Delayed start: On IPL 2020

The Indian Premier League (IPL) marches to a beat of its own. It may lack the enduring international appeal of the World Cup, the Ashes or tussles featuring India and Pakistan, yet for a domestic cricket league that blends the local with the global, the IPL has commercial heft and guarantees annual thrills. Since its launch on an April night at Bengaluru in 2008, the league gained traction and also suffered controversies. The 2013 spot-fixing crisis forced a cleansing exercise within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but the tournament continued unhindered. Even two general elections could not stop the IPL as South Africa conducted the event in 2009 while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) staged the first half during 2014. But the current year, wilting under a raging pandemic, has altered life and routines. The IPL, slotted for the summer, was postponed. For a sporting brand valued at ₹47,500 crore and head-lined by blue chip cricketers, the stakes are high and the BCCI

Beirut battered: On Lebanon blast

The devastating blast in central Beirut on Tuesday that killed 135 people and wounded 4,000 has once again turned the spotlight on a city that had in the past survived civil wars, sectarian violence, foreign interventions and terrorist attacks. While there is no dearth of conspiracy theories, the initial assessment of the government is that the blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the Beirut port after it was confiscated from a cargo ship six years ago. Officials say the initial explosion ignited a fire, while the second one was more devastating with a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire enveloping the capital’s skyline and its shock waves battering buildings across the city and wounding thousands. Officials have said they would investigate any potential terror angle, while Prime Minister Hassan Diab has promised to bring “all those responsible for this catastrophe” to justice. U.S. President Donald Trump

More of the same: On Trump's signing of order against hiring H1B visa holders

The list of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on the inflow of skilled foreign workers into the country continues to expand rapidly, with the latest salvo from the White House seeking to potentially prevent such workers from participating in any federal government contracts indefinitely. The executive order signed by Mr. Trump specifically targets the H-1B visa as one that purportedly results in the loss of jobs to U.S. persons owing to cheap foreign labour. Indian nationals tend to be granted 60-70% or more of visas in this category annually, which implies that the potential impact of this order on IT and ITES firms based in India could be considerable, and produce a ripple effect in the bilateral economic space. Notwithstanding the sense of shock that this order is likely to cause among those in corporate India who invest in the U.S. economy and create jobs there, it should hardly come as a surprise given the steady tightening of the screws on the U.S. immigration paradigm


Language of unity: on rejection of the three-language formula

By rejecting the three-language formula advocated in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has only reiterated the State’s unwavering position on an emotive and political issue. Its two-language policy, implemented decades ago after a historic agitation against the imposition of Hindi, remains non-negotiable for almost the entire political class. Opposition from the State had last year forced the Centre to amend the draft NEP and withdraw a proposal to teach Hindi as a third language in schools in non-Hindi speaking States. Yet in the NEP, approved by the Union Cabinet last week, it chose to push for the three-language formula, packaging it as a means to promote multilingualism and “national unity”. Though the policy said that no language will be imposed on any State, it has expectedly cut no ice with parties in Tamil Nadu, which have risen in near unison to oppose the proposal. In fact, Mr. Palaniswami, citing “collective


Time to unlock: On a year after the removal of J&K's statehood

At least two dozen politicians in Jammu and Kashmir remain in detention, some unnotified, a year after it was deprived of its Statehood and special constitutional status on August 5, 2019. Last week, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s detention was formally extended by another three months under the J&K Public Safety Act, but several others remain restrained within their homes in Kashmir, which is now a Union Territory under the rule of Delhi. Last week again, the administration flat out denied before the Supreme Court that former Union Minister and Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was under detention, though he has been restrained from moving and speaking freely. He was allowed to visit his ailing sister but denied a meeting with his daughter by the police on Friday. Neither the J&K government nor the Centre has released a list or number of leaders who were detained last year. At least 16 National Conference and eight PDP leaders

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