, outlining the Board’s line of thinking on the issue of the Pune Warriors’ likely pullout from the fifth edition of the Twenty20 tournament beginning on April 4.”IPL has sent a message to Sahara saying that the BCCI is open to talk the issues out. If the parties have to reach a decision they’ll have to sit across the table and talk.Rajeev Shukla is already on the job,” the source told Mail Today, confirming that there’s been no face-to-face talk.Srinivasan didn’t commit anything, and merely pointed to the “perceptional differences”. “I’m open to dialogue and the BCCI is open to dialogue. We recognise there were grievances on their part but there was no reason to break suddenly,” Srinivasan told a TV channel. “It’s been an up and down relationship, but when we meet I hope most of the issues will be resolved. There’s an opportunity to sit across the table.advertisementAll issues will be discussed but it’ll be premature to speak about them.” BCCI said that Sahara wanted its auction purse be increased from $ 1.6million to $ 3.4million, which includes the $ 1.8million buying price of Yuvraj Singh who’s ailing from cancer and has been ruled out of the IPL-V. If Sahara sticks to its guns and executes its threat to pull out Pune Warriors, the BCCI would be in a big mess. In that case, it’ll have to alter its IPL schedule, which was released exactly a month ago.Sahara chief Subrata Roy on Monday, however, wanted the Pune team to compete but stuck to his decision to withdraw as a sponsor. “We can’t come back from the Rs 1,000 crore social work (projects).I’ll see that my players play this season. It’ll be decided by Sourav (Ganguly) and the coaches,” he said.Sources in the BCCI were keeping their fingers crossed. “Unlike in previous editions, we worked extra hard this time and allotted all the tenders well in advance. The opening ceremony tender has been allotted to Wizcraft for about ‘ 15 crore, a two- day workshop for IPL franchise owners was held, and even the schedule was chalked out earlier than previous years,” said a source.”But all that can go down the drain after Sahara’s threat to pullout.”
Inda Today Conclave 2005History has made it a habit to be the uninvited guest at INDIA TODAY Conclaves. September 11 changed the world and it also postponed our first Conclave, from October 2001 to January 2002 in a post-Taliban world.The spirit of the times-or, perhaps, the fear of the times-gave,Inda Today Conclave 2005History has made it a habit to be the uninvited guest at INDIA TODAY Conclaves. September 11 changed the world and it also postponed our first Conclave, from October 2001 to January 2002 in a post-Taliban world.The spirit of the times-or, perhaps, the fear of the times-gave our theme, “Opportunities and Threats”. The second Conclave on “India Tomorrow: Global Giant or Pygmy?” was held on the eve of the Iraq war, the second phase of the war on terror that interfered with our first Conclave.Addressing the second Conclave, US President Bill Clinton struck the right note when he said, “The world cannot afford India to be a pygmy. You have to be a giant and the right kind of giant.” That ambition was reflected in the theme of last year’s Conclave, “Building an Indian Century”. It was held on the eve of the Indian general elections, an ideal backdrop to idealism on a grand scale.India has undergone a makeover since then. There is a new government in Delhi. The afterglow of elections extends beyond India-into America, Afghanistan and Iraq. History was there once again on the front bench of our Conclave this year. The theme was a logical progression of last year’s. When we argued on the project of an Indian century, there emerged varying ideas, varying perceptions of India.So our theme this year was “India Tomorrow: Perception versus Reality”. Is there a clash between the two? Or is it that Indian reality is too multidimensional to be strait jacketed by the earnest and the curious? Or is it the gap between our potential and our mindset? What explains the profusion of perceptions is the dynamics of being India, the nation as a permanent astonishment. It is in the continuous process of reinvention or self-renewal. India is in the beholder’s eye but only for a while. One blink and you are into another perception. Take the most obvious: of freedom and democracy. India is Asia’s most evolved-and still evolving-civil society. However, the perception is India’s freedom is not proportional to progress, as in the US or Europe. The volume is not matched by virtues. After all, the overwhelming Asian story of the past two decades is how less democracy meant more prosperity. We are still the victim of the tyranny of comparison. We are told, “Look at China, and look where India is.”And our speakers looked deep into the heart and mind of India. Columbia Professor Jagdish Bhagwati saw a “country of snake charmers” becoming a “country of charmers”. Writer William Dalrymple explained “how India of the imagination is taking shape in the diaspora which exports chutney fied culture from the West to the East”. For Pascal Lamy, director, Notre Europe, “India is the reason we talk of an Asian Century.” For Hillary Clinton, New York Senator and one of the most remarkable women of our times, “the India Miracle will be the one that is the choice of those who still feel oppressed or deserted by their own governance or by the larger community”.Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan pointed out how our cinema, more than 100 years old, was so young and lively, “shaking a leg at the disco, speeding down the highways of romance, hanging out at sports bars and even pausing awhile at the edge to reflect upon reality”. Nobel laureate Sir Vidia Naipaul said that “the country is better informed about itself than at any time in its history”. He said it represented an “enormous intellectual advance”. The kind which allows perception and reality to coexist in politics, marketplace, culture.India is where space-age technology cohabits with gasping water taps. It is where modernity is not a repudiation of tradition. It survives in the chaos of contradictions rather well. There is an India of the mind and an India of the senses. There is an India of history and an India of memory. India is larger than the sum total of the perceptions of India. The Conclave was an attempt to see the life of the future in the heartbeats of the present, to engage with India, to redeem an India trapped between perceptions and reality.advertisementIt did not-and could not-completely change views matured in history and civilisation. But it did update them. All for the better.
Vedanta controlled Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) in Chhattisgarh apparently didn’t bother to seek “mandatory” permission from the Korba Municipal Corporation (KMC) for its projects in the area.Documents obtained from the KMC under the right to information (RTI) have revealed that despite several notices having been served to Balco in the last few years to halt construction, it continued with the work without the necessary permits.Some of the major projects are being carried out in the industrial town of Korba, including a couple of thermal power plants. Balco has not only completed the construction of a 540 MW plant in Korba, a case against which is pending in the court, it has also began constructing another 1,200 MW power plant, 80 per cent of which is complete.No permission was reportedly taken for an under-construction chimney at the 1,200 MW plant, which collapsed in September 2009, killing 46 workers.Interestingly, even as the judicial investigation into the mishap is still on, Balco has started constructing another chimney close to the accident site.”Eleven notices, the last one on October 3, 2011, were served to Balco to stop work on the 1,200 MW plant,” the documents revealed. But the company didn’t respond to a single notice.KMC mayor Jogesh Lamba said it is mandatory to take permission for any construction work falling within the jurisdiction of a civic body even though the firm may have entered into an agreement with the state.”We have strongly objected and sought to dismantle the illegal construction in the past. Notices have been issued to Balco repeatedly and stiff fines imposed. Better speak to the police why no action has been taken after the complaints were lodged,” Lamba said.advertisementBalco refuted the charges. “There has been nothing illegal in our construction work. We have entered into an agreement with the government and are working accordingly,” Binod Kumar Srivastawa, Balco’s spokesperson, said.
History will probably record it as the revenge of the rajas. Setting aside their family disputes that divide almost all of Rajasthan’s erstwhile royal houses, they are demanding, en masse, the return of their forts and palaces, quoting the failure of successive state governments in maintaining them. Though these are,History will probably record it as the revenge of the rajas. Setting aside their family disputes that divide almost all of Rajasthan’s erstwhile royal houses, they are demanding, en masse, the return of their forts and palaces, quoting the failure of successive state governments in maintaining them.Though these are individual cases, their timings suggest a rare display of royal unity. Gaj Singh, maharaja of Jodhpur, Brij Raj Singh, maharawal of Jaisalmer, Bhawani Singh, maharaja of Jaipur, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur and his brother Maharana Mahendra Singh and many other scions of the royal family are battling the Rajasthan Government over their ancestral property.Clearly, blue blood is collectively boiling over the deteriorating condition of these properties, many of historic value, and their misuse by the state Government. A prime example is the Jalore fort. A massive citadel situated on the crest of Songiri hills in the Aravalli range, it was built in the 8th century and was ruled by Alauddin Khilji, among others before the Rathores took it.Today, the royal remnants are nowhere visible on the dilapidated monument that houses a police wireless office. After the merger of princely states with India post-Independence, the fort was listed in a covenant of 1949 as the private property of the Jodhpur royalty.But the death of maharaja Hanwant Singh, when his successor Gaj Singh was just four years old, led the Union government to set up an advisory council headed by Sawai Man Singh II, raj pramukh of Rajasthan, to manage the royal assets. In 1955, Man Singh II ordered that the forts at Jalore, Merta and Siwana, besides the royal cenotaphs at Jaswant Thada be handed over to the Archaeology Department of the state government for maintenance.advertisementGAJ SINGH 3 forts in Jalore, Sewana, Merta PROPERTY STATUS: Given to the state Archaeology Department in 1955 for maintenance, now lying neglected.BHAWANI SINGH AND KUNWAR NARENDRA Jaleb Chowk, Town Hall, Jaipur PROPERTY STATUS: Given to state after independence to boost government finances. Wants them returned now.NAGENDRA SINGH Land in Pokhran PROPERTY STATUS: Was given to the municipality for sports activities, sold to build a shopping complex.ARVIND SINGH MEWAR City Palace, Udaipur PROPERTY STATUS: Returned to royal family in 1969, barring a part, in which government runs a museum.BRIJ RAJ SINGH 4 forts, 3 in Jaisalmer PROPERTY STATUS: Neglected and in dilapidated state. Wants them back for renovation, like Jaisalmer Fort. Forty-eight years later, Gaj Singh sits in his Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur and reviews his petition that is expected to come up before the Rajasthan High Court any time now. The former maharaja is reclaiming ownership to the three forts on the ground that the state had violated the raj pramukh’s order to maintain them. Says Gaj Singh: “These are my properties, ill-kept by the Government and I must get them.” He succeeded in getting back the Jaswant Thada cenotaphs in 1995.He says he will mobilise funds to restore and conserve the forts through the family-run Mehrangarh Museum Trust as he did for Jaswant Thada and the Mehrangarh and Nagaur forts that were “fortunately not given to the state”.The Government, caught in its own political logic of trying not to be seen as pro-royalty, is unlikely to hand over the forts by pleading they are protected monuments.At the core of the disputes are the covenants signed in 1949 between different princely states of Rajasthan and the Government of India. In most cases, these covenants were not categorical about the future of buildings if the government failed to maintain them.In some cases, there were agreements subsequent to the covenants The royal families have as a first course, mostly approached the state government which is in physical possession of these properties to settle dispute. As a second option, they can resort to the judiciary.Knowing how long a court case might take, some feel that a time has come to seek a presidential reference to interpret the covenants. A decision at that level could take lesser time and would be the last word on the subject. But that may lead to a fresh round of in-fighting within most families. It could also mean that the government could end up acting as receiver.Erstwhile royals, having gained expertise in managing heritage buildings, feel that their properties can be an extension of the lucrative Brand Rajasthan Royalty. Says Brij Raj Singh of Jaisalmer: “We did prove ourselves and raised Rs 15 crore for the Jaisalmer fort. But I feel extremely sad to see the other edifices that my ancestors built crumbling.”In a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, he has sought the return of forts at Devikot, Lathi and Fatehgarh Kot in Jaisalmer and Baap in Jodhpur. Adding insult to the injury is the state Government’s recent decision to give three dozen heritage properties on lease to private parties. Some of these are as fabulous as the Gagraon Fort in Jhalawar or the Lake Palace at Siliserh in Alwar, today being run as a hotel by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation. Three years ago, the government transferred some forts to the state Forest Department which is using them as shelters for forest guards. “Why are former owners not being given the first right to run these buildings with commercial considerations?” asks Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur. His brother has questioned the India Tourism Development Corporation’s disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Palace in Udaipur and wants it back.In Jaipur too, the royalty is perturbed by the Government’s monumental apathy. Bhawani Singh is demanding the return of the Town Hall, which once housed the state Assembly. He is also pressing for the historic Rajendra Hazari Guards building and the vacant parts of Jaleb Chowk-a huge complex surrounding the City Palace where the royals lives and runs a museum-to be handed over to the family’s Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Trust.advertisementThe former maharaja insists that these buildings were given to enable cash-strapped governments cope with the financial de-mands after Independence and not for perpetuity. An irate Bhawani Singh says, “An insidious attempt is being made to nullify some aspects of the covenant (between the royal houses and the Union) through subterfuge and mischievous interpretations.”In Kota, the royal grouch is over the Government’s unwillingness to hand over the Hawa Mahal, modelled after the more famous one in Jaipur, though it vacated the building six years ago.Maharao Brij Raj Singh-who represented Jhalawar as MP for 15 years, once as a Congress member and twice on Jansangh tickets-is also demanding the return of three family temples, including the one in Vrindavan, so that they can be maintained through his family trust. “All that I keep getting are stereotypical replies,” he says.In Udaipur, Arvind Singh Mewar’s case could be a precedent for similar claims to heritage sites. The City Palace had been given to the state government for its upkeep as a national monument.In 1969, the building was returned to the royal house but the government retained a portion of it, including the Khush Mahal, and is using it to run its own museum and archives. Arvind Singh insists that no sale deeds were executed. And since the City Palace already houses a huge museum run by the Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation, he wants the Government to move its belongings to another place. The state turned down his claim and he took the issue to court.The Government’s refusal to hand over properties comes despite its not being able to maintain them. The Bikaner royalty, which runs museums at the Junagarh Fort and Lalgarh Palace, is aghast at the condition of the government-run Albert Hall in Jaipur, where there is neither money nor expertise to save rare artefacts from deteriorating. The priceless possessions include Egyptian mummy and ancient carpets. A dejected Narendra Singh, maharaja of Bikaner, says, “It is a curse to be born into a royal family.”What worries him is the fact that properties like the Bhatner Fort in Hanumangarh, given free to the government, have been reduced to ruins. Such frustrations are bringing the issue of royal properties taken over by the government under legal scrutiny.Upset over the refusal to provide space in Jaleb Chowk, Kunwar Narendra Singh, son-in-law of Bhawani Singh, recently drafted a petition to the President, requesting a correct interpretation of the original covenant between the Union and the princely states. The Constitution allows only a presidential reference to the Supreme Court on covenant matters and bars any other legal intervention. Kunwar Narendra is now busy consulting top constitutional lawyers to explore the possibility of filing a case, as Gaj Singh has done. “For half a century, we remained quiet,” he says. “Now we want these issues to be settled for once and all.” The covenant listed eight important buildings “to be preserved by the government as ancient monuments”.These are Hawa Mahal, Amber Palace, observatories in Delhi and Jaipur, forts in Ranthambore, Khandar and Nahargarh and royal tombs in Jaipur. Kunwar Narendra argues “the government’s failure in maintaining these buildings is a breach of contract”.The government’s indifference regarding royal heritage has also compelled Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Congress MLA and scion of Alwar, to demand a presidential reference. “Let a deciding authority visit these places and determine what belongs to us and what should be done to maintain our monuments in government hands,” says Jitendra Singh, the force behind the two-year-old Alwar festival. He is not opposed to the official use of his property if it is maintained well. But this clearly is not the case. He cites the examples of Alwar’s Vinay Vilas Palace, which was vandalised while being used as a college, and the badly maintained City Palace, from where a number of offices, including the collectorate, run. “Can we not put these wonderful properties to better use?” he asks.The royal families also rue the fact that the Government puts the property, often given for specific purposes, to indiscriminate use without consulting them. A building given for a Sainik School in Chittorgarh is used as a guesthouse. In Alwar, no one asked Jitendra Singh for his consent before the Lake Palace at Siliserh was offered for privatisation. He also questions the shifting of some antiquities and manuscripts from Alwar museum. In Pokhran, former maharaja Nagendra Singh has challenged the sale of land, given to the municipality to conduct sports and its transformation into a shopping complex. No wonder Gaj Singh says, “When it comes to princes, there are double standards.”Whatever the demands, the government is unlikely to oblige unless forced. In many cases, Mahendra Singh admits, royal families do not possess detailed property records. “Most of the registration and demarcation documents are with the government,” he says. Gaj Singh suggests a middle path out of the imbroglio-a joint venture between the state and the royals to run and maintain the heritage properties.Arvind Singh concurs, “If the Government can approach the private sector, why should it shy away from dealing with us?” Rajasthan’s royalty is gearing for battle once again-perhaps an unequal one this timeadvertisement
For all the times you thought the Indian cricket team should sternly be lectured to… it’s actually going to happen.When 36 probables, including Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and the rest, get to their pre-season camp in Bangalore on September 1-6, they will be made to listen to a series of,For all the times you thought the Indian cricket team should sternly be lectured to… it’s actually going to happen.When 36 probables, including Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and the rest, get to their pre-season camp in Bangalore on September 1-6, they will be made to listen to a series of 30-minute talks. Legends Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi will go first, telling the cricketers about motivation, concentration and how to wear India colours well.Business barons N.R. Narayana Murthy and Anil Ambani are being sounded out to talk on success and team-building. A leading mediaperson – Prannoy Roy and Vir Sanghvi are shortlisted – will then step in with tips on handling journalists.The BCCI’S coup de grace is said to be a Kargil war hero on doing it for the country, what the men in blue mean to the men in uniform and what it really means to face Pakistan.